Bonaire; ask any travel forum, beach vacations, water sport and scuba divers paradise are the words.

Another island of the Netherland Antilles is Bonaire.

This other divers paradise is part of the group called the ABC Islands of the Leeward Antilles; Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.Beach vacations and water sport, scuba diving, that’s Bonaire.A travel forum might a good place to learn what others experienced.

The official language is Dutch, but Papiamentu is commonly spoken. Most island people also speak English and Spanish.

With its 288 km² (111 sq. miles) area, it is the second smallest or largest of the Leeward Netherland Antilles.The population is about 14.000, which means 48 people per km².Klein (Little) Bonaire is uninhabited, 6 km² (2.3 sq. miles) and lies in the arms of its mother Bonaire.Flamingo International Airport is Bonaire’s air connection to the rest of the world.

Bonaire lies just like the Aruba and Curacao, outside the hurricane belt.

A branch of the Arawak Indians called the Caiquetios sailed across from Venezuela and inhabited the island. Traces of their culture are found at several archaeological sites.Rock paintings and petroglyphs have survived in caves.

It seems that the Caiquetios were very tall because the Spanish called d the Leeward Island “Las Islas de los Gigantes”, the Island of the Giants.

Bonaire was claimed for the Spanish by Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. Under Spanish occupation, the natives were enslaved and transported to Hispaniola, but the island's physical resources were largely ignored. By 1526, the island was depopulated. That year, Juan de Ampues, regional governor, turned it into a cattle plantation and repopulated it with Indians.

While Curaçao (one of the 3 Leeward Netherland Antilles) emerged as a center of the slave trade, Bonaire became a plantation of the Dutch West Indian Company. A small number of African slaves were put to work alongside Indians and convicts, cultivating dyewood and maize and harvesting solar salt around Blue Pan.

Slave quarters, rising no higher than a man's waist and built entirely of stone, still stand in the area around Rincon and along the saltpans as a grim reminder of Bonaire's repressive past.

Nowadays Bonaire is a popular tourist destination for both shore diving and shore snorkeling.

Bonaire is world renowned for its excellent scuba diving and is consistently rated among the top shore diving and Caribbean diving locations in the world. Bonaire's license plates carry the logo Diver's Paradise (in English).

The island is ringed by a coral reef which is easily accessible from the shore along the Western and Southern sides. Furthermore, the entire coastline of the island has been declared a marine sanctuary, preserving local fish life. Bonaire is also consistently recognized as one of the best destinations for snorkeling.

The coral reef around uninhabited Klein Bonaire is particularly well conserved, and it draws divers, snorkelers, and boaters.

Bonaire also has several coral reefs where seahorses are common.

Bonaire is also famed for its flamingo populations and its donkey sanctuary. Flamingos are drawn to the brackish water, which harbors shrimp they feed on.

Starting in the 1500s, the Dutch raised sheep, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys on Bonaire, and the descendants of the goats and donkeys roam the island today.

Washington Slagbaai National Park, located at the north side of the island, is an ecological preserve. The highest point of Bonaire, Brandaris, located within this preserve has a complete view of the island.

Lac Bay, (also known as Lac Cai or Lac Cay) on the eastern side of the island, is a windsurfer's paradise.

Atlantis Beach, on the western part of the island, is the local kitesurfing spot.

The only generally recognized towns on the island are Kralendijk

and Rincon

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