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Thread: Sand Dollar Summer 2019

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Sand Dollar Summer 2019

    Bonaire is a wonderful, friendly, safe island, that even after 47 trips, we still find new and exciting things to do besides the spectacular, world class diving. We have a lot to tell you about.

    We are very fortunate to have a direct flight on United Airlines from Newark Airport, which is about an hour from home, without traffic. The night before we travel, we always spend the night at a hotel near the airport that offers shuttle service to the airport, on this trip we stayed at the Newark Liberty International Marriott located directly on the grounds of the airport. It was the perfect choice. United also offers a direct flight from Houston. Delta flies direct from Atlanta and American Airlines flies direct from Miami. Many airport hotels offer a great package where you spend the night before you fly at the hotel and it includes a week of parking.

    For close to ten year years, maybe longer, we have been using Budget Car Rental. The vehicle is always clean and in excellent condition. We book directly through their Bonaire location.

    Returning to our two bedroom, fully renovated condo at Sand Dollar is like coming home. One of the first things we do upon arrival is read our guest comment book to hear what renters have to say about condo. We enjoy reading the comments about what people say about our fully equipped kitchen, two baths and our screened in porch over looking Bari Reef.

    We know you want to hear about the diving but first we would like to tell you about some of the other fun things we did on this trip. Empire Cinema Bonaire is an outdoor movie theater featuring first run movies. They serve Thai food that is excellent. Put this on your list of things to do. It is right across the street from Sand Dollar.

    Spend some time in Rincon and find a local place for lunch. What pushed us to spend more time in Rincon on this trip was a book we just read called Deep Cut by Nick Sullivan. It’s about two fictitious dive masters on Bonaire who go on a shore dive by the Willemstoren Lighthouse, and see something out of the ordinary that starts them on an amazing adventure. It’s a fun, must read. One of the characters in the book, Martin, is loosely based on Norman, the owner of LaMeSe snack in Rincon. His pumpkin soup is great and he tells great island stories.

    If you happen to be on Bonaire during the last Saturday of the month we would strongly recommend attending the Monthly Cultural festival at Mangazina De Rei in Rincon, where you can learn a lot about the island history, purchase local handmade crafts, and sample homemade food.

    Ok, now for the diving.

    Bari Reef, the house reef at Sand Dollar, boasts the most diverse fish life in the Caribbean and we are less than a two minute walk away. Dive Friends Bonaire is the dive operator and they do a great job. There is a gear storage room where you can leave your gear and not have to bring it back to the condo. It’s locked at night but you are given a code to get in. Dive Friends Bonaire has many locations on the island making it easy to get your tanks. They also offer boat trips right from the dock at Sand Dollar and it’s worth taking a trip to Klein.

    Make sure you purchase your Marine Park Dive Tag at the dive shop. If you purchase them online you do not get the physical tag, which is something we like to collect. We each have 25 tags hanging from our BC’s

    We do 95% of our diving right from the dock at Bari Reef because of the diversity of fish life and the convenience. Another fun and interesting dive is going up to the Cliff at Hamlet Oasis. Because it’s the same dive operation, you pick up a tank at Dive Friends Hamlet and head south covering four dive sites on one dive, exiting at Sand Dollar where you just drop off your tank. If you do this dive please tell a dive master at Hamlet that you will not be returning, they like to account for their divers and get a little concerned when divers don’t return.

    This was an exciting trip for Alan. After twelve years, he upgraded his camera system to the new Nikon D850 in a Nauticam housing, which he equipped with a pair of Sea & Sea YS-D2J strobes. This camera has almost five times the resolution of his previous camera. The lenses Alan is using are the Nikon 16-35mm, 60mm and 105mm, all paired with the appropriate ports. If you have camera questions on island Tim Peters at Fish Eye Photo is a tremendous resource.

    Here is a photo from Alan's first dive with his new camera gear shot with the 16-35mm lens

    The octopus was a great way to start with the new camera. Here are a few more.

    The wide angle dome port with the 16-35 mm lens allowed Alan to capture this over under shot.

    Joan continues to shoot video with her Sony RX-100 in a Nauticam housing equipped a FanTasea light and a Light & Motion Sola 2000 S/F video lights. We just finished Joan’s 13th short film. If you are interested in seeing it please send her an email.

    Calling home gets easier and easier. Most cell phones operating on a major carrier have a feature called WiFi calling. As long as you have an internet connection, your phone will connect to your carrier and work just like at home, for free! Just make sure you turn off Cellular Data and Cellular Roaming. Another popular app is the international texting app, WhatsApp.

    There are many grocery shopping options on Bonaire. Zhong Kong, a left out of the Sand Dollar parking lot, is a grocery and liquor store where you can find almost everything you need. They also have a larger sister store called called “Supermarket” on Kaya Karona. Bonaire Warehouse and Van den Tweel, a modern Dutch supermarket, both on Kaya Industria, are very well stocked grocery stores. We suggest comparing prices between both places though Bonaire Warehouse has been written up as having some of the best prices on the island. There is also a new supermarket called Jia Xing featuring a lot of American products and is located across the street from Our Lady of Coromoto Church in Antriol.

    Bon Di-Gro Grocery is a no frills store with excellent prices on basics such as beverages, canned fruit, cereal, juices, milk, etc.

    With our fully equipped kitchen, we do a lot of cooking but who can pass up all the great restaurant on Bonaire. We made multiple trips to our favorite place, Bobby Jan’s, for their ribs and chicken sate. It’s 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. It’s a great place to get sandwiches for your return flight home. Directly across the street is the Dönor Station which has rotisserie and shaved chicken. It’s a great meal and a great value.

    Another great value on the island is Julian’s Café located on the sea road across the street from Karel’s Beach Bar. Julian’s Café is an all inclusive meal with soft drink, main course with salad and desert. The food is great. Beer & Burger offers great burgers in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Eddy’s at Sand Dollar is excellent. It has great steak as well as South American inspired dishes.

    Our two favorite Italian restaurants are Italy in the World and Capriccio’s, both are worth a visit as they offer very different menus.

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

    Don’t forget to check out the latest edition of The Bonaire Reporter for up to date news on the island. Alan, a photojournalist back home, does a lot of photography and writing for them while we are on island.

    As always, we have updated our Bonaire Suggestion sheet. It’s 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
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by ModRoy; 08-07-2019 at 07:11 PM. Reason: made Pics Large, for better view/detail

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    Ahhh yes, another good Trip Report Alan & Joan

    and thanks for allowing me to edit the thumbnails to full size captures, the resizing bit of the Forum Software doesn't do them justice.

    The Trumpet Eye is my Fav
    PRA & ET Inc
    Proof Readers Anonymous & Extreme Testers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011


    Thanks for the great trip report. Love your pictures.
    Very informative report .

  4. #4
    randl's Avatar
    randl is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Houston TX, Los Angeles CA and Bonaire


    Thank you, Alan & Joan. Great shots; great report!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Urbandale Iowa


    Great report as usual. Dive shops are still issuing the plastic marine park tags? It was my understanding paying on line was now the only option. Is this not correct? Thanks in advance.

  6. #6
    gbf is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Jackson, MS


    We bought ours at dive friends oasis on 27july2019.

    We got a paper receipt and plastic BC tag.

    Payment by credit card required, cash not accepted. DF guy said credit card was now the rule.

    $45.00 each.
    Brad Ford

  7. #7
    smits is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011


    Very nice report and amazing pictures

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