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Bonaire Guide

Driving

The Caribbean island of Bonaire is a destination extraordinaire for water sports enthusiasts. Scuba-diving, snorkelling, sailing and windsurfing are among the diverse options on offer. Most visitors also drive to iconic sights such as Seru Bentana Lighthouse and Boka Slagbaai on their holidays here, as well as the more remote beaches and wildlife preserves.

Driving Tips for Bonaire

Bonaire is only 30 miles long and seven miles across at its widest point. Roads in the main towns can get busy and inadequate signposts are a problem when searching for specific locations. Drivers should be careful at intersections as local drivers may assume they have right of way. Wild donkeys on roads and slippery roads during occasional rainstorms are the main hazards on rural routes. Roads are not lit at night.

Driving licences: visitors from the UK who are over 21 can drive here using their UK photo licence. Those with old, non-photo licences may be required to produce an International Driving Licence or their passport.

Which side does Bonaire drive on: the right.

Speed limits:
Rural areas: 37mph (60kph) unless otherwise indicated
Built-up areas: 25mph (40kph)

Alcohol limits: 0.05 per cent, which is less than the UK limit of 0.08 per cent. Offenders could be fined and their licence confiscated.

Minimum driving age: 18 years; 21 or above for car hire.

Seatbelts: drivers and all passengers are required to wear seatbelts, although the law is not enforced rigidly. Children under 12 are required to sit in the rear seat and youngsters under four years old should travel in a child safety seat.

Mobile phones and GPS: mobile phone use when driving is illegal, but locals often ignore this regulation. GPS systems are allowed yet possibly redundant on such a small island.

Cost of fuel in Bonaire: considerably cheaper than in the UK.

Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are not widely used on the island and few petrol stations accept them. However, they can be used when hiring vehicles from on-the-ground suppliers.

Insurance: car rental includes third-party insurance, but excess insurance is recommended to cover loss or damage to the vehicle.

Traffic and parking: there are few parking restrictions. Drivers need only to pay attention when leaving their vehicle at the airport, outside a post office or at a busy junction.


Transport

Taxis
There are a number of taxis, but they tend to be expensive. Taxis are not fitted with meters so passengers need to agree the fare with the driver before setting off. Taxis are available by the hour for island sightseeing tours, an option many passengers on Caribbean cruise ships calling at Bonaire take advantage of. Fares from the airport to Harbour Village Marina are around £8, while fares from the airport to Playa Frans are £28.

Buses
Mini-buses here are used as public buses. These buses run on set routes throughout daylight hours and are a cheaper choice for getting around than taxis. Destinations are shown in the front windows of the vehicles. There are also a few larger buses which operate at less frequent intervals than the mini-bus services.

Ferries
There are no public ferry services to Bonaire and the only options for boat travel are to join a dive tour or take the short crossing to Bonaire’s tiny neighbour, Klein Bonaire. Bonaire is a port of call for the majority of Caribbean cruise liners.

Airports
Flamingo International Airport in Kralendijk receives schedule flights from Amsterdam as well as services from Caribbean locations such as Aruba and Curacao. Taxis run passengers from the airport to the capital for around £6.

Explore

Exploring Bonaire

The southern sector of the island has salt pans which give off striking hues. Pekelmeer Lake is a functioning salt production facility. There are also historic slave cabins and a large flamingo sanctuary contained within the salt pans.

Other tourism sites and destinations in the southern half of the island are the Donkey Sanctuary, the kite-surfing hub at Atlantis Beach and Lac Bay. The latter has strong enough winds for windsurfing and is the best beach for sunbathing and swimming.

Willemstoren lighthouse dates from the 1830s and stands out like a guardian sentry. Boats to Klein Bonaire depart from the harbour at the capital of Kralendijk. The Van Walbeeck Monument, Fort Oranje and the architecture and shops on Kaya Grandi are among Kralendijk’s draws.

As they head northwards, visitors will see the island’s oldest settlement at Rincon. The road passes Seru Largu, where great sea views enthral all.

Washington Slagbaai National Park is at the top of the island and has another excellent viewpoint, Mt Brandaris. Hiking, eclectic fauna and the picturesque beach of Playa Chikutu ensure Slagbaai is on the itineraries of most holidaymakers.

Weather

Bonaire has a warm and balmy climate with temperatures ranging between 23°C and 33°C throughout the year. Sea breezes take the heat out of the hottest days. It is best to avoid the months between June and November when hurricanes are most likely to hit. Annual rainfall is minimal, but November is traditionally the wettest month.

All cities in Bonaire

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