Washington Slagbaai National Park - ACTIVITIES
The park has 34 km (21 miles) of dirt roads. The majority of our visitors go through the Park by car. Although 20 to 40 cars a day travel through the Park, it is never crowded. You will receive a map with all the points of interest upon payment of the entrance fee, or presenting proof that you already have paid to enter the Marine Park. You can choose the long route (the most points of interest are on that route), or the short route. We do not recommend entering the park with a standard passenger car; most are too low to the ground to pass safely over the rocky roads. The latest in the day that a car is permitted to enter the Park is 2.45 PM.
The roads and scenery of the park make it a great ride for mountain bikers. The tour, which is 34 km (21 miles) long, has a great variety of views and terrain. Long stretches of flat roads beside the sea contrast with severe up and down hills between mountains.
Be aware, this ride is for people used to biking regularly; do not attempt it if you aren’t in good shape. Although the highest altitude on the bike route is only about 100m / 333feet, temperatures get very high and the terrain is rough.
Even though it’s not mandatory, we highly recommend a back up vehicle if you decide to go for it!
Other recommendations from Park staff:
The park does not provide bicycles. If you’d like to join a group to cycle in the Park contact our tourist office in the center of Kralendijk www.tourismbonaire.com/
All three trails have orientation signs to guide you. We do not recommend that anyone hike alone. Remember to bring adequate shoes, socks, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water! You’ll be more comfortable if you’re in light clothing when you’re in direct sunlight.
The Kasikunda Climbing Trail, which begins at the Park’s Visitor Center, is a challenging 45-minute (for those in good shape!) climb to the top of a volcanic hill. Its level of difficulty is high because of the uneven terrain and also the steepness of the climb. However, those who meet this challenge will be rewarded with the best view of North Bonaire, all the way from Malmok to Spelonk. The interpretation signs along the way explain some of the natural processes of the island.
The Lagadishi (“Lizard”) Walking Trail also begins at the Visitor Center. It’s about a 2-hour walk, on a limestone plateau that provides you with a complete spectrum of Bonairean windward scenery: historic sites, xerophytic vegetation (plants such as cactus, which are adapted to dry habitat), sand dunes, mangroves, a salt pan (a shallow seawater lake, which evaporates seasonally leaving a residue of salt), blowholes, and a true oceanic beach are some of the components of this trail. Flamingos are frequently seen in the saltpan. Interpretation signs are provided on this trail.
The Subí Brandaris Trail is a 45-minute hike to the highest peak on Bonaire, 241 m (784 ft.) high. This is a medium-difficulty climb, and the view from the top is a really fantastic reward for making the trip. On a clear day you can see the island of Curaçao (46 km [30 miles] away from Bonaire), and, on exceptionally clear days, the Santa Ana Hill in the Paraguaná Peninsula of Venezuela, and the mountain range south of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.
Unlike the other trails, the Subí Brandaris trail does not start at the Visitor Center of the Park; you need a vehicle to enter the Park and take you to the base of the hill.
Hikers to the Brandaris are required to be at the Park before noon: Begin your hike early in the morning; the cooler temperatures are more comfortable for hikers and the resident animals are more likely to be seen.
The shoreline from Boka Bartol to Boka Slagbaai is one of the most beautiful of the island. The limestone terrace protects the shore from strong winds, making the water calm and transparent. There are many bokas and playas (inlets and little beaches), some inaccessible except from the water, where you can stop and rest or maybe do some snorkeling.
As always, remember to bring plenty of drinking water, and use sunscreen and a hat.
Other areas along the shoreline of Washington-Slagbaai National Park are not recommended for kayaking due to the likelihood of strong winds and currents, and very large breaking waves.
The Park does not provide kayaks.
Shore diving in the Park is just as easy as shore diving elsewhere around Bonaire with an added advantage: the sites are less visited because of their remoteness. If you are planning to dive in the Park make sure to come early: dives should begin before 2:30 pm, so you should enter the Park no later than 1:00 pm if you intend to SCUBA dive. See the Bonaire National Marine Park dive map for more information on the dive sites in the Park or refer to the book Shore Diving on Bonaire by Jesse Armacost, available for sale at the Park.
Snorkeling and swimming
The west shore of the Park has many beaches where you can enjoy snorkeling and swimming. Because the Park is remote, we do not recommend snorkeling or swimming alone.
When people snorkel, they’re constantly cooled by the sea – but the seawater doesn’t filter out the sun’s burning rays. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your back, and especially the backs of your legs, before you snorkel!
For those with a special interest in natural science, the Park offers possibilities for bird watching, observation of very interesting geological formations and processes, and a few endemic species of flora and fauna.
About 210 species of birds have been spotted on Bonaire, although some of these are migratory and can only be observed at certain times of the year. The Park is one of the best places on the island for observing birds, due to its remoteness and also the many types of habitat it includes: salt-flats, fresh water wells, beaches, limestone plateaus by the shoreline and thorny forests.
There are guides on Bonaire who specialize in bird watching. We highly recommend that you contact one of them before going birding in the park.
Many people enjoy just driving around the park and seeing the fantastic scenery. The drive takes about two hours and there are 20 highlights explained in the brochure, including bird watching spots, beaches, saltpans with flamingos, blowholes and historic sites.
For information about nature tours including bird watching, check out the event page of the Tourism Company Bonaire www.tourismbonaire.com/en/activities-events or the activity page on www.infobonaire.com/activities.html