Washington Slagbaai National Park (full history here) is a 5,643 hectares nature sanctuary located in the northwest part of the island. It was the first nature sanctuary of the Netherlands Antilles and was established in 1969. It is a safe habitat for the terrestrial endemic and endangered species of Bonaire. Parrots, flamingos, parakeets, iguanas and many other species of birds and reptiles can be found in this protected area. The beaches inside the park are an important nesting ground for all four species of sea turtles found in the Caribbean.
Originally inhabited by native South Americans, and comprised of two of the largest plantations on the island during colonial period, the park is rich in historical and cultural heritage. The visitor center at the park entrance, with its museum and hiking trails offers visitors an enjoyable learning experience.
The park can be accessed every day from
08.00 – 17.00 (entry up to 14.30)
Phone +599 788 9015
Cell +599 786 5229
Non-residents $25 per calendar year or $15 with proof-of-payment of the $10 “Other users Nature Fee”. Residents $15 per calendar year or $3 day pass. (Nature Fee)
We strongly advise you to take note of the following recommendations:
* Only enter the park with a four wheeled motor vehicle with a spare tire.
* Be sure to have plenty of drinking water for your trip into the Park. You’ll be grateful for snacks, too, especially fruit, and ice – but water is a necessity.
* Be sure to apply sunscreen. Don’t forget the back of your neck, your lips, nose, and ears, and the top of your head if your hair is thin. Even if you don’t leave your car, put sunscreen on your arms and any other parts of you that are in the sun.
* Use sunglasses and a hat or visor.
Do’s & Don’ts
The Nature Fee
The Nature Fee provides the funds to manage and conserve Bonaire’s beautiful parks. The Nature Fee is used for activities such as conservation programs, nature education, research and monitoring, awareness building, law enforcement, park facilities and maintenance.
The Nature Fee applies to all users of the Bonaire National Marine Park and the terrestrial Washington Slagbaai National Park. The Marine Park surrounds the entire island of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire from the high water mark to the depth of 60 meters (200ft).
Help conserve and protect Bonaire’s nature by paying your Nature Fee so we can all enjoy Bonaire’s nature now and in the future.
The fee for non-residents is U.S. $25 per calendar year or U.S. $15 with proof-of-payment of the $10 “Other users Nature Fee”.
Residents pay a fee of $ 15 per calendar year or $3 for a day pass.
The Nature Fee may be purchased at watersport facilities, the Tourism Corporation Bonaire office in Kralendijk or at the Visitor Center at the entrance to Washington Slagbaai National Park.
- Do not bring any animals or plants into the National Park. They can become invasive species and threaten the local species.
- Use the trash receptacles for litter. Take care that nothing harmful to the environment is left behind.
- Do not play loud music or behave in a noisy manner, especially near the saltpans. Birds, especially flamingos, are sensitive to disruption.
- Capturing, harassing, killing and/or disturbing any of the animals or plants is prohibited.
- Do not take pictures inside the caves. Flash photography is a hazard to wild life.
- Swimming, fishing or kayaking are not permitted in the salt-pans. It will disturb the wildlife.
- Damaging any natural or manmade property is not allowed.
- Only four-wheeled motor vehicles with a spare tire are allowed. Roads are one way and the speed limit is 25 Km/h. Quads and trikes are not allowed because they van disturb wildlife and the roads can be dangerous.
- Do not build fires or discard matches or cigarettes carelessly because the dry vegetation in the park is sensitive to bush fires. Building fires is only allowed in the charcoal barbecue pits at Slagbaai.
- We discourage feeding any animals. Feeding animals will alter their natural behavior making them more dependent on us or even become aggressive towards us.
- No weapons or animal traps (including fishing nets) are allowed in the park.
- Dives should commence prior to 2:30pm, allowing visitors time to vacate the park by 5:00 pm.
The majority of our visitors enjoy driving around the park and seeing the fantastic scenery. The long route takes about two hours and there are 20 highlights explained in the brochure, including bird watching spots, beaches, saltpans with flamingos, blowholes and historic sites. The park has 34 km (21 miles) of dirt roads. You can choose the long route (the most points of interest are on that route), or the short route. We do not recommend entering the park with a standard passenger car; most are too low to the ground to pass safely over the rocky roads. The latest in the day that a car is permitted to enter the Park is at 14:45 pm.
The roads and scenery of the park make it a great ride for mountain bikers. The tour, which is 34 km (21 miles) long, has a great variety of views and terrain. Long stretches of flat roads beside the sea contrast with severe up and down hills between mountains. Be aware, this ride is for people used to biking regularly; do not attempt it if you aren’t in good shape. Although the highest altitude on the bike route is only about 100m (333feet), temperatures get very high and the terrain is rough. It is not mandatory. However, we highly recommend a back up vehicle if you decide to go for it!
We do recommend bringing plenty of drinking water. Use sunscreen and a hat, especially if your hair is thin. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on the backs of your hands, the tops of your feet, your ears, your lips, and the back of your neck.
Light-colored clothing will be more comfortable when you are in the direct sun.
Be prepared for the possibility of scrapes to yourself and punctures in your bike tires.
Begin early in the morning (the Park opens at 8:00 am). The cooler temperatures are more comfortable for bikers and the resident animals are more likely to be seen.
The park does not provide bicycles. If you’d like to join a group to cycle in the Park contact our tourist office in the center of Kralendijk www.tourismbonaire.com/
The Park features three trails. All three trails have orientation signs to guide you. We do not recommend that anyone hike alone. Remember to bring adequate shoes, socks, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water! You will be more comfortable if you are in light clothing when you are in direct sunlight.
The Kasikunda Climbing Trail
Start: at the Park’s Visitor Center
Duration: 45 minutes
The Kasikunda Climbing Trail is a climb to the top of a volcanic hill. Its level of difficulty is high because of the uneven terrain and also the steepness of the climb. However, those who meet this challenge will be rewarded with the best view of North Bonaire, all the way from Malmok to Spelonk. The interpretation signs along the way explain some of the natural processes of the island.
The Lagadishi (“Lizard”) Walking Trail
Start: at the Park’s Visitor Center
Duration: 2 hours
The Lagadishi walking trail brings you on a limestone plateau that provides you with a complete spectrum of Bonairian windward scenery: historic sites, xerophytic vegetation (plants such as cactus, which are adapted to dry habitat), sand dunes, mangroves, a salt pan (a shallow seawater lake, which evaporates seasonally leaving a residue of salt), blowholes, and a true oceanic beach are some of the components of this trail. Flamingos are frequently seen in the saltpan. Interpretation signs are provided on this trail.
The Subí Brandaris Trail
Start: the base of the Brandaris hill
Duration: 1,5 hours
The Subí Brandaris Trail is a hike to the highest peak on Bonaire, 241 m (784 ft.) high. This is a medium-difficulty climb, and the view from the top is a really fantastic reward for making the trip. On a clear day you can see the island of Curaçao and, on exceptionally clear days, the Santa Ana Hill in the Paraguaná Peninsula of Venezuela, and the mountain range south of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.
Unlike the other trails, the Subí Brandaris trail does not start at the Visitor Center of the Park; you need a vehicle to enter the Park and take you to the base of the hill.
Hikers to the Brandaris are required to be at the Park before noon: Begin your hike early in the morning; the cooler temperatures are more comfortable for hikers and the resident animals are more likely to be seen.
Once a month the park organizes also a guided hike. They are usually led by two rangers of the WSNP Park. The hikes vary from easy to difficult and will be announced via Facebook.
Participants: Max 20 persons
Costs: $10 p.p
Age: Minimum of 10 years. Minors should be accompanied by an adult.
Brandarishike – announced via Facebook.
What: Morning hike
When: from 5:30 – 9:30, total of 4 hours.
Brandarishike – announced via Facebook.
What: Evening hike
When: from 16:00 – 20:00, total of 4 hours.
Mundi sud – announced via Facebook.
What: Morning hike
When: 5:45 – 8:00, total of 2 hours.
Full moon hike – announced via Facebook.
What: Full moon hike
When: from 19:00 tot 21:00, total of 2 hours.
The shoreline from Boka Bartol to Boka Slagbaai is one of the most beautiful shorelines of the island. The limestone terrace protects the shore from strong winds, making the water calm and transparent. There are many bokas and playas (inlets and little beaches), some inaccessible except from the water, where you can stop and rest or maybe do some snorkeling.
Other areas along the shoreline of Washington-Slagbaai National Park are not recommended for kayaking due to the likelihood of strong winds and currents, and very large breaking waves.
As always, remember to bring plenty of drinking water, and use sunscreen and a hat.
The Park does not provide kayaks.
Shore diving in the Park is just as easy as shore diving elsewhere around Bonaire with an added advantage: the sites are less visited because of their remoteness. If you are planning to dive in the Park make sure to come early: dives should begin before 2:30 pm, so you should enter the Park no later than 1:00 pm if you intend to SCUBA dive. See the Bonaire National Marine Park dive map for more information on the dive sites in the Park or refer to the book Shore Diving on Bonaire by Jesse Armacost, available for sale at the Park.
Snorkeling and swimming
The west shore of the Park has many beaches where you can enjoy snorkeling and swimming. Because the Park is remote, we do not recommend snorkeling or swimming alone.
The cooling seawater does not filter out the sun’s burning rays. Before you enter the water, put on sunscreen on your back, and especially the back of your legs.
For those with a special interest in natural science, the Park offers possibilities for bird watching, observation of very interesting geological formations and processes, and a few endemic species of flora and fauna.
About 210 species of birds have been spotted on Bonaire, although some of these are migratory and can only be observed at certain times of the year. The Park is one of the best places on the island for observing birds, due to its remoteness and also the many types of habitat it includes: salt-flats, fresh water wells, beaches, limestone plateaus by the shoreline and thorny forests.
The “stars” of Bonaire bird watching are the flamingo and the endemic parrot, Amazona barbadensis rothschildi, better known locally as the “Lora”. Both of them can be seen at the park.
There are guides on Bonaire who specialize in bird watching. We highly recommend that you contact one of them before going birding in the park.
What We Do
The job duties of a park ranger include protecting unspoiled natural resources from pollution, improving the conservation efforts of large park areas, and managing the day-to-day operations of our national park. Rangers are often unsung heroes who work long hours in extreme conditions.
Bonaire’s nature laws prohibit activities such as poaching, illegal hunting and vagrancy within national parks. It is the ranger’s job to enforce those laws. In addition to laws pertaining to the park, the ranger must insure that no other crimes are being committed by visitors. These crimes include trespassing, solicitation or vandalism. The ranger also protects the fragile environment by not allowing cutting or removal of any plants, prohibiting dumping of waste and preventing access to areas with fragile ecosystems.
Keeping the park safe for visitors and wildlife is the most important part of a ranger’s job. Educating the public on their conduct while in the forest helps accomplish this. Rangers help visitors understand how to navigate nature trails and the markers to look for so they do not lose their way. Guided tours are organized regularly along some of our nature trails and up the Brandaris, offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about the history of the park.
Some of the things that rangers do:
- Guided tours in the park
- Patrol the park
- Law enforcement
- Assist in nature monitoring
- Conduct environmental education in the park
- Maintenance of all structures (houses, museum, bathrooms)
- Maintainance of signs
- Ticket sales
- Assist in removal of invasive species