Look into the faces of Bonaire and see a kaleidoscope of history. Bonaire’s first inhabitants were Caiquetios, a branch of Arawak Indians from Venezuela, believed to have arrived around 1300 BC.
In 1499, (possibly September 6th) Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci arrived in Bonaire and claimed Bonaire for the Spaniards. By 1636, after having been to Bonaire before, the Dutch took possession of the Island. A plaque in Wilhelmina Park honors Mr. van Walbeeck the Island’s first Dutch Commander. In the late 1600’s, African slaves were brought to work on the Island.
During the period of 1799 -1816, sometimes referred to as the “time of confusion” the Island was occupied off and on by various countries and individuals. This was due to changing European politics, which in turn affected the Caribbean Islands. In 1816, Bonaire returned back to the Dutch.