Tag Archives: Bonaire

Caribbean Islands You Should Visit Right Now

Whether you’re looking for an indulgent getaway or a taste of authentic Caribbean culture, there’s no time like the present to visit the islands. The Caribbean Journal has compiled a list of nine islands that are ideal for spring travel—some well-established tourist destinations, some on the rise.

Barbados, Bonaire and St. Croix all receive shout-outs. Barbados makes the cut for its luxury reputation as “the English-speaking St. Barts;” Bonaire, for its friendly yet trendy culture; St. Croix, for its rising foodie scene. You can see the full list here.

5 Sights You Must See in Bonaire (That Aren’t Underwater)

bonaire flamingosBonaire is world-famous for its stunning dive sites, but that doesn’t mean you’ll spend your entire vacation in your scuba gear. What is there to see and do above sea level on Bonaire? We have a few suggestions!

Explore Kralendijk

kralendijk bonaire

Kralendijk is the quaint capital city of Bonaire. We use the term “city” loosely—in fact, the town of Kralendijk is just a few blocks across. It’s an easy few minutes’ walk from Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino. Explore the dozens of small shops and cozy local restaurants here in a place that feels authentically Caribbean.

See the Breathtaking Salt Pans of Bonaire

bonaire salt pans

The southern end of Bonaire is home to vast solar salt farms. Sea water is channeled into man-made ponds and sealed off, and as the water slowly evaporates, the high salt content naturally turns the remaining water a bright pink. At some points, you’ll see pinkish-purple water on one side of the road and Bonaire’s vivid turquoise ocean on the other. Rent a car and drive down to experience this otherworldly sight.

Visit Jibe City

jibe city bonaire

Jibe City is a tiny outpost on Lac Bay on the southeastern side of the island. The bay stays shallow almost as far as the eye can see, making it possible to walk straight out to sea for as long as half an hour without ever getting in above your waist.

The more common activity at Jibe City, though, is windsurfing. The area counts among one of the top windsurfing locations in the world. Rent your windsurfing equipment from the small shack onsite, or take the lessons offered for all levels. You can also rent stand-up paddleboards if you want to explore the area on your own terms.

After a long day on the water at Jibe City, visit the nearby shop for Jibe City souvenirs and surfing equipment, stretch out on one of the chaise lounges or relax at the Hang-Out Bar with a cold drink and the sandwich special of the day.

Experience the White and Orange Slave Huts of Bonaire

slave huts of bonaire

Bonaire has been inhabited for almost 1000 years, when the Arawak tribe first migrated to the island. The origins of Bonaire as we know it today can be traced back to the 1500s, when it first became a Spanish colony. Ownership eventually transferred to the Dutch West India Company, and the island became a salt plantation where many people were enslaved.

slave huts of bonaire

In the 1850s, slaves built their own quarters near the salt pans, to the specifications of the company. The tiny huts served as their sleeping place during the week. On the weekends, they walked seven hours to the inland town of Rincon to visit their families.

The huts still stand today as a somber reminder of the island’s history.

Sample the Wares at Cadushy Distillery

cadushy distillery bonaire

Cadushy Distillery, located in Rincon, is the only distillery on the island of Bonaire. It’s created a different type of specialty liqueur for each of six islands in the Dutch Caribbean. Cadushy also makes its own varieties of rum, vodka and whiskey. Sign up for a tasting and learn first-hand how the spirits are produced.

Eric Gietman, a Dutch native, founded the distillery with his wife Jolande in 2009. They decided to move to Bonaire after more than 20 years of visiting the island, and soon realized that the local cadushy cactus could be used to develop a liqueur. This recipe became Cadushy of Bonaire, a cactus liqueur with a cooling lime taste and the first in the distillery’s Island Liqueurs line.

Itching to explore Bonaire both above and below the water? Stay at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino and take scuba diving classes with Divi Dive Bonaire, a five-star PADI dive center. Bon bini na Bonaire!

Don’t Miss Carnival on Aruba and Bonaire

Carnival is hands-down one of the best perks of visiting the Caribbean. The vibrant colors and lively spirit of the event keep up for several weeks, with plenty of parades, music, costume contests and phenomenal food and drink. On Aruba and Bonaire, Carnival typically takes place just before Lent—one last hurrah before a traditional time of sacrifice, almost like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Here’s a brief tour through the festivities you can expect to see this January and February on Aruba and Bonaire.

Aruba

Photo credit FotoCastor

Carnival is celebrated on Aruba with “jump ups”—fabulous street parties—and fun events like parades, Carnival Queen elections and other friendly competitions.

The Lighting Parade in downtown Oranjestad is not to be missed. Held in the evening, this parade incorporates thousands of tiny lights into the costumes and floats of participating Carnival groups for a truly impressive display.

Grand Parades in Oranjestad and San Nicolas are the biggest parties of the season. They completely take over their respective cities as participants decked out in glitter, feathers, sequins and elaborate headdresses dance down the parade routes, joined by colorful floats playing music. Hundreds of spectators enjoy the show-stopping pageantry in this vibrant tradition now in its 63rd year.

Bonaire

Photo credit mexitographer

Carnival—or Karnaval, as it’s often called—is also a major event on Bonaire. The celebrations begin early in the year with tumba music festivals, most of them taking place in either Kralendijk or Rincon. Tumba is an African-influenced type of music that originated on the ABC islands. It also carries hints of merengue and Latin jazz. Local tumba musicians compete for the opportunity to play in parades throughout the season.

Photo credit Tom

“Jump ins,” similar to Aruba’s “jump ups,” also happen frequently. Jump ins often move spontaneously from place to place through the streets of Bonaire’s major towns, accompanied by an explosion of music, dancing, eating and drinking. Tourists and locals alike take part in jump ins, but remember to bring ear plugs if you’re sensitive to sound!

Grand Karnaval Parades are held in Kralendijk and Rincon shortly before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Participants in vibrant sequined costumes march and dance through the streets to the rhythm of tumba music. It’s a true spectacle and a dazzling centerpiece of Bonaire culture.

 

How Scuba Diving Can Make You Feel Great

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At Divi Resorts, we love diving. It’s one of the few sports that can be relaxing, invigorating, and educational at the same time. And, here in the Caribbean, you’re never far from the next amazing dive site. Our clear waters and vibrant underwater life make sure of that.

The dive organization PADI recently published a blog post about the mood-boosting benefits of scuba diving. If you’re having a bad day—or a bad couple of months—scuba diving is a great way to relax, recharge, and reset. Immersed in a new underwater world, surrounded by fascinating marine life, your everyday worries can seem very far away.

That’s just one of the ways scuba diving can enhance your life. PADI’s blog post also mentions the connections you can form with other diving enthusiasts, the challenge of earning certifications, and the rewarding feeling of participating in marine cleanups. Diving can even promote physical health and lifelong learning, PADI asserts.

All our islands offer great diving opportunities, but the best vacation spot for anyone looking to “dive in” to the sport is Bonaire. The small Caribbean island is known for its world-class, yet easily accessible diving. Divi Dive Bonaire at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort teaches certification courses for all levels, and provides a wide variety of boat diving, shore diving, and truck diving packages. Shore diving is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Can you imagine recharging after the holidays with some firsthand oceanic exploration? You’d get a taste of our quiet, unspoiled Caribbean life on Bonaire—above and below the sea. You might even feel great.

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