Washington Slagbaai National Park
Rules & Regulations of Washington Slagbaai National Park
History of Washington Slagbaai National Park
Washington Slagbaai National Park was the first nature sanctuary in the Netherland Antilles (as of 2010, Bonaire is now part of the Dutch Caribbean, consisting of sister islands St. Eustatius and Saba). The park was established in 1969 and covers an area of 5.643 hectares.
The terrestrial park is a nature sanctuary located in the northern one-third of the island. It is a safe habitat for the terrestrial native and endemic species of Bonaire. Parrots, flamingos, parakeets, iguanas and many other species of birds and reptiles can be found in this reserve. The beaches inside the park are an important nesting ground for all four species of sea turtles found in the Caribbean. Originally inhabited by native South Americans and comprising two of the largest and most productive plantations on the island during the colonial period, the park is rich in cultural and historic heritage. The Visitor Center at the park’s entrance, with its museum and walking trails, offers an enjoyable learning experience. The park includes two RAMSAR sites, Saliña Slagbaai and Saliña Goto. Three hiking trails are available with varying degrees of difficulty.
Driving Routes through Washington Slagbaai National Park
There are two routes through the park. The “long” route takes one to Bonaire’s windward side, with sweeping vistas at Playa Chikitu, Boka Kokolishi, and Bonaire’s northernmost lighthouse, Seru Bentana. Then the road follows along the coast, passing by Boka Bartol, Playa Funchi, Wayaka, and finally Boka Slagbaai.
The “short” route takes a bee-line through the interior of the Park, coming out to the coastline at just about Bonaire’s northern point, and then joins the long route to follow the island’s leeward coastline. Note that if climbing Brandaris, the island’s highest point, then the short route must be used. It’s recommended to get into the park very early if planning to climb when the heat factor is as low as possible.
Entry Fee to Washington Slagbaai National Park
The entry fee to the park is $25.00 per person. If the STINAPA dive tag has already been purchased, then showing the tag and white receipt at the gate will provide free entrance into the park. Overnight stays in the old plantation house at Boca Slagbaai can be enjoyed, but with a prior reservation.
Management of Washington Slagbaai National Park
The park is managed under the auspices of STINAPA, the foundation which manages Bonaire’s park system. You may find a wealth of additional information about Washington Slagbaai National Park by visiting their website. The park is open every day of the year, with the exceptions of Christmas Day, December 25th, and New Year’s Day, January 1st.
The fringing reef which surrounds Bonaire is a National Marine Park from the high water mark down to a depth of 200 feet/60m. Every diver who has not dived on Bonaire within the last calendar year must attend a diver orientation dealing with Bonaire Marine Park regulations and information. These orientation sessions are usually held at around 9:00 AM the morning after you arrive on Bonaire, and you are required to attend and to obtain your Marine Park tag, which is necessary to legally dive in Bonaire’s waters. The cost of the tag is US$25, and proceeds help support park management and services.