Gerenarl tips about Bonaire

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Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

Gerenarl tips about Bonaire Reviews

westwind57 westwind…
47 reviews
General tips about Bonaire Apr 18, 2012
Some tips for the travelers:

Electricity: 110V with American style power outlets, so Europeans: bring adapters for your electricity plugs!

Climate: As said, bring swimming wear, light shirts, shorts and flip flops, but also bring a shirt with long sleeves and light long trousers for the evening. Bring a good sun block because of the combination of tropical sun and water, something to treat your sun burn, and some mosquito repellent. Mainly if mosquito’s tend to like you. Mosquitoes are not such a big problem here and they are not known to spread dreadful diseases, apart from the annoying itching they may cause. We were amazed by the absence of irritating flies etc.

Money: Euro’s and American dollars. The Netherlands Antilles Guilder is no longer the currency here. American dollars are preferred at the moment, because they prices are all in US$ and they use a very unfavorable exchange rate for recalculating in Euro’s.

ATM’s (which are plentiful) ask if you want to withdraw Euro’s or US Dollars, and even if your bank account is a Euro account,take dollars because your bank will give you a much better rate than the local salesmen, restaurants and hotels. So: bring dollars, cash dollars at the ATM and pay in dollars.

Credit cards: All major cards widely accepted. If you pay with your credit cards and they ask if you want to pay in Euro, say no. Pay in dollars even with your credit card.

Medical services: Up to European standard for the normal kind of emergencies. It is a small island so for very specialized matters, there may be a need to transport you elsewhere.

Tipping: Somewhere between European and US standards. Providers of tourist services like dive masters and guides will expect 10-15% if you are an American. If you are Dutch or other European national for that matter, they won’t expect that kind of tips but will of course appreciate it.

Taxi’s, restaurants etc. same thing, but if you really want to tip “Dutch style”, if you can call that tipping at all, then at the very least be a bit more generous than at home… please! (Sorry, I am Dutch and have seen my countrymen act embarrassing in this sense, plus I like the people of Bonaire, so that’s why)

Getting there: Many possibilities from the US and Latin America usually via Curacao or Aruba.

From Europe, KLM flies a daily route Amsterdam-Aruba-Bonaire. It just makes a stop in Aruba, and you leave the plane to get on board again in an hour or so. Most Caribbean cruises just make a one day (or even shorter) stop, and the cruise passengers can just walk into town or have a program designed for cruise passengers only, which in my view has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the experience of being on the island for at least 3 or 4 days. We spent 10 days there…

Getting around: My advice: rent a moped ("scooter"), but I accept no liability for this advice of course! However it is a fantastic way to explore the island. We rented from Macho Rentals, who are located at the Van der Valk resort, and in the North end of Kaya Grandi in Kralendijk.

Choices between one- and two-seaters. It costs you US$ 25 per day for a one-seater, and US$ 35.50 per day for a two-seater. They will make a draft slip of your credit card for guarantee. Theft Insurance US$ 6 per day (prices April 2012). It is absolutely worth it and it buys you an unmeasurable freedom, much cheaper than renting a car or just going on organized tours.

When riding a moped, watch out for gravel on the road and wet roads which can be slippery. The roads are generally good, but there may be gravel or speed bumps. Also, when starting your motor in the morning, it may sputter in the beginning. This is because of bubbles in the fuel supply which may be caused by the heat or by cooling down in the morning. Don’t panic; just give it time to start running smoothly before you take off.

When riding a two sitter with a passenger into the hills in the north (Rincon and further), your speed will drop and your moped may have to work hard in this heat. Try to make sure it does not get overheated.

Of course there are also taxi’s (expensive), local bus connections, bicycle rent shops, and car rentals. If visiting the north (hilly) like Washington Slagbaai National Park or other remote areas with dirt roads, a very solid car, preferably a 4x4 is recommended. See also Gimpel’s (Richard’s) blog on this! For the rest, renting a moped is just perfect.

Hotel facilities: Don’t expect hotel blocks of the Marriots, the Sheraton’s and the Hilton’s on Bonaire. It is simpler than that, smaller than that, sometimes weird designs or some slower services, but almost always with a charm and a smile. There are plenty of small places and a few larger resorts. There may be some small issues with your bathroom or maybe someone did not understand your order correctly but the people are mostly sweet and want you to have a good time.

Snorkling/diving: possible at very many spots around the island. Snorkeling is fabulous, also try Little Bonaire (Klein Bonaire) and Mangrove kayaking + snorkeling excursion. As a top diving spot in the world, Bonaire has first class certified diving schools and arrangements in abundance.

Other water sports: Some, but not on large scale. No banana boats, no or very few kite surfing, you can learn wind surfing in Lac Bay. But the waters all around Bonaire are a Marine Park, so water sports that can damage nature (e.g. speed boats) are restricted. There are kayaking and sailing excursions available, and even a kayaking and snorkeling experience in the mangroves close to Lac Bay.

Nightlife: Short and simple: it is modest. People chill out at the bar or the terrace, enjoy their cocktails or rum punch or beers, there will be some music, but things close down relatively early. Bonaire will not qualify as a top 10 party island of this world. If a vibrant nightlife is your requirement, you may prefer Aruba or Curacao. If your evenings/nights are good enough for you when just chilling out, meet nice people and make some friends, then you may enjoy it a lot.

Stinapa: In fact, the entire sea around Bonaire and Klein (Little) Bonaire is a national Park, which means that every visitor must pay US$ 10 for a badge. the moment you set foot into the waters you will need it. The proceeds are intended for keeping the nature at the condition, cleanness and quality that it is today. Stinapa badges are available at the airport and from companies that offer excursions.

Special tips: When riding your moped, you may not notice how fast the sun burns your skin! Your hands and knees will be exposed most. Be careful with that, but don’t let this discourage you. For us renting the moped was the best choice which we did not regret for a second.

If you forget the electricity plug adapters, no-one will tell you where to get them… but the Chinese “Sunshine” supermarket close to the Divi Flamingo Casino will have them for you at just a few dollars.

In the Mangrove area of Lac Bay, there is a Mangrove Information and Excursions center that offers kayaking and

snorkeling trips in this fantastic nature reserve. However, there is another company that offers the same in small groups (max. 6 kayaks) and with a very knowledgeable and helpful guide / owner (Paul). A two hour tour with glass bottom kayaks and snorkeling gear available will cost you US$ 30 per person (plus the US$ 10 dollar for the mandatory Stinapa badge, if you don’t have that yet). It may not sound cheap, but it is 2/3 of the price of the other company, plus it is worth every single penny. Here is the web link:

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photo by: westwind57