There’s nothing better than spending time in Washington Park.
Bonaire may be best known for its underwater world, but the exquisite nature above the waterline should not be missed. One area, in particular, is the Washington Slagbaai National Park. It is enjoyed by not only visitors but locals as well. So, when I got the opportunity to visit Washington Park with Shekhinah Tours, I jumped at the chance!
Shekhinah Tours is a local company specializing in various small group tours. Of course, it’s no surprise that the Washington Park Tour is one of the most popular tours that they offer.
Let the adventure begin!
The day started with Sandra, my tour guide, arriving at my house on time and greeting me with a warm welcome. Upon getting into the vehicle, I met Donovan and Sarah, a lovely couple from Georgia and repeat guests. After the introductions, we headed north to Rincon.
Along the way, Sandra shared interesting information about Kralendijk and the culture of Rincon. She was very knowledgeable about all things Bonaire and thoroughly enjoyed sharing the information with others.
Arriving at Washington Slagbaai National Park.
Upon arriving at Washington Park, we spent a few minutes checking in with the STINAPA Park Rangers and walking through the small museum at the entrance. After stretching our legs a bit and grabbing a drink, we loaded back into the vehicle and started our journey through the park.
The Washington Slagbaai National Park encompasses a large portion of Bonaire in the north. The park has various hiking areas, snorkeling sites, lookouts, and two main driving routes. While the short route is nice, the long route is my favorite way to enjoy the park. Shekhinah Tours also prefers to use the long route which has beautiful scenery throughout the drive.
Shortly upon entering the park, we came across a small lookout area where we could see beautiful flamingos in the distance. Flamingos are quite popular on Bonaire and are always a visitor’s favorite. Bonaire’s flamingos are protected so remember to keep your distance. Thankfully, I had a lens that allowed me to zoom in and capture a photo.
As we continued weaving through the bumpy dirt roads, we came to an area called Playa Chikitu, which means small beach. While you may think this is a relaxing beach area, the rough waves tell a different story. During the stop, Sandra shared with us information about the area including that turtles like to nest in this area. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire regularly patrols this area during the nesting season and has even rescued stranded turtles in the past.
Our next stop was the Suplado Blowhole, which puts on a spectacular show when the strong waves crash into the opening. As we walked to the blowhole, Sandra told us about the limestone wall opposite the road and pointed out the indentation of the water level from many years ago. As we patiently waited for the big spray of water, we chatted more about Washington Park’s history.
Once satisfied with our pictures and videos, we headed to our next stop at Seru Bentena Lighthouse. As we made our way to the top of the hill, we were in awe of the stunning views. On one side of the lighthouse are panoramic views of the coastline and on the other side are hills of cacti. The view of the cacti hills was mesmerizing!
As we headed to our next stop, Sandra shared information about Bonaire’s beautiful birds and reforestation efforts within the park. You can tell just by listening to her that she loves everything about Bonaire’s nature. In fact, the Washington Park tour is one of her favorite tours to guide.
Soon, we reached Wayaka 2 where we were able to cool off a bit by snorkeling in the shallows while Sandra stayed with our belongings. Donovan, Sarah, and I snorkeled around while spotting a variety of parrotfish, scrawled filefish, peacock flounder, and more. I love the feeling of relaxation that washes over me when I am in the sea. The sea truly is my happy place.
Lunch at Boka Slagbaai
Once we were dried off and grabbed another drink, we headed to our last stop for lunch, Boka Slagbaai. Our lunch was a delightful homemade chicken salad sandwich and a soft drink. Of course, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan just let Shekhinah Tours know prior and you will be accommodated. As we enjoyed our lunch, we looked at the beauty surrounding us, enjoyed the sights and sounds of the nearby flamingos, and chatted about our day.
After lunch, Donovan and Sarah decided to take a quick dip into the sea since we had time while I walked to the top of a lookout point to take a few photos. You might ask “Did you jump?” No, I didn’t but maybe next time when I don’t have my camera in my hands. Cliff jumping at Boka Slagbaai looks fun but remember, it is at your own risk.
By the time, I made it down the hill, it was time for us to head back to reality. We were all smiles as we drove through the remainder of the park and back to Kralendijk. I can see why the Washington Park tour with Shekhinah Tours is the most popular. It is a fun filled day featuring Bonaire’s stunning nature. The Washington Park Tour should be on everyone’s list of things to experience on Bonaire.
(Source: Bonaire Insider)