OLB confirms: Beaches on Bonaire are public areas and therefore accessible to everyone

KRALENDIJK- Following a large number of complaints from citizens and questions that have been asked about the subject in, among others, the Island Council, the Public Entity Bonaire (OLB) confirms that all beaches on Bonaire are accessible to everyone.

Due to the earlier issuance of land on long leases along the coast and the development thereof, the coastal strip is becoming less and less easily accessible. However, all of Bonaire’s beaches are public land and their free access cannot be reduced just like that. This is important to know for everyone on Bonaire.

The ‘beaches of the sea’, as the beaches of Bonaire are formally called, are owned by the public body Bonaire. In Article 26, paragraph 1 of Book 5 of the Civil Code BES it is laid down as follows: “The beaches of the sea, the ground under inland waters, as well as the large and small islands and plates occurring in those waters, are presumed to be property of belong to the public body where they are located.”

Owners of a piece of land along the coast often tend to extend their boundary, the wall or fence along their property, to the beach. This restricts free access to the beach. This is therefore not allowed because the ‘beaches of the sea’ are public.

Article 26, paragraph 2 of Book 5 of the Civil Code BES stipulates that “restriction of the publicity of beaches belonging to the State or public body by alienation, encumbrance, putting into use or otherwise, is required by law or by island ordinance to grant special destination”. In legal language, it is stated here that a beach cannot simply be withdrawn from public view. Not even by the Executive Council.

Only if the Island Council very explicitly determines in an Island Ordinance that a beach is, for example, leased, rented out or sold, can this restrict free access to the beach. That beach is then no longer a public area.

The question remains: what exactly is meant by a beach? Where does a beach begin and where does it end?


The Island Ordinance Underwater Park Bonaire (A.B. 2010, no. 14) defines the beach as “the undeveloped and (largely) bare strip, located between the normal low-water mark on the one hand and the beginning of the more or less uninterrupted natural vegetation, or the foot of the existing seawall, sheeting or ramparts, or the beginning of the traditionally present buildings on the other hand.”

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