Tag Archives: Bonaire

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.