Onima driving trail (1.5 hours)
This driving trail will take you from the oldest stone building in Rincon to small farms, water catchments, the dynamic east coast of Bonaire and its unique vegetation. After heavy rains the roads can be inaccessible.
Explore the countryside of Bonaire
MANGAZINA DI REI CULTUUR PARK
Mangazina di Rei (Storehouse of the King) was used in the 19th century to store the crops for the Dutch Government. After working in the salt flats for a whole week, the slaves received their provisions here. Nowadays, Mangazina di Rei is a Cultural Park where you can “See, Feel and Taste the Culture of Bonaire”. Visit the exhibition center to discover the uniqueness of Rincon’s flora & fauna and get a historical overview of the most interesting sights in the valley of Rincon.
Once you have had a glimpse inside, you will recognize a lot more outside; the perfect start for driving the trails in the Rincon valley!
Dam Grandi is a large dam; it was built by the government in 1953 to catch the rainwater coming from the hills. The dam provides water for agriculture and drinking water for goats.
After the rain, Dam Grandi forms a lush green place that attracts many birds and butterflies.
Bonaire has a semi-arid climate and gets about 450 mm of rain every year on average. The rainfall can range from 200 mm in dry years to 1000 mm in wet years. On Bonaire you’ll find various methods of water harvesting and water storage.
TRADITIONAL KUNUKU HOUSE
This is an example of a traditional farmhouse. Sheep and goats were held, and vegetables and maishi chikí (sorghum, a type of grain from Africa) were grown.
Some of the kunukus are still in use; many have been deserted over the last decades while others are only used for a weekend getaway.
POS SHON LEU
This well is named after Mr. Leu, who used to live here. Wells with windmills are important for the farmers. Most of the groundwater is brackish, but goats can drink this water. Only three windmills in the valley of Rincon provide fresh groundwater that can be used for the irrigation of vegetables. Close to this windmill a dam was constructed to catch the rainwater, thus increasing the groundwater supply. The slopes of these dams were often used to grow watermelons and pumpkins in the dry season.
When there is water in the dam, this is a good place for bird watching.
PANORAMA EAST COAST
Visiting the Panorama East Coast is optional but highly recommended. The road will lead you to the shoreline from where you have a beautiful view of the east side of the National Park and the dynamic east coast of Bonaire. Big waves ravage the limestone plateau during days of strong wind. On this plain you can see free roaming donkeys and goats. Even though it seems nothing edible grows here, they forage on the mosses that they find in between the rocks. The wooden structures you can see here are the beginnings of a café, but construction has been postponed.
This water tank was used to store drinking water for the people living in this area. This is the only public stone water tank still intact today. In 1979 the first drinking water pipes were installed in Rincon. In 1986 the pipes were extended to Washington Slagbaai National Park, making this water tank redundant.
BOKA PLAYA GRANDI
On days without wind or during wind reversals the sea looks inviting, but it is never recommended to swim here. Dangerous currents, undertows and the extremely sharp rocks that are located just under the surface make this a very dangerous place to swim.
People from Rincon used to wreck here. Wrecking is the practice of combing the coast for valuables from a ship which foundered close to shore. In the local language Papiamentu this is called ‘shete kolo’, or ‘seven colors’: people would find usable products in many colors.
This was a place where women would wash their clothes. The sea water kills pathogen and white clothes will get cleaner with seawater. On their way home they would rinse the clothes at a well with fresh water. At home they would hang it to dry on their cactus fence.
At Piedra Pretu, or ‘Black Rock’, musicians would gather to play the Barí drums, made from a hollow tree trunk topped with goat skin. Some people would be driven by the rhythms of the music to dance indecently. Consequently, priests would sometimes intervene to stop the music. Near the end of the year, there is a Barí festival: a group of musicians would go into the streets and sing about events of the past year. Scandals, gossip, misdeeds and remarkable situations are all included.
The Indian inscriptions at Boka Onima are the best-preserved inscriptions on Bonaire. These mysterious paintings were made by Indians, who came from Venezuela originally. It is believed that they were made about 1000 years ago.
The information board gives more information about the first inhabitants of Bonaire and their expressions.
Descendants of the indigenous people regularly visit these holy places to bring a musical ode to their ancestors
Here two interesting geological structures are visible. Kaomati, a hill of 42 m/138 ft. is on your right-hand side. Its huge blocks are part of a limestone layer originally formed under water on a gently sloping volcanic rock hill. As the land emerged from the sea, the limestone broke into the blocks of Kaomati.
For the people in Rincon, Boka Onima was a port to the sea, yet it could be dangerous to fish on the windward side. It was only possible to sail away when the wind dropped or during a wind reversal, when the wind is coming from the west.
It is said that Boka Onima was the location on Bonaire where the first Indians arrived about 4000 years ago.
PIEDRA DI BONAIRE
This rock is called Piedra di Bonaire, or Rock of Bonaire. According to mythology, Piedra di Bonaire is an important site associated with the original ancestor whose name is Boynay. Local people in Rincon have many stories to tell about this mythical place. It’s worth asking…
These rocks were presumably deposited here by a tsunami 3000 years ago.
These twelve modern windmills on Morotin generate about 35% of the island’s total electricity demand. The area was chosen because of the flat landscape and the constant eastern trade winds with a velocity of 25 kph/15 mph.
The wind and the salty air that dominate the vegetation, don’t bother the melon cactus that you see here all around. They survive because they have the capacity to store water. Its root system can grow ‘through’ the limestone and it can spread out twelve meters/40 feet.