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Thread: Sand Dollar Winter 2020

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Sand Dollar Winter 2020

    Our 48th visit to Bonaire was just exciting as all our others, and full of some nice accomplishments. Joan logged her 700th career dive and Alan logged his 800th, both dives being done on Bari Reef, our favorite reef, and the house reef at Sand Dollar.

    There are many ways to get to Bonaire. We are spoiled because United has a direct flight from Newark, NJ, which is close to us. United also offers a direct flight from Houston, TX. Delta flies direct from Atlanta, GA, and American Airlines flies direct from Miami, FL.

    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. The night before we travel, we always spend the night at a hotel near the airport that offers shuttle service. On this trip we stayed at the Newark Liberty International Marriott located directly on the grounds of the airport.

    Budget Car Rental in Bonaire has been our first choice for car rentals for many years. The vehicle is always clean and in excellent condition. We book directly through their Bonaire location.

    Itís always great to return to our two bedroom, fully renovated condo at Sand Dollar. There are many things that we, and our renters, enjoy about our condo. The fully equipped kitchen helps you save money by eating a few meals in, but you also donít want to miss all the great restaurants Bonaire has to offer. We also get a lot of nice comments about our two completely renovated bathrooms with walk in showers, as well as our screened in porch overlooking Bari Reef.

    Bonaire is known as ďDivers ParadiseĒ because of its world class diving, weíll get to that soon, but that description also has another special meaning right now. Diverís Paradise is the title of a new book written by our good friend, and fellow BonaireTalker, Dave Goodwin. We had the opportunity to get an advance read copy of the book and really enjoyed it.

    Alan, who is a career photojournalist, wrote a profile on Dave, and a review of the book, for the local island newspaper, The Bonaire Reporter. In the review, Dave credits the BonaireTalk community, and its late founder, Jake Richter, for giving him the encouragement to write his first novel. The book, the first in a series of mystery novels set on Bonaire, is scheduled for release in early April. Filled with local references, itís a great mystery with an island vibe!

    Ok, letís talk about the diving. It was spectacular, or at least we saw it that way from a photo and video viewpoint. It seems everyday there was one great photo and video opportunity after another.

    Joan had so much amazing video from this trip that we actually put together two short films instead of one. On her 700th dive, Joan had an octopus follow her for almost the entire dive. Joan uses a Sony RX-100 in a Nauticam housing, equipped with a Fantasea video light. If you would like to see the videos, send her an email directly, by clicking here.

    This was Alanís second trip with his Nikon D850 in a Nauticam housing, equipped with a pair of Sea & Sea YS-D2J strobes. Alan uses either a Nikon 16-35mm, 60mm or 105mm lens, all paired with the appropriate ports, depending on what he plans to photograph on his dive. If you have camera questions on island, Tim Peters at Fish Eye Photo is a tremendous resource.

    Here are some of Alanís photos:

    aaaSandDiver977.jpg aaaArrow385Bari.jpg aaaDamsel1095Bari.jpg aaaEelGoldenTail498.jpg
    Most of our diving was done on Bari Reef, the house reef at Sand Dollar. Itís a two minute walk from our condo and Dive Friends Bonaire has a great operation there. There is a gear storage room where you can leave your equipment and not have to bring it back to the condo. Itís 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 itís worth taking a trip to dive on Klein Bonaire.

    Besides diving Bari Reef, we also dove Salt Pier and Something Special as shore dives. A friend of ours took us on his boat to dive Andrea 1, a site we had never dove before.
    We also did a dive entering at Cliff, the reef at Hamlet Oasis, and finishing at Bari Reef at Sand Dollar. In between you pass through Captain Donís and Buddy Reef so you actually cover four dive sites in one dive. Since Hamlet Oasis and Sand Dollar dive operations are both run by Dive Friends Bonaire you pick up your tanks at Hamlet and drop them off at Sand Dollar when you exit. 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 they donít return.

    Itís easy to call home. 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 easy way to stay in touch 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 ďSupermarketĒ on Kaya Karona. Bonaire Warehouse and Van den Tweel are modern Dutch supermarkets, both on Kaya Industria, and are both very well stocked. We suggest comparing prices between both places although Bonaire Warehouse has been written up as having some of the best prices on the island.

    Bon Di-Gro Grocery, also located on Kaya Industria, is a no frills store with excellent prices on basics such as beverages, canned fruit, cereal, juices, milk, as well as fresh fruits and vegatables. There is also a new supermarket called Jia Xing, featuring a lot of American products and is located on Kaya Korona, across the street from Our Lady of Coromoto Church in Antriol.

    Even though we enjoy cooking in our modern kitchen, we do like going out to experience the many great restaurants on Bonaire. Bobby Janís is one of our favorites, where we make multiple visits 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. We hear they might be moving down the block. Directly across the street is the DŲnor Station, which has rotisserie and shaved chicken. Itís an excellent meal and a very good value.

    Beer & Burger offers a wide assortment of burgers, including fish burgers, in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Eddyís at Sand Dollar is excellent. It has great steak as well as South American inspired dishes. Another great value on the island is Julianís Cafť located on the sea road across the street from Karelís Beach Bar. Julianís Cafť is an all inclusive meal with a soft drink, main course, salad and dessert.

    Our two favorite Italian restaurants are Italy in the World and Capriccioís. Both offer gourmet dining and an extensive selection of wines. It is worth a visit to each one as they offer very different menus. Another not to miss gourmet restaurant is Sebastianís. Reserve the pier table for a special occasion.

    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 that we started many years ago. Itís a helpful reference guide to the island, 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


    Much thanks to your trip report.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010


    as always, a great report & awesome close up Fotos DankeschŲn

  4. #4
    smits is offline Bonaire Lover SUPPORTING MEMBER - Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    May 2011


    Thank you for taking the time to sharing your trip report. I enjoyed reading it.
    As usual, fantastic pictures!!

  5. #5
    Avalpert is offline Bonaire Lover Bonaire Talker
    Join Date
    Sep 2012


    Quote Originally Posted by Ajzale View Post
    We also did a dive entering at Cliff, the reef at Hamlet Oasis, and finishing at Bari Reef at Sand Dollar.
    I've dove both sites many times but never really thought of connecting them. How long did the drift dive take you - seems to be about a km under water.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011


    The dive took 1 hour 3 minutes. Of course when we did it there was no current to help us.

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