Bonaire is an island municipality of the Netherlands which lies off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean. Referred to as part of the ABC islands; Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao. Bonaire is the smallest and least developed allowing it all it's charm.
What nicer a welcome message to this sun filled island than "Bon Bini (Welcome to) Bonaire" its tourism slogan; "Once a visitor always a friend!!" https://www.tourismbonaire.com/about-bonaire
On first arriving, one can feel this island is bursting full of good vibes. It has managed to escape the saga of mass tourism, offering a haven to those conscientious few who look for clean blue seas, varied and colourful landscape and that ultimate happy holiday feeling!
Bonaire is best known as a diving haven which probably explains why there is very little tourism on the island. The visitors who come to Bonaire are keen to explore Bonaire underwater and therefore create very little damage to the environment as consequence.
The rest of my troop on this trip are keen scuba divers, but snorkelling is more my thing and I enjoyed learning how to take a few shots underwater on this trip. These shots are an inspiration towards some work I am doing right now on acetate as part of my Atelier Experimental practical course at the Sociedade de Belas Artes in Lisbon.
The first stop, where I immediately felt the urge to paint was at Spice Beach, the place where the dive boat leaves to cross opposite to the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire. This tiny island is part of Bonaire's National Marine Parks and full of coral reefs and home to so many different sea turtles and brightly coloured fish constantly feeding.
While my team were busy getting themselves ready sorting out all their underwater equipment I managed to do a couple of quick acrylic paintings on paper from the dock. The temperature in Bonaire is perfect for drawing & painting outdoors in the shade. I could not get enough of mixing all the various turquoise hues while contrasting it with a little gold paint and touches of orange. This was definitely my Bonaire palette!
Driving down south from the centre Kralendijk, one comes to Bonaire's salt pans. I was immediately taken by this huge dark metal structure rising up from the sea. Salt Pier is Bonaire's salt refinery and a well known location for divers. I was impressed by the incredible variety of landscape in the area but particularly the pink salt lakes created by the algae. I learnt that apparently this is why Flamingo's are so beautifully pink in colour!
Exploring further towards the windward part of the island was where the kite boarding and windsurfing happens, as there is a constant blow. Here the landscape is sparse with only a few white beaches just enough to be able to get your surfing gear set up.
The area of Sorobon is full of windsurfers zipping through it's clear bright blue sea, quite a spectacle for us at the surf shack sipping a cold beer! We did think about hiring a windsurfer but were scared we might be crashing into quite a few others as it was chockablock full.
One afternoon while scouting for more dive sites on the East Coast; out of Kralendijk towards Karpata we came across this wonderful mural in such vibrant colours. Similarly to Mexico, many Bonaire homes are brightly coloured and mural paintings can be found indoors and out. This gives the island a unique feel just like a good dose of "joie de vivre!"
The north of the island is raw, dry and rugged, well known for more diving sites around Karpata where there is a special trail that leads to Lake Goto. This picturesque salt water lagoon is known as the meeting and nesting area of the flamingo, such fascinating birds!
On our penultimate day, we spent our time exploring the various trails of the Washington Slagbaai National Park, an area that spans over 5 hectares, known as a home to many wild birds and reptile lizards & iguanas. It is a part of Bonaire's National Marine Parks and is dedicated to the conservation of Bonaire's natural and historical heritage through the sustainable use of its resources.
Visiting Bonaire left me feeling very refreshed and motivated for our end of year Caribbean experience. We plan to cross the Atlantic as part of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, and we will spend a few months exploring the Caribbean which I look forward to documenting! So watch this space...