At 800 meters from the coast of Kralendijk is the beautiful uninhabited coral island 'Klein Bonaire'. The geographical coordinates of Klein Bonaire are 12˚9 'north latitude and 68˚18' west longitude. Klein Bonaire (Little Bonaire) has an area of approximately 6 km2 and is blessed with beautiful white beaches that also form the breeding grounds for sea turtles.
Anyone who incidentally discovers a new turtle nest on Klein Bonaire or elsewhere on Bonaire is asked to report this to the 'Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB)'. The STCB can take actions to protect the nest to the maximum. Klein Bonaire was sold to Angel Jeserun in 1868 and remained in private hands until 1999. From that moment Bonaire became part of the Bonaire National Marine Park. Klein Bonaire is unique and is called 'Klein' by the Bonairians. The island is unique because only a few islands of this size are uninhabited in the Caribbean. The water that lies between Bonaire and Klein Bonaire has an enormous depth (180 meters).
In addition to the sea turtles, there are 54 different animal species on the reef island, such as birds, reptiles, etc. The island also has 34 tree and shrub species and 42 plant species.
Klein Bonaire has 3 small saliñas (salt lakes). These saliñas attract Caribbean flamingos, they can forage there. Moreover, the island has several freshwater sources. Klein Bonaire is oval-shaped, 4 kilometers long, 2.4 kilometers wide and has an area of 6 km2. The average height of Klein Bonaire above sea level is 1.3 meters.
The soil of Klein Bonaire is made up of calcium-like limestone. This limestone is called 'the younger Seru Domi limestone' and is made up of coral, coral rubble, coral sand and fossils. This type of limestone also occurs in southern Bonaire and is about 103,000 years old.
Klein Bonaire is accessible for divers, snorkelers and day-trippers with various water taxis that are located at the waterfront of the promenade in Kralendijk. The water taxis depart several times a day. The times of the sailing schedules are on information signs along the promenade.
However, Klein Bonaire has no docks for boats or water taxis. So to get to the island it is difficult to keep your feet dry. The boats approach the beach as close as possible. Then you have to step overboard in shallow water to reach the island.
This makes the visit to Klein Bonaire an exciting, adventurous venture. The government wants to protect Klein Bonaire as much as possible and create as few construction works as possible on the beautiful reef island.There are no facilities on Klein Bonaire. Except for a small thatch and an board with information about the history, flora and fauna of the island. The trip from Bonaire to Klein Bonaire takes about 20 minutes. Usually you can tell the captain of the water taxi when you want to be picked up again on the coral island.
Klein Bonaire has a beautiful coral reef that is inhabited by the most colorful fish and other particularly beautiful creatures of the Caribbean Sea. This reef runs along the entire coastline of Klein Bonaire and is an irresistible attraction to divers and snorkelers.
Klein Bonaire is blessed with fields of black coral at the southwest point. This area is called the 'Forest' and is very unique. There are dive tourists from all over the world who come to Bonaire specifically to dive in the waters around Klein Bonaire. This accentuates the incredible beauty of the underwater world of the reef island.
On Klein Bonaire there are some huts for local fishermen, a few old ruins of single slave huts from the slavery time (on the east side) and a small lighthouse (on the southeast side).
Furthermore, the remains of the government doctor's house can still be seen on the island. Between 1849 and 1854 all ships had to report first on Klein Bonaire before they sailed to Bonaire in connection with cholera control. Klein Bonaire was therefore used as a quarantine station.
In 1856 it went horribly wrong. A ship with fruit from Venezuela went directly to Bonaire and bypassed Klein Bonaire. Unfortunately, a sailor was seriously ill and ultimately infected more than 100 Bonairians who all died from the so-feared cholera.
In the past Klein Bonaire was overgrown with a beautiful forest. Years of logging, devastating storms and thousands of goats have unfortunately made this vegetation disappear. In 1966 all goats were taken off the island. This action was initiated by Captain Don Stewart, a man (American) with a special interest in the Bonairian nature and diving, and is known as the 'Great Goat Round Up'. Today, fortunately, a beautiful nature has developed on the island.
In 2013 the Stichting Ecologisch Bonaire and STINAPA started a project to plant 2,500 m2 of land on Klein Bonaire with 100 trees. The Dutch army has helped them.
Plants and trees have been planted that are rare, threatened with extinction and play a key role as a source of food (flowers and fruits) for animals (birds and reptiles). In the past (2006, 2007 and 2009) more trees have been planted on the island, but because the soil is so infertile, these trees have never become very high. The trees do survive on Klein Bonaire.
The cause of the infertility of the soil has to do with the fact that a humus layer has never been able to form on the island. Because of the reforestation it is hoped that in the future the lora and the trawling pigeon will show up on the island again.
Harry Belafonte (New York, March 1, 1923) is a famous American singer and actor. The New Yorker sells millions of records. Belafonte is also very politically engaged, he likes to interfere with the authorities in the United States.
The American is also fond of Bonaire and has visited the diving island for decades. There is even a neighborhood named after him: 'Belnem'. Belnem is a luxury neighborhood within the 'Tera Cora' district. Harry Belafonte completely fell in love with Klein Bonaire and once wrote the song 'Oh, Island in the Sun' as an ode to the beautiful coral island. Belafonte has even been the owner of Klein Bonaire for a while.
Once the future of Klein Bonaire as a natural pearl was seriously endangered. An influential Aruban project developer had already made far-reaching plans to build an exclusive hotel complex on the reef island complete with a water amusement park, golf course, helicopter landing site, tennis courts, two marinas, restaurants, bars and a bridge to Bonaire. Fortunately, the largest non-governmental organization of Bonaire, the National Parks Bonaire Foundation (STINAPA Bonaire), bought Klein Bonaire for 5 million dollars, which meant that this threat disappeared.
September 6 is a public holiday on Bonaire. People celebrate Dia di Bonairu (Bonairedag). During this day, numerous events take place on the Caribbean island including the traditional 'Dia di Boneiru Race'. During this 2-hour sailing competition, a round of Klein Bonaire will be sailed. There is sailing with Sunfishes, Lasers and Rebels. Children can also participate in this sailing competition, there is a special class for them.
Because the underwater world of Klein Bonaire is so breathtakingly beautiful, so many divers and snorkelers go to the coral island. But also for sunbathers and those who love to hike it is a real treat on Klein Bonaire.
Some parts of Klein Bonaire beach are powdery in structure and therefore invite you to spend hours sunbathing or picnicking. Sports enthusiasts go for a walk and hike around the island, an effort of four hours. It is much further than you think so do not forget to bring enough water.
Once a year 'Jong Bonaire' (Stichting Jeugdwerk Jong Bonaire, Young Bonaire) organizes the 'Swim to Klein Bonaire'. From the beach at Eden Beach the 800 meters will be swum to Klein Bonaire. Everyone can participate, from young to old, with the aim of collecting as much money as possible for Jong Bonaire.
During the event, the swimmers are guided by dozens of sailing boats, speed boats, motor yachts and other boats to ensure the safety of the participants. The event is extremely popular. The swim is not a competition but just an event for fun. Swimming fins, snorkels, diving goggles and all other usable materials such as inflatable air mattresses may be used during swimming.
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