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Thread: Sand Dollar Winter 2019

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Sand Dollar Winter 2019

    This was our 46th visit to Bonaire since we started coming in 1995. We hit another milestone on this trip as we collected our 25th Bonaire Marine Park tag and proudly have all of them hanging, in order, on each of our BCís.
    On this visit to the shore diving capital of the world, Alan logged his 700th career dive and Joan is close behind.

    Talking numbers, we also celebrated our 13,000 Day Wedding anniversary.

    Before telling you about our adventures we would like to tell you about the many ways of getting to Bonaire. We are very lucky to have a direct flight from Newark, NJ 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 American Airlines flies direct from Miami. We actually benefitted from the direct flight to Houston as it gave us a chance to visit family in Texas on the way home from Bonaire.

    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, otherwise 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, fully 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.

    Dive Friends Bonaire is the dive operator at Sand Dollar providing easy access to our favorite reef, Bari Reef. They do a wonderful job. Just grab a tank and take a giant stride onto the reef boasting the most diverse fish life in the Caribbean. There is a very nice gear storage room where we leave our dive gear so that we donít have to carry it back and forth to the condo after every dive. Dive Friends has multiple locations on the island so you can pick up a tank at any one of their locations.

    Bari Reef offers so much to see that we did 95% of our diving right out front. If it is your first trip to Bonaire we would recommend taking some boat dives to Klein Bonaire and some of the other sites not accessible from the shore.

    This was Alanís last trip with his Nikon D200 in an Aquatica housing equipped with two Nikonos SB-105 strobes. He recently upgraded to a Nikon D850 in a Nauticam housing and is anxiously awaiting our next trip to put it to use.

    On this trip Alan shoot 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. The only change with the new housing is he is switching to a Nikkor 16-35mm lens for his wide angle photography.

    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 more of Alanís work at our Bonaire Bari Reef Photo Gallery on our website.

    Joan continues to shoot video with 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. We just finished Joanís 12th short film. If you are interested in seeing it please send her an email.

    If you are lucky enough 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. Besides the diving there is so much to do on Bonaire.

    We would like to remind everybody about WiFi calling on your smartphone. 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.

    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, both on Kaya Industria, 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 and itís also located on Kaya Industria.

    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 a great value.

    Italy in the World is our new favorite restaurant. 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. This is the third year in a row that we have used them for Alanís birthday celebration and every year it gets better. We enjoyed going to Blue Garden, where they bring a little grill out for you to cook your own steak. We also had good meals at Capriccioís and Patagoniaís. 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.

    Donít forget to checkout the latest edition of The Bonaire Reporter for the latest 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. 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.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by ModRoy; 04-29-2019 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Photos resized

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    Thanks Joan & Alan for a nice & informative trip report.

    Good to know I'm not the only numbers geek around, I reckon my better half & I must be quite close to the 13K too
    PRA & ET Inc
    Proof Readers Anonymous & Extreme Testers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012


    Thank you for posting about your trip and for the advice on using smartphone on wifi.
    We will use this tip on our upcoming visit to paradise.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011


    Excellent trip report and photos.

    Congrats on your wedding milestone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2019


    Joan and Allen, do you guys rent out your apt? If so, where's the best place to find rental information?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012


    Ditto thanks for your trip summary and great photos!! Congrats on your # of dives and days married (not nec. in that order!) )!!

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