Quick Response on Bonaire Averts Potential Environmental Calamity

Excellent cooperation and fast mobilization on Bonaire has helped to avoid environmental problems after tar globules from Trinidad arrive on Bonaire.

As reported last week, two weeks ago, Bonaire started seeing globules of tar arrive on the windward eastern coastline, after traveling downcurrent from Trinidad and an oil spill from their Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Today, after two weeks of intensive work, we have good news to report that the east coast is returning to normal.

The entire Bonaire community–including nature organizations, government, private sector, and private citizens–came together in a massive cleanup effort, which has helped tremendously with dealing with the potential negative ramifications of the Trinidad oil spill. As of now, the most ecologically valuable areas do not appear to have been negatively impacted or have seen only minimal impact.

150 volunteers work together.

Last Saturday, over 150 volunteers worked ceaselessly along Bonaire’s east coast beaches at various locations to insure that all is safe and clean and remove any oil which had washed up on Bonaire’s shore, including a number of places near Washington Slagbaai National Park, Lagun, Washikemba, Sorobon, Willemstoren and Markultura. Oil that had washed up was collected and, where possible, even scraped off the rocks.

 

Safety materials were provided to all volunteers by Bonaire’s island and federal governments, while STINAPA organized the volunteers for the different locations. The Fire and Police Departments assisted by delivering materials and food (donated by Bonaire Food Group and its supermarkets), and the volunteers did the rest!

It was an awesome effort, and today we are happy to report that Bonaire’s beaches on the east coast are now clean and safe, with no new oil washing ashore in several days. Due to the organized clean-ups that began on Saturday, May 27th, 2017, it can be said that the sandy areas are clean. Unfortunately, it is not possible to remove all oil residue from the rocks and stones. The beaches are receiving continued monitoring.

Join STINAPA’s Junior Rangers at Lagun tomorrow morning for an additional cleanup.

Because it has been observed that there is still oil washing ashore at Lagun, there will be another cleanup tomorrow at this location by STINAPA’s Junior Rangers, who adopted this beach years ago as their beach to keep clean on a regular basis.

The reason the oil is still present at Lagun is because oil that was washed into the bay is still coming ashore with seaweed. If you wish to help out, join the Junior Rangers tomorrow morning at Lagun.  Protective gear will be provided, including gloves, boots, and overalls. If you still have protective gear from the cleanups of last week, please bring these with you. STINAPA and the Junior Rangers thank you for any assistance.

Seabirds are recuperating.

Red-footed Booby, recuperating from Trinidad oil spill.

Image courtesy of Elly Albers

Eight seabirds (Red-footed Boobies and Brown Boobies) were found still alive, but covered in oil. These were brought to Elly Albers at the Mangrove Info Center for rehabilitation, as she has experience in helping seabirds return to health. Two were very sick and did not live, but Elly is happy to announce that the remaining six seabirds are healthy, clean and stable.

The birds required multiple cleanings using Dawn dish-washing liquid, as the tar was not easy to remove. However, they are finishing their recoveries, and Elly hopes they can be released again soon.

Thanks go to many entities on Bonaire for the great coordination and fast mobilization:

  • Bonaire’s Governments
  • STINAPA
  • STCB
  • STINAPA Junior Rangers
  • Selibon
  • The Dutch army
  • Bonaire’s Fire Department
  • Bonaire’s Police Department
  • Ministry of I&M
  • Bonaire Food Group
  • van den Tweel Supermarket
  • Warehouse
  • Kooyman
  • The Mangrove Info Center
  • Elly Albers
  • Rentofun
  • Budget Car Rental
  • Bonaire Hydrotest and Maintenance
  • And, of course, the many hundreds of private citizens who volunteered!

(Source:  STINAPA, The Mangrove Info Center)

 

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

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Save Our Sharks Room is Launched at Washington Park’s Open House

Enjoy this year’s open house at Washington Slagbaai National Park on Sunday, June 11, 2017.

This Sunday heralds the annual open house event for Bonaire’s Washington Slagbaai National Park, and this year there is a special feature, when the new Save Our Sharks Room is launched.

Fun events will be occurring all day long throughout the park.

Washington Slagbaai National Park's Open House is June 11, 2017The park’s open house is a fun day filled with lots of events, food, and sun and sand for anyone, residents or visitors alike, to enjoy. The park is open from 8:00 AM through 5:00 PM, and entrance for this very special day is free. Transportation from the entrance to Boka Slagbaai is provided at 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, with a return at 3:00 PM.

Don’t miss the grand opening of the new Save Our Sharks Room, with interactive exhibits.

At 10:00 AM, there will be a very special grand opening of STINAPA’s Save Our Sharks room, located in the park’s museum at the entrance.  Within this special room, one can discover the sharks of Bonaire, uncover fossil shark teeth in the Shark Tooth Dig, and learn about the sharks of the past, present, and future! Thanks to the generous support of the Nationale Postcode Loterij in the Netherlands, STINAPA, among others, is able to make a real difference in shark conservation in the Caribbean.

Biking, hiking, barbecue and drinks, local market, and face painting.

But events will be occurring all day long.  There’s a mountain bike race starting at 7:30 AM, a local market will be open at 8:00 AM with food and drinks, there’s hiking for both kids and adults, face painting, handicrafts, barbecue, and live local music starting at 1:00 PM.

Enjoy the day!

(Source:  STINAPA)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Marine Species on Bonaire Which Have Protection

There are both plant and animal species on Bonaire which are protected under either international agreements or local laws.

Internationally protected marine species on Bonaire.

Download the list of protected marine species on Bonaire.

The species of marine animals that are protected are listed below and these can be important for reef fishermen to know about.

All whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, and sea turtles that may be found in the waters of Bonaire are protected by treaties (international agreements). All the soft and hard corals are also protected. In fact, the entire underwater park and all that is in it is protected, alive or dead.

Click image to download the entire list of protected marine species on Bonaire (in PDF format)

Click image to download the entire list of protected marine species on Bonaire (in PDF format)

In the underwater marine park, except for the two fish reserves, fish may be fished with traditional fishing gear. However, a number of fish and other marine animals are protected according to international and local law. Most of the mentioned fishes occur on the red list of endangered species of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). It concerns CR (critically endangered), EN (endangered) or vulnerable (VU) categories. The government is more or less obliged by the international community to protect these fishes.

Parrotfish are protected because of their ecological importance. They play a key role in the ecosystem. Parrotfish are grazers needed to keep our coral reefs free from algae. Groupers are getting rarer and are at the top of the food chain. They also have a touristic value, like the sea turtles, sharks and rays.

Lobsters are over-fished. Separate management measures are required to maintain and improve the lobster numbers. Lobsters may only be caught between 1 November and 30 April and only along the east coast between Malmok and the Willemstoren. A lobster whose head and trunk together (carapace) is less than 12 cm/4.75 inches may not be captured or killed. Also, egg-bearing lobsters must not be caught or killed, for obvious reasons. The conch (locally known as karko) is on the list because this mollusk is also over-fished.

Locally protected sea creatures

Fishes

(Provided by scientific name, Papiamentu name, Dutch name, English name)

Balistes vetula, pishiporko rabu di gai, koningstrekkervis, queen triggerfish
Dermatolepis inermis, olitu, zeebaars, marbled grouper
Epinephelus itajara, djufes, itajara, Goliath grouper, jewfish
Epinephelus striatus, jakupepu, Nassau tandbaars, Nassau grouper
Lachnolaimus maximus, hòkfes, everlipvis, hogfish
Lutjanus analis, kapitán, snapper, mutton snapper
Lutjanus cyanopterus, karaña, snapper, cubera snapper
Scaridae, gutu, papegaaivissen, parrotfishes
Thunnus obesus, buni wowo grandi, grootoogtonijn, bigeye tuna

Invertebrates

(Provided by scientific name, Papiamentu name, Dutch name, English name)

Panulirus argus, kref, kreeft, Caribbean spiny lobster
Panulirus guttatus, kref, gevlekte kreeft, spotted spiny lobster
Panulirus laevicauda, kref, kreeft, smoothtail spiny lobster

Mollusks/Seashells

Strombus gigas, karkó, grote kroonslak, queen conch

(Source:  STINAPA)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Special Introductory Fares for Flights Toronto to Bonaire Offered by Sunwing

Sunwing will begin direct flights from Toronto to Bonaire and return in mid-December, 2017.

As the Bonaire Insider informed in an earlier story, Sunwing will commence flights to Bonaire in mid-December 2017 by offering a weekly non-stop service from Toronto to Bonaire every Sunday on a Boeing 737-800 with a capacity of a 189 seats.

Special introductory fares of $595.00 are available now.

Introductory Airfare specials on Sunwing from Toronto to BonaireNow there is a limited-time special introductory fare for air-only of $595.00 per person, including all taxes and fees.  This special rate is valid for flights from Toronto to Bonaire on 17th December, 2017, 24th December, 2017 or 7th January, 2018.  Return flights on this fare are available 24th December, 2017, 31st December, 2017, 7th January, 2018, or 14th January, 2018.

Award-winning in-flight service.

All flights to or from Bonaire include Sunwing’s award-winning in-flight service with:

  • Welcome glass of sparkling wine
  • Free checked baggage up to 23 kilos
  • Extensive buy-on-board menu (additional charge)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • First-run movies
  • Kidcations Backpacks with games and toys
  • Free 5 kilo carry-on, with one free personal item.

Terms and conditions may apply.

Prices are for new bookings only and subject to change without notice. All flights are with Sunwing Airlines or Travel Service.  In-flight service varies by flights times, and other conditions may apply. Upgrades to Elite Plus Service are available for only $50.00 per person per flight.

For additional information, or to make a reservation, visit Sunwing’s website.

(Source:  Bonaire International Airport)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Trinidadian Oil Spill Reaches Bonaire’s East Coast

Massive oil spill cleanup in process organized by STINAPA, STCB, the island government, Selibon, and volunteers.

 

It is with a very heavy heart that today we report that the result of an oil spill last month in Trinidad is now affecting Bonaire’s east coast.

Trinidad oil spill reaches Bonaire’s east coast.

On April 23rd, 2017, a fuel oil storage tank ruptured at Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre (Trinidad) refinery spilling 20,000 gallons. Aerial surveys and monitoring indicated that some of the oil leaked from the Pointe-a-Pierre operations and made its way out to sea.

tar from a Trinidad oil spill mars Bonaire's east coastIt has taken about a month to reach Bonaire’s east coast, but globules of tar began washing up on the island’s eastern coast last Thursday. The island government’s Department of Public Health, STINAPA, along with its Junior Rangers, STCB, the island’s waste management company Selibon, and a slew of volunteers have spent the last four days doing their best to mitigate the damage.

Bonaire is racing against time and making a massive effort to mitigate the damage to its natural resources.

Bonaire’s government began immediate aerial surveying, but the salt in the sea has turned most of the oil into tar, so it is not easily detected by air as the tar could be floating just under the surface of the sea.

Trinidad oil spill reaches Bonaire's east coastIt should be noted that at this time, the tar is only washing up on Bonaire’s east coast so it doesn’t impact the safety of water sports enthusiasts diving or kiting on Bonaire’s western leeward short.

Seabirds along Bonaire’s eastern coast are at high risk for death or sickness.

Because the areas of Lac, Lagun, and Sorobon are high-risk areas due to their large bird diversity, cleanup actions are being focused upon these areas first. Unfortunately, bird populations in these areas, and especially those of seabirds, can be quickly affected, many times causing the bird’s death.

 

STINAPA and volunteers working tirelessly to clean up the oil

 

Do not attempt cleanup without the proper equipment.

It should be noted that residents or visitors should NOT try to assist with the cleanup operations without the proper equipment.  The oil/tar can be toxic and shouldn’t come in contact with a person’s skin.  Should it be touched, the tar should be cleaned with an oil-based substance, such as Baby Oil or cooking oil.  Alcohol will not remove it.

You can help. Volunteers are needed to assist with proper cleanup and tar removal efforts.

Those who wish to volunteer to help will be provided the proper equipment and instructions as to how to safely remove the tar.  Removal of the tar is easier in the mornings, as the lower temperatures make the tar and oil less fluid. Those who wish to help can sign up by sending an email to either marinepark@stinapa.org or volunteer@stinapa.org, with the subject line, “Oil Cleanup Volunteer.”  Please provide your name, contact phone numbers, days you are available to help, your address, and if you require transportation or not.

Or contact either STINAPA (717-8444) or STCB to participate in a joint cleanup effort tomorrow morning, May 30th, 2017. If you cannot assist tomorrow, your assistance during the rest of the week is still appreciated.

 

Rehabilitating Seabirds.

Already affected seabirds are arriving at The Mangrove Info Center, as Elly Albers, owner/manager of the center, has had good experience with the rehabilitation of sick or injured seabirds. Already two boobies have “checked in” in with Elly for a health check.  After a massive cleaning, the birds are resting, and hopes are high they can be re-introduced to the sea and shorelines after the situation has resolved.

(Source:  OLB, STINAPA, images and videos by STINAPA and Elly Albers, used with permission)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Bonaire’s Royals Get Ready for Babies

Springtime heralds the breeding season for Bonaire’s terns.

Love is in the air, but no, we are not discussing whether Bonaire’s Royals, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, are expecting!  Instead, we are referring to Bonaire’s Royal Terns, as well as other species of terns found on Bonaire.

Springtime on Bonaire, as in many other locations around the world, signals the breeding season for many animals.  Bonaire’s population of terns, usually made up of Royal Terns, Caspian Terns, Least Terns, or Common Terns, and occasionally other species of terns, are also feeling the urge to propagate their species.

On a recent birding excursion to Bonaire’s south leeward coast, I was surprised to see a large number of terns and laughing gulls on a very small piece of dry real estate, just off the side of the road.  There were so many seabirds on such a small islet,  I had to stop to take a longer look.

Tern courtship includes offerings of fish, dancing, and posturing.

Much to my surprise, I found some real courtship behavior in full swing.  The first behavior which caught my attention was the offerings of very fine fish dinners.

Courtship feeding is frequently seen in terns. For instance, in an effort to lure females to their territories in the nesting area, a male tern may carry a fish around the breeding colony and display it to prospective mates. After a pair bond is formed, during the “honeymoon period” the male tern can actually feed the female, and soon thereafter they begin to copulate.

As I watched, I saw many examples of fish being offered, always proffered with the fish crosswise in the mouth, but the females seemed to be playing hard to get, with all offerings ignored.  In some cases, the male would fly off to another female on the islet to see if he could find a more willing prospective mate.

The size of the proffered fish might be a determining factor as to whether the female accepts the food or not.  In an older study of Royal Terns in another location than Bonaire, on 23 occasions in which the female accepted the food, the proffered fish was 7 cm. in length or longer.  In seven refusals of food, the fish was only 5 cm in length or smaller and very slender. This leads to speculation that the function of courtship feeding may give the females the opportunity to assess potential mates as future providers for chicks.

Males were busy with other courtship displays, including some high-stepping “Happy Feet” dancing in front of females, as well as unmistakable posturing of the male, with his neck extended and slightly back, and with the bends of the wings out like a skirt.

I was enthralled by the show these seabirds were putting on for me, and several other cars with visitors pulled off to the side of road and joined me in watching.  It should be said that any time you are observing nesting birds on Bonaire, it is best to keep your distance and use a spotting scope or binoculars.  This is for the safety of the future chicks, as, should your motions scare the nesting female off the nest, the egg could be preyed upon, or even over heat and cook under Bonaire’s sun.

However, after about an hour, in which I did not see one female accept an offer of food, I continued on my way.

New chicks are on the way.

Terns on Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean) exhibiting courtship behavior (copulation)

But I was curious to see what the outcome would be, so I visited the islet again the next day.  Although about 30% less populated, those remaining were very busy with some real courtship!  It seems the females’ defenses came down within those 24 hours, and copulation was repeatedly occurring.  When looking closer through binoculars, I could already see some eggs laid in the nesting colony, so we should expect to see some tern chicks in coming days.Terns on Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean) exhibiting courtship behavior (nesting)

So what is the moral of this story?  I would normally encourage everyone to stop and smell the roses, but since roses are not common on Bonaire, I will instead encourage everyone to stop and watch the terns courting!  Keep your eyes open whenever you are driving around Bonaire as you never know what royal experience you may encounter in Bonaire’s nature.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter, Stanford University, Searchable Ornithological Research Archive – UNM)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Taste of Bonaire is Coming, with a Cultural Theme, Saturday, June 3, 2017

This year’s third Taste of Bonaire event will be held on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 in Wilhelmina Park.

Bonaire’s Cultural Attaché to Cuba will be performing.

This event’s theme is all about Bonaire’s unique culture, and will be a one-of-a-kind-event highlighting Bonaire’s cultural delegation to Cuba in July.

The “Gala di Boneiru”, in connection with SKAL and the Island Government, will present their entire two-hour show during this Taste of Bonaire, giving anyone on the island a preview of how the island will showcase its culture in Cuba next month.

Cultural Dance, Drama, and Song.

Cultural Taste of Bonaire, June, 2017Performances at this event will be by Dance Sensation, Bonaire Folkloric Dancers, Grupo Tutti Frutti, Grupo Maskarada, a Brass Band, and also Gilberto Martis (the winner of “Ban Kanta Nos Boneiru“, Luigino Molina (“Rei di Tumba“), and Marjan Offerman (winner of “Kanto Krioyo.”)  This lineup will provide an exciting show illustrating Bonaire’s history in the form of drama, dance, and singing.

Taste of Bonaire will be taking place in Wilhelmina Park from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017.  The park will be transformed into a theater style created for this special event.

Of course, there’s local food as well as international treats.

As always, there will be ample food stands selling local and international foods. The Marshe di Playa will be present offering enticing arts and handicrafts and souvenirs for sale.

But it doesn’t end there, as the the musical group, Grupo Watapana, will be keeping everyone’s toes tapping with their great music.

Be sure to attend this fantastic show and sample of some of Bonaire’s best-known treats!

(Source:  TCB)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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KLM Offers Five Days of Fare Sales, Including Tickets to Bonaire

KLM has Bonaire on sale for only five days.

KLM has just announced a five-day airfare sale, and one of the destinations from Amsterdam is Bonaire!  For those wishing to plan a last-minute vacation, act soon to get your reduced fare ticket locked in, which can be as low as € 498.

Capacity on the sale is limited and reservations must be made by May 22nd, 2017.  Quotes for roundtrip fares are the lowest available for your chosen dates, but exclude a €10 booking fee (and any credit card fee).

To check the fares for your chosen dates, visit the KLM website.

(Source:  KLM)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Canadian Airline Sunwing to Begin Direct Flights from Toronto to Bonaire

Sunwing will offer direct flights from Toronto to Bonaire and return beginning mid-December, 2017.

Tourism Corporation Bonaire (TCB) has announced that Sunwing will commence flights to Bonaire in mid-December 2017 by offering a weekly non-stop service from Toronto to Bonaire every Sunday on a Boeing 737-800 with a capacity of a 189 seats.

Sunwing Airlines is Canada’s leading leisure airline and is the proud recipient of the Consumer Choice Award for its Toronto operations for four years running.

Bonaire International Airport's approach to the runwaySunwing’s commitment to launching this route demonstrates the airline’s confidence in the Bonaire tourism product and will provide Bonaire with greater exposure in the Canadian market and provide travelers with a convenient connection to Bonaire.

The Sunwing Travel Group specializes in all-inclusive vacations and will offer Bonaire vacation packages in cooperation Buddy Dive Resort, Divi Flamingo Beach Resort and Casino, Delfins Beach Resort, and Plaza Beach Resort.

(Source:  TCB)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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Upcoming STINAPA Events, including Birding on Global Big Day

Upcoming STINAPA events include bird-watching on Global Big Day and a sunrise climb of Brandaris, Bonaire’s highest point.

This Saturday, May 13th, 2017, is Global Big Day, one of the biggest birding events of all year. The event includes 150 countries. 17,000 birders. 60% of the world’s bird species. Are you ready to have fun on Global Big Day? Every bird counts. Be a part of it by joining STINAPA for a fabulous birding opportunity, as many migrating birds are on Bonaire right now and are decked out in fabulous breeding plumage.

The mission of Global Big Day.

The goal of Global Big Day is to find as many species as possible in one day. If you like birds, this is a fun event for the whole family and it doesn’t matter if you are a beginning birder or an expert birder, a kid or adult.

Reserve your spot; where to meet.

If you’re interesting in joining, meet at the Toeloei Domacasse public park on the waterfront boulevard. STINAPA will have multiple staff members leading groups to different areas around Bonaire in search of as many birds as possible.  If you would like to join, reserve your spot by telephoning 717-8444, as space is limited. There is no charge for participation but donations are always welcome.

What to bring.

You may need to drive your own vehicle (if the STINAPA vehicles are full). Bring your own binoculars if you have them. STINAPA will submit the joint birding lists to eBird and see how Bonaire did compared to the rest of the world. If you can’t join but still wish to contribute, make a list of any birds you see on Saturday May 13th and submit it to eBirds.

Hike to Bonaire’s highest point, Brandaris, on Sunday, May 14th, 2017.

Most people never have the opportunity to see Washington Slagbaai National Park at sunrise but this Sunday there is the perfect opportunity, as STINAPA will host another climb of Brandaris on Sunday, May 14th, 2017.

Pre-registration is necessary, entry fee, meeting spot.

There is space for 20 participants. Secure your spot and register by calling 717-8444 (registration is required for participation); the entry fee is $10.00. Participants must Arrange their own transport to and within the park. Be at the entrance the park before 5:30 AM, as the hike will begin on time.

What to wear, what to bring, good fitness is important.

A good physical condition is important and children 10 years and up may participate only if accompanied by an adult. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes, and bring your own water and a snack and don’t forget to bring a flashlight. Part of the ascent will be before sunrise, and in the dark, so make sure you have a working light.

Part of the hike is quite a clamber toward the top, but once your reach it the views are spectacular! Everyone will be back at the park entrance around 8:30 AM.

(Source:  STINAPA)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


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