I am often asked where the next tourism ‘hot spot’ will be, or to suggest a location I believe a travel writer should target. There is very little written about the Southern Caribbean Island of Bonaire. After visiting in March 2017 I expect this to change in the next few years.
With a population of less than 20,000 and the ‘oh so welcome’ cruise ship guests of almost the same number per week during the short five month cruise ship season, this little volcanic island is on the threshold of a major tourism boom. Barely mentioned in the Caribbean tourism literature, and very much in the shadow of its dominant nighbor – Aruba, only forty miles away, Bonaire is a relatively small island with what is reputed to be the best shore diving spots in the world. Numerous rocks painted bright yellow at the side of the road illustrate the name and location of the dive spot. Using the same budget methodology blue rocks offer directions to the biking trails and pink ones the hiking trails. The island is also famous for a colony of pink flamingos who reside in the National Park.
This Dutch colonies main town, Kralendijk is small, compact and dominated by tourist shops, although there are also two small museums. From the quay side brightly coloured tropical fish can be observed while numerous tour operators offer excursions around the island for the set government rate of US$25.00. These tours involve excursions to the north and south of the island, with the south section being famous for the huge salt marshes. In contrast the north has scree and cactus vegetation with a single track paved road running adjacent to the azure blue sea in many places.
I was informed there was no crime on Bonaire, as everyone knows everyone else. There are no traffic lights and road maps are not needed as there are only a few roads. When I visited the Marriott chain was in the process of opening up a resort. With the cruise ship traffic set to increase in the next few years Bonaire is destined to be discovered by many more. Hopefully some of those will also write about it…