It might be a stretch to call this place a botanical garden. Bone menagerie. Pseudo-science workshop. Psychedelic trip through a macabre, outdoor fantasy world would all be more appropriate. But it’s well worth the €10 entrance fee, if only for the bizarre photos.
The island of Bonaire has long been a mecca for scuba divers, especially those who enjoy shore dives. With 63 official dive sites on the main island—marked with distinctive, yellow-painted rocks—and another 26 easily accessed from a boat on the adjacent island of Klein Bonaire, most people choose to spend their time diving and snorkeling along the southern and western coasts and enjoying the excellent seafood restaurants found in the capital of Kralendijk.
But the northern and eastern coasts of this boomerang-shaped island are known as the “wild side”. Windward and rocky, the wild side boasts a national park, blow holes, petroglyphs, and the Bonaire Botanical Garden. This is a privately-owned garden, so don’t expect a national park-caliber tour. Instead, you should expect the unexpected and take most of it with a grain of salt.
If you’re lucky, Manuel, the owner of the garden, will be there to take you on the tour. He will detail his inspiration for many of the art exhibits built from found materials and animal bones, share his beliefs on the healing properties of various plants, and extol the supposed virtues of drinking quantities of seawater daily.
Know Before You Go
There are few major roads on Bonaire, and most of these are narrow two-lane asphalt. Starting in the city of Kralendijk, take the northeastern spur off the main roundabout next to San Bernando Catholic Church. Kaya Liberatador Simon Bolivar becomes Kaya Korona, which becomes Kaya Gurubu, which becomes Kaminda Tras Di Montaña about halfway across the middle section of the island. The Bonaire Botanical Garden can be found at the blue and white sign on the left. If the gate is locked, you can call out and sometimes gain admittance. But no promises.