About Bonaire (XB)
The Caribbean island of Bonaire (XB) is a municipality of the Netherlands located north of Venezuela. Its primary attractions for tourism are scuba diving and diverse opportunities for viewing a wide range of exotic wildlife in its natural habitat.
Bonaire’s tropical climate is consistent and predictable, with temperatures hovering around 27°C (81°F). Its renowned coral reefs are protected by Bonaire National Marine Park, and much of its land area is under the jurisdiction of Washington Slagbaai National Park.
Many visitors come to experience uncomplicated island life while exploring the caves, lagoons, and sand dunes found across the island. That said, the majority of travelers come to Bonaire on a dive holiday. Its only urban settlement of any size, the capital city of Kralendijk, is in reality a sleepy village located on the eastern shore of the island, and home to the only entry point to the territory, Bonaire International Airport. There is no ferryboat service to and from the island, although visitors are permitted to arrive and depart via private boat.
With virtually no public transportation to speak of, the best way for travelers to explore the island is to rent a car in Bonaire. The island is basically circumnavigated by a two-lane highway that sticks mainly to the coastline, with one branch heading off into the northern interior. Roads are in decent shape, although narrow and occasionally riddled with potholes.
The town of Kralendijk is laid out on a fairly straightforward grid, and a quick look at a map should tell you that getting lost in Bonaire would take special talent, in combination with extreme effort.
Outside of the main development, be advised that many routes come to a dead end without warning, which is easily remedied by simply turning back. The village of Rincon on the northern end of the island is the gateway to Washington Slagbaai National Park, and home to the only fuel station outside of the capital. Most visitors will rent an all-wheel drive vehicle for driving on unpaved surfaces.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Bonaire are supplied by Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, and Dollar. Choose from economy hatchbacks, compact and fullsize 4-door sedans, estate wagons, SUVs, 7-12 seater minivans, and pick-up trucks.
Tips and advice
Reserve your Bonaire car rental as far in advance as possible for travel during peak season (June-September), as most car hire vendors will be completely sold out.
The majority of car hires in Bonaire are equipped with manual transmission. Vehicles with automatic gearboxes are scarce, and twice as expensive to rent.
Watch out for animals wherever you travel in Bonaire. Dogs, cats, livestock, lizards, and goats are commonly seen roaming the roadways.
Prices on food, drink, and accommodation are considerably higher than other Caribbean destinations. Credit cards are accepted at all the major attractions, but cash is the preferred method of payment at smaller establishments.
Pick-up trucks are an uncommonly popular car hire in Bonaire, ostensibly for the cargo bay needed for scuba gear on a dive holiday. Again, book well in advance to reserve a pick-up truck.
Dutch, English, and Spanish are widely spoken across the island.