Sea Salt Harvest on the Island of Bonaire

Sea Salt Harvest on the Island of Bonaire

Driving to the dive site on Bonaire one morning, I spotted a rare phenomenon along the road. It looked like a farmer harvesting a field of sparkly snow. The machine was a cross between a bulldozer and a snowplow, and the crop was glimmering white.

Where a shallow pink pond lay just days before, the plow was scooping up pristine salt from the exposed sea floor and loading it into a never-ending parade of huge dump trucks. After the dive I grabbed my camera and hastened back to the action. This is something you’ve really got to see to believe.

Bonaire Sea Salt Harvest

The southern end of the island of Bonaire is dedicated to solar sea salt production. Water is pumped into shallow ponds and allowed to evaporate, leaving a dry layer of salt. The ponds are home to many birds, including pink flamingos.

Wild flamingos love Bonaire's salt ponds

Wild flamingos love Bonaire’s salt ponds

That’s not snow

As the ponds dry, an undulating border of what looks like bubble bath forms. These bubbles are sticky and salty, and they look a lot like snow that’s been plowed to the side of the road.

Salt blows to the edge of Bonaire's salt ponds. It looks just like a pile of snow!

Salt blows to the edge of Bonaire’s salt ponds. It looks just like a pile of snow!

 

Near the pier where ships carry the salt away, huge piles of salt rise beside the road. Even though the weather is very hot and dry, I cannot stop thinking these are mountains of snow.

Piles of salt harvested from the sea on Bonaire

Piles of salt harvested from the sea on Bonaire

 

The salt piles are snowy white and twinkle in the sun like ice. I’ve always wondered how the salt ends up in those piles. Lucky for me (and you), I got to witness the salt harvest first-hand.

 

Sea Salt Harvest Video

Here’s my video showing the big machines at work. What do you think? Can you believe this is salt, not snow?

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Please leave a comment below.

 

Thank you to these websites for your valuable information on Bonaire’s salt ponds and harvest:

bonaire-travelguide.com

geographia.com

tourismbonaire.com

gonomad.com

 

goinformed.net tips for visiting Bonaire

Click here for more of my tips about what to see and do on Bonaire.

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