Hiking in Washington Park–Seeing Bonaire From A New Perspective
For all those visitors who think they have “done it all on Bonaire,” there’s always something new to explore and learn about the island. Hiking the three trails in Washington Slagbaai National Park is probably something that can be added to the Bonaire bucket lists of the majority of the island’s visitors. The park has three established hiking trails, with varied levels of difficulty. Two are accessible from the Park’s entrance area, and the Lagadishi Walking Trail is the easiest of all trails. It takes hikers on about a 2-hour walk, over a limestone plateau that provides glimpses of the complete spectrum of Bonairean windward scenery: historic sites, vegetation which has adapted to a dry, salty habitat, sand dunes, mangroves, a salt pan, blow-holes, and a true oceanic beach are some of the components of this trail. Flamingos are frequently seen in the salt pan. This particular trail is easy and most visitors who are accustomed to walking will be able to complete the trail easily. The remaining two trails are more difficult and should be considered only by those visitors who hike regularly or are in relatively good physical condition.
The Kasikunda Climbing Trail, which also begins at the park’s Visitor Center, is a challenging 45-minute climb to the top of a volcanic hill. Its level of difficulty is high because of the uneven terrain and also the steepness of the climb. However, those who meet this challenge will be rewarded with the best view of the north of Bonaire, all the way from Malmok to Spelonk.
The Subi Brandaris Trail is a 45-minute hike to the highest peak on Bonaire, 241 m (784 feet) high. This is a medium-difficulty climb, and the view from the top is a really fantastic reward for making the trip. On a clear day you can see the island of Curacao (46 km [30 miles] away from Bonaire), and, on exceptionally clear days, the Santa Ana Hill in the Paraguana Peninsula of Venezuela, and the mountain range south of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela are visible, too. Unlike the other trails, the Subi Brandaris trail does not start at the Visitor Center/entrance; hikers will need a vehicle to enter the park and take them to the base of the hill. To climb Brandaris, hikers are required to enter the park before noon.
As with any outdoor activity in the tropics, it’s recommended to begin your hike early in the morning, when cooler temperatures prevail and the resident animals are more active and likely to be seen. Always bring sunscreen and water, and good hiking shoes are also a necessity. But those visitors who spend some time hiking Washington Slagbaai National Park will be rewarded with memories of vistas unlike anything else on Bonaire.