Bonaire is famous for the diving and snorkeling
Fondest memory: Snorkeling from the Woodwind. These pictures don't do it justice because my camera battery died. The water is clear and warm and the fish and coral are plentiful.
Bonaire is considered a safe haven. Use normal precautions.
Getting around by rental car is easy. Most of the roads are very good. A valid U.S., Canadian, British, or international driver's license is required.
Taxis are not metered but rates are fixed. Tell the driver where you're going and ask the rate before you get in!
U.S. dollars and credit cards are accepted island-wide. Several ATMS are available.
A valid passport is required to enter Bonaire for citizens of the U.S. and Canada. Other citizens may require a visa. Since this information is subject to change it is always best to verify with a local consulate. **Most cruise passengers who are U.S. permanent residents (green card holders) and are citizens of countries that would require a visa do NOT need one when entering by cruiseship.
English is widely spoken and you'll hear several other languages including Dutch and Spanish.
Minimum drinking age is 18. Minimum age for gambling is 21.
Average year-round temperatures are in the low 80s. It was very hot when we were there in November. Be sure to use sunscreen,wear a hat, and stay hydrated.
If you want to dive or snorkel in Bonaire there is a $10 permit that they ask you to buy in town..can be bought in any of the many local dive shops. The funds in theory are to support the nature preserves around the island. Considering what I saw on Bonaire..the $10 was well worth it.
You will need to carry the permit with you if you go diving or snorkeling..we however were never checked on the water taxi so I suspect enforcement is more or less on the honor system.
Fondest memory: Snorkeling.
One of the best places for information on what to do in various ports is
Cruise Critic. The Cruise Critic Bonaire forum board was very useful in planning shore excursions, whether the ones offered by the ship or independent, and there is also Bonaire port information with hints on where to go, what to do, where the ships dock, where to eat and how to get around.
To find out how many other cruise ships will be in town along with you, check
Cruisett.com. The more ships in town, the more competition for independent guides and tours and the more crowded the main attractions will be.
The official currency of Bonaire is the Antillean guilder. However, U.S. currency and credit cards are widely accepted. There are ATMs available at local banks downtown, the supermarket, Harborside Mall and several resorts. We didn't use or see any currency here, everything was handled by credit card or US dollars.
I always like to bring small bills with me when we go to the Caribbean, that way you can hand the taxi drivers exact change, have money for tips for guides or buy things at the market without having to get change. If you are coming in by cruise ship, the passenger services desk can break larger bills for you.
Favorite thing: Get a copy of Shore "Diving Made Easy by Susan Porter. She updates her book frequently, as the reef is always changing. She lives in Bonaire and is an avid diver. Forget Frommer's and Lonely Planet. The last time they updated was in the 90's.
The "A, B, C" islands use 127V, 60Hz.
Standard plug is the USA (NEMA) & Japanese 2-pin flat blade, types A & B
However, European 2-pin plug is also common.
Bonaire is an arid island, most of it is covered with cacti and other plants adapted to grow in such a climate. On the island you still will find wild donkeys and Iguanas.
Salt is still produced on the island and you often find flamingos there.
Sitting on the beach and watching the fast moving, puffy clouds overhead go by is a pastime that never bores. The sunrises are spectacular every morning and watching a full moon rise isn't bad either.
Fondest memory: The soft air which blew in over the water all day and night. The feeling against the skin is wonderful.
I visited Bonaire on my return from Peru. For an island in the Carribean seas, I was very dissapointed in the island. Not one palm tree in sight, just very barron landscapes. You see, Bonaire is not like the other islands, it gets little rain and is constantly hot. The youth hostel we stayed at was the unfriendliest place in the world. If you are to stay I would recommend the Flamingo resort, this is where we spent most of our time and it seemed to have very good facilities.
But on a plus point, the sea life is the best I have ever seen. It beats the Great Barrier Reef hands down!!
We didn't bother to do any boat dives on Bonaire. There is plenty of shore diving that's just as good. In fact, unless the boat goes to Klein Bonaire, they'll probably take you to a shore diving spot anyway. Most resorts have drive-thru tank swaps & fills. Our resort had some rinse tanks & a faucet at the drive thru so we could dip our gear in fresh water before we took lunch. That was a nice touch.
Fondest memory: I miss my engagement ring the most! I lost it at the Andrea II dive site. Please see my "Dive sites: Andrea I & Andrea II" in Must See Activities for more info. If you find it, please have a heart and let me know! Thanks!
Favorite thing: Bonaire, while a desert island, manages to be home to a distinct variety of wildlife. You can't miss the ubiquitous wild donkeys. They are literally everywhere. Be careful when driving, though! The donkeys can and very often do stray out onto the roadways. There are roadsigns all over the island that will attest to that fact. And I do mean all over. Even underwater!
Favorite thing: The island is described as 'semi-desert'. I'm not sure what's so 'semi' about it, but the 'desert' is right on the target! Generally, the only plants growing are cacti, bogenvilla and palm trees. There are lots of iguana, hummingbirds, ants and mosquitos. Definitely bring your insect repellent, and don't leave food out! :)
Go snorkeling or SCUBA diving! What's gorgeous about the island is the fact that it's got a fringing reef, and the waters are all protected as a marine sanctuary. This means that you jump off any pier or wade in at any beach, and the reef is *right there*, with an amazing array of sea life. The weather is always warm and humid, the water is always like a big, blue bath, and the pace is easy and relaxed. All in all, I can see why my friend's moved there. :) Bravo!
This photo courtesy of http://www.bonair webcams.com/BonaireReefCamImages.html.
Favorite thing: Bonaire is a beautiful but also very quiet island. The most tourist are there to scuba dive, so they are almost the whole day under water. It's really a 'divers paradise'. (just like the licenceplate says)