We stayed in Bonaire for 2 weeks in Aug 2011. Felt very safe and secure .. until our groups hotel rooms (a villa with 4 rooms) were ransacked the Friday night before we were to return home. As directed, we had placed all valuables in the room safe - laptops, dive computers, cameras, cash, passports, id .. even car keys and travel itinerary documents and locked all doors. They just used a crowbar to pop open the patio doors just after sunset and an outside table and chair to climb up onto the roof and rooms upstairs. Small room-safes upstairs were just popped open with the crowbars, leaving only the passports. Larger safe downstairs was just pryed off the wall and taken - along with all our stuff. Two hours after sunset, we returned to find five of nine passports in our group missing (the ones safely in the safe) along with many valuables AND of course the wall safe itself gone.
Police seemed to know likely suspects and eventually found the safe discarded in the bush and some of our belongings and passports were returned to our hotel a month later. Meanwhile, 5 straight days of police reports, calls to the embassy, airline rebookings, insurance paperwork, extra fees to apply for temporary travel documents, extra 2 days of hotels and meal expenses, new airline ticket expenses. Yay. We were fortunate to arrive back home only 2 days late and just a bit poorer and wiser - they had wanted us to hang around 2 weeks to reapply for a new passport!?
Rental car company told us we were the sixth group that month targeted that they had heard of. Other visitors told us, oh yeah, we were the third group they had heard of getting burglarized in last weeks at neighboring hotels. Even on the way home, met others who had had rooms broken into or room safes removed and saw a Bonaire store window for electronics shop smashed in with a brick overnight. This kind of information would have been ever so useful in our planning our trip.
Lessons learned? 1) Do NOT keep passports, keys and travel documents IN the room safe with your valuables. 2) Travel only with what you need and can afford to lose - a toothbrush and extra undies and your dive gear, minimal cash and goodies. 3) pray often and long 4) travel delay insurance is our friend.
The diving part was fantastic, but my impression is that B&E and crime is on a new upward trend here. Locals work for low or minimum wage yet have to pay excessively high tourist prices for food and sundries. Security at hotels is helpful but not a guarantee of safety - they cannot patrol the entire open beach fronts. Despite all the tourism signs declaring their love for all us cash-rich visitors - some have decided to just help themselves to our travel goodies.
Changed from Turks to Bonaire 8 years ago and never was sorry UNTIL THIS PAST FEBRUARY. Crime has been on an upswing for the last year. Always rented a car from AB Carrental. This year someone took a sharp object and ran down the right side of the car and stole a full tank of gas because we were leaving the next day. Had to get a police report because car rental people would not. Police speak Dutch, another story for another time. The bottom line is AB Carrental changed for the repair of the car which they say they will have to repaint, and $92 for Loss of Use, and over $650 in addition to a two week rental which was over $550. Did not take the insurance which was the right thing to do. do. Credit card co. still working to get my repair costs back seven months later but AB Carrental not sending the forms they need. THINK TWICE before going to Bonaire....after going there for 8 years in a row, crime is on the up swing and don’t use AB Carrental if you do go!
Fire Coral is everywhere, and if you aren't a total spaz you should be able to avoid it if you know what it looks like (you shouldn't be touching anything anyway!!) We dove without wetsuits and had no problem avoiding the coral which apparently feels like a cigarette burn if you come in contact with it.
Well it is not really coral, but is related to stinging anemones.
It gets it's name from the bright orange color.
If you do get stung, it helps to flush the area with seawater.
Later you can put some vinegar on it and pluck out the stingers with a pair of tweezers.
We were very careful to not get stung but were given the information just in case.
Only hire cars from known companies like Hertz.
We hired a car from a local unknown company and it was a real shady deal.
For one, they give you only a small amount of usable miles that you are guaranteed to go over and be charged a large fee.
The second thing is that we could see that the car had been gone through during the night by someone who had a key. We did not have anything of value in the car so nothing was lost.
I am sorry I do not remember the name of the company but just remember the importance of using a reputable one.
The two main species, the yatu and the kadushi , are easily distinguishable by their thorns. Those of the yatu form neat rows of rosettes, while those of the kadushi are more dense and stick out in all directions. Larger examples of the two cacti also grow in different formations. The yatu grows straight up, while the kadushi branches out.
There is no serious crimes on Bonaire but they do have petty theft.
This sign was in our truck and we were told not to lock the doors but to be sure and not leave anything of value inside because it would be searched.
We had no problems while we were there.
Be very careful where you step in shallow Lac Bay. It seems like it is all just sand on your mile walk out to the reef but beware of the Long Spined Sea Urchins. They are scattered about. These spines can penetrate human skin easily and break off , causing intense stinging pain.
Be very careful where you step in parts of Washington-Slagbaai Park. Cactus spines litter certain areas and they are the toughest cactus needles I have ever encountered. My shoe was full of them. A day later I was still using tweezers to get them out of the sole of my shoe.
Locking your car in Bonaire is an invitation to get your windows smashed. The logic is that if you lock the doors, there must be something there worth stealing. Don't keep anything of value in the car and when you park it, leave the windows open. We had our car rifled through once, but nothing was there to steal. At one dive site, a fellow diver said he saw some kids just about to smash another car's window before he chased them away.
If you're renting a car, don't leave anything of value in the car and never lock it. While not rampant as some would have you believe, petty theft does occur on Bonaire, and usually takes form of someone breaking the window of your locked car to get at the camera or purse that you left inside. So leave nothing in the car and leave it unlocked. Often having the doors locked is incentive enough to break the window, just in case something of value is in there.
Knowing the potential for theft, we followed the advice I gave above, and haven't had a problem once in the 7 days that we were on the island. No one even bothered with our sandals and scuba gear bags that we did leave laying around.
If you go, you'll most likely have no problems either, but it's best to be prepared.
Avoid the sea on the Eastern or Windward side of Bonaire.
It is full of rocks and debris and the surf is extremely rough.
Wear open heel fins with boots that have heavy soles to protect your feet against the sharp coral and urchins that are every where along the shores.