Bonaire, Dutch Antilles

Christmas Vacation

This post is going to be a little bit different than anything I would normally write. My fiancé, Scott, and I got to go on vacation to Bonaire with his family for Christmas. Because it was a trip that we went on, we didn’t do any of the planning or budgeting, and we were traveling with 5 other people, so this is not a typical type of trip for me. But, it was a really great trip, so I wanted to share with with you!

How we got there

This part was kind of tricky, and I was definitely thankful that Scott’s dad took care of most of the details here. Our original plan was to fly from Houston to Atlanta the morning of December 17th, and then have a shorter layover to catch a flight to Bonaire. Delta ended up changing our flight to the evening of December 16th. Luckily, they told us about a month in advance, so the only real inconvenience was having to book a hotel. Delta also gave us travel vouchers, which was nice, but we decided to save them for another trip instead of using them this time around. Though we had to wake up pretty early, it was nice to just be able to take a shuttle to the airport in the morning rather than feeling rushed with a connecting flight.

The trickiest part of flying to Bonaire is that not many airlines fly there, and there is typically only one flight out a day. It is super important that you make your flight and that you plan any layovers accordingly.

Where we stayed

Scott used Priceline to get us 2 hotel rooms in Atlanta. I was a little skeptical of the process, but we scored 2 rooms at the Westin for around $80 ($65 for the room and around $15 for fees) each. We both had 2 full beds in our room as well, which was not needed, but definitely nice! There was an airport shuttle that picked us up and dropped us off there, which was also super convenient. The Westin also has a service where they will check your bags for you and print your boarding passes, but they only do this for domestic flights. There is a possibility that we still could’ve made it work, because we checked our bags in Delta’s domestic terminal and went through security there before catching the tram to the international terminal, but we didn’t know we could do that when we initially asked them about it. I honestly wish we’d had a little more time here – the bar area in the lobby looked amazing, and it’s just a cool place to be. But we got in pretty late and left really early, so our rooms were pretty much all we had time to see.

In Bonaire, we stayed at a villa that is available for rent through Paradise Rentals – Crown Ridge #15. It had a really great set up for the number of people staying there. The kitchen was a decent size and had a stove top, oven, and microwave, as well as a fridge and plenty of cabinets. We brought tons and tons of food, so it was good to have places to store all of it. The dining area was nice and the table had 6 chairs, so we just pulled one in from the table outside. The living room area had nice seating and a TV with a DVD player, so we had brought quite a few DVDs to keep us entertained at night. There was a master room with one bedroom, and 2 other bedrooms – 1 with a full bed, and the other with 2 full beds. The master bedroom was connected to one of the bedrooms through the master bath, and the other one was completely separate. Each room had it’s own A/C unit, which we really only turned on a night. The kitchen//dining area also had one, but we left the screen door open pretty much all the time, so we only used it once.

The real attraction (other than being very spacious) was the deck area. The deck outside is completely private and very large. There was a large table under the covered area that seated 6 people, a smaller pool, and outdoor furniture. There were a few coconut trees and other foliage that was really pretty, and it was a beach front property so you could look out over the ocean. One of the best scuba diving/snorkeling sites (Andrea I and II) were right below us, so in just a matter of minutes we were able to swim with tons of marine life. The trees kept the villa pretty much out of sight from anyone who may be down on the beach, so it never felt like our privacy was invaded when other people were using the beach area.

The only downside to #15 is that there were not steps leading down to the beach area. The villas on either side of us both had beach access. We just had to walk down the street a bit and there is a road that leads right down to the beach, so it only took a couple minutes, but it would’ve still been a plus to have steps straight down. But really, that is not much of a complaint considering all the other amenities

What we did

Most of the trip consisted of snorkeling and scuba diving. I really wouldn’t recommend Bonaire as a place to go if you’re just wanting to lounge on the beach. While the deck/pool area at our villa was really nice, Bonaire isn’t necessarily known for it’s beaches. It has a lot of reef, so most of the beach is broken up bits of coral. The scuba diving is really top of the line, but you can also see so much just by snorkeling. The reefs are teeming with marine life, so you’re guaranteed to see something on pretty much every outing that is new or interesting. Even if you don’t seen anything new, the reefs are all so active that there’s always so much to be entertained by.

The dive shop we went to was Buddy Dive. We rented regulators, weights, BCDs, and wet suits from them (you can also rent fins, masks, and snorkels). I rented mine for 3 days, and it was around $180. I also finished up my scuba certification here – I’d already done all the class portions of it, I just needed my 4 open water dives. I did with a guy named Jimmy, and he was awesome! It was just a one on one class, so I felt a lot more comfortable in the water and was able to ask any questions that I was confused about. You can also take the full certification course at Buddy. Buddy Dive is also a resort, so you can stay there if you want. They have a different activity every night you can sign up for, such as presentations about the coral restoration work they do, different boat dives, a glow in the dark dive, and a Friday night rum party! Another great thing about going through Buddy Dive is that they have a drive-thru air tank refill. You can just hop out of your vehicle, drop off your empty tanks, and grab some new ones. This was really convenient for us, since we were swapping out 6 tanks at a time a couple times a day.

We also snorkeled quite a bit on the trip. In order to dive or snorkel, you have to get a specific tag that must be visible at all times. Some of us put our tags on our masks or BCDs. It basically shows that you are authorized to be there, and we got ours at the dive shop.

We didn’t do many tourist/sight-seeing activities, as we went on multiple dives a day. The set set around 6:15pm while we were there, so most of our daylight hours were already filled. If you are interested in more tourist activities, such as visiting the salt flats, slave huts, or one of the many nature reservations, I recommend using Bonaire’s Tourism website.

What we ate

In the area that we stayed, there were really not many restaurants to explore. Most of the restaurants in the area would probably fall under the category of street food, and we were really not interested in most of it. We had a supermarket right up the road from us called Zhung Kong Supermarket, and we went there to get any food we needed. Scott’s parents brought a cooler, as well as a few duffle bags of just food, so we were pretty covered here. Because we had a full kitchen, we essentially made sandwiches for lunch and cooked a meal for dinner. We were very content with doing this, but the website I referenced in the previous section has quite a few dinner options. I would also assume that if you stayed at a hotel or resort, they would also have get food options!

What we packed

I’m not going to include every single thing we packed, but here are a few tips that were really useful for us!

  • I packed way too many clothes – we were in and out of the water so much that my 3 bathing suits I packed were way more useful than the 2 shorts, 2 leggings, and a plethora of shirts ever were. Plus, we had a washing machine (and a dryer but it was broken), so the quantity of clothing I took was really unnecessary
  • Bungee cords – we hung these in between the pillars outside to create our own clothing lines. With 7 people, we needed enough room to hang bathing suits, wet suits, and laundry every day
  • Lots of food – like I mentioned above, we brought a TON of food over for meals and for snacking. This gave us a lot more water time, and saved money.
  • Water bottles – these would be something to buy when you get over there, but because you’re in the sun so much and the quality of water is questionable, it was really great to have cases of water bottles sitting around to stay hydrated
  • Our own snorkel gear – we all packed our own masks, snorkels, and fins. While you are able to rent these at dive shops, it was nice to know that everything would fit
  • Vaseline – Scott has a mustache, and one of my dive instructors recommended putting vaseline on it so that his mask would seal better and prevent leaks. It was also helpful to put on our ankles or tops of our feet when our dive booties started to rub.

Overall, it was a great trip! Bonaire is absolutely beautiful, and a must visit if you are a scuba diver. We saw sea turtles, sting rays, squid, octopus, and so many fish on a daily basis, and there are so many dive sites around the island, you really cannot go wrong!

Got any questions? Leave me a comment or click on the Contact tab! If you want to see pictures, my next post is going to be a picture blog with photos from our trip.

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