Bonaire’s culture and history can be easily overlooked if you are spending most of your time in the water. But a dive into Bonaire’s fascinating museums reveal one of the island’s greatest attributes – it’s authentic and unusual island culture inextricably linked to its unique historical past.
Mangazina di Rei
Mangazina di Rei is much more than just a museum – it is a place where people can literally experience the culture of Bonaire. Originally the King’s Warehouse dating to 1824, the old storehouse is the oldest stone building in Rincon. Local guides help guests experience Bonaire’s past hands on – try blowing a conch shell, dance the Simadan, sample traditional dishes or learn how to make a cactus fence. Trails through the park wind past reconstructed Bonairian houses and native plants and gardens. And we’re not the only ones praising Mangazina di Rei – in 2016 the park received the coveted Cultural prize of the Prins Bernard foundation. TIP: every last Saturday of the month they organize a Cultural Market with local arts and crafts, educational presentations, food and traditional island music.
The latest addition to the island’s efforts to preserve Bonaire’s history and culture is The Terramar Museum: a historical and archaeological museum in a beautifully renovated traditional building near the heart of downtown Kralendijk’s waterfront. Their permanent collection takes you through different rooms and 7,000 years of Caribbean history. The journey through time is visualized by fascinating artifacts, drawings, pictures, 3D reconstructions and videos. It’s a fun experience that stirs the imagination with a “person from the past” in every room to tell you about his or her life. To top off your visit at the museum, stop at Luciano’s, the neighboring gelateria that happens to sell what many say is the best ice cream of the island.
Visitor Center Washington Slagbaai National Park
Most visitors don’t realize there is a small museum at the entrance of the Washington Slagbaai National Park. A stop here brings your park excursion to life with interesting information about the sights you’ll see and visit. The visitor center is housed in a restored plantation building, with several rooms containing displays and artifacts about life on the plantations, flora and fauna in the park, geology of the island (did you for example know that the deepest point between Bonaire and Klein Bonaire is over 3,000ft?) and more. Outside you’ll find period recreations of typical plantation activities including the making of charcoal, aloe vera cultivation and one really cool whale skeleton in their outdoor pavilion.
Ready to dive into the Culture and History of Bonaire?
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