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Thread: Sand Dollar Winter 2018

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Sand Dollar Winter 2018

    We just returned from our 44th visit to Bonaire and still find it amazing how each trip seems to get better and better. We have been coming to Bonaire since 1995, and, yes, the shore diving is spectacular but the other thing that makes Bonaire special is the warmth and friendliness of the people.

    There are many ways to get to Bonaire. For us, we are very lucky to have a direct flight from Newark on United Airlines. The service is great and you arrive in Bonaire in the early afternoon allowing you plenty of time to pick up your rental car (we use Budget), check into your hotel and do some grocery shopping. United also offers a direct flight from Houston, Delta flies direct from Atlanta and starting this June, American Airline will have a direct flight from Miami.

    We just heard about Mobile Passport, an app authorized by the US Customs and Boarder Protection to facilitate entry back into the United States. We already have Global Entry but this new app sounds like itís worth getting.

    The night before we travel we always stay at the Newark Marriott Courtyard. Itís nice to get up in the morning and have only a two-minute shuttle ride to the airport. Make sure you arrange the night before for a drop off at the terminal, other wise you will be dropped off at a central location and have to take the airtrain. Also, if itís a one or two week trip, they offer a tremendous deal where you can spend the night and park your car while you travel.

    Our two bedroom, full renovated condo at Sand Dollar is ten minute drive from the airport. Actually, nothing on the island is much more than a ten-minute drive. It features a complete kitchen, two baths, and our favorite feature, a fully screened in porch.

    We do most of our diving on Bari Reef, the house reef at Sand Dollar. Dive Friends Bonaire, the dive operator on site, does a wonderful job. They just added new benches and tables the length of the dock where you can just grab a tank and take a giant stride onto the reef boasting the most diverse fish life in the Caribbean.


    Since Dive Friends Bonaire has multiple dive shops on the island, you can go to any location to pick up your tanks for shore diving. At Sand Dollar, they have a very nice gear storage room where you can leave your dive gear and not worry about carrying it back to the condo.

    Now, about the diving, it was amazing. Alan logged 58 dives on this trip and Joan logged 56 dives, including her 600th career dive. After completing her milestone dive Joan handed out red and white M&Mís, the color of a dive flag, with the inscription, ďJoanís 600th DiveĒ.


    There is so much to see right out in front on Bari Reef. We saw a large stingray laying in the sand and were privileged to witness something special in nature, two octopuses mating. Joan also saw a spotted Eagle Ray. The list can go on and on.

    azOctopusMate925.jpg azSandDiver610.jpg

    Alan continues to shoot with a Nikon D200 in an Aquatica housing using two Nikonos SB-105 strobes. He shoots his wide angle photos with the Nikkor 12-24mm lens and either a Nikon 60mm or Micro Nikkor 105mm lens for his close ups and fish portraits. While on Bonaire, if you ever have a question about underwater photography, or experience any equipment problems, Tim Peters at FishEye Photo is a tremendous resource. You can see Alanís work at our Bonaire Bari Reef Photo Gallery on our website.

    Joan is really enjoying her Sony RX-100 in a Nauticam housing equipped with two Light & Motion Sola 2000 S/F video lights. She also sometimes uses a FanTasea light. If you are interested in seeing the short video we produced on this trip please send her an email.

    Besides diving and snorkeling there are so many other things to do on Bonaire. Alan, a photojournalist who shot for The New York Times for twenty five years, helped out the local paper, The Bonaire Reporter. He photographed and wrote several stories for the paper including the youth chess club, a clean up dive, how local fishermen work and a story on the local Catholic church. He also had the cover photo and a photo layout inside the paper of the biggest event of the year, the Grand Karnaval Parade.

    Across the street from Sand Dollar is Empire Cinema offering first run movies in an outdoor atmosphere. They serve Thai food. Though we never had a chance to go, we have heard great things about it.

    On this trip, we found out about a feature that is on most smartphones that we did not know about, WiFi calling. As long as you have an internet connection, your phone will connect to your carrier and work just like home, for free! Just make sure you turn off Cellular Data and Cellular Roaming. Another popular app is the international texting app, WhatsApp.

    Grocery shopping is pretty easy now. Right down the road from Sand Dollar is Zhong Kong, a grocery and liquor store where you can find almost everything you need. They also have a larger sister store called called ďSupermarketĒ on Kaya Karona. Although there are many other places to do your grocery shopping, Van den Tweel, a modern Dutch supermarket, and Bonaire Warehouse, are the most well stocked grocery stores on the island. We suggest comparing prices between both places. Another great place for grocery shopping is BonDiGro, itís where all the local shop because it offers some of the best prices on the island.

    Although we cook in a lot in our fully equipped kitchen, we cannot pass up the many outstanding restaurants in Bonaire. We made multiple trips to our favorite place, Bobby Janís, for their ribs and chicken sate, itís one of the best values on the island. For sandwiches you cannot beat Between 2 Buns located in the strip mall at Sand Dollar, and they also serve breakfast. Itís a great place to get sandwiches for your return flight home. Directly across the street is the DŲnor Station which has rotisserie and shaved chicken. Itís a great meal and value.

    One of our new favorite places is Italy in the World. Chef Christina is a genius, and we had some of the best and most imaginative Italian dinners ever. Eddyís at Sand Dollar is excellent and has the best steak on the island. Two other places we enjoy are Capriccioís and Donna & Giorgioís, you will not be disappointed. There is also a meal delivery service that will pick up from most restaurants and deliver it right to your hotel or condo.

    We continue to enjoy going to the English Catholic Mass at our Lady of Coromoto in Antriol on Saturday at 6pm.

    As always, we have updated our Bonaire Suggestion sheet. Itís a helpful reference guide to the island, that we started many years ago, and contains a listing of grocery stores, restaurant recommendations, and many other helpful suggestions. If you would like a copy just send an email directly to us

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011


    Thanks for your trip review. Really enjoyed it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2018


    We just returned from a one week stay at Den Laman Condo's next door to Sand Dollar. I can't wait to check out the movies next time. I was wondering where it was. Please share more information on the Mobile Passport as we expect to be going there at least a couple of times a year if we can. It was my favorite vacation. We used to scuba and have over 100 dives each but are very happy now to snorkle. My dream vacation was to get up, eat a home cooked breakfast listening to the ocean and go snorkeling outside my door. This vacation fulfilled that! Our condo was awesome - so clean and comfortable. Also a tip we learned was to download the app on your phone. Be sure and download the Bonaire map and then you can navigate with GPS on your phone without wifi or cell service. It runs strictly on the GPS signal some how.

  4. #4
    tursiops's Avatar
    tursiops is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Alexandria, Virginia


    Re Global Entry vs Mobile Passport; if you have glbal Entry then Mobile Passport adds nothing.
    (from a website)
    Global Entry vs. Mobile Passport Control

    • If you frequently travel outside the U.S. it’s probably best to have Global Entry so you aren’t limited to the 24 points of entry currently set-up to receive guests via Mobile Passport Control.
    • If you frequently enter the US through the same entry point, and that entry point is on the list, save yourself the time and money required to secure Global Entry and just use Mobile Passport Control.
    Mel Briscoe, Alexandria, Virginia

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Ontario , Canada


    Nice trip report , good info , always helpful !

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