Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15

Thread: Upcoming trip - many questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default Upcoming trip - many questions

    Hi - my boyfriend and I are planning to early retire to Bonaire (our nine year plan) and will be visiting Bonaire the first two weeks of December, and so things are starting to get real.
    I have some questions I'm hoping we can get some assistance with;
    1) How do tourists deal with paying for things on the island? The obvious easy answer is to bring cash, but we're worried about how to safeguard it. My first thought was to open a bank account and then use an ATM card, but after researching, found we have to open an account in person and it could take five to seven business days to receive a card. Not really useful for this trip
    2) Where is the best place to rent a truck? Since we'll be around for two weeks, I'd like to see if we could get a break on price for such a long rental, but don't know where to start, or who comes highly recommended. I've emailed with Poppy at Telerin, and she made a point that their trucks are unmarked, which leads me to believe there might be value to not having a vehicle that marks us as tourists, so curious about opinions on that issue. I know there are instances of theft of vehicles while parked at dive sites, so I can understand if there is a connection here, but would appreciate input.
    3) On a similar note, if it is truly unsafe to have items in a truck, where do you store your clothes and other personal items while diving?
    4) We'll be staying at several different places, rented through VRBO and/or AirBNB, as we're trying to get a feel for several different residential areas. Are there places we should focus on or, more importantly, avoid?
    5) We will be diving, hopefully at least a dive or two a day. Would you recommend using a particular dive shop to rent tanks, or are we better off just renting from which shop is closest to the spot we want to dive?
    6) Are there places or events we might be able to meet up with ex-pats? We would like to connect with the community so we can gather information on moving to Bonaire while we're on the island.

    Thanks so much for any help you can provide.
    Netta

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    17

    Default

    1. We use a combination of cash and a crdit card that does not charge international fees.
    2. There are several good places to rent a truck. Be careful of insurance. Insurance that would cober you rental from the states my not cover a truck in another country. We just spend the money for full coverage with the rental and do not worry about it.
    3. You store everything at the hotel and come dressed to dive. Any cash or small items like eyeglasses go diving with us.
    4. Can't help. We always stay at a resort.
    5. Get your tanks at the easisest place. Most will give free nitrox.

  3. #3
    wwguy's Avatar
    wwguy is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    585

    Default

    For perspective we've enjoyed 35 weeks on the island spread over the past 21 years. We've been staying for 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year's holidays every year since 2009 and are looking forward to returning again this year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Netta View Post
    1) How do tourists deal with paying for things on the island? The obvious easy answer is to bring cash, but we're worried about how to safeguard it. My first thought was to open a bank account and then use an ATM card, but after researching, found we have to open an account in person and it could take five to seven business days to receive a card. Not really useful for this trip.
    We've never felt the need to use an ATM on the island. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted by most merchants, resorts, dive operators, and car rental companies. We bring a few hundred dollars cash to pay for the marine park fee and incidentals like burgers while out and about diving, but have never spent it all. If you're not comfortable trusting the wall safe supplied in most accommodations a small amount of cash is easy to hide inconspicuously elsewhere.

    Regarding VRBO and Airbnb properties you mention below: Most of them are operated by private individuals who don't want to pay the property management or credit card company's' 3% to 5% surcharge for credit card transactions. Most will either pass the surcharge on to the renter or offer a discount for cash payment. If not explained by your property owner you should probably inquire about this. We usually deal with this by bringing a bank cashier's check from our home bank to cover the rental fee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Netta View Post
    2) Where is the best place to rent a truck? Since we'll be around for two weeks, I'd like to see if we could get a break on price for such a long rental, but don't know where to start, or who comes highly recommended. I've emailed with Poppy at Telerin, and she made a point that their trucks are unmarked, which leads me to believe there might be value to not having a vehicle that marks us as tourists, so curious about opinions on that issue. I know there are instances of theft of vehicles while parked at dive sites, so I can understand if there is a connection here, but would appreciate input.
    There is no "best" rental company on the island, and if there was they'd already be booked for your upcoming dates. We've used Budget, Avis, AB, and a couple that aren't around anymore. Poppy has been our favorite for the past 8 years or so. You just have to shop around, compare rental & CDW prices, read reviews from others, and then pick one.

    Two weeks (or three in my case) isn't a notably long period for car rental. In the car rental industry in general "long term" rates usually start at a month or longer. On Bonaire I haven't seen this at all because the weekly business is so strong, vehicles are limited, and most companies are independently owned. There's just no financial incentive for them to discount a vehicle for multi-week rental when they can rent it out at the full rate anyway.

    The few stinkers that pilfer from unattended vehicles at dive sites on the island are criminal opportunists without scruples. That's fancy talk for they don't discriminate between tourists, locals, rental trucks, or private vehicles. Any unattended vehicle with windows rolled up and doors locked screams "valuables inside!" and is target for break-in and theft. We always leave the doors unlocked and leeward window down with no valuables inside. We've had our unmarked truck rifled through several times while out diving but the only thing taken so far was an $8 pair of cheap sunglasses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Netta View Post
    3) On a similar note, if it is truly unsafe to have items in a truck, where do you store your clothes and other personal items while diving?
    As mentioned above the bottom line is that you don't have to worry about truck break-in and theft if you don't leave it locked unattended with valuables inside. Even though our truck has been rifled through several times over the years we've never had them take our old flip flops, shorts, t-shirts, beach towels, or water bottles. We bring old items from home expressly for this purpose and usually leave them scattered around the back seat of the truck and/or in the truck bed. I even have an old pair of prescription sunglasses with only one bow for this purpose. I leave them unfolded on the dashboard in plain sight. We never leave them bundled or stacked together or in a bag etc. Our logic is that thieves will grab bundled or bagged items and run with them to a safer place to go through them. If they want our old stuff they'll have to inspect and gather them first. So far so good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Netta View Post
    4) We'll be staying at several different places, rented through VRBO and/or AirBNB, as we're trying to get a feel for several different residential areas. Are there places we should focus on or, more importantly, avoid?
    it's a small island with small population, but there are definitely different neighborhoods with different vibes around Kralendijk. It's hard to respond to this question without knowing more about your lifestyle, budget, and vision for retirement home. But in general Bonaire is just like everywhere else. Richer people tend to live closer to the sea and to each other, so the more upscale properties are near the sea front north and south of town, and the less expensive homes are further inland.

    Quote Originally Posted by Netta View Post
    5) We will be diving, hopefully at least a dive or two a day. Would you recommend using a particular dive shop to rent tanks, or are we better off just renting from which shop is closest to the spot we want to dive?
    With 7 locations now Dive Friends Bonaire is hard to beat for this. They have great people and run a great operation. For the same price of 6 days unlimited tanks they offer a 15 tank punch card to visitors or residents staying for 10+ days. This takes the pressure off of feeling obligated to dive on days you want to do other things like look around the island.

    Quote Originally Posted by Netta View Post
    6) Are there places or events we might be able to meet up with ex-pats? We would like to connect with the community so we can gather information on moving to Bonaire while we're on the island.
    I'm not aware of anything like this. But then again my wife will testify that I'm not aware of a lot of things, LOL.

  4. #4
    gbf is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    179

    Default

    wwguy has it.

    I generally know from our extremely accommodating hostess exactly what our cost for lodging/dive fees (DFB also)/taxes will be, and always bring a "brown paper bag" full of cash to cover that amount. She giggles about my lunch sack full of $.

    I also take a WAG at other expenses, and bring enough cash to cover that as well - our accommodations of choice are secure, and have a safe for $/jewelry/electronics.

    I too have never used an ATM on Bon.

    I infrequently use credit cards there - usually just for unanticipated expenses such as a large backpack full of about 50 lbs of Bonaire Bath Salts to be distributed to my wife's friends as gifts. Take a guess as to who got to hump it home.

    I'll second Poppy for your truck.
    Brad Ford

  5. #5
    gbf is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Jackson, MS
    Posts
    179

    Default

    oh, wwguy, awareness is overrated.

    somebody told me that. I wouldn't know anything about awareness.
    Brad Ford

  6. #6
    wwguy's Avatar
    wwguy is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    585

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gbf View Post
    oh, wwguy, awareness is overrated.

    somebody told me that. I wouldn't know anything about awareness.
    LOL, I've been told that I'm "awareless" when it suits my objectives.

  7. #7
    Cornhusker is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    436

    Default

    We have used Chase Visa for 10+ years as no international fees---we bring cash and ask your realtor if the place you staying has a safe--if not take with you in waterproof case, slip it into BCD zipper section and remember to take it back out---truck is all about your personal needs and yes Poppy provides the service and we have also rented from AB and Caribe and both provide great service--NEVER leave anything in your dive truck you cannot live without and do not roll up and lock the windows as gives cause for people to break into them believing something of value is inside! We leave windows down and no one has ever taken our towels, small lunch box or anything else in 10-years--clothes just leave in the truck as again no one is going to take a t-shirt! Have a cover-up with you but keep it simple. Dont know about staying several places as for a 14-day stay would drive me nuts repacking and unpacking and repacking but your choice and take the time to drive around Bonaire as each area has something to offer--we use Dive Friends Bonaire simply because they have lots of locations you can pick up tanks and do your final rinse of the day---also have used VIP as they have 100's available to rent and a very nice store and great operator--having a dive book of sites on Bonaire is good to buy for new visitors as helps you with dive sites and entry recommendations--not certain of meeting places for others from USA but just stay on BT here and it might help. We do the superbowl at burger place by Sand Dollar and lots of fun with people as they have pools and like games of chance! Friday/Saturday night check out Spice Beach Club as lots of fun and great music--very mided croud so even old people like us are not out of place!!! Enjoy--cornhusker

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks all for the comments and suggestions I've actually been to Bonaire twice - the last about 10 years ago so I'm familiar with the island but know much has changed in the last decade I'm looking forward to the upcoming trip especially since I wasn't a diver the last two times 🤗

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    West Milford NJ
    Posts
    118

    Default

    Netta,

    I have been visiting Bonaire regularly since 1987 and finally became a homeowner in 2016.

    Mastercard & Visa are widely accepted - use one that does not hit you for fees when traveling. I have never used an ATM. We opened a bank account here with reference letters from our US bank - it's a long process, easy 4-8 weeks unless you pick a bank online and make an appointment at least a month in advance. We wire money from the states as needed and use the Bonaire bank debit card for home expense purchases.

    Shop online for rental car/truck rates. Higher rates for sure in December.

    Dive Friends is everywhere, but most dive operators here are very good. VIP, Goo Dive.

    I let my beer money get wet when I dive and hide my car keys nearby on the shore. I leave my car unlocked and empty. No one wants your smelly sandals or ratty tee shirt and shorts or old towel.

    As to neighborhoods, it's all about your budget. The closer to the sea or the better the view, the more you pay.

    If you want to buy something and can borrow against assets at home you will do much better then borrowing here. Paying "cash" works best. The banks on Bonaire bang you with fees and higher interest rates and cater to the relatively young. Whatever you borrow needs to be paid back by your 65th birthday and money is expensive.

    RE Taxes for residents are 1/3 of what they are for non-residents, but are reasonable compared to the US.

    As to ex-pats, we are everywhere but surrounded by the ever growing Dutch immigrants. Bob or one of his agents at ReMax can help you scope out housing possibilities. Local ex-pats don't really hang out at American dive resorts. I'm on Bonaire almost monthly year round but leave as frequently as I arrive and plan many visits last minute. I was there for 5 days in October and will be back for a week on November 3rd. My next pre-booked visit is at the end of January, but I may visit in early December.

    It's a wonderful place to enjoy, but it's like nothing you are used to at home.

  10. #10
    Kate B's Avatar
    Kate B is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Sabadeco, Bonaire
    Posts
    68

    Default

    Hi Netta,

    You've gotten some great answers from other folks on here, here are a couple of answers to specifics you asked:

    An unofficial meeting place for a couple of dozen ex-pats lately has been the Dash food truck on Kaya Debrot (main road between Kralendijk and Hato) on Saturday mornings about 9:30. Alot of us stop there and have breakfast and catch up on what all our friends are doing. Just introduce yourself to the group and everyone will make you feel welcome.

    Also, regarding mortgages on the island, I have had clients over the age of 65 obtain mortgages. In addition, mortgages here do not have to be paid off by age 65 if people have the proven means to pay them with continuing income. As an example, I had a 70 year old friend buy a place and get a 7 year mortgage. I've also seen people in their 60's get 10 year mortgages. Each person's financial situation is different, so it's important to talk to the bank. Most people are pleasantly surprised.

    All the best,
    Kate Butler
    "Ask Kate" real estate columnist for the Bonaire Reporter
    Real Estate Agent, RE/MAX Paradise Homes, Bonaire

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •