Thoughts on Bonaire 29 Sept-7 Oct

Oct 12th, 2006, 01:27 AM
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Thoughts on Bonaire 29 Sept-7 Oct

I know St. John has been extremely popular on this site lately (one of our favorites-going at the end of the month), but maybe someone is interested in hearing about our first trip to Bonaire.

My husband and I have decided to quit trying to compare islands. There is something to like about all of the Caribbean islands. Going to Bonaire from SD is not easy. We left at 11Am and arrived in Bonaire at 5AM. Flew overnight from Houston on Co. My husband is an elite flyer with NW and was upgraded to first class both ways. I lucked out big time with space available for a companion upgrade on all flights. The flight crew in first class on the way home was, frankly, not so hot. From Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, we had a delightful gentlemen. I told him so. His reply was "I like my job". I told him it shows. How lucky one is to like their job in any field.

We went to Bonaire to snorkel and snorkel only. Bonaire is a big dive island, and the divers could not understand why we have not tried it. I think we will when we go to Virgin Gorda in May. For now, it is the ease of snorkeling we prefer. We were able to snorkel not even a fourth of the island sites in one week. We did a drift snorkel for the first time returning the next day to do it again because we liked it so much. We also did a guided night snorkel which was very interesting. We can now do it on our own next year. We actually did two day guided snorkels for about three hours each. We learned a lot about fish behavior and probably saw creatures that we would have missed. We decided one could just circle the whole island snorkeling. The joy of snorkeling is never knowing what will cross our path or line of vision. We were very pleased with the large number of fish. Also grateful the coral was, in our opinion, in good shape.

The temperature of the water was one of the highlights for me. We could be out for 3-4 hours and I would not get cold. I can't say that about any other island we have snorkeled. Of course, it was the hottest time of the year at 95 degrees.

Food. Can't say anything about dinners. We started snorkeling early morning until shortly after lunch. We were starved and may account for why we thought every lunch was above average. We ate at one local establishment which was one of the best lunches because of the setting, the staff and the fresh fish which was cut for us. And the beer was ice cold. I took some food with me in our checked luggage and made breakfast and light dinners. I hate grocery shopping when I could be snorkeling.

Our penthouse. Absolutely beautiful. Third floor, completely open, huge, with a beautiful view of the ocean and nightly sunsets. We tried to think of where we have stayed previously that had made us say "wow" every time we opened the door. The bedrooms had A/C. Very good A/C. Which brings me to the downside of going at the hottest time of the year. I had a real problem with late afternoon and early evenings. My husband did not. I would end up in the bedroom reading. I'm already looking for an air conditioned apt. for next year, although it will be hard to give up going back to the beauty of the penthouse. The villas on Bonaire, I was told, only have AC in the bedrooms due to the high cost of cooling a whole house.

Bonaire is definitely a repeat island for us. The island is Dutch. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. I also received lots of advice from "Bonaire Talk".

I'd be happy to answer any questions. Owa
Oct 12th, 2006, 01:57 AM
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I forgot to mention bugs and bug bites. I started taking B12 a month before we left and while we were on Bonaire. I always get bites and my husband doesn't. The big B didn't help me one bit. Since we had to check a bag, I had a whole array of bug sprays and itch cream of every variety. I applied spray as soon as I got up and immediately after a shower. I'm finally almost itch free after 5 days at home. I also hit my knee against fire coral while trying to point out a huge parrot fish to my husband. Oh my. It became very swollen, itched like crazy and was actually weeping for awhile. "After Bite" stick worked the best for me, but it really smells. I used it once on the airplane on the way home and a crabby flight attendant asked in her worse voice "what the hell -----". Owa
Oct 12th, 2006, 02:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,567
Thanks Owa. Your flight time is scary . So what is a drift snorkel?
caribtraveler is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 03:21 AM
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Drift Snorkel. We went on the water Taxi for a 15 minute ride to an island (Klein Bonaire) with beautiful beaches (there really are not nice sandy beaches on Bonaire). We stopped only for two seconds to allow everyone to get off and deposit lunch, water, etc. All the other passengers, on both days, stayed on this island for a few hours or the day. The water taxi makes about three trips a day. The boat then went on along the reef quite a distance where we jumped into the water to start our drift. One can then go back and forth between the shore and the deep side of the reef. The first day we only did 11/2 hours. The next day we took our time and stayed out 31/2 hours. The current takes you back to the meeting point for the taxi. Pure pleasure. Owa
Oct 12th, 2006, 03:58 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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What a tough flight time. Thanks for sharing your report. I'd love to know more about Bonaire and the snorkeling. Any photos you can share would be wonderful. Are all the snokeling the drift kind? We like to snorkel but would prefer little current. Where did you stay? Thanks again.
mymoosie is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 04:37 AM
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We only did drift snorkleing at Klein Bonaire. We entered from shore on all the other sites. On a drift snorkel, you don't fight the current. Extremely easy if you don't go back and forth to shore.

We stayed at Belmar apts. Penthouse #2l. I think there are about 2l apts. It was not full when we were there which was an advantage, because we could look down into other living areas. The other penthouse was not occupied so we didn't have eyes watching us. I don't know if we would have been so happy to share our space.

We don't take underwater pictures. The only other pictures we have are of the penthouse. We didn't take our camera with us in our pickup because of reports of theft. We didn't leave anything in the pickup while we snorkeled just like on Vieques. Leave the truck unlocked.

Rumrital, go to "Bonaire Talk". You will get lots of tips reading trip reports,etc. One of the tips that really helped us was to have a hard soled bottie or shoe to make shore entry easy on the feet. Some of the sites have lots of coral. My husband wore water shoes with his open-heeled fins, and I wore a rubber sandal with a hard sole that I buckled to my belt after I was in the water. Where are you staying? Diving or snorkeling?

MIMO4, Where did you stay? Dive or snorkel?

I'll answer anything else. Owa
Oct 12th, 2006, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 997
Thanks Owa for another great trip report

Your positive attitude, even with hellish flights, always makes me resolve to do better with my attitude;-)

Hope your knee is back to normal !

Take care...

MarionCK is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 07:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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owa - thanks for the report, it sounds like it was a great trip. We went snorkeling everywhere, LOL. Even when we went to a few hotels just to check them out, we jumped in the water. It is so great there, SO many fish and so beautiful the colors, etc. amazing. Some of the local people told us to be careful of the parrot fish as they can bite and their teeth are HUGE! LOL fortunately that did not happen.

We rented an apt. It was locally owned, so I don't think it had a name, it was just 2 units, like a duplex more or less. It was very small and had just AC in the bedroom. The mosquitos were HORRIBLE though and I got eaten alive. Even at night with the bedroom all closed up and the AC on full blast.

We were not at all impressed with the pink sand beach, it was windy and the sand hurt because it hit your body so hard. It was a horrible day at the beach.

All and all we enjoyed it, but again it was all about the fish!!! The island itself is not beautiful its whats beneath the water that makes it great.

Did not have any memorable meals, we cooked mostly. And I know what you mean about being starving at lunch. Spending that much time in the water always makes me feel that way.

Where are you staying in Virgin Gorda. We head back there in Nov. We love it there!
MIM04 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2006, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Thanks owa. That's a great tip on what to do with the sandals once you're in the water. I pick up such good tips from everyone on this forum.
mymoosie is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 03:58 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Enjoyed your report. Bonaire has always been on our 'next' list. Question: At Belmar, what did you think of the Suite Delux units just under the Pent House units?
RobertoB is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 04:39 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Thanks for taking the time to post, Owa. I especially enjoy reading trip reports of islands that don't have large followings, at least on this board. Trip reports like yours somehow erase a bit of mystery while adding a bit of personal intrigue.

ejcrowe is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 09:50 AM
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MIMO4, We are going to Tortola for 5 nights first and staying at Mongoose. Then to Biras Creek for 7 nights.

Roberto, There is one unit at Belmar, I want to say #16, that has AC throughtout. The view wouldn't be as great as the penthouse, but I would definitely stay there in Sept. or Oct. I didn't know about it and was told that they do not advertise it. It is very popular because repeats know about it. We were the "odd man out" at Belmar, but the front office certainly didn't treat us that way. All of the units except two are owned by the same owner. I rented from Bonaire Partners representing the other owner. It was $500 cheaper than if I had rented thru Belmar management. I can't say enough about how we were treated by everyone at the front office. Marjoleion helped us in every way. Invited us to the managers party which was really fun because we were able to meet some of the other guests. Marjolein was so great we sent her flowers.

The great people on Bonaire Talk are giving me names of other places that have AC. Owa
Oct 13th, 2006, 12:21 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 607
Thanks owa

I have followed Bonaire Talk in the past but not lately. It's definitely one of the best destination specific forums. Your post renewed my interest in Bonaire.

How did the snorkeling compare to St. John? Thanks for the inside scoop on Belmar.
RobertoB is offline  
Oct 13th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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Roberto, We are going to St. John and St. Croix at the end of the month. My husband and I have already said it will be interesting to snorkel the USVI and Bonaire within a month. Our memory of Bonaire snorkeling should be intact. But, then again at our age, who knows. I'll let you know what we think. Owa

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