Bonaire is 50 miles north of Venezuela and the second largest, quietest and least known of the islands of the Dutch Antilles, with Kralendijk as its capital. The island is semi-arid with an 18 mile coral reef that offers spectacular diving. Along the shore strong waves crashing against volcanic rocks and coral have created ridges, unusual lava formations, grottoes, and caves.
Not being divers, we opted for the land tour. Bonaire is covered with mostly desert vegetation, ranging from barren rocky hills and salt mines to green parklands and freshwater lakes with lots of bird-life. The popular Flamingoes were not in residence on our drive, but we did see lots of the Amazon parrots.
We arrived in Willemstad, Curacao in the midst of the Heineken sailing regatta, where a time-out was called to allow the Star Flyer plenty of maneuvering space to make a “u-turn” in the middle of the harbor and dock alongside this beautiful town.
The day was perfect for a long walk, which involved taking a free water taxi across the shipping canal which divides the town into “old” and “new”, to shop and take pictures. The architecture is reminiscent of a Dutch town with its red roofs and pastel colors….very photogenic!
There is a colorful floating market on the waterfront in downtown Willemstad where merchants from Venezuela travel the 50 miles by boat to sell fresh fish and other produce directly from their vessels under an array of colorful awnings. This picturesque location has been one of our favorites thus far, followed closely by Grenada and Barbados.
Sunday, November 13, 2011 we dock in Oranjestad, Aruba. A walk into town quickly informed us that everything is closed, though a few photos were shot. We thought perhaps a taxi drive to the beaches might be in order until the downpour of rain started and continued most of the day. Reading and paying for internet use became the activities of the day.
Oranjestad is the center and capital of Aruba. The official language is Papiamento; sort of a mixture of Dutch, Spanish and English, also spoken in Bonaire. The currency for all 3 islands is the US dollar. Though Holland is part of the European Union the Euro is not used as it discourages U.S. tourism…smart people and good for us. The ship’s currency is the Euro, however.
Rather than upload photos separately, I will link a slideshow to my Picasa album for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Other albums from this trip thus far can be viewed there as well.
For the next two days we will be at sea, arriving Cartagena, Columbia November 16th. We will be back in touch whenever possible. Quick updates will be posted to Facebook.