Friday, July 13, 2018

Washington Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire

On Wednesday morning, we had planned a day of diving but the sun was hiding behind the clouds. Visibility underwater for scuba diving is much better when the sun is shining brightly. So, we decided to switch up our plans and  experience our "dry" day one day early. We went to the Washington Slagbaai National Park. The park covers almost 14,000 acres (5643 hectares). The park is located on the Northwest side of Bonaire.
 It took us less than an hour to drive there. We stopped several times on the drive to get out and walk along the coast. That part of the island was undeveloped and had gorgeous cliffs along the coastline with sprays of water.
In order to dive in Bonaire you have to pay a $25 fee and get a dive tag. We found out that our diving fee gave us free entry to the park. We started our time at the park by walking through the museum.  The museum told the history of Bonaire, the history of the land the National Park sits on, information about plant and animal life in the park, and had a couple of hands-on exhibits for kids. Boogs enjoyed the shark room. He got to act like an archeologist and dig up some shark bones.
 We had fun acting with the shark head in the room. The shark took a bite out of Boogs arm.
 My husband looked like a goner for sure.
 When my leg was bit, I fought back with a good punch to the nose.
We left the museum and had to decide which road we wanted to take through the park. Without stopping at any sites of interest, the short road took 1.5 hours to dive and the long road took 2.5 hours to drive. We chose to take the long road. The road in the park is one way only. So once you commit to the short or long road, you are locked in to that direction for the duration of your stay in the park. The road was rough, bumpy, and slippery in some places. You had to have a pick-up truck, van, jeep, or vehicle with high ground clearance.
The first place we stopped was at the Seru Grandi point of interest. There were magnificent cliffs made of limestone containing fossil remnants of coral reefs. The higher terrace is over a million years old.
 We enjoyed exploring the cliffs.
We walked away from the cliffs towards the coast to visit Suplado Blow Hole. That was an impressive show of the force of water.

 I didn't get a picture with a good spray coming up. It was so cool to see in person.

Our next point of interest stop was at Boka Kokolishi, named for the Kokolishi shells that litter the sandy beach. It was a beautiful little bay.
We walked down the stairs and then decided it was a perfect spot for wading in the water. We walked back up to our car to get our water shoes.
 Boogs is getting so big. Pretty soon he is going to be as tall as Daddy.
 Boogs had fun climbing on and jumping of the rocks. We had our swimsuits in the car, but he just jumped in with his clothes on.
Our next stop was the Seru Bentana Lighthouse. It was a bit of a hike up to the lighthousee.
 The view near the lighthouse was spectacular.
 The lighthouse was locked so we were unable to go up to the top.
 I had never seen cactus growing on a beach.
We skipped a couple of birdwatching points of interest and stopped at Malmok. Malmok is a historical and geological site. The brochure said, "Not only can you find geological evidence of past hurricanes and tsunamis, you may travel through time from the Amerindian camps in AD 800, to shipwrecks discovered since the 15th century, to the use of the area in more recent times."
There were several different areas in this section. There was also a dead goat lying next to the ruins of the Malmok lighthouse.
After Malmok, there were several scuba diving sites on this part of the park's coastline. We skipped by those because we wanted to get to Boka and Salina Slagbaai beaches. We were instructed by the park ranger to leave Boka & Salina Slagbaai by 4 pm to make it back to the entrance/exit gate before closing time. The park closed at 5pm and the gate was locked until 8 am the next morning.
 Boka had a calm bay with a white sandy beach and bathrooms. We hiked around the area for a bit to find the spot for cliff diving. This path led to the cliff diving.
 Boogs really wanted to jump off the 25 ft cliff. I was very happy that no one else was jumping and that there was a very strong wind blowing. We convinced Boogs that the wind was too strong to cliff jump that day. Look at his hair in this picture. That is the jumping off spot. No thank you!
We changed into our bathing suits and played in the water for a couple of hours. The water was perfect.
 We wandered around the bay and climbed over some rocks.

Boogs and Daddy found the perfect spot for wave jumping. They held on to each other so they would not get knocked down.

 I love Boogs' smile in this picture. He had a fantastic time at the beach.
We packed up our stuff and left the beach by 3:45. We wanted to make sure we made it to the gate before the park was locked up for the night. My husband had fun driving like a maniac on the rough roads just to make me scream. It was fun.

I had my husband stop several times to try and get a picture of the bottom of these cactus. It almost looks like a tree trunk. I have never seen a cactus like this. We saw several placed on the island that used cactus, instead of barb wire, on their fences. I would not want to touch that cactus, those thorns were sharp and tough.
I snapped this picture of Boogs when I got out of the truck back at our condo. He is completely asleep. I guess our day trip to the park wore him out.
We rested for a little bit and cleaned up then headed to Kralendijk waterfront for dinner at It Rains Fish. The view was nice and the food was delicious. We all had the catch of the day, it was literally caught that afternoon. Between the three of us we had barracuda, wahoo, and rainbow runner grilled fish.

 After dinner, Boogs hopped in the front seat to help Daddy navigate back to our condo.

We all enjoyed our "dry" day but were ready to get back underwater for some more diving.

This post is linked to:

Country Kids


  1. What a fantastic day out exploring the national park as a family, I'm always amazed by just how big your national parks are. My 6 would've been off that cliff in a heartbeat, no worry of wind or height, at least Boogs listened to reason and decided not to cliff jump. I've never seen a cactus with a trunk like base before either, how strange, did you find anything more out about them?

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with me on #CountryKids.

    1. This is actually the only national park on Bonaire. The island is not very big. I think I would have been alright if other people were jumping off the cliffs, then I would have felt it was safe. We weren't entirely sure exactly where the jumping spot was. I didn't want to risk Boogs getting injured. Thanks for stopping by.

    2. The cactus are Kadushi Cactus. They are a food source for lizards and birds. There is a distillery on Bonaire that makes cactus tequila.

  2. That is a truly beautiful part of the world

  3. Your national park looks absolutely stunning. I had no idea about the sun and diving - it is something we have yet to have done. Your museum looks loads better than over here in the UK too

    1. Bonaire is a beautiful island. We loved visiting their national park. I want to go back again some day.