Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba in Bonaire

Cover: Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Driving over on our way for a horse ride and swim at Rancho Washikemba in Bonaire, we had no idea what a cool morning we would experience.

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We expected a horseback ride along a trail, followed by a brief swim, then a ride back to the stables. Boy, were we surprised!

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rancho Washikemba in Bonaire offers a chance to ride a horse while the horse swims in a lagoon and it is truly an amazing experience.

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rancho Washikemba

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Located on the rugged, eastern side of Bonaire in the Bara di Karta nature park, Rancho Washikemba is a horse ranch offering ride/swim tours, riding lessons, and children’s parties.

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We arrived a little early to get a chance to meet the horses and the owners, Bregje and Marc. Originally from the Netherlands, they moved to Bonaire 12 years ago, built the ranch in 2010, and now operate the only official, fully licensed and certified horseback riding ranch on Bonaire.

Lady, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Lady, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Sophia First of July, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Sophia First of July, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Upon our arrival at the ranch, some of the horses were finishing their breakfast, amidst wandering chickens and the ranch dog, Vlek, while others were playing in the horse pen.

Vlek, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Vlek, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Blaze's Joseph, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Blaze’s Joseph, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 10 horses at Rancho Washikemba live in cheerful bright yellow stables that were exceptionally clean and the horses are very well cared for by Bregje and Marc.

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We’d never ridden a horse before and the only horses we’d been around were racehorses at the track so this would be a first experience.

Bregje and Marc had selected horses for us that fit our riding experience level, which obviously was none, and provided riding instructions, such as the distance to keep, how to tell them to turn, etc.

Kim on Blondy Studebaker, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Kim on Blondy Studebaker, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We then mounted up and headed out into the gorgeous Bonaire countryside.

Horseback riding with Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Horseback riding with Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Rancho Washikemba Lagoon Tour

We did the Lagoon Tour, which winds through the Bonaire backcountry to the eastern coastline and Lagoon Bay, then back to the ranch. Bregje led the way on Allreckdup, also known as Tango, an American Thoroughbred born in Maryland and now living in Caribbean paradise.

Bregje on Allwreckdup, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Bregje on Allwreckdup, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Along the way, Bregje would point out things along the trail and shared information about Bonaire and the Washikemba area.

Bregje on Allwreckdup, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Bregje on Allwreckdup, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I rode Blondy Studebaker, who was born on Curacao and is a crossbred Paso Fino mare. Greg rode Poco Blonde Princess, an American Quarter Horse mare who was born in Florida.

Greg on Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Greg on Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We both took photos throughout the ride and both horses were very easy to ride and gentle, making a first time horseback riding adventure a breeze.

Greg on Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Greg on Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Along the way, we saw iguanas and a few goats, who generally kept a safe distance, but for the most part, it was a quiet ride through the peaceful, natural environment.

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we reached the top of a small hill, Lagoon Bay suddenly appeared – a very quiet, beautiful body of turquoise water rimmed with mangroves and rocky ledges.

Lagoon Bay, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Lagoon Bay, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We rode to a large rock formation next to the lagoon and dismounted.

Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Greg was staying on shore to capture shots of me riding in the water, so Bregje and I stripped down to our swimsuits. Marc, who had met us at the lagoon unsaddled Greg’s horse, Poco, who they told us loves the water and would be the horse I would ride into the lagoon.

Blondy Studebaker, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Blondy Studebaker, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bregje led us into the water and told me to hold onto the mane. When we got into the water, she told me I’d feel Poco push off when she started swimming.

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It was truly spectacular! Poco loves it so much that when Bregje would try to lead her back out, she’d pull back and wanted to stay swimming.

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After our swim, they saddled Poco back up, we got dressed, and continued our ride.

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Greg on Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Greg on Poco Blonde Princess, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In the distance, the Spelonk, Lighthouse, which was built in 1910, stands regally above the rough waters and barren landscape.

Spelonk, Lighthouse, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Spelonk, Lighthouse, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

After heading down the coastline, we turned inland, past the oldest tree on Bonaire, then by the rumored-to-be haunted, Plantation Washikemba, then continued on the trail back to the ranch.

Bara di Karta nature park, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Bara di Karta nature park, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Oldest tree on Bonaire, Bara di Karta nature park, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Oldest tree on Bonaire, Bara di Karta nature park, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Plantation Washikemba, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Plantation Washikemba, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go to Rancho Washikemba

Location: Rancho Washikemba is about 8 km /5 miles from Kralendijk on the eastern side of the island.

Booking a tour: Reservations are required and can be made by calling +599 788 8668 or +599 786 7321, via email at info@rancho-washikemba.com or by visiting the Rancho Washikemba website.

Horseback riding with Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Horseback riding with Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Attire: Wear a swimsuit under your clothes. The ride is more comfortable with long pants and closed-toe shoes, preferably with heavier soles to keep your feet from getting sore from the stirrups.

Sunscreen and a hat: The ride is fully exposed with no shade and the Bonaire sun is very hot, so sunscreen is a must and taking a hat and water are probably also a good idea.

Watch the video: Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba

Rancho Washikemba captured my ride/swim on video – see for yourself what a cool adventure swimming with horses is!

Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Rancho Washikemba for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Il Tigretto - Hank the Tank, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Il Tigretto – Hank the Tank, Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire

Bonaire – More than just a diving island

Cover: Relaxing in Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


The island of Bonaire is known for diving and, even though we’ve been to the Caribbean upwards of 30 or 40 times, we don’t dive so we’d never been to Bonaire. But, this year, we wanted to check it out and see what the island had to offer.

Known as one of the top spots in the world for diving, Bonaire is a paradise for those seeking to explore the colorful kaleidoscope that lives below the sea. For years, we’ve wondered if the “B” in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) was worth a visit for non-divers.

The answer – if you like a relaxed island with 22 quiet beaches, turquoise waters, fabulous resorts, and so many activities you can’t fit them all in during your visit – then, yes, Bonaire is a true resort vacation destination – above and below the water.

A Bonaire resort vacation

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We believe that the perfect resort vacation should include a fabulous hotel, some beach time, a bit of island exploration, a few local activities, and, of course, some island flavors in the form of food and drinks. Here’s how we put our Bonaire resort vacation together.

Bonaire iguanas
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire: Where to stay

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire has a wide selection of hotel options, ranging from locations offering an intimate retreat to world-class resorts with full amenities. For our Bonaire resort vacation getaway, we stayed at the upper end of the luxury scale with a visit to the Harbour Village Beach Club.

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Situated on a private beach of powder white sand, Harbour Village Beach Club is the definition of beach resort vacation with luxury rooms and suites, a great restaurant and bar overlooking the water, a spa, marina, an attentive staff, and a long, private beach.

Our stay at Harbor Village Resort was fabulous – learn more about Harbour Village Resort and check out the photos »

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire: Things to do

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While it was quite tempting to laze away under the blue skies and warm Caribbean sun, we also wanted to fully experience Bonaire while on the island, so we pulled ourselves out of our beach chairs and headed out for a few cool adventures.

There’s no shortage of things to do on Bonaire – hiking, biking, horseback riding, sailing, snorkeling, canoeing, and, of course, diving.

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Neither of us had ever ridden a horse before (yeah, who would have figured), so we decided a first-time horse riding experience on a Caribbean island was a good place to start.

What a fabulous morning with the folks at Rancho Washikemba! Experiencing Bonaire on horseback, including a swim through Lagoon Bay while on your horse, was simply amazing. Learn more about horseback riding and swimming with horses in Bonaire with Rancho Washikemba »

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Watching the Bonaire sun set with Compass Bonaire

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Always a fan of sailing, we next headed to Compass Bonaire for an afternoon sail and sunset dinner cruise.

Captain Wim and his crew entertain guests with an open bar, snorkeling, a delicious BBQ dinner and a beautiful Bonaire sunset. A sail with Compass Bonaire is not to be missed while visiting the island!

Learn more about Compass Bonaire’s snorkeling, sunset and dinner cruise »

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Exploring the island

After a leisurely breakfast, we set out on a drive to explore Bonaire.

To the north of the capital city of Kralendijk is a winding road along the coastline with numerous spots to park and take a short hike down to the water.

Bonaire
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The clear waters provide ample opportunity to view a vast assortment of the colorful fish in the warm Caribbean.

Bonaire fish
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Bonaire fish
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the northern end of the island is Washington Slagbaai National Park and Brandaris, the highest peak on Bonaire at 241m / 784 ft, which provides beautiful views of the island. With multiple trails for hiking and mountain biking, Washington Slagbaai National Park has a wide variety of terrain ranging from flat roads near the coast to steep, rugged hills. Not for the faint of heart or out-of-shape, the temperatures can get very hot in the exposed environment and require lots of water and sunscreen.

Bonaire
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thousands of donkeys roam freely on the island of Bonaire. Originally brought to the island by the Spaniards in the 17 century to perform labor, the donkeys must fare for themselves, which can be difficult with many facing starvation, dehydration and the threat of being hit by cars.

Bonaire wild donkeys
Bonaire wild donkeys
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

When driving in Bonaire, be sure and use caution as you may round a curve only to find a couple of donkeys standing in the road. If you stop and roll down the window, don’t be surprised if they stick their head in the car – many are very accustomed to people, others are much shyer and may run to hide.

Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire has rescued over 600 donkeys and a visit to the sanctuary, which is located south of the airport, is a great way to spend a few hours up close with the donkeys, along with iguanas and tortoises. The sanctuary is open daily and can be toured by car, scooter, bike or on foot.

Bonaire wild donkeys
Bonaire wild donkeys
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to donkeys, iguanas, goats, and other animals that call the island home can be seen scurrying across the road, so stay alert and keep your speed low when driving.

Bonaire iguanas
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Bonaire iguanas
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On the east side of the island at Bara di Karta, several hiking and biking trails offer the chance to explore the rugged side of Bonaire. Like other trails on the island, the trails are very exposed and can take a toll in the hot sun, so early mornings with a good amount of water and sunscreen are a must.

Washikemba Hiking Trail, Bonaire
Washikemba Hiking Trail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Flamingos can be spotted around the island and, on the south side of the island, The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary is one of only four areas in the world where flamingos breed.

Bonaire flamingos
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Near the salt pans, the water appears pink from the many brine shrimp in the water. The brine shrimp are the flamingo’s meal of choice and are what gives flamingos their pink color.

The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary is home to thousand flamingos, but unfortunately, most of them cannot be seen from the road and the sanctuary is not open to the public. However, a few wandering flamingos may make their way to viewing distance on occasion.

Bonaire flamingos
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Further down the road from the salt pans, are several groups of small, structures – one set yellow, one white, pinkish/red. We couldn’t figure out what these little buildings were for – they are near the sea turtle breeding beaches, so we thought maybe they’d built them for that.

When we returned to the hotel that evening, we asked the bartender, and he had one of the staff that had lived on the island his entire life tell us the history. The structures were slave houses. Five or ten people would call this “home” while they worked at the salt pans. Once a week, they would be allowed to walk to home to Rincon, about 35 km away, to see their families. The slaves, the majority of them government “owned”, were freed on 30 September 1862.

Bonaire slave huts
Bonaire slave huts
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Just a bit further down the road at the southern end of the island stands a beautiful lighthouse, Willemstoren, also known as Lacre Punt Light, which was built in 1837.

Willemstoren lighthouse, Bonaire
Willemstoren lighthouse, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visiting Klein Bonaire

Klein Bonaire is an uninhabited island just off the west side of Bonaire and home to many snorkeling and diving sites. Klein Bonaire is about 800 meters / 1/2 mile from Bonaire at its closest point and can be accessed via boat, water taxi, sailing tours or kayak. As part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, Klein Bonaire is protected and subject to the park’s fees, rules, and usage regulations.

Bonaire
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire: Know before you go

Languages: The official language is Dutch. English and Spanish are widely spoken on the island.

Climate: Bonaire’s average temperature is 83º F /30º C, with the trade winds keeping it quite comfortable. The average water temperature is 80° F. Located so close to the equator, the sun is very strong and sunscreen with a high SPF should be worn and reapplied frequently.

Currency: The U.S. dollar is Bonaire’s official currency.

Electricity: 127 volt, 50 cycle.

Rental cars and driving: Multiple car rental companies are located at the airport. Driving in Bonaire is on the right side of the road.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.