Bonaire for Family who just snorkels?

Old Mar 5th, 2003, 08:07 AM
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Bonaire for Family who just snorkels?

We are considering going to Bonaire mainly for the good close to shore snorkelling. Will we will enjoy Bonaire if we don't dive and just snorkel? Which hotel has snorkelling directly in front and is suited to families? Is Bonaire really just set up for divers? Thank you.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 10:00 AM
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Bonaire has some of the world's best shore snorkeling! Almost all hotels are shorefront and have "house reefs" but do not limit yourself to them (though some of these house reefs are quite good). The best way to appraciate the fabulous snorkeling in Bonaire is to rent a car, drive up and down to the coast road, and stop at the many snorkeling/dive sites marked by the famous "yellow rocks". Don't forget to visit the snorkeling spots at Washington-Slagbaii Park (sp?), or the soft-coral gardens in the sandier spots down by Pink Beach and the salt pans. As an advocate of total "snorkeling freedom" I am no fan of snorkel boat tours and their restrictions, but there is no other way to get to the reefs at Klein Bonaire, and they are worth the annoyance of the tour. The local shops sell a comprehensive, lavishly illustrated guide to the Bonaire dive/snorkel sites, with an English language version.

Bonaire is a low-key, quiet island with its entire tourism industry pretty much geared toward the diving/snorkeling crowd (plus a few birdwatchers and wind-surfers). I don't think most hotels have a lot of other activities to keep children occupied if that is what you mean by "suitable for families". On the other hand, the hotels are not "wild-party-swinging-singles-booze-it-up" places either, if THAT is what you mean by "suitable for families".

We were very happy with our accomodations at Captain Don's Habitat.
The breakfast buffet at Captain Don's is fine, but dinner is best eaten at some of the restaurants in town. There is a fair variety to choose from; if you are adventurous about ethnic foods, try the risjtaffel [sp??] at an Indonesian restaurant.

ALL places with coral reefs are "set up" more for the divers, and snorkelers are always second-class citizens to some extent at ALL dive destinations. This is a fact of life, but we have never seen it as a reason to deter us from snorkeling. It usually more of a problem when divers and snorkelers are mixed on boat. The beauty of Bonaire is that you can avoid boats entirely. If you love snorkeling, you will love Bonaire.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 10:40 AM
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We went to Bonaire last fall, just for the snorkeling. It was everything we could have hoped for and more. Yes there are loads of divers, but the wonder of Bonaire is snorkeling from the shore. We stayed at the Plaza Resort. It felt like less of a dive resort than some of the others. It has a good size beach and extremely easy access to the water. On Bonaire, you really need to rent a car to take advantage of the shore snorkeling beyond the Plaza. We went to 12 different sites, and went back to many of them a second time. We even took a couple of snorkel/sails. No divers just sailing and snorkeling, it was great.
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 11:35 AM
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How old are family members? If young children are involved, the beaches might be a bit rough for them.

Bonaire is a gem of an island but very laid back. I agree young children might be bored.

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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 11:54 AM
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Be aware that long soft sandy beaches are not common at the resorts in Bonaire. I have not stayed at the Plaza and cannot comment on the beach, but I do know that it is pretty far away from town. If you don't rent a car, you will pretty much be stuck there for all your meals and activities. The Divi Flamingo, which is where I have stayed, has a small beach, but is only 6 blocks from town, easily and safely walkable anytime day or evening. They have regular hotel rooms and also some "studio" rooms with a kitchenette - also have some timeshare condos. The big grocery store called Cultimara is about a mile away. If you do rent a car, don't leave ANYTHING inside it, and leave it unlocked when you park it by the side of the road to snorkel - petty theft from unattended cars is unfortunately common in Bonaire - if it's locked, they will break windows just to see what's inside. If it's unlocked and nothing's in it, then no damage is likely to be done even if someone roots thru it.

For lots of good Bonaire info check out
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Old Mar 5th, 2003, 10:51 PM
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tried to snorkep on Bonaire...really strong current where we were, and it took all my energy to keep from being pulled away, rough water too. Bonaire is great for deep sea diving...snorkling may be better somewhere else...we love Mexico, or Tahiti for calm water and lots to see.
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Old Mar 6th, 2003, 06:16 PM
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Aurelia makes an excellent point. I have not snorkeled in Bonaire, but I have snorkeled in Aruba and Curacao, which are similar in climate and sea conditions. Some of the best off the beach snorkeling I have seen were in these two islands and I have heard that Bonaire is the best.

However, if you are inexperienced snorkelers, be careful. I snorkeled in Aruba and sometimes the waves and the current were strong. And the dive master I was with said that that was a calm day! Being an intermediate snorkeler, I did fine, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who have never snorkeled before.

I would get a book on the snorkel sites of Bonaire and do research on the conditions common at the locations. I have also e-mailed dive shops and gotten good info. If you are fairly experienced snorkelers, Bonaire should be fantastic.
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