The island of Bonaire began its life as a seamount – an underwater mountain formation hidden beneath the ocean’s surface. This changed around 60 to 70 million years ago when the mountain began to rise above sea level. As such, a large portion of the island’s surface layer consists of fossilized reefs and calcareous reef deposits. In time, these limestone formations were dissolved by rainwater, creating the caves Bonaire has today.
Since their formation, the caves on Bonaire have played an important role in the island’s overall ecosystem. Many of the caves on Bonaire contain fresh water, which is used by animals and humans alike as a source of groundwater. The caves also provide sanctuary to bats and other creatures. In the past, they may even have supported a ritualistic purpose for the island’s indigenous population – many cave drawings and petroglyphs have been discovered in the caves on Bonaire.
There are an estimated 400 caves on Bonaire, some of which are open for guided tours. When you step into this delicate underground ecosystem, you’ll be greeted by impressive stalactites and stalagmites, cave paintings and glass-like pools of clear water – a true wonderland for caving enthusiasts!
In order to preserve their natural beauty, the caves on Bonaire have been placed under the protection of STINAPA regulations. This means the cave systems that are open to the public can only be visited with a STINAPA-certified guide. This organization has STINAPA-certified guides.