Category Archives: Divi Flamingo

In search of the next Jacques Cousteau

Nearly nonstop from 1966 to 1982, famed French underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau captivated television audiences in America, his cameras revealing life beneath the sea. He inspired many a landlubber to take up diving, pick up a camera and plunge into the big blue sea. There are few places better to do that than Bonaire. Protected waters, pristine reefs and a biggest fish population in the Caribbean, no wonder Bonaire is a top destination for underwater photographers.  This year, Scuba Diving Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards voted Bonaire the number one destination for underwater photography.

Which is one reason the Digital Shootout was headed back to Bonaire to stage its underwater imaging workshop. This year’s event was once again at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort recently during June 22-29, 2013.  We’re happy to say that the event was fully booked this year.  Find out the winners from this year’s event at DigitalShootout.com! And be sure to put this annual event on your bucket list of vacation experiences.  It’s a must! And you won’t have to wait long. It’s been at the Divi Flamingo seven times in the past eleven years.

The Digital Shootout consists of six days of diving and seminars, designed to help novice or intermediate shutterbugs take their underwater picture taking to the next level.  The full schedule includes dives in the morning, classes in the afternoon and then free play and total relaxation at night.  Is it education or vacation?  It’s both.

The Digital Shootout give participants something more to do with their vacation pictures than merely posting them to Facebook.  The Digital Shootout awards $30,000 in prize money to class participants.  It’s worth a shot, right?

You can release your inner Jacques Cousteau with Divi Dive Bonaire at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort any time of year, of course. (There’s always a good vacation package.) The Divi Dive staff knows the best places around the island for underwater picture taking.  Night dives are also available.  And, a few of the staff members are pretty experienced shutterbugs themselves and are happy to offer pointers.

Caribbean’s Best Chefs

If you’re a fan of the cooking competition shows on TV, the Hyatt Regency in Miami will be your heaven the weekend of June 28 and 29th.  The hotel is hosting “Taste of the Caribbean,” an annual showcase that pits ten national teams from the islands to decide who’s best at making lunch, dinner, pastry or a cocktail. Not only do you get to watch the chefs and bartenders compete, you get to taste.  The battles culminate in Taste of the Islands, a contest on Saturday night that highlights the street food of the Caribbean.  Stroll, feel the island vibe and devour the goodies from 6-9 PM. Tickets are $30.

This year, Bonaire will be competing under the direction of team captain Robertico Bernabela, a very promising young chef at the Divi Flamingo Beach. Even after countless practice sessions, the team nonetheless will be as surprised as their fellow Caribbean competitors when they confront the mystery ingredients from which they must concoct a three course lunch.

Chances are there was a little Cadushy on hand at each practice in Bonaire.  That’s the national liqueur of Bonaire.  And, chances are the team explored how a little splash of Cadushy could spike up just about anything.  Teams are allowed to bring an ingredient to the competition as long as other teams have access to use it as an ingredient as well.   But’s here where the edge is:  nobody knows Cadushy like a Bonairean.

Cadushy is distinctive in many ways.  It’s the world’s only liquor made from cactus, the kadushi cactus that grows on Bonaire.  Next time you are there, take a free tour of the distillery. It’s open Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Of course, there is a store where you will also find the only vodka made from cactus, too.  Stock up and explore the wonders of Cadushy in your own kitchen or bar.

Cadushy is best-enjoyed ice cold.  Also, it’s best if you’re sitting on a beach at the Divi Flamingo in Bonaire or enjoyed with a meal at the Chibi Chibi.  Take note that Robertico Bernabela will immediately return to his kitchen at Divi Flamingo Beach where he honed the skills that earned him the a place on the Bonaire national culinary team.  Meaning when you stay at Divi Flamingo Beach, you get to enjoy a culinary winner every day.

Divi Resorts Gives a Hats Off & Discount to Our Military

Did you know that Divi Resorts provides a 20% discount off its best-published nightly rates for the US, UK and Canadian military?  You bet.  We urge you to tell any veteran, disabled, reservist or active military person.  Our military personnel deserve our special consideration, along with a little rest and relaxation in the beautiful Caribbean.  The discount is available all year long at eight Divi Resorts, including those on Barbados, Bonaire, St. Croix, St. Maarten and select properties on Aruba.

While feasting at a BBQ this weekend or getting together with friends at a beach “up north,” spread the word.  Wouldn’t this be another good way to say “thank you?” Share the link for the Divi Military Special.  The discount can be booked anytime!

And, if you have the chance, join in a parade.  But wherever you are, when the clock strikes 3pm, observe the National Moment of Remembrance in silence and reflection for those who have perished during military service.

If you live near St. Louis, you can attend the 63rd annual “Good Turn,” at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, where local Boys Scouts and Cub Scouts decorate 189,000 grave-sites.  What a proud tradition, now in its 63rd year.  The cemetery has served as a burial landscape for soldiers since the Civil War.

And, is there a more stirring sight than seeing Arlington National Cemetery decorated with American flags at 250,000 grave-sites?  The flags are planted there by the 3rd U.S. Infantry, which also maintains a vigil to ensure each flag remains standing throughout the weekend.

Decoration Day is the original name of this day of tribute, when people used flowers to decorate the graves of those who fought and died in the Civil War.  A surviving general of this “rebellion,” as the general himself, John A. Logan, referred to the war, suggested back in 1868, that May 30th be a day of honor.   More than a century and many world conflicts later, the tribute has expanded to include all men and women who served in the US military.

The day of honor evolved to be called Memorial Day and as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday as well as a three-day weekend.

It’s worth noting that the late senator of Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, introduced a bill in 1989 to move the holiday back to the fixed date as a way to stress the true meaning of the day.  He reintroduced the bill in every Congress until his death last year.

Let’s be thankful for our three-day weekends, holiday BBQs and Caribbean vacations and remember on this Memorial Day those who have perished in service to their country.

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?

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