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Bonaire Trip Report

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Bonaire – Wow, wow, and double wow. Absolutely amazing snorkeling right off the beach. Couldn’t believe it – but it is even better than our favorite snorkel spot on GC.

We stayed at the Plaza Resort Bonaire. It has a gorgeous beach (one of the few on Bonaire). As soon as we walked into the water, parrotfish, trunkfish and others were swimming around us. The reef/coral runs right along the beach – no need to snorkel out to it or take a boat. There are 3 easy access points to enter the water – no sandy bottoms to enter the water but the rock bottom is smooth and easy to walk on.

If you are an avid snorkeler (or diver) – you HAVE to go. If you have never snorkeled, don’t go – it will spoil you for snorkeling at other islands. We have snorkeled on several islands over the last 16 years – on Bonaire we saw sea life we had never seen before. (Hubby did not dive because the snorkeling is so excellent.)

Now for the report of our trip in January 2007:

Bonaire is a wonderful little island with very friendly people. Driving down the road, natives wave and say hello. Iguanas and tropical birds are thick on the island. Watch out for the goats while driving – twice we had some run out in front of us.

There are several restaurants and places to stay. Most hotels, etc do not have beaches, so if a beach is important to you, do your research. The island is not real built up with plush hotels, etc like Aruba. Instead it is the kind of island we love!

Plaza Resort Bonaire:
Loved it. Our room was right off the beach on the ground floor – tile floors, 2 bathrooms (one with huge sink area, shower/tub, other with toilet and sink). The room was very clean and nice; the tub bottom and some things were somewhat worn but the Plaza is
perfect for staying on an island. The grounds are very pretty. The greatest thing about the Plaza is the beach and the snorkeling right off the beach. If I go back, I will stay here again. If you are looking for US standards of 4 or 5 star, this is not the place for you (doubt if there is anywhere on the island for you). However, if you want to stay in a lovely place yet have the feel of the island, I highly recommend the Plaza Resort. Also, all of the staff is very friendly and helpful. We arrived about 9pm, the bellman was busy so we had to grab a cart and take our own bags to our room (and the resort is very spread out), but we were in the Caribbean so no problem with it. My theory is… when you are in a foreign country, go with the flow and don’t compare things to what you expect in the US. Note: if you walk through the gate by the beach at the Plaza, it is a short walk to Richards and other offsite restaurants.

Language/Money:
The majority of the tourists, at least while we were there, were Dutch. Road signs, several items at the grocery store, etc are written in Dutch. However, everyone we spoke with also spoke English, menus, etc were in English, and we did not have any problems (typical American – we speak one language). We were able to use the US dollar and credit card everywhere.

Car rental/Driving:
Most tourists seemed to rent trucks but we rented a Jimny Jeep from Budget. We like to keep the top off and enjoy the sunshine - excellent way to tour an island. The Jimny was beat up and filthy with dust (the seatbelt left dirt lines on my shirts) but it got us where we wanted to go. You need something rugged to tour the National Park. The island is very easy to drive around and you drive on the same side of the road as in the US. However, brush up on the road signs before you take off. Also, take note: in town there is a road with several restaurants which runs along the harbor – we did not discover it for a few days.


Food/Restaurants:
Milk – it’s not like we have in the US so you may not like it. I think it is the shelf kind.
We had good meals but not any we would really rave about. However, do try the mustard soup at the Tipsy Seagull (at the Plaza Resort) and the Dorado at Richard’s. The island is not inexpensive but not unreasonable either, for example, dinner for two with drinks at popular restaurants runs about $50.


Activities:
In addition to the snorkeling and diving, there is plenty to keep you busy. (Check out www.infobonaire.com). Driving around the island is very interesting. The Windsurfing is awesome – did not do it but watched them. They were flying across the water and jumping unbelievably high. The National Park is pretty neat but we wish we had gone with a tour guide – we saw a guide stopping to point out plants and things we had no idea what we were looking at. I’d also suggest you go to the National Park in an air conditioned vehicle (however a regular car may not make it through the park) – we went in an open jeep with no air conditioning, started off in the morning but finished our trip about noon – about melted in the heat the last 45 minutes.

Cell phone:
My cell phone worked (Cingular – called before we left to have it set up to work in the ABC islands). My hubby rented a cell phone from Chat 'n' Browse on Bonaire. He had a lot of business calls to make and renting a phone was cheaper than the calls from my phone. http://www.chatnbrowse.com/

Internet:
Our hotel charged to use the Internet on their computers which were set up for guests. I think it cost $3.00 for 15 minutes or $5.00 for 30 minutes. You can get more info at www.infobonaire.com/travel.html.


For excellent info on Bonaire, goto
http://www.infobonaire.com/ note: (http://www.infobonaire.com/travel.html covers a lot of questions)
or
http://www.bonairetalk.com/

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