Category Archives: Bonaire

Knock, Knock. Holland Has a King!

Today promises to be a very colorful day in certain parts of the Caribbean – all stemming from the rise of a new king in Holland. His Royal Highness The Prince of Orange ascends to the throne that day. Hear ye and welcome King Willem-Alexander.

The investiture of the new king is taking place on Queen’s Day. Confused? If you’ve ever found yourself in The Netherlands, on St. Maarten, Aruba or other Dutch provinces and states around the globe, you know that April 30th is huge holiday, called Queen’s Day. When Queen Juliana ascended to the throne in 1949, she marked her monarchy with an annual celebration on her birthday, April 30. Her daughter, Beatrix, who became queen in 1980, didn’t think January 31, her birthday, was a good day for outdoor parades and merry-making, so she kept her Queen’s Day on April 30th.

Note to travelers: Queen’s Day next year is cancelled. Lest you think an uprising is about to occur at the loss of a national holiday, no worries. Starting in 2014, King’s Day fittingly will replace Queen’s Day; but the celebration will move to April 27th, which is the new king’s birthday. The king has already concurred that April is indeed a splendid time of year for a day off and grand party. This decision continues a long line of service to the people and practicality by the Dutch monarchy. (They’re also known for abdication, too. Queen Beatrix is handing the reins to her son, as her mother did for her, believing it is time for a new generation to lead the monarchy.)

Of this you can be certain: the national holiday that celebrates the monarchy – be it king or queen – is a great day for the wearin’ of the orange. Orange is the national color of The Netherlands because the Dutch royal family is known as the House of Orange-Nassau. The dynasty traces its lineage to the marital union of the royal house of Nassau-Breda in Germany with the Chalon-Orange line from France Burgundy in 1515.

The soon to be King Willem-Alexander is the first male heir to the Dutch throne in over 100 years. He and his wife have three daughters. And, you know what that means: King’s Day will become Queen’s Day once again.
The historical signs at Fort Amsterdam in St. Maarten, which are a very special part of the grounds of Divi Little Bay Resort, already have been repainted – with a fresh coat of orange, of course – to note the change in leadership of the Dutch Kingdom. At a ceremony there on April 27, SIMARC, an organization that works to preserve the island’s heritage, was awarded an Orange Bow, a very special honor indeed since it is the last bestowed under the reign of the outgoing queen.
Orange you glad you read this?

What should you pack for a vacation in Bonaire?

Swimsuit.  Yes.  Driver’s License.  Yes.  Watch.  No.

Going on vacation is a time for turning off the clock for some people. No need to be anyplace at any particular time. Let the boats and buses leave when they must.  Banish the smartphones and watches.  Ahhhh.  This is the definition of vacation.  Let’s go shore diving when and where we want – and for as long as we want.  No wonder Bonaire is paradise for divers who want to be “off the clock.”

Bonaire is the world capital of shore diving.  All a diver needs is a full tank and wheels to get where they want to go underwater exploring.  There are more than 80 marked shore dive sites along the coastline of this little island, 50 miles north of Venezuela.   Selecting the day’s destination just might be the hardest thing a dive vacationer has to do all week.

The shoreline and coastal waters of Bonaire are designated as the Bonaire National Marine Park and this protection has helped make the island one of the world’s top dive destinations.   A coral reef, encircling the entire island, supports an array of fish, considered by some scientists as the most diverse fish population in the Caribbean and among the best in the world.  Prepare to be amazed.

It’s easy to enjoy all the riches and relaxation that Bonaire has to offer.  Divi Flamingo Beach Resort has a new special called the Shore & Explore that is a deal on accommodations and wheels for a seven-night stay.  A pick-up will be waiting for you at the airport.  You will soon hold the keys to a very relaxing vacation. Go to the website for more details.  Ahhhh.  Can you feel your blood pressure going down already?

What’s Your 2013 Travel Resolution?

Did you make resolutions for 2013?   Did the list include:  Be a better person, work smarter, be more organized and take more vacation days? It might come as a surprise that those four resolutions are connected.  Workplace experts highly recommend taking vacations.  Yes, that was an “s” on the end of the word “vacation.”  Vacations recharge the batteries, replenish the creative juices and make a person more productive at work, according to those who study workplace behavior.  So, think of it this way: vacations are a good thing for you and your business.

Planning is key. January is a good time to sit down with the calendar and map out optimum times to be away from work and accommodate the whole family’s activity and school schedules.  There are also early booking specials that help stretch the vacation dollar.  (Was “find ways to save money” a resolution, too?)

Divi has a few vacation ideas for you in 2013.

  • Be part of the yachting set that will gather in St. Maarten-St. Martin for the island’s Classic Regatta, March 29-31.  Divi Little Bay’s Regatta Package gets you a discount on a room; a sail on a catamaran to watch one of the races and VIP passes to opening and closing festivities.  So party with the yacht crews during one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful sailing events. Ever done that before?
  • Or meet on the beach with “top chefs” at this year’s Taste of St. Croix.   Noted chefs from across the US descend upon St. Croix to cook up a party each night of the six-day St. Croix Food & Wine Experience.  The Thursday night event is the Taste of St. Croix, held under the stars on the beachfront of Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort. Planning ahead is absolutely crucial as tickets sell out to the Taste of St. Croix in less than 30 minutes (1200+ tickets gone in minutes).  Get a guaranteed ticket by booking a three-day stay by January 30th.
  • Need a photo for next year’s holiday card?  How about dressing up for the Carnival parade in Barbados in August during Barbados’ famed Crop Over Festival?  Last year, Divi Southwinds provided costumes for guests to join in the fun.  Watch the website for details of this year’s plans.
  • Is 2013 the year you learn to golf?  Make an tee time appointment with a golf pro at the Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort in Aruba.  Golf in the morning, relax at the beach in the afternoon, and fine dine at night at the resort’s gourmet restaurant, Windows on Aruba.  Is there a better way to spend a vacation day, or two, or ten?

A Life Altering Experience At Divi Flamingo

Ever had a life altering experience? Timothy Dalton was at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort a few weeks ago when something incredible happened.

First of all, life must already be incredible if by July 15th a person is on their third dive vacation to Divi Flamingo Beach. How much better can life get than three vacations to Bonaire before the year is even half over? But, nevertheless, in July, life changed for him forever. A few pictures will tell the story best.

Dalton took the Stephen Frink master class in underwater photography that was held at the resort, July 7 – 14th. Frink, the world’s most widely published underwater photographer, came to Bonaire to teach a class as part of the property’s yearlong celebration of sixty years of hospitality on Bonaire. Dalton was one of 20 students who came from near and far – from the US and Europe, even a few from right there on the island of Bonaire – to study with the master. Dalton learned of the Frink class while at this year’s Beneath The Sea show.

Dalton started taking underwater shots about five years ago after years of diving, albeit first with a point and shoot discount store special. Now that he has better equipment, including a Nikon 200 with an assortment of lens, he’s taking better images. And, now that he’s been to the Frink class, he’s taking way better images. “The post-production classes were especially helpful. “I loved it. I would definitely go to do another class – at Divi.”

Dalton is one of those people we just love around Divi. He issues a steady stream of compliments, totally unprompted, by the way, for every employee of Divi Flamingo Beach. For Sara Matera, the general manager: “She just makes it such a relaxed place. Sara does a wonderful job.” And, he has high praise for everyone at the Divi Dive Shop. “It is THE best, and not just in Bonaire. I am very impressed with the professionalism of the staff. Serge and crew are awesome. Serge (Serge De Groote, who is manager of the Divi Dive operation) goes out of his way to help make sure you have a great time. He arranged a special trip to the salt pier, where we ran into a school of grunts that just kept circling around us to give us many photo ops. It’s like Serge told the fish we would be there to take their picture. It was a great moment.”

“And, Enrique has a knack for locating seahorses. This is a special skill. You will never be disappointed going out for a dive with Enrique and Serge.”

Check out the photos of the master, that is, Stephen Frink, on his own blog: http://stephenfrink.blogspot.com.

And, is that a photo of Missy Franklin on Frink’s blog? Now, that’s a true creature of the water, too!

The Movie Stars of Bonaire

The fan favorite at the recent Aruba Film Festival, held at the end of June, was a documentary called, “Children of the Wind,” a story about a group of kids on Bonaire who rise from humble beginnings to become the best in the world at windsurfing.  You don’t need to have ever windsurfed to enjoy this movie.

The story has universal appeal; great characters and incredible triumph that makes you just break out in a smile or even stand up and cheer.  It is the classic underdog story – with beautiful scenery and dazzling sport scenes.  Watch the trailer!

The tiny island of Bonaire, with only about 13,000 residents, has no sporting facilities for these kids, no coaching system, no factory-like sporting establishment that comes anywhere close to what we are familiar with having just watched two weeks of the Olympics. Yet, with sheer dedication to a goal, the kids have made themselves into champions.  And the governors of the sport say they have transformed the sport in the process.

What the kids in Bonaire excel at – and started – was freestyle windsurfing.  Freestyling, no matter what the sport, whether skateboarding, snow boarding or BMX, brings kids into a sport.  When the windsurfing establishment found out what the tricks these kids were doing atop a board with a sail attached, the sport changed forever.

“Children of the Wind” was honored with the “Audience Award” at the Aruba Film Festival. No surprise there.  And, no surprise that the people of Bonaire rallied behind the makers of the film.  Production was partially funded through the kindness and open hearts of businesses like Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino, which provided accommodations to the crew.

It may, however, come as a surprise that there is indeed another sport on Bonaire.  Diving is so identified with the island and for good reason.  The surrounding waters, which are nationally protected as a marine park, are teeming with fish and other colorful creatures.   And, the dive operations like Divi Dive excel at providing a first class travel experience.

But, for a change of pace and a little time above the water, consider an afternoon trip over to the other side of the island (only a couple of miles!) to Lac Bay.  A sheltered, calm ocean lagoon, it offers ideal conditions for windsurfing.  The water is shallow and warm with steady trade winds that send you skimming across the surface.  Visitors to Bonaire can learn to windsurf at Bonaire Windsurfing Place.  The owners promise you won’t just be able to say you tried the sport, they practically guarantee you can proudly say you windsurf.  Who doesn’t like coming home from a vacation and doing just a teeny, tiny bit of boasting like that?

 

Note: Still Photography by Richard Schmon and Max Rijavec

The Legend of Peter Hughes

When it’s comes to naming names, Peter Hughes is a pretty big deal in the halls of Divi Resorts.  In a good way, that is.  He’s not only good, he’s a legend.  And, a “legend” is what he was called in a celebration recently at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino in Bonaire.

You see Peter Hughes had a lot to do with making the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort a real destination.  In fact, he had a lot to do with making the little island down near Venezuela a destination for people from all over the world.  Taking advantage of the island’s natural marine beauty – warm, calm waters teeming with colorful creatures – he put together a first-rate dive operation in a fledgling resort on an island with a fledgling tourism industry.

He started work the day after Christmas in 1975 at a place called the ZeeBad hotel, which wasn’t so bad of a hotel, but it was certainly not the resort we know today with its casino, spa, restaurants, pools, lush landscaping and 129 rooms.  And, back then it didn’t have any of the colorful Caribbean charm it has today.  When Peter first arrived, the hotel had about five divers a day.  By the time he left Bonaire a decade later to open dive operations at other Divi Resorts, the property was handling 275 a day.  And today, the island of Bonaire tops many lists of best dive destinations, including the 2011 Scuba Diving’s Reader’s Choice awards. (link to awards on landing page).

And, that’s why the folks at Divi decided to christen The Peter Hughes Room, a meeting and reception room located at the Divi Dive shop. Top government and tourism officials for Bonaire came to the ribbon cutting for the room, also noting that the hotel has been welcoming tourists for exactly 60 years.  There was indeed a lot to celebrate.  And, still is.

The party goes on.  Divi Flamingo Beach is spending the entire year celebrating 60 years of hospitality. Be sure to check out their current dive deals for their 60th Anniversary Celebration of Events.