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Kralendijk Travel Guide, Netherlands Antilles

The beautiful island called Bonaire, a peaceful Caribbean island is a perfect destination for nature lovers and for the tourists looking for silent vacations.

Bonaire is located near the Latino-American coast, about 50 miles north of Venezuela. The island belongs to the Netherlands Antilles, it is inhabited by around 10000 people and its tiny surface doesn’t exceed 115 square miles. The capital is Kralendijk, a small and clean town of about 2500 inhabitants.

Unlike other neighboring islands which have been turned into high-rise hotels resorts, Bonaire has been slow in development of this kind. The local population is carefully protecting their environment. On a once plantation land, they built a national park called Washington Slagbaai Park which contains beaches, desert like area, caverns and a bird sanctuary. If you are a bird-watcher this is the spot you shouldn’t miss. Here you may enjoy over 200 species of rare birds such as the delicate flamingos, big-billed pelicans, parrots, parakeets, herons and hummingbirds. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars with you. This park may be visited in a few hours in a four-wheel-drive vehicle but it will take you a few days to appreciate it from one side to another. You can take either of the two routes, the long one (22miles) marked by yellow arrows or the short one (15 miles) marked by green arrows. You should take into consideration the fact that the roads are somewhat rugged and muddy when it rains but they are safe and well marked.

The waters of Bonaire shores are of a clean turquoise colour, ideal for scuba diving or snorkeling. A great variety of tropical fish and endless coral reefs may be seen here. Actually Bonaire is in itself a coral reef as it sits on the sunny peak of an underwater mountain. The fish and corals are protected here so spearfishing is forbidden in Bonaire.

The real attractions are Boca Bartol bay, a salt flat named Salina Mathijs, a white-sand beach Boca Chiquito, a two-part black-sand beach Boca Cocolishi, Wajaca a remote reef and Mount Brandaris, the highest peak of the island (774 ft).

The main road in the National Park takes you to Boca Bartol, which is a bay full of reef fish, elkhorn corals and sea fans.

Salina Mathijs, a salt flat which hosts flamingos which build high mud mounds to hold their eggs during the rainy season is a popular attraction and so are the two black-sand and white-sand beaches, Boca Chiquito and Boca Cocolishi, known for romantic picnics and close-shore snorkeling. There is even a possibility of an overnight sleep in a building in the park for the tourists registered at a hotel on the island.

Beside the wonders of nature, Bonaire has some man-made sites which are worth visiting. The capital Kralendijk is called by the locals, Playa, which is Spanish means ‘beach’. It is a little dull but it is neat, pretty and it keeps the Dutch taste, with orange, lime and pink stucco houses, fishing boats and island sloops. Also, a Protestant church and a Roman Catholic Church remind of European colonialist period. Heading south of the capital, one may not miss the Trans World Radio Antennae, a tall medium-wave radio station, the loudest voice in Christendom that broadcasts in 20 languages.

Going north, you come across the most beautiful stretches in the Dutch Antilles, with coral cliffs and turquoise waters places you can see traveling by bicycle or on foot as there are paved paths built for this purpose.

There are many sightseeing tours which will show you the island for affordable rates. So if you enjoy, scuba-diving, bird-watching and nature, Bonaire of the Dutch Antilles is the ideal place.

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