Beautiful Bonaire

Insightful travel journal to the divers' paradise

My two favorite things in life are learning and traveling. My husband and I usually go scuba diving during the holidays, and we had looked for the ideal spot to celebrate the end of 2021. We heard that Bonaire is “the divers’ paradise.” Upon research, we discovered that Bonaire is a beautiful island in the southern Caribbean just a few miles off the coast of Venezuela, where its currency is the US Dollar. We decided that was the location for our 2021 holiday getaway.

Here are some fun facts about beautiful Bonaire: there are only two towns on the island, the capital Kralendijk (creh-len-dike) and Rincón. Kralendijk has grocery stores, banks, offices, and restaurants/bars that are open daily. You can easily spot the tourist information store as soon as you get to the downtown area. Most restaurants do not open every day of the week, and a lot of them only serve dinner; knowing this ahead of time can help you make plans accordingly. The best months to scuba dive in Bonaire are September and October because there is very little to no wind, which allows for very clear waters. Rincón is a lot quieter than Krelendijk and has the best place to try the island’s local dish, stew. Posada Para Mira is the place to go if that’s what you are craving. The most popular stews that they serve are goat and iguana. Be mindful that this place is only open on certain days of the week.

Even though Dutch is the native language in Bonaire, Papiamento is the most widely spread language spoken. You can also communicate in English and Spanish, if necessary.

We stayed at The Bellafonte Luxury Oceanfront Hotel, an oceanfront complex with amazing views. Waiting for us in our room was a chilled bottle of bubbly and a wonderful arrangement of lush local flowers that lasted the entire two weeks we were there! The staff at The Bellafonte was extremely helpful by making reservations in the best restaurants around the island and helping us with anything else that we needed or wanted. 

Our diving trips have always included guided boat dives that take us to gorgeous locations in the middle of the ocean. In Bonaire, however, diving is completely different, and that is what makes it “the divers’ paradise.” As we drove around the island, we realized there was no such thing as “boat diving.” People actually park their cars by the shore, gear up, and simply walk over to the water to dive.

Bonaire is all about “shore-diving.” Being our first time on the island, we used the scuba shop Dive Friends Bonaire to ensure we were taken to some of the best spots. Our two favorites were the Salt Pier and the Oil Slick, where we saw so many types, sizes, and colors of sea creatures. There were turtles, octopus, queen of hearts, barracudas, parrotfish, swordfish, squid, sea urchins, and dolphins, just to name a few. The Salt Pier is a great diving spot because the fish are gathered around the platform’s structure at a shallow depth, where the water is usually crystal clear.

Bonaire is not just about diving, though. During our time there, we discovered incredible restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. Sebastian’s, an oceanfront luxurious restaurant with exquisite dishes and an extensive wine list should be kept for a special night. The view from Sebastian’s is simply amazing. Be sure to get there at sunset to fully enjoy it. Downtown Bonaire also has great restaurants to explore, and La Cantina was the one that stood out to us. It has a fun and casual atmosphere that offers tasty (and dangerous) drinks! The Passion Mojito was my favorite! Depending on what time of year you plan on visiting Bonaire, make sure to always make reservations. Otherwise, you will miss out.

The island also has beach clubs where you can just chill and lounge. The Ocean Oasis has a great atmosphere, food, and drinks. Staying at The Bellafonte, you will have perks like complimentary shuttle, bubbly, and VIP seats by the water.

Bonaire has a huge park at the top of the island, the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. It can only be visited by car, and you have two loops to choose from. The longer one can take between 2.5 to 4 hours to complete, and it takes you around the upper edge of the island, where you can see the settlers’ ruins, interesting geographical formations, goats, natural springs, and, of course, diving spots. If you don’t want to spend that much time exploring the park, you can choose the shorter path that takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. We recommend that you drive a 4-wheel car for this visit because the terrain is rough. The park has absolutely no service, so make sure that your car has a full tank of gas and that you have food and water.

Two other activities made our vacation in Bonaire memorable. One was flamingo spotting all around the island. The flamingos look majestic with their long thin legs and beautiful vivid pink feathers. Bonaire flamingos have an intense pink coloring due to what they eat - small pink salt shrimps and micro-organisms in the water that have turned pink by algae, bacteria, and beta-carotene. Their beauty is hypnotizable. Bonaire has one of four sanctuaries in the world where flamingos breed, the Pekelmeer, which means “salt lake” in Dutch. Tourists are not allowed in the area, but you can watch them on the side of the road using binoculars.

The Cadushy Distillery in Rincón offers tastings of liquors, rum, gin, vodka, and whiskey, all made from the island cactus. In fact, Bonaire has the only cactus-vodka in the world, whereas the other vodkas are made of rye or potatoes. It definitely has a distinct taste to it.

Now that you know, what are you waiting for? Visit Beautiful Bonaire!

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