Washington-Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire
In the northern portion of Bonaire sits a rocky hill called Subi Brandaris—the claim to fame of this hill, is that it is the highest point on the island.
At just under 800 feet, 784 foot Brandaris is a difficult undertaking for any hiker, but the superb view from the top is a reward in which no one will be disappointed. The hike starts out as a common dirt path, but soon evolves into a rock scramble up a ridge to the summit.
Just soon after you begin the hike you will encounter a gated fence, this fence separates the Washington section of the national park from the Slagbaai section. It is important that you act as a responsible hiker and make sure that you secure the gate after passing through; the reason for this is that Washington is overrun with marauding goats while Slagbaai is not, and everyone wants to make sure it stays that way.
Before you begin the rocky struggle to the summit, you will pass through a vegetated area, where the trees provide relief from the near equatorial sun and a refuge for many birds. We caught glimpses of several flying, and could hear the singing, of many Caribbean parakeets, or perhaps Bonairean parrots, but they were shy and we never got a close look.
The closer we got to the summit, the rockier the trail became—it was almost like hiking in New England. The only route markers along the rocky summit are yellow circles painted on rocks and yellow arrows that guide your way to the top of Brandaris, although we kind of lost track of them, or maybe they just stop, after reaching the lesser summit. Don’t fret if you lose them too; just keep heading up the ridge towards the visible white monument that marks the summit—sooner or later you will find yourself standing on the top of Bonaire! The Caribbean shimmers in deep shades of blue as far as the eye can see, and if you are lucky you might be able to see as far as Venezuela or possibly Mount Christoffel, Curaçao’s highest peak.