Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Bonaire?
Bonaire is a tiny little island in the Caribbean, now part of the Netherlands. Its size means you're unlikely to get lost but there are some roads where you'll find a 4 x 4 useful.
When driving, the main thing to be careful of is stop signs. The law in bonaire says that you must coome to a complete stop at them. If you don't, the police are hot on reinforcing the law.
At night, watch out for people and animals walking along them. Bonaire doesn't go much on pavements so driving at night can be dangerous.
Seat Belt Laws
Anyone in a moving car in Bonaire must wear a seat belt. You’ll be fined if you are caught not wearing one.
Drinking and Driving
There is no specific law regulating the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Instead, the law says that you mustn’t drive whilst intoxicated. Contravention of the law is decided by the police officer who stops you based on what they observe to be your standard of driving.
Must Have Documents
You will need to have your driving licence and an international driving licence if from outside of the Netherlands. You’ll also need proof of insurance and that the licence plates on the car are legally owned and paid for.
The speed limits for Bonaire are as follows:
Open roads: 60-70 km/h
In Town: 40 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Bonaire. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 21 and often 23 but if you’re under 25 years old, a premium for being an inexperienced driver may apply.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
It’s not illegal to use safety camera warning equipment on Bonaire but the roads aren’t conducive to speeding anyway and so their use is probably unnecessary anyway.
On the Spot Fines
There are a series of fixed penalties for traffic offences on Bonaire and if you are caught contravening any of them, you’ll be given a fixed penalty notice which will detail the offence, the fine and how to pay it.
Child Safety Rules
Driving on Bonaire with children will require you to make children under 12 sit in the rear of the car and be restrained by a suitable seating system. If you intend to hire a car whilst travelling with your young family, advise us of your requirements in advance and we’ll ensure that the correct seats are fitted before you collect your car.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory when driving on Bonaire and you must be able to prove it with a valid certificate.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
• On Bonaire, cars travel on the right hand side of the road
• Parking outside of post offices, banks and the airport is forbidden
• At a stop sign, you must come to a complete stop
• Avoid driving at night as animals and people use the roads for walking on
• You should carry a set of spare bulbs with you as you can be fined for having a blown lamp
There are no laws governing towing on Bonaire – simply use common sense to ensure your safety and that of others.
Mobile speed traps are used regularly on Bonaire and for this reason you should always keep to the speed limit. If caught, you’ll be given a ticket detailing the fine which is on a sliding scale depending on the excess speed.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
You cannot use a mobile phone whilst driving unless it has a hands free kit
Watch out for parking restrictions around public buildings. There’ll be signs but they are regularly patrolled to stop infringement. Another law says you’re not allowed to park on a ‘busy road’ and, with the vagueness of this law, watch out to see if others have parked before doing so yourself.
You’ll find paid parking in the capital and larger towns but the cost is minimal. Car crime is a problem and so this form of parking is usually safer and recommended.
If you park where you’re not supposed to then, very quickly, you’ll find you’re asked to move on or ticketed. There is plenty of legal parking everywhere on Bonaire so use it.
Concessions for disabled drivers haven’t reached Bonaire yet but accessible parking is easy to find and so you shouldn’t have a problem. If you need additional help, you’ll usually find a willing local.
Motor Way Signs
There are no motorways on Bonaire
I have broken down: Ik heb afgebroken
Where is the police station?: Waar is het politiebureau?
I have a flat tyre: Ik heb een lekke band
I have been in an accident: Ik heb een ongeluk gehad
Where is?: Waar is?
Where can I buy petrol?: Waar kan ik benzine kopen?
There are only a few sets of traffic lights on Bonaire and they follow the European sequencing system so should be familiar to most.
There are no toll roads on Bonaire
The emergency number on Bonaire is 911 but if you can’t get through try 717-8000 as there is usually only one operator on the emergency number.
What to do in an emergency
If you have technical problems whilst driving a hire car, simply phone the emergency number given to you by the car hire company which you’ll find on the car rental documentation or inside the windscreen. If you’re in a private car you’ll often find that locals will stop to assist or phone a local mechanic to come and help.
In an accident, you must call the police if there is anything more than just superficial damage or if there is an injury or death. When the police attend they will need formal proof of identity before releasing you. You’ll receive a report on the accident which you should give to your car hire company or insurers.
As of January 2015, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol on Bonaire is 98p whilst diesel is 91p. Prices can vary between the capital and the rural areas.