Part of a well-managed national marine park since 1979, the reef-ringed coast of this island off the coast of Venezuela consistently ranks among the world's best places for scuba diving. Historical treasures, which include Dutch colonial architecture and Amerindian rock paintings, also draw many visitors. Resort construction has taken off in recent years and may jeopardize Bonaire's appeal if it is not properly managed.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Has had a protected marine zone for over 30 years and the benefits of this are clear—high coral cover, fish diversity, and reef health. Unfortunately, strains from development are beginning. And mass tourism from cruise ships is overextending the capital's limited infrastructure."
"Beautiful underwater wildlife. Longstanding infrastructure is in place to educate residents and visitors on conservation practices. Development threatens some species with habitat destruction."
“The last five years have seen the most dramatic changes ever! Rapid housing and commercial development. Loss of many historical monuments. There are still remnants of traditional culture, and excellent nature protection within the national park system."
"Beautiful island with great biological diversity. Fascinating Amerindian culture and rock paintings are in danger if they are not protected. Development is increasing. This might spoil a lot."