Rincon Bonaire is home to around 1,800 residents, and these residents are keen on maintaining their rich cultural traditions. While this charming town is relatively sleepy throughout the year, things get lively when the main festivals are going on. The monthly market is also a festive affair, especially for shopping enthusiasts who are looking for fun things to do in Rincon. As the oldest village in Bonaire, Rincon offers some historic buildings that visitors can admire when they're not checking out the goods at the market. Enjoying a side trip to Washington Slagbaai National Park is another popular option when it comes to things to do in Rincon, and if nothing else, visitors can take in the town's relaxing atmosphere while they enjoy a meal or some drinks at one of the local restaurants.
Rincon Image: scuba thib (Flickr)
Rincon Bonaire was settled by the Spanish back in the 1500s, hence its Spanish name. The town sits in a small valley, and the relative protection of the hills is what attracted the Spanish settlers. Spain, via its explorers, didn't hold onto the island of Bonaire for very long, and by the 1640s, the Dutch had established themselves and assumed control. In Rincon, the Dutch settlers set to task on building a Catholic church, and this church is one of the town's main attractions to this day. In addition to serving the religious needs of the town's Dutch residents in the early days, the church in Rincon was also used to educate slaves, particularly on the topic of Catholicism. The slaves were brought in to work on the plantations and salt mines, and today's residents are mostly descendants of these slaves.
The original church in Rincon Bonaire was built 1776, and it was a rather rudimentary structure found just outside of town. Minor renovations to the church were made in 1827, and ten years later, it was decided that a new church should be built in the heart of town. Unfortunately, a hurricane destroyed this stone church in 1907. In 1984, a long overdue renovation project was completed, and while the church isn't in its original form, it is an interesting historical attraction. Other historical Rincon attractions of prime interest are the Mangasina di Rey, or Storehouse of the King, and the Kas Krioyo Rincon. The Mangasina di Rey was formerly used as a food storage facility. This old stone building is now a fantastic museum that offers insight into Bonaire history and culture. As for the Kas Krioyo Rincon, it is a restored home that also gives visitors the chance to get a glimpse of the past.
The buildings in Rincon are small and colorful and complement the surrounding desert setting. Most visitors are struck by the calm beauty of this tiny town, and the friendly locals only make a visit more inviting. April is a good time to travel to Rincon, as that's when two of the biggest local festivals are in full swing. These festivals are the Simadan Festival, or Harvest Festival, and Rincon Day. Both of these festivals are held over the course of weeks, and they are rooted in tradition. Traditional outfits and dances are employed, and visitors will have the chance to sample some of the local cuisine. The Simadan Festival celebrates the annual harvesting of maize, and the locals harvest the crops much like their ancestors did, filling the air with song. Rincon Day falls at the end of the month, with weeks of traditional celebrations leading up to the main day. Food, drink, and lots of music accompany the celebrations of both festivals.
In Rincon Bonaire, there aren't many hotels for the traveler. That doesn't mean that this town can't make for a good place to settle down for a while, however. There are some simple guesthouses that offer cheap rooms for travelers to consider. Should you travel to Rincon with the hope of sticking around for a while, you might rent a car so that you can enjoy side trips to nearby attractions when you're not relaxing at a local restaurant or enjoying an in-town tour. Hiking and hanging out at the beach at nearby Washington Slagbaai National Park is always a side trip option, as is a visit to Lake Goto. This lake is framed by picturesque hills and might just be the best birding destination in the land. Pink flamingos like to congregate at Lake Goto, as do numerous other bird species. Bonaire tourists who are looking to travel to Rincon, or anywhere else on the island for that matter, are encouraged to arm themselves with a good pair of binoculars since the birding is so good.
When looking for things to do in Rincon, it's possible to add a guided tour to the agenda. The Rincon tours can be booked in town or in the capital of Kralendijk, and they come in the form of walking tours and bus tours. The bulk of the Rincon tours are arranged around the weekly Saturday markets. When tour guests aren't shopping, they will have the chance to learn about local culture and history. As a side note, the weekly markets are smaller versions of the main monthly market. The main market is held on the first Saturday of the month, and it is especially lively. Haggling is encouraged at the markets, and it can often result in some great deals.