Kralendijk is the capital city and main port of the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands. In Dutch, Koralendijk (of which the name Kralendijk is a degeneration) means "coral reef" or "coral dike". In Papiamentu, the town is often called Playa or "beach".
Off the coast of Kralendijk lies the uninhabited island of
, a diving and snorkeling paradise. This small island can be reached by water taxi, or, for divers, by practically all of the local dive operators.
Bonaire is a Caribbean island just north of Venezuela, politically part of the Netherlands. Along with its neighboring Dutch islands of Aruba and Curaçao, it forms the ABC Islands, though it is much quieter. It is a mostly flat, riverless coral island renowned for diving, windsurfing, and bird watching (particularly flamingos). Lacking many sandy beaches – it instead has lush coral reefs – it is less visited by cruise ships. Bonaire has world-class shore diving, much of it easy, and is thus well-suited for beginners, or for experienced divers who want relaxing independent diving.
Geographically, Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles, which is comprised of the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. These islands, in turn, are part of the Leeward Antilles, which also contains numerous islands that are part of Venezuela.
Politically, however, Bonaire is part of the Caribbean Netherlands, with Sint Eustatius and Saba, and is a "special municipality" fully integrated in the Netherlands proper but does not have the same laws.
Fort Oranje was built in 1639 to defend Bonaire's main harbor. The fort was extensively modified during the end of the seventeenth century. The English settlement of "Playa" was established adjacent to the fort in 1810. The town was renamed "Kralendijk" by the Dutch colonial rulers in about 1840.
On May 10, 1940, 461 Dutch and German citizens were transported to Bonaire and interned in a camp just south of the fort. After World War II, this camp was converted into a hotel, which is now the Divi Bonaire.
Kralendijk has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh) with uniformly hot, humid but dry weather due to the divergence between the trade winds and the North American Monsoon, along with a strong drying effect from winds parallel to the coast of South America. There is a short rainy season between October and January due to stronger northeasterly flow during the retreat of the monsoon; however, it is erratic and heavily influenced by the Southern Oscillation, frequently failing completely during El Niño years. During La Niña years, however, rainfall may reach up to 1,000 millimeters (39 in) over a year and over 350 millimeters (14 in) in a month as happened during 1970/1971, 1988/1989, 1999/2000 and 2010/2011.