Perhaps one of the coolest ways to explore the tiny island of Bonaire is aboard an electric vehicle. Hans Joern Buschmann, a professional race car driver recently immigrated from Germany to Bonaire and started a unique tour company, Road Runner Bonaire.
He picked me up from my hotel in his truck and drove me to his charming villa near downtown. After saying hi to his friendly dog and visitors at his holiday home, we proceeded to his backyard where he had small electric vehicles in vibrant colors, that looked like a cross between a Smart car and a go-cart. Technically, the car can seat two adults – one in the front and one in the back. The doors opened upwards like a Lamborghini. I boarded a black one with pink decor inspired by his girlfriend’s wedding planning business. Once behind the vehicle, it was easy to navigate with an accelerator, break and steering vehicle.
Road Runner offers tours of the North and South. On this day, we decided to do the southern tour of Bonaire. The 3-hour trip began in the capital Kralendijk and proceeded along the coast. We drove off into the main streets, accelerating at the maximum speeds since there was hardly any traffic.
Along the way we stopped at different viewing points to admire history, nature and architecture. At each spot, Hans gave a brief description of what I was looking at and volunteered to take photos of me posing on cliffs with waves splashing in the back. We saw some beautiful houses by the bay, drove past the Flamingo international airport, and stopped at Atlantis Beach to watch people kite boarding. Given his friendly personality, it seemed like Hans knew everyone on the island, as he waived to them and stopped for a brief hello.
Next, we saw some of the famous dive sites in Bonaire and a group of flamingos just hanging out by the marshes along the road.
Hans is very passionate about the island, which makes him a great tour guide. Ask him anything about corals, historic significance or the best viewing spots, and he will have an answer for you. He explained to me the process of salt production in front of the Cargill Salt Hill, a magnificent site if you have sever seen mountains of salt before. Against the backdrop of blue skies, turquoise waters, and pink salt pools, the white hills stood out and made for a photo stop.
In the 1600’s Dutch settlers on the island employed slaves to work in the salt fields and traded the product by waterways. Till today, you can see slave houses and port markers in red, white, blue and orange identifying which landlord the salt fields and slaves belonged to.
A lone lighthouse stood next to an abandoned church as we continued our journey to the southern tip.
Our next stop was at Jibe City, a place for swimming, windsurfing, eating and drinking. I had a glass of fresh juice while watching kids and adults balance on their boards and sailing into the shallow blue waters.
The adventure ended back at the house, where we dropped of the vehicles at their electric charging stations and went off to lunch. Hans tells me that Road Runner Bonaire has become one of the most popular ways to explore the island among visitors of all ages. “You don’t need to rent a car or be stuck on a tour bus. You have control over where you stop, for how long, and it’s a lot of fun driving!” he adds.
Tours start at $25 per person based on age, route and hours. Group sizes 2-8. Reservations are required.