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Beaches on Bonaire

Caribbean: O'l Blue Beach on Bonaire.'s insider take:

Although its beaches will never be confused with those of Aruba or even Curaçao, Bonaire's coastline can claim several respectable spots to throw down a blanket and take a dip. (On the bright side, there's rarely a crowd.) Tucked away on the northwest coast inside Washington Slagbaai National Park is the picturesque old harbor of Boka Slagbaai, with a narrow, arcing beach backed by restored colonial-era buildings. Along the sheltered west side of the island, secluded 1,000 Steps beach is accessed by a staircase (actually just 64 steps) built into a limestone bluff. Bring a snorkel and swim out 50 yards; you'll find a spectacular garden of pagodalike star coral, thickets of staghorn coral, and swarms of reef fish. Rocky Playa Palu di Mangel, or Airport Beach, is a local weekend hangout at the end of the runway that's suffering from overuse; better to drive five miles farther south to Pink Beach, where the reddish sands lead to a haunting group of stone-walled huts once occupied by slaves who worked Bonaire's enormous salt pans. But beware that the coral shelf and strong currents may make swimming difficult. Bonaire's wild windward coast is dotted with rocky cairns and driftwood sculptures all the way to Lac Bay, its finest beach. Shielded by an offshore reef, the shallow, sandy harbor is world-famous among windsurfers. With bathrooms and changing rooms, it's also family-friendly, though the southernmost stretch has a naturist (that is, nudist) resort. On empty Klein Bonaire, northside No Name Beach has a desert-isle vibe and powdery white sands dimpled with the tracks of sea turtles during the April through October nesting season.

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