Lake on Bonaire, Natherlands Antilles (iStockphoto)

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What to do in Bonaire

Though the pastel facades and rocky beaches recall its neighbors Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire has an island spirit all its own. No one does hammock swinging and rum-punch mixing better than Bonaire, but don’t let your guard down: Its fierce protection of coral reefs and mangroves serves as an eco-model for the whole Caribbean. The south side’s tiny former slave huts and festivals rooted in African culture give the island a historical context. These days, however, life in abundance roams free: Pink flamingos feed in protected ponds, iguanas hang from trees and off boat sides, and wild goats occasionally jaywalk. Above all (or perhaps below), Bonaire’s most celebrated resource is diving. The entire island is equipped to support the sport, so renting gear is a cinch, and scuba operators offer all levels of certification.

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