Caribbean Islands


Bonaire is an island of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, neighbouring the more famous Curaçao and off the northern coast of Venezuela. Aruba to the west, Bonaire to the east, and Curaçao in the middle are sometimes called the ABC group. The island is almost 40 km long and up to 8 km wide. Due to its arid climate it attracts visitors seeking warm, sunny weather all year round. The island is a direct part of the Netherlands as special municipality. Residents are able to vote in Dutch national and European elections, but they use the USD as currency, not the EUR. Quite strange, while the island belongs to the "overseas countries and territories" and is not part of Europe, its citizens are Dutch citizens, and all Dutch citizens are EU citizens.

Bonaire was formed relatively recently, by an uplift of a section for the continental shelf of South America. The coral reef which were growing underwater before became massive limestone layers, which cover most of the island today. The reef limestone is of Cretaceous (~90-100 Ma) to Miocene (~5 Ma) age and lies unconformably on a pre-Cretaceous igneous basement. As a result there are now about 400 caves known on the island, which is quite impressive. In recent years karst areas were declared natural parks and there is now a well developed system of cave guides which show some caves and karst features while at the same time guaranteeing their protection. The caves are important for the local bats and home to various trogobionts. Some also contain cave drawings made by the Caquetío Indians, the original inhabitants of Bonaire.

There are no show caves on Bonaire, the caves which are visited on the tours are not advertised by name, it is not possible to book a certain cave. In other words we do not have any sites we can list. There are about half a dozen operators on the island which offer half and full day tours to numerous cave and karst related sites. And that's actually the only way to visit caves on the island, as it is not allowed to visit caves without a guide. The caves are not developed, but the tours are rather easy. Nevertheless, they sometimes require swimming through the warm water of the caves or climbing across boulders.