Bonaire – Bon Bini Boneiru

Bonaire is a beautiful tropical island in the Caribbean. It is officially part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You will encounter the words Bon Bini everywhere, Papiamento for Welcome! Bon Bini Boneiru is Welcome Bonaire. Papiamento is, in addition to Dutch, the official language on Bonaire. The island is a special part of the Netherlands, not very old and about the size of Ameland. The climate and history are very different from the Wadden Island.

Caribbean Netherlands

  • History of Bonaire
  • Spaniards and slaves
  • Fort Orange and tourists – Bon Bini Boneiru
  • Special municipality
  • Klein Bonaire
  • From a to B


History of Bonaire

The history of the tropical island of Bonaire of 288 square kilometers (Ameland is 268 km²) goes back more than a thousand years. Not that long, but a lot has happened in those thousand years. The island is located in the Caribbean Sea, is one of the Leeward Islands and is the B of the ABC islands. The A is for Aruba and the C for Curaçao.


History only began with the arrival of the Caiquetio Indians or Arawaks, approximately in the year 1000 AD. They came from mainland South America and lived in mud huts. We know they were there because they left petroglyphs near Boca Onima on the east side of the island, which can still be seen today.

Spaniards and slaves

In 1499 the Spanish arrived and seized the island. They didn’t find the island really interesting because there was no gold to be found. In the meantime, they made slaves of the Indians and took them to work in the copper mines in South America. In the seventeenth century, the Dutch took over the ABC islands, motivated by the trading interests of the West India Company.

Dutch island Bonaire

The Dutch history of Bonaire began in 1636. It became a plantation island for timber and corn and Bonaire was used for salt extraction.
Source: Herman Benjamins, Johannes François Snelleman, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Fort Orange and tourists – Bon Bini Boneiru

Neighboring island Curaçao became the center of the slave trade. Fort Oranje was built on Bonaire in 1637, with four cannons, to strengthen its grip on the island. The site of Fort Oranje became the base for the later capital of the island of Kralendijk. In 1862, slavery was abolished and the approximately 750 slaves on Island B were freed. Many moved to Aruba or Curaçao because of work. After the Second World War, tourism emerged and remains the most important pillar of the economy to this day.

Special municipality

From 1954 to 2010, Bonaire was part of the Netherlands Antilles (a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which consisted of six islands belonging to two archipelagos of the Lesser Antilles – the SSS Islands and the ABC Islands). In 2010, Bonaire voted in a referendum in favor of its status as a special municipality in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It does have the US dollar as its currency. Today, approximately sixteen thousand people live on Bonaire. Most islanders live in Kralendijk, many others in Rincon.


The island has tropical forests and beautiful nature with flamingos, parrots, lizards, iguanas, bats and plants, although the Netherlands has had a bad influence on nature and species diversity with the plantation in previous centuries.
Kralendijk with Klein Bonaire in the background / Source: Vvulto, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0) Snorkeling
In the waters around the island you can enjoy swimming (the water temperature is on average 27 degrees), surfing and beautiful diving and snorkeling to the coral reefs that surround the island. It is also the island where sailing is popular and where para-gliding is popular.

Klein Bonaire

Klein Bonaire is an island off the coast of Kralendijk of approximately 6 km² in size. It has been saved from development as a tourist area and has been declared a nature reserve where sea turtles and flamingos can be seen. There are beautiful coral reefs in the sea with a great wealth of coral, tropical fish and seahorses.

From a to B

Source: Ameland Press Agency In the autumn of 2015 and the spring of 2016, there is a crowdfunding project on Ameland that should help two islanders move back to Bonaire. The campaign is called From A to B. The A stands for Ameland and the B for Bonaire. The two who want to move are Anthony Evers and Ria Evers-Dokter. Anthony was born on Curaçao and Ria on Ameland. They worked and lived together on Bonaire for years. In 2002 they came to Ameland – for ten years, the plan was – to care for Ria’s mother in the last years of her life and to work some more for their pension. That plan failed when on the day of Ria’s mother Anthony’s funeral, Anthony suffered a stroke. That was in 2011. Afterwards he could no longer walk or talk and was confined to a wheelchair. Since then, Ria has been an informal caregiver for her husband and also became incapacitated herself, meaning she could no longer work. The two moved to an assisted living home and the desire to move back to Bonaire became further and further out of sight but not out of mind. It remained a dream. Due to all the setbacks, the finances did not allow a move and a few friends and acquaintances of Ria and Anthony responded. They organized various actions to raise money, including a dinner show, a stall at the Flea Market and during the Atmosphere Market during the Christmas holidays in Hollum and the publication of a folder of cards (see four of the fourteen below). During the spring holidays of 2016 there was an auction of art, antiques and curiosities. By then, enough money had been raised to make the move possible. That was in May 2016.
Source: Linda Vloedgraven/Ameland Pers UitgeverijSource: Linda Vloedgraven/Ameland Pers UitgeverijSource: Linda Vloedgraven/Ameland Pers UitgeverijSource: Linda Vloedgraven/Ameland Pers Uitgeverij


A . Bonaire
B . Aruba
C . Curacao
D . Ameland
E . Klein Bonaire
F . Kralendijk
G . Rincon

read more

  • Municipality of Ameland and the municipal council
  • Curaçao – Island in the Caribbean Sea
  • Sint Eustatius – island of the Caribbean Netherlands
  • Maldives – group of islands in the Indian Ocean
  • Nanuya Levu – Fiji Island of The Blue Lagoon

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