Bonaire Culture and History
Discovered in 1499 by Amerigo Vespucci, the Caribbean Island of Bonaire has a history that is deeply rooted in its people and their diverse cultures. After the Spanish colonized this island in the early 1500’s, Bonaire changed hands many times. Finally in 1816, Bonaire became a Dutch colony. Today, its Dutch roots are clearly visible in the food and beverages. From fine chocolates to exotic cheeses and even Heineken beer, Bonaire has a distinctly Dutch aura.
The name Bonaire has originally came from the word ‘Bonay’ and was named by the Caiquetio, who were the original inhabitants of this Caribbean island centuries ago. The early Dutch modified this name to Bojnaj and then later to Bonaire. By the year 1837, Bonaire became a major producer of salt. Tourism was introduced to the island only after the government constructed the first pier in the harbor. Hotels and restaurants began to spring up everywhere, to cater to the needs of the early tourists and Caribbean real estate investors, who enjoyed the peace and tranquility of Bonaire.
The history of this island continues to be written. The inhabitants spring from the past and are proud of their heritage. As far as the future is concerned, the people of Bonaire welcome growth and development, but have made an effort to take a step back and consider how unmonitored progress will affect their lives and their island.
From Dutch and German, to English and Papiamento, the languages in Bonaire vary. The eclectic blend of cultures and languages is as diverse as Bonaire’s mercurial personality. It is lively yet languid, refined yet raw and the perfect destination for outdoor lovers and provides adventure for the not-so-athletic tourists.