Monday, March 13, 2006

Nature Fee

If you travel around Bonaire, you can't miss a few of these small billboard sized signs. There is one by the Salt Company, on the wall of the Tourist Bureau building down town and at the traffic circle by the Trans World Radio studios. Bonaire is a small enough community that we know the people pictured on the signs. Maybe you recognize some of them too.

All the water, reefs, mangroves etc. around Bonaire are part of the Bonaire National Marine Park. The Nature Fee was implemented about a year ago to help fund the non-profit organization that manages the Bonaire parks. The annual fee for all scuba divers is $25, and the fee for other non-resident water sports participants is $10.

Although I'm a resident, I still pay the $10 fee, because a fringe benefit of the Nature Fee is free admission to the Washington-Slagbaai park. So a vistitor to Bonaire who pays the fee in order to windsurf, snorkle, kayak etc. will break even financially with their first visit to the Washington-Slagbaai park. I'm hoping that more people will visit the park because of this. Now, I've been in the park a half dozen times so far this year, so for me, the $10 Nature Fee is a real bargain.

One thing to keep in mind if you visit Bonaire is that you'll need to present some sort of photo id plus the printed receipt showing that you paid the fee when you enter the park. So hang onto that receipt! My receipt got pretty ragged last year, so this year, Sandra laminated mine, and it is holding up great.

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