Category Archives: Bonaire

Bonaire National Marine Park

Say happy birthday to the Bonaire National Marine Park.  This year marks 35 years of action to protect the 24-mile long island.  The goal has long been to ensure the aquatic environment remains just as it was in 1971.  As a result of its admirable foresight, Bonaire is hailed the world over as a diver’s paradise.

But, Bonaire isn’t just about water. And no longer is a vacation there just about diving.  Today, the Bonaire National Marine Park’s conservation efforts extend to protecting Washington-Slagbaai National Park as well as the Barcadera cave system.

Did you know you could go spelunking in Bonaire?  Put down your fins and check out the stalactites in the caves not far from Kralendijk.  If sporting fins while on Bonaire just seems more natural, there are guided snorkel tours through parts of the cave.

You also can get up close to nature by kayaking the island’s mangroves, another well-preserved area.  What exactly is a mangrove?  It is a tropical species of tree that performs a very important function in protecting the coastline. Data shows that where mangrove forests have been destroyed, tsunami damage has been more extensive.

Ready for another adventure on Bonaire?  Take a bike ride through Washington-Slagbaai National Park.  This vast area, nearly one-fifth of the island, is another valuable part of the local ecosystem.  Many bike rental companies conduct tours through the Kunuku (outback), following hundreds of miles of paths as well as along the coastline.  As you huff and puff you way up and down the terrain of the park, wild goats and donkeys will be leisurely grazing nearby.  Those gorgeous long-legged Bonaire beauties, pink flamingos – will be there as well.

Yes, Bonaire is gaining a new reputation as a well-rounded destination with a host of diversions for anyone who is up to it.  Undoubtedly, it is for the sporting type.

Which doesn’t mean that a Mango Colada or a Divi Funky Monkey isn’t always waiting for you at the Chibi Chibi.  Or there isn’t always a place on the Divi Flamingo dock to lay back and soak up a gentle breeze.  Ah, the Caribbean Ocean’s rhythmic sways below. While snoozing, letting the mind wander or, if need be, massaging sore muscles at The Touch Spa (which, by the way, is just across from the Chibi Chibi. How thoughtful is that?), proud Bonaireans are hard at work preserving the environment.  Thank goodness.  That is why you came, after all.

Time to Save Money On Travel

Did you resolve to save more money this year?  US News says more people are making financial resolutions than a few years ago.  But vowing to be mindful of expenditures doesn’t mean one can’t resolve to have more fun and travel more – both good goals.  There is a way to be wealthier and happier as well as healthier in 2014.  (Remember:  Vacations are recommended for good health.) 

Here are a six ways to save money on travel in 2014:

  1. Go against the flow – The great rush to the Caribbean is in winter, but the hot deals are in the off-season. You’ll escape the crowds, temperatures are only slightly elevated during summer and chances are there are big discounts on airfare, too. Make it a family vacation because kids stay and eat free at Divi Resorts from April through mid-December.
  2. Best things come in twos – Booking a packaged vacation not only streamlines the reservation process but results in maximum savings. Divi’s new booking platform, Divi Vacations, provides the lowest price on rooms at the resorts, even exceeding published best available rates when booked separately, and assures best pricing on airfare from major airlines.  Depending on the season, customers will save from $150 to $345 per trip.
  3. Let’s be friends – Divi Facebook page includes occasional contests (Wow! Winning would really mean a savings!), and news about special offers, such as diving deals at Divi Flamingo Beach in Bonaire. Followers also receive announcements for limited time airfare discounts to the islands from major hubs.
  4. Suite deal – For family travel, nothing beats a suite. A one-bedroom with a pullout couch easily accommodates a family of four. (See savings tip #1.)  Even better, a family can take meals and snack time in their own kitchen. In St. Maarten at the Divi Little Bay Resort, the on-site grocery will stock the refrigerator and pantry in advance of arrival.
  5. Kid’s play – Look for resorts providing free kids or family activity programs. The new Divi’s Treasures of the Caribbean program at all Divi Resorts engages the entire family in treasure hunts, sandcastle building, movie night, souvenirs, T-shirts and more.
  6. Pack light – Avoid the extra baggage fees.  After all, most time spent on a Caribbean vacation is in a swimsuit.

Got any money-saving travel tips you want to share?  Post your own ideas for travel tips at the Divi Resorts Facebook page.  (Remember Tip #3 — Deals are waiting there.)

Caribbean Weddings and Mini-Moons

I have a prediction:  in the not too distant future you will be invited to a destination wedding at Divi Resorts. I have it on good authority.  Today, nearly one in four weddings (24%) is now a destination wedding.  A favorite locale?  The Caribbean, of course.  Who can argue with the décor  – white sand met by turquoise water toped by brilliant blue sky?  And, balmy weather just makes stress melt away.  (You’ve had it happen.)  And another feel good is the hospitality of the region.  The people of the Caribbean just love hosting weddings.

The reasons for the rising popularity of a destination wedding are as plentiful as the items on a wedding registry.  A destination wedding offers adventure, it’s just more fun, and the couple can incorporate the honeymoon – or mini-moon, as the trend now is – into the wedding trip.  What is a minimoon? That is a brief vacation immediately following the ceremony with the extended, just-the-two-of-us vacation coming later.

“The idea of having a destination wedding is growing among our brides, and it goes hand in hand with the fact that most people no longer live where they grew up,” said Carley Roney, co-founder of XO Group Inc., whose brands include The Knot and Wedding Channel.

XO Group figures show that 66% of international destination wedding brides cite wanting a “special, fun, or exotic locale,” as a main factor for choosing to go abroad.  Other reasons include a desire to host fewer guests in a more intimate occasion and to celebrate at a location special to the couple.  And, we have a hunch it’s also because there are expert wedding planners at the ready in places like Aruba just waiting to take care of all the details.

You can also add deals and discounts to the reasons to do a destination wedding in the Caribbean.  Divi Resorts’ launched a very enticing deal for wedding couples. The special treatment includes free accommodations for the betrothed, an amenity-laden vacation for them and their wedding party and a free seven-night anniversary stay.  Plus massages, champagne and flowers, too.  The special promotion gives the happy couple the option to try a different Divi resort for their anniversary.

Spread the word and you soon could be on some couple’s guest list for their destination wedding at Divi Resorts. We hope so.


You may already know about this, but it was a first for me: free diving.  That is diving without a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or in other words, no oxygen tanks and breathing tubes. Using scuba gear would be too easy, and “unnatural,” say those who free dive. I only discovered free diving in conversation (not by actually doing it) when I was told that Carol Schrappe, one of the world’s best free divers, Brazilian record holder (242 feet!) and considered one of the top 15 female athletes in the world, was a guest at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino in Bonaire. The resort is a magnet for divers from all over the world, so the staff of Divi Dive is accustomed to having divers around all the time. But, the presence of Carole Schrappe at the property created a buzz. She is aqua royalty, known and admired the world over.

The Bonaire Tourist Authority recently invited her to come to learn about the island. Naturally, that included introducing her to Bonaire’s many sensational dive spots. Schrappe did many free dives while in Bonaire, many right at the Divi Flamingo. “I loved this place. It’s unique and perfect for free diving,” she said. “I’ll be back for sure.”

Schrappe practices competitive apnea.  We’ve all heard of apnea, defined as the suspension of external breathing, but I’m pretty certain that most of us would not consider it a contest. But apnea competitors attempt to attain great depths, times or distances in a single breath.   Which is probably why free diving qualifies as an extreme sport. I will stick to snorkeling by the Chibi Chibi the next time I’m in Bonaire. If you’ve ever dined there, you know you can peer right over the railing and watch myriad and colorful fish swim by.

And, wouldn’t you know there is an association governing the sport, sometimes called breath-hold diving, and staging competitions around the world. Given Schrappe’s stature in free diving circles and her impression of Bonaire, an international competition is bound to come to Bonaire in the not too distant future.

I also learned that there are records showing that Greek and Roman armies employed free divers to cut anchor lines so that enemy ships floundered on rocks. Thank goodness those days are over (hopefully) and we can just considered this all good fun and sport. Some spear fishermen and underwater photographers use it, as do synchronized swimmers and mermaid shows. I even read that free diving is part of underwater rugby, underwater hockey, and underwater target shooting.  Huh?  Now, those do sound a little extreme.

October’s Employee in the Spotlight

Archuendro Finies is a native of Bonaire; and that right there says a quite a lot about him.   Naturally, he loves the water.  Bonaire is surrounded by lots of it, all of it clear, warm and inviting.  He loves sports, most of them, of course, having to do with water:  swimming, diving, snorkeling and windsurfing.  But, being that he is from Bonaire, he plays soccer, too.  He’s also good-natured, another inherent Bonairean trait.

Endro, as he’s known around Divi, started working at Flamingo Beach Resort last December as an intern with the dive operation.  He quickly progressed from trainee to dive master to dive instructor.  “Endro is an example of many youngsters on the island.  He has tremendous enthusiasm and passion for his work,” said dive operations manager Serge De Groote. When he’s not at Divi, you will find him at Sorobon at Lac Bay, on the opposite side of the island with many other windsurfing aficionados.

Sorobon provides an ideal combination of wind, water, sand and sun for windsurfing and the bay’s shape creates wind zones that make this the perfect practice ground for novices to champions.  Many tourists consider a trip over to Lac Bay part of a Bonaire vacation.  You’ll catch Endro gliding effortlessly across. He’s good.

It’s no surprise that he says windsurfing is his idea of a great time.  He’ll occasionally mix it up with cave snorkeling. Exploring the “lost world of Bonaire” helps him de-stress.  And, of course, he dives, always packing his ELF.  That’s a device for shooting lionfish, which are known reef eaters and also inflict a very nasty sting on humans.  (He can tell you.)  When he’s underwater enjoying Bonaire’s reefs, he’s working to protect them.

Endro says that what is important to him now is hitting all the goals he has put in front of him.  So, don’t be surprised to find him walking the grounds one day in the not too distant future – not in a wetsuit, but with a pin on his shirt that says,“Archuendro Finies, Assistant Manager, Divi Flamingo Beach Resort.”

If he can add something to Flamingo Beach Resort, he would add more activities.  Cave snorkeling anyone?  Let us know!  We’ve got the perfect guide.

Coral Spawning in Bonaire

Birds do it.  Bees do it.  Even educated fleas do it.  So goes the famous Cole Porter tune, “Let’s Do It.  Let’s Fall In Love.” The clever lyricist and composer of Broadway musicals back in the Twenties and Thirties also included many mentions of marine life in his 1928 hit, including “oysters down in Oyster Bay,” cold Cape Cod clams, jellyfish and even electric eels.  But he wrote nothing about coral.  But yes, coral do it.

And, sea urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers, fire worms and other creatures of the sea off the coast of Bonaire.  And, on a pretty precise schedule, in fact.  The sea population around Bonaire positively explodes in August, September and October every year.

The national park foundation of Bonaire, known as STINAPA, not only posts the day of spawning for certain local species, it even predicts the hour. If you follow the coral spawning schedule  — and indeed many Bonaire divers do – the release of the schedule is cause for planning.  Dive trips to Bonaire in the fall months go beyond the normally fabulous to the absolutely extra special if they are timed to the coral spawning schedule.

This year, star coral will very likely be doing it between 9:40 and 10:40 at night on September 24th through the 26th.  Flower coral start their spawning September 25 through the 28th from 9:15 to midnight and again in October.  The experts in this say the timing is tied to the ninth full moon of the calendar year. Star coral and flower coral are joined in the ritual by sea urchins, sea stars, sponges, fire worms and Christmas tree worms at the same time in September and October, all in tune with the moon.

Must be something about that moonlight in Bonaire.

Divi Dive Bonaire, the on-site PADI dive center at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort leads dives during the spawning season.  Check the website for specials.

NOTE: See the Coral Spawn in Bonaire with Divi Flamingo

Once a year corals reproduce in a spectacular and synchronized event known as the coral spawn. For divers and snorkelers, witnessing this wonder of nature is a must-do and where better to do it than in the clear and tranquil waters of Bonaire? Boasting the best reefs of the Caribbean, Bonaire has a variety of spawning corals including the biggest players of the spawn, the mountainous star corals. Star corals, brain corals, flower corals and more spend most of the year preparing for the spawn and are often joined by sponges, worms and brittle stars in their annual reproductive event. Night diving and snorkeling in Bonaire is always an adventure with new things to discover, but the events you witness during the coral spawn will create memories to last a lifetime. This year the main spawning events are predicted to occur during September 24-27 and October 24-26. (To ensure that you get the most out of this experience) Divi Flamingo is offering coral spawning lectures on MONDAY September 23rd and October 22nd by marine biologist Caren Eckrich. These lectures are free to the public and will give divers and snorkelers an excellent understanding of the coral spawn, when to see it and what to look for. We hope to see you at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort for this year’s coral spawn.