Washington Slagbaai National Park is an ecological reserve situated in the northwestern part of Bonaire, one of the Caribbean islands. It covers almost a fifth of this island since it was first established back in 1969.
Bonaire is one of the most beautiful, yet wildest islands. Although it was touched by human hands, it managed to keep its wilderness and its natural beauty. Combining human’s work with natural beauty, this island became one of the most visited islands around the Globe. And there is one man that contributed more than any other to this development: Captain Don Stewart. He was the man that saw the great potential of this island and started developing it. He made sure that not only the sea would benefit from his actions, but also the vegetation. And he managed to do exactly what he had in mind.
The park is composed of two places that used to be plantations, Slagbaai & Washington that comprises of 14,000 acres. Back in the day, these two plantations were the ones supplying aloe extract, salt, charcoal, goats and divi-divi pods that were exported to Europe and Curacao. Only after the owner of this place died, the Washington Slagbaai National Park would come alive.
What should you know when you visit this place?
The Washington Slagbaai National Park is an absolute beauty, but planning ahead your trip is a must. Make sure your car has enough gas, but most importantly, that it can survive the rough roads ahead. Due to its wilderness, the roads on this island can get pretty tough and can ruin your car if you are not careful. Despite that, the effort is worth it. The scenery is incredible and breath taking.
The place is full of all types of birds, flying around and packing the sky with amazing, vibrant colors. Cactuses are widely spread in this region, considering that we are talking about a tropical dessert.
To get inside the park you must drive around 4km from Rincon. Until this point, you will not have to worry about rough roads, because those are only inside the park. Right at the entrance, you will find a café and a small museum. You can either drive 24km or 34km, depending on the area you want to reach.
In the Washington Slagbaai National Park, you will find picnic and swimming stops all over the place and another tiny coffee shop on a remote beach.
For those interested in hiking there are two paths you can take. A 90-minute hike on the Lagadishi route and the 2-hour hike on the Kasikunda climbing path will offer you amazing views such as stone walls, the rugged coast, and a blowhole or while. The second one is more challenging, but it will take you right on the hill. From up here, you will be able to experience Bonaire at its best point, being delighted with incredible views and fresh air.
Washington Slagbaai National Park is a stop you need to make when you get in Bonaire. You will not regret it.