Bonaire National Marine Park

Say happy birthday to the Bonaire National Marine Park.  This year marks 35 years of action to protect the 24-mile long island.  The goal has long been to ensure the aquatic environment remains just as it was in 1971.  As a result of its admirable foresight, Bonaire is hailed the world over as a diver’s paradise.

But, Bonaire isn’t just about water. And no longer is a vacation there just about diving.  Today, the Bonaire National Marine Park’s conservation efforts extend to protecting Washington-Slagbaai National Park as well as the Barcadera cave system.

Did you know you could go spelunking in Bonaire?  Put down your fins and check out the stalactites in the caves not far from Kralendijk.  If sporting fins while on Bonaire just seems more natural, there are guided snorkel tours through parts of the cave.

You also can get up close to nature by kayaking the island’s mangroves, another well-preserved area.  What exactly is a mangrove?  It is a tropical species of tree that performs a very important function in protecting the coastline. Data shows that where mangrove forests have been destroyed, tsunami damage has been more extensive.

Ready for another adventure on Bonaire?  Take a bike ride through Washington-Slagbaai National Park.  This vast area, nearly one-fifth of the island, is another valuable part of the local ecosystem.  Many bike rental companies conduct tours through the Kunuku (outback), following hundreds of miles of paths as well as along the coastline.  As you huff and puff you way up and down the terrain of the park, wild goats and donkeys will be leisurely grazing nearby.  Those gorgeous long-legged Bonaire beauties, pink flamingos – will be there as well.

Yes, Bonaire is gaining a new reputation as a well-rounded destination with a host of diversions for anyone who is up to it.  Undoubtedly, it is for the sporting type.

Which doesn’t mean that a Mango Colada or a Divi Funky Monkey isn’t always waiting for you at the Chibi Chibi.  Or there isn’t always a place on the Divi Flamingo dock to lay back and soak up a gentle breeze.  Ah, the Caribbean Ocean’s rhythmic sways below. While snoozing, letting the mind wander or, if need be, massaging sore muscles at The Touch Spa (which, by the way, is just across from the Chibi Chibi. How thoughtful is that?), proud Bonaireans are hard at work preserving the environment.  Thank goodness.  That is why you came, after all.

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