OverviewMonte Brandaris, also known as Mount Brandaris, Subi Brandaris, Sero Brandaris, or just Brandaris is the highest point on the island of Bonaire. Bonaire is an island in the lower Netherlands Antilles, often known as the Dutch ABCs. The peak is located on the north end of the island of Bonaire, which is the second largest of the Dutch ABCs.
Bonaire is known as one of the quietest islands in the Caribbean. It is well known for nature lovers, scuba divers, and snorkelers. It is far removed from the party atmosphere of Aruba and Curacao, the other main islands in the Dutch ABCs.
Monte Brandaris is named for a lighthouse in Dutch Wadden Sea island Terschelling, in Friesland, Netherlands.
The peak is an interesting one and more impressive than the elevation indicates. The peak is rather rugged and there is an interesting scramble required to reach the rugged summit. On a clear day you can see all the way to Curacao or South America.
The peak is in the Washington-Slagbaai National Park on the northern section of Bonaire. Much of the park was donated to the government of Bonaire, by the Washington plantation owner for the sole purpose of the creation of a national park and preserving the natural habitat in 1969. In 1979, the Slagbaai land plantation donated the remaining land to the national park. This was the first Nature Sanctuary of the Netherlands Antilles. The national park covers about 20% of the island.
Most of Bonaire is made of limestone (which makes for some fantastic caves!), but Monte Brandaris is made of metamorphic rock and basalt. The vegetation on the mountain is very interesting and is composed of various cactus, some of them forming a forest, and other trees as well. Many iguanas, lizards, birds, including parrots and parakeets, live on the slopes of the mountain. Around the mountain are shallow brackish lakes which are usually full of thousands of flamingos. In normal conditions (non-drought) there are so many that you can see all the pink dots from the summit of the peak!
Climbing the peak is a good way to exercise after laying around on the beach or scuba diving. There are also several diving sites and snorkeling sites very close to the peak as well.
Getting ThereThere is no bus service on the island and only a few taxis. Most visitors rent a small pickup (so they can throw the scuba equipment in the back).
No matter where you are staying on the island, make your way to Rincón, the only other town on the island other than the capital of Kralendijk. There are only two main roads on the island, so there is no problem finding the place!
From Rincón, head north for 4 kms/2.5 miles to the National Park entrance. A map is below:
Pay your entrance fee here. There are two main roads in the park and both of them are loops. They are gravel roads and sometimes a little rough, but most cars can drive them. Having some high ground clearance does help though. At the park you can get a free map showing the roads. See the map below:
The two main loop roads are the shorter "Green Route" and the longer "Yellow Route". The trailhead for Brandaris is actually on the Green Route, though the Yellow Route is supposed to be the best loop in the park (though it was closed due to heavy rains when we were there). Follow the Green Route to the marked trailhead.
Alternately, if you want to spend all day in the park, you can drive the yellow route and then backtrack along the green route to the trailhead.
Another alternative if you don't have a vehicle is to hire a guide though any of the hotels or guesthouses.
RouteThe only practical route up the peak is from the trail that starts to the northeast of the peak. Because of cacti and other thorny vegetation, all other routes will be very unpleasant.
From the trailhead, a good and well marked trail, known as the Seru Brandaris pad leads to the summit. The last part of the route requires some scrambling, but is not difficult. Watch your step in wet weather as the rocks can be very slippery.
The climb should only take a few hours round trip. It will be hot, so take plenty of water! Make sure to climb in the morning hours as afternoons will be much less pleasant.
Red TapeThere is a small entrance fee required to visit the park and mountain.
See the below website for information:
WASHINGTON SLAGBAAI NATIONAL PARK
Don't disturb the wildlife and leave nothing but footprints.
When to ClimbBonaire is a dry island, especially for the Caribbean. The driest months are February through June and the wettest months are October through December.
The time of year doesn't matter too much though and a little rain can be refreshing, though it can make the rocks slippery. The wetter months are still a good time to climb the mountain and the wettest months on these islands are drier than some of the drier months in much of the other areas of the Caribbean.
CampingCamping is not allowed on the island. There are several hotels and guesthouses on the island.
Mountain ConditionsWeather averages for Oranjestad, Aruba are below. Conditions will be very similar on Bonaire as Aruba and Bonaire have the same climate. The top of the mountain may be a few degrees cooler, but there won't be a noticeable difference.
CLICK FOR ORANGESTAD WEATHER FORECAST
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