Bonaire’s Washington Slagbaai National Park covers more than 13,000 acres (5,260 hectares) on the island’s northernmost tip. The landscape is dramatic and the roads are bone-rattling rough. Car rental companies won’t allow you to take a regular auto into the park so you’re going to need a jeep or other high clearance vehicle.
Arrive early to beat the heat and plan to spend the entire day exploring. A Nature Tag will get you into the park, or you can pay the park entrance fee at the visitors’ center. Take along more water than you expect to drink, a few snacks, sunscreen, swimsuit, towels, and binoculars for bird spotting.
Two dirt routes lead through the park and the longer one is the most interesting. It takes about two hours to travel if you rush, or all day at a sightseeing pace. Pick up a map at the park entrance. Along the way, you’ll come across historic sites, blowholes, beaches, and some of the 200 species of birds that live in the area.
Mountain bikers will want to take the 21 m/ 34 km stretch of trail that runs flat along the sea and over rigorous hills through the low mountains. You can rent bikes from Bike Rental Bonaire or ask about joining a group ride at the tourist office in Kralendijk.
Hikers have a choice of three signed trails. Early in the day, consider taking the moderately-difficult 90-minute hike to the top of Brandaris, Bonaire’s highest point at 790 ft/241 m. The views from the top are worth the climb.
Wayaka Beach is actually three small sandy beaches at the northern tip of the park. Each is ideal for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. A large saltwater lake is located about halfway between Wayaka and the park entrance. Large flocks of flamingos hang out there and it’s a good spot to take a rest break.