Bonaire Trip Report

Jan 26th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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Bonaire Trip Report

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/

LvSun is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Forgot to mention:
Weather - Most days while we were there it rained for about 5-10 minutes but then would be sunny and things quickly dried so it did not present any type of problem.

The island is so close to the equator, you better use lots of sunscreen. Hubby and I mostly used a 30 sunscreen and still got beautiful tans - I was stunned.
LvSun is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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It's so nice to read about a different island here. Thank you so much for the trip report. Bonaire has been on top of our list of a while. Hopefully, we'll make it there sooner rather than later.
caribtraveler is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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Thanks so much for writing about Bonaire here. As caribtraveler says, it's always nice to read about the islands less traveled. I love snorkeling but I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to quality snorkeling--maybe I'd better not go to Bonaire for some time so that I don't become spoiled!
ejcrowe is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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Thanks for the report. I've been to Aruba several times but opted for Provo for my trip this May. However, after an eastern European River cruise this fall, bonaire is next on my travel agenda.

Thanks again for the report - I will definitely put the Plaza Resort among my top choices of resorts.
mhcatl is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for the report. I loved Bonaire - fabulous snorkeling! It was really amazing. The parrot fish alone are worth the trip!
MIM04 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 09:44 AM
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Is it usual to refer to local people of a country as natives?

Odin is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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"Is it usual to refer to local people of a country as natives?"

Why wouldn't it be?

2 results for: natives
View results from: Dictionary | Thesaurus | Encyclopedia | All Reference | the Web

American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source na·tive (nâ'tĭv) Pronunciation Key
adj.
Existing in or belonging to one by nature; innate: native ability.

Being such by birth or origin: a native Scot.

Being one's own because of the place or circumstances of one's birth: our native land.

Being a member of the original inhabitants of a particular place.
Of, belonging to, or characteristic of such inhabitants: native dress; the native diet of Polynesia.

Occurring in nature pure or uncombined with other substances: native copper.
Natural; unaffected: native beauty.
Archaic Closely related, as by birth or race.
mhcatl is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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I was born in the US - I am a native of the US. Live in WV but not born here, so I am not a native of WV. Good grief!!!!!!!

LvSun is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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Referring to West Indians as "natives," while not an offensive epithet in the same way that "nigger" is, is still highly charged. Maybe what people might call culturally insensitive.

While the dictionary definition is strictly accurate, it doesn't make room for nuances that the word has developed in situations like these. These days it's better to use the terms "locals" or "belongers" to indicate those people born on the island in question. Or the proper noun, such as Vincentians for people born in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, to use one example.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 12:38 PM
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O.K. back to Bonaire.

I too enjoyed reading this report and have had Bonaire on a future list since 'forever'. LvSun thanks for all of the useful tips.

Noticed the 9 pm arrival. What airline did you use? Connection? From where?
RobertoB is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Unreal.
mhcatl is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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We flew USAir from Charlotte to Aruba then flew DAE (Dutch Antilles Express)to Bonaire. Had a 4 hour layover in Aruba. The plane from Aruba to Bonaire also stops in Curaçao to drop off and pick up passengers.

ejcrowe and whoever, Just like in the US, the people of Bonaire are of various ethnic backgrounds. BONAIRE IS A DUTCH ISLAND. My use of "native" had NOTHING to do with color of skin, hair, language or anything else. Who knew it would cause such an uproar. I am blonde and green-eyed yet often refer to myself as a native of the state in which I was born. Why is it that some people just have to find something to gripe about! I wrote a nice and helpful report about Bonaire and some people just have to turn it into something ugly!!!!!
LvSun is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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Enjoyed your report. Thanks so much for posting. Now I'm really intrigued by the snorkeling opportunities. Will have to bump Bonaire on the long list of islands to get to. Thanks!
mymoosie is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 06:03 PM
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Did not mean to cause offense or to sound too preachy. Just trying to answer Odin's question.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 10:29 AM
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I have been researching Bonaire this past week as a place to snorkel. I have snorkeled in Hawaii, G. Cayman, Bermuda, T/C, Barbados, Cozumel,and other islands, so I am really curious as to the underwater sights off Bonaire.
While on Bonaire did you happen to see Harbour Village Beach Club? Or has a reader stayed there recently?
We want a place on the beach, plus plan to venture around the island to snorkel.
We have a 16 year old, so not sure where to stay as we prefer small resort with condos or suites.
I am ready to pack...especially as I look out the den window at our yard in MI which is snow covered!
THanks for any info....
Momburd is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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We did see the Harbour Village Beach Club - it looked very nice. My understanding is that it is the most posh place on the island. One bonus is that it does have a beach - rare in Bonaire.

Friends stayed at the Sand Dollar Condos which is not far from the Harbour Village. They said snorkeling at Sand Dollar is excellent. Actually, it is hard to find an area of Bonaire that does not have excellent snorkeling. The difference from other islands is the lack of beach to get to the water. For example, the Sand Dollar has a tiny tiny patch of sand which disappears at high tide. You can get into the water from it but mainly you walk down a cement thing and get into the water from it. This is common for access to the water from many places.

Here is a map of Bonaire and good snorkel sites. Goto http://www.infobonaire.com/divemap.html

Snorkeling was so excellent at the Plaza that we stayed there to snorkel except for one snorkel journey into the National Park.

You can pay to get onto the beach at the Plaza Resort. If you don't stay there, I hope you do go and check it out. I am curious about how the snorkeling at the Plaza compares to Harbour Village. If you do both, please put up a post here.


LvSun is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:07 PM
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That was a great report! I've considered Bonaire..before, as I LOVE to snorkel. Now thinking about it even more! Can you tell what other places of the caribbean you've snorkeled as to compare??

Thanks!!
VegasM is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:23 PM
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VegasM - just to let you know I have snorkeled pretty much every island in the Caribbean. And nothing has compared to Bonaire... There are SO many fish its unbelievable.
MIM04 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:28 PM
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VegasM - Of the +_ 25 islands I have snorkeled in the Caribbean nothing compares to Bonaire. There are so many beautiful colorful fish. And the reefs are not damaged like many of the islands due to too much human contact, etc. it is really unspoiled. If you love to snorkel I think you would enjoy it very much. It says something about it since there are so many dive operations there
MIM04 is offline  

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