One of the most often asked question I get as a windsurf travel specialist is, “when is it windy in Bonaire”. Who knows, right? Sometimes to illustrate the answer I explain that I once was skunked in The Gorge (when I was there with my Bonaire buddies Tonky and Ro). The real answer is Nov. – July our winds are best but we can have a wicked windy Sept. and a dead lull in January. It’s a bummer to book a week holiday and have light winds, I know. Never fear, a real windsurfer will find something to do on the water when the winds are light. Here is a little video of one sailor who makes it work no matter what Mother Nature Offers. Meet Caesar Finies, our light wind wiz. Caesar is my hero.
Archive for January, 2009
I have been to quite a few Carnivals in the past years. Antigua Carnival was always a favorite. It’s a week long event with J’Ouvert Morning being the climax. The Burning Flames were always a favorite act to follow at Jam Pond and during Carnival. I saw Carnival in St. Kitts and Sint Maarten as well. Never did I experience the big one in Trinidad. Someday. I have been to Carnival a few times here in Bonaire. It’s a small local event but colorful and fun filled just the same. Typically the earlier parades start mid day. The final parade is at night finishing with the burning of the Carnival King, Momo (a stuffed character). Dress with fun in mind but wear comfy shoes if you follow the parade. There is plenty to drink in town and some restaurants are open serving food. It all starts this year Feb. 14:
Feb. 14 Kids Parade in Rincon
Feb. 15 Kids Parade in Kralendijk
Feb. 21 Adult Parade in Rincon
Feb. 22 Carnival Parade in Kralendijk
Feb. 25 Farewell Parade in Kralendijk
Singles Month in Bonaire
Our 5th Annual Singles Weeks are fast approaching March 7-20, 2009. Single/solo travelers will meet on island and dive, windsurf and kite by day and at night wine and dine. Caribbean Wind & Sun has expanded their weeks into the summer for divers.
Summer Singles Dive Weeks will be held July 1-20 in Bonaire. Dive by day, dine and dance at night. Dive prices start at 800 USD* pp for a single accommodation (7 night stays), truck and 6 days unlimited shore diving with free Nitrox upgrade. Optional activities included guided hikes, birding, snorkeling, kayaking and mountain biking.
Singles month was created by Caribbean Wind & Sun Vacations to meet the needs of the independent traveler who seeks to meet other like minded adults. There is ample time for solo ventures such as shopping and exploring. It’s a freestyle week to do what you like when you like knowing there are others for diving and dining. Call 800 219-0118 for dates and additional information. You may also send an email to email@example.com
* Rates are subject to availability and dates. Taxes and insurance not included in the rate.
Two of my favorite dive clients and personal friends Carlea and Geoff Bishop shared this video today. Carlea and I met Christmas 2001 before I moved to Bonaire. We had a lovely week and have remained friends. Since that trip, Carlea met Geoff and introduced him to her favorite island. They are heading back in April so look for more clips.
There are some decent airfare sales on AA this week. Travel by mid March. The sales for Delta and Continental might be over but it’s worth a check. Here are the flight schedules and current info:
Insel has air Miami to Curacao and then on to Bonaire
AA flies non stop from Miami to Curacao and then a puddle jumper on Divi to Bonaire.
AA flies into Bonaire via San Juan Tue. Thur. and Sat. and returns Wed. Fri. and Sun.
Continental has a red eye Sat. night from Newark non stop arriving Sunday.
Continental has a red eye non stop Sat. and Sun. from Houston.
KLM flies from Amsterdam daily.
Delta has a non stop Sat. from JFK and Atlanta.
I use http://www.yapta.com to watch airfares for my travel dates fluctuate. When they drop, I buy.
Dining on Bonaire
Bonaire has a large selection of great restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines. It’s surprising that an island of 14,000 people has so many great choices, but the options are indeed staggering. The influences of many countries and cultures bring together a lovely blend of flavors and cuisines to suit all tastes. Most restaurants offer moderately priced menus making for an affordable dining experience. With seaside settings, local establishments, and gourmet menus there is something for everyone.
An Indonesian influence may be found in many menus featuring lovely noodle dishes such as Nasi Goreng. This Indonesian delight is flavoured with peanuts and spices and sauces. Sate is a local favorite appearing on most menus featuring a tangy peanut or pinda sauce.
A South American influence may be found in the sauces used to enhance Argentinean steak and local fish dishes. Two popular restaurants offering Argentinean meats are Casablanca and Patagonia. Chimichurri sauce is a lovely blend of garlic, parsley, salt and olive oil creating a flavor-enhancing sauce. A flavorful sauce found at El Fagon is guasacaca, a green sauce made from peppers, chili and avocado. It may be spread on red snapper or grilled chicken. Sides often include funchi which is very similar to polenta and is found in many Caribbean islands. Fried yucca is another starchy side found on local menus. A few places feature Dutch fast food items. Bitterballen is a Dutch savory snack made with meat and fillers to create a creamy delicious meatball snack. Frickendel is a minced meat hot dog served as a snack or lunch item. Wattaburger has perhaps the largest Dutch snack food menu served seaside. On certain occasions City Cafe serves Stamppot, a potato dish quite filling and delicious.
Tourists and locals alike flock to smaller establishments for some local flavor. Stoba is a name given to a stew type dish which can feature chicken (galina), or beef (carne/baka). Soups or sopi are made with chicken and fish (pisca). Funchi is almost always served as a side particularly with fish or yambo (okra). A lovely dish is Bonchi Cora or red beans. It is mashed and sweetened and served as a starchy side. Antriol Catering located in the barrio of Antriol has the largest menu with delicious food and friendly service. This is a popular lunch spot for locals for good reason. The food is inexpensive and good. Rose Inn in the old town of Rincon has arguably the best local menu. The kabrito (goat) stoba is one of the best on island. The charming garden setting is cooling and relaxing. Enjoy a Polar or Amstel Bright while listening to local music.
During the holidays the Dutch influence is seen with the arrival of several food items at the stores and in local menus. Around New Year’s Eve, Dutch houses smell of piping hot oil deep fryers in which Oliebollen, appelflappen and appelbeignets (battered apple rings) are prepared. These yeast dough balls, filled with dried fruits, pieces of apple and raisins are served with powdered sugar. Many grocery stores sell fresh Oliebollen during the holidays. Warehouse sells fresh hot appleflappen daily. When it’s in, despite any interests in weight watching I buy a bag and devour them on the way home in the car.
Bonaire is BBQ rib heaven. There are several places vying for the attention of the rib lover. Top spot goes to Bobbijan’s, a weekend BBQ joint owned by a friendly Dutch couple. The ribs served with rice, fries and cold slaw are simply delicious. The special sauce blend fires up your taste buds. Local fresh fish such as Wahoo or Dradu can be found on the menu. Fries and chicken are served with the house peanut sauce. Take out or eat in, this one of the most popular dining spots on weekends. Plazita Limena is a close runner up with a delicious rib recipe. They also feature wood spit roasted chickens. Their outdoor setting is both breezy and private. I love the Peruvian dish with shrimp and pumpkin. The wait can be long but worth it.
Gourmet dining can be found at a number of places. Wil’s Tropical Grill is an in-town favorite owned by 2-star Michelin chef Wil and his lovely American wife, Sue. They serve a creative menu in an enchanting garden setting. Menu favorites include a lovely green salad with calamari and savory peanut dressing. The Caesar Salad is wrapped in Proscuitto and served with shaved Parmesan and a lovely dressing. There are pasta and meat dishes but go with the fish dish whenever Wil features fish. It’s always fresh and always local. The menu personifies perfection and caters to every palate. My personal favorite is the calamari salad.
Capriccio’s, owned and operated by Andrea and Lola, a lovely Italian couple, created a tantalizing and creative menu featuring homemade pastas, sauces, and desserts. Their wine list is staggering representing one of the largest collections in the Caribbean. Each meal begins with a complimentary Mimosa and home-made crusty breads and Foccacia. Savor some traditional and newly inspired Italian dishes including a house favorite, the lobster fettuccine. The homemade gelato is creamy and decadent.
One of the best values on island may be found at Mona Lisa. This restaurant features a popular bar and a well established dining spot in sleepy Kralendijk. Mona Lisa serves a bar hap. For USD $13.00, the friendly servers present you with crusty bread and a sundried tomato tapenade as well as garlic butter. From the bar hap menu you may choose from a fresh fish entrée, a meat entrée, or a sate. Each meal is accompanied by a fresh veggie mélange and creamy au gratin potatoes. This is a casual setting with a gourmet appeal. Try one of the house made desserts to end a perfect meal. Rudy and Monique are the two of the friendliest waiters on island.
All clients of Caribbean Wind & Sun Vacations are offered complimentary Concierge Services, so email me or call to make your dinner reservations.
Bonaire, best known for being “Diver’s Paradise”, happens to offer a myriad of shore snorkeling options. I would guess there are over 40 snorkel sites right off the road. The sites, marked with yellow rocks are managed by our amazing park authority, STINAPA. I happen to have a few favorite sites to share. A few meters past the Invisibles rock (past Cargill Salt) is an easy entry access that offers great snorkeling. Here you may see a spotted eagle ray and many juvenile fish. Post Omar (Oct.) the entry is mostly rubble but I went in the other day with bare feet. Another great spot is Tori’s Reef. Park at Pink Beach and drift/snorkel north towards Tori’s at the bridge. It’s an undersea garden of delightful corals and fish. It’s an easy walk back to Pink Beach or snorkel back.
My favorite Northern site, Andrea I was hit with Omar and I have not been back since but it’s got to be the nicest spot. I snorkel barefoot so the entry was a little tedious but the schools of blue Doctor Fish, the eels and the other sea creatures always thrilled me.
My favorite escape is to take the water taxi to Klein Bonaire. This quiet little island has great snorkeling and a pristine beach. This is where our turtles nest so tread carefully and look in the sea for a lovely mother swimming along. Go on the first taxi as the mid day sun is strong and there is little shade. Enjoy the day and leave only your footprints behind.
What is your favorite snorkel spot?