Susan Davis, a Chicago native, found herself captivated by Bonaire’s charm during a scuba diving excursion in 1988. Just four years later, she left her American life behind and settled on the Dutch Caribbean island. Davis, now a bird guide, reminisces about the moment she fell in love with Bonaire during her initial visit. She vividly recalls sitting on her accommodations’ bed, making a promise to herself to one day call this island home.
A Growing Fascination
A Blossoming Population: Bonaire’s Appeal
The population of Bonaire has experienced remarkable growth, from around 6,000 in the 1960s to approximately 23,000 residents today. This expansion can be attributed to the island’s positive and serene atmosphere, which has a compelling effect on both tourists and potential long-term inhabitants. Rolando Marin, the information officer for Tourism Corporation Bonaire, notes that while the process for an American citizen to move to the island is straightforward, patience is key due to standard paperwork procedures.
Beyond the Depths: Bonaire’s Multifaceted Allure
Unveiling Bonaire’s Unique Charms
Bonaire, an often-overlooked gem, offers more than its reputation as a premier scuba diving destination. As part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), Bonaire boasts a special status as a Dutch municipality. Its modest size of 111 square miles allows for a leisurely drive around the island in just a few hours.
A Glimpse of Island Life
Exploring the Island: A Glimpse into Bonaire’s Daily Life
Beyond scuba diving, Bonaire’s allure lies in its intimate size and laid-back lifestyle. The island’s capital, Kralendijk, hosts most resorts and can be reached within a short drive from the airport. Visitors can opt for extended stays at resorts like Delfins Beach Resort or choose from numerous Airbnb rental homes, some priced below $100 per night.
Culinary Delights and Environmental Commitment
A Sustainable Culinary Scene and Environmental Dedication
Bonaire’s culinary scene highlights locally caught seafood while emphasizing sustainability. The popular Cactus Blue Bonaire food truck, renowned for its lionfish wraps, showcases the island’s commitment to conservation. Bonaire’s dedication extends beyond food, encompassing initiatives such as a donkey sanctuary, sea turtle conservation group, and efforts to eliminate single-use plastics.
Preserving Natural Treasures
Guardians of Nature: Bonaire’s Conservation Efforts
Bonaire’s dedication to preservation is evident through initiatives like the Washington Slagbaai National Park and the protected Klein Bonaire island. The 1969 establishment of the national park thwarted rampant development, while the acquisition of Klein Bonaire in 1999 secured the island as a pristine haven. Visitors can access Klein Bonaire through water taxis, enjoying its untouched beauty.
A Heartfelt Connection
An Unbreakable Bond: Personal Journeys to Bonaire
For many, Bonaire’s allure is irresistible. Individuals like Harry Schoffelen, co-owner of the Cactus Blue Bonaire food truck, found themselves captivated by the island’s magic and made it their permanent home. Schoffelen’s story is a reflection of the sentiment shared by countless others who arrive on Bonaire’s shores and are immediately enchanted.
Island of Tranquility
Safety, Lifestyle, and Ease of Residency
Bonaire’s safety, warm climate, excellent public schools, and free healthcare for residents make it an inviting destination. With relatively affordable housing and a tranquil atmosphere, it’s no wonder that many visitors are enticed to extend their stays. The US State Department classifies Bonaire as a Level 1 travel risk, encouraging normal precautions.
Embracing Island Life
A Transition to Paradise: Moving to Bonaire
Kiki Multem’s decision to relocate to Bonaire after a brief visit in 2021 underscores the island’s transformative impact. With its laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals, Bonaire provides a sense of peace that prompts people to reevaluate their lives and consider a move. The island’s regulations offer flexibility for stays, making it appealing to those seeking extended periods on this idyllic haven.
Pursuing Island Dreams
Navigating Residency: Guidelines for Settling on Bonaire
Bonaire’s residency policies accommodate various nationalities, with Dutch and US passport holders enjoying extended stays without a residence permit. The island’s simplicity and ease of access contribute to its charm, attracting those who dream of embracing a unique island lifestyle. Despite initial adjustments, the rewards of living on Bonaire are abundant, making it a place where dreams become reality.
A Lasting Enchantment
The Pull of Bonaire: A Magnetic Attraction
Bonaire’s allure is beyond skin deep, captivating hearts and souls with its natural beauty, welcoming community, and a sense of belonging. As visitors embark on their journeys to this enchanting island, they find themselves irresistibly drawn to its shores, where the magic of Bonaire becomes an intrinsic part of their lives.