When Johnny and Therese Boer of the three-Michelin-star Die Librije opened a restaurant in Bonaire five years ago, it wasn’t just a massive moment for the Caribbean culinary scene.
The opening of the Brass Boer was a nod to the growing import of Bonaire, both as a food Mecca and as a travel destination.
Half a decade later, the Brass Boer is the number one ranked restaurant in the Caribbean — and the island of Bonaire is one of the hottest places to visit anywhere in the Caribbean.
From its dynamic food movement to its annual Rum Week to its position as the best scuba and snorkeling destination in the Caribbean, Bonaire continues to draw a broad collection of travelers to a place that has quickly become the Dutch Caribbean’s most sought after place to visit.
It’s a significant step forward for an island that for decades has been something of a well-kept secret as compared to larger neighboring islands like Aruba and Curacao.
Now, though, travelers are appreciating the diversity and quality of the island’s tourism product — and its unrivaled natural environment.
But it’s not just strong word of mouth — the island is seeing record-breaking arrivals, too.
Last year, Bonaire surpassed its pre-pandemic numbers by 37 percent. The outlook for the first half of this year is just as strong, with projections for double-digit growth over last year., according to data from travel data firm ForwardKeys.
“We are extremely grateful to see the results of 2022 and the outlook for 2023. Tourism Recovery was our main focus with specific objectives such as the shift in the type of travelers,” said Miles Mercera, CEO of Tourism Corporation Bonaire.
The island is also attracting new categories of travelers, including more “premium cabin-class” passengers, and more families who are staying on the island longer, according to ForwardKeys.
Longer stays in Bonaire are 8 percent ahead of 2019 levels, the firm said.
“Flight connectivity and seat capacity remain a key aspect of recovery. We feel that Bonaire will only grow in popularity in 2023 with enhanced connectivity to key markets such as the USA and key growing European markets such as the UK and France,” adds Juan Gomez, Head of Market Intelligence at ForwardKeys.
The island expects its strong growth to continue into the second half of the year.
Bonaire kicks off its summer season with the uber-popular Bonaire Rum Week, an annual celebration of premium rum at hotels and eateries across the island. You can learn more about Bonaire Rum Week here.
For more, visit Bonaire Island.