Bonaire is a curious case, as far as Caribbean islands are concerned. A sliver of land off the coast of Venezuela, it’s about as far south as you can get before landing on the shores of South America. But, this island municipality formally falls under the jurisdiction of the Netherlands—roughly 5,000 miles away. Despite these peculiar components laying the foundation for an enchantingly unique culture, chances are high you’ve only heard of Bonaire if you happen to be an avid scuba diver; some of the world’s best dives are right offshore. Bringing us to why Bonaire is such a curious case: the secrets of the island—the deep dives, authentic discoveries and best bits—aren’t underwater like most other Caribbean getaways. They’re in plain sight, on the island, waiting to be discovered.
Colossal mounds of salt are only half the sight here. Salt has been a critical part of the island’s trade since ships were wooden and America was colonies—the process in which it’s achieved is still stunning to see. Saltwater is moved from pond to pond over a period of 12 months, steadily gaining salinity as water evaporates. The result of the process is a series of ever-increasingly pink ponds partnered with the final product—the 50-foot tall pyramids of pure white salt. The combination of the two creates a scene akin to a Pink Floyd song, and will instill a new sense of appreciation for your table salt at home.
When you imagine “tropical paradise,” one of the first animals to mind probably isn’t “donkey,” but Bonaire is curious through-and-through. The Donkey Sanctuary is exactly what the name implies: a promised land for all of the island’s donkeys. Established by a Dutch couple in 1993, the estate has been adopting sickly, wounded or stray burros and nursing them back to tip-top shape ever since. These gentle creatures are actually a delight of personality (think: giant dog) and the chance to feed them a handful of carrots will be a surprise candidate for your trip’s favorite memory.
Whether you’ve been scuba diving, shopping at the island’s boutiques, salt-seeing or making friends with a donkey, the perfect end to a day on Bonaire is catching a flick at the Empire Cinema. As with nearly everything else on the island, it’s curious—the screen is outdoors, the seats are plastic lawn chairs and the concessions are Thai food. Summed up, it’s a movie viewing you’re never going to forget, regardless of what movie you see: it turns out ocean breeze in tandem with twinkling stars and moonlight are the sole ingredients that have been missing from every movie you’ve ever seen.
Curious to find out what else awaits on Bonaire? Give one of our travel agents a call. Not only can they supply you with industry-insider recommendations, but they can provide exclusive perks and amenities with all of the leading names in travel. Imagine it: sailing to Bonaire onboard one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s state-of-the-art ships, island-hopping along the way, discovering untold excitement and adventure while lounging deck-side with a piña colada in hand all in between? It’s the vacation of a lifetime.