Introducing Washington-Slagbaai National Park
Covering the northwest portion of the island and comprising almost 20% of the land, Washington-Slagbaai National Park is a great place to explore. Roads are rough and all but impassable after a rain, but it’s well worth the effort. The terrain is mostly tropical desert, and there is a proliferation of cactuses and birds. Look for flamingos in the lowlands and parrots perched on shrubs. Large bright green iguanas are just one of the many reptile species you might find. You’ll also see lingering evidence of the aloe plantation and goat ranch that used to be here – don’t run over any wild descendents of the latter.
There is an excellent information center (599-717-8444; www.stinapa.org; adult/child US$10/5; 8am-5pm, last entry at 2:45pm) and museum at the entrance; the latter has an excellent history section on the island. From here you can take one of two drives: a five-hour, 33km route or a three-hour, 24km route. Regular cars are discouraged but not banned. There are picnic, dive and swimming stops along the way.
Two hikes are best done well before the heat of noon: the 90-minute Lagadishi loop, which takes you past ancient stone walls, a blowhole and the rugged coast; and the two-hour Kasikunda climbing trail, which takes you up a challenging path to the top of a hill for sweeping views.
The park entrance is at the end of a good 4km concrete road from Rincon. Along the way you’ll pass the Cactus Fence Country Club (599-568-9613; from 11am Sun), which – true to its name – is surrounded by one of the living cactus fences common on Bonaire. There’s no golf here, but there is good music, a barbecue and a friendly crowd.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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