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Bonaire Itinerary - Advice on Plans


Hydro ergo
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Hello!

 

I'm looking forward to an 8am-8pm day on Bonaire in early March.  Hoping some of you might have some good advice on my REALLY rough itinerary.  I'm hoping to strategize a bit and fill in the blanks...

We have a rental car scheduled for the day. We want to explore the south route, mainly because we have an afternoon tour (230pm) booked at the mangroves.  That tour is about 2.5hrs, so if it stays on schedule, I expect we would be back at the rental car facility around 6pm the latest. 

I'm sure my partner will want to explore downtown Kralendijk a bit (he's a shopper), but we weren't sure what times shops are usually open?  If we get off the ship around 8/830, will anything be open if we hit downtown first?  Maybe grab a mid-morning snack somewhere and some snacks for the road, and then head off along EEG Blvd stopping at the sights along the way?  Any suggestions on stops we should make?  Also, this is weird...every time I google directions, it stops me from making a complete loop around the south of the island...can you not cross Misha's bridge by vehicle?  Do you need to go back up and around?

Any thoughts or insight is helpful--there's not a ton on these boards lately!

 

thanks!

 

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Hi,

I live on Bonaire.  How are you getting to your rental car, or are they picking you up?  If I know where the car rental drop off it will help to figure times.  

 

Stores downtown don’t usually open till 10 am, so if your partner likes to shop, you could do that for a bit before going to your mangrove excursion.   The cruise ship market (an open air area with vendor stalls) will be setting up earlier in the morning so you can look at that while you’re waiting for stores to open.   Some stores stay open later when a cruise ship is in town, most close at 5 pm. 
 

I think just walking around the beautiful downtown seafront street in the morning is scenic, even if shops aren’t open.  I wouldn’t sacrifice exploring time in the car waiting for the stores to open. 


If your ship departs at 8 pm, it is likely your all aboard time will be 6 pm or 6:30 at the latest.   Let the mangrove folks know what time you need to be back at the ship so your tour doesn’t run over. If you’ve chosen the one where you snorkel as well as paddle, you’ll want to clean off and change clothes afterwards.  It doesn’t sound like you will have time to do anything afterwards but get back to the ship. 
 

After the mangrove tour, don’t take the long southern loop to get back to the ship, there are shorter routes.  Kaya Statius van Epps cuts directly across the island and it is what we take when going to the Lac Bay Area.  You can also use this route to get there if you are running short of time before the tour and skip going around the entire southern loop, just doing part of it. 

 

To do the southern loop you will head south towards the airport, and by 11 am, there are usually two food trucks parked at Te Amo Beach (across from airport) for the snacks or early lunch you mentioned.  You can drive around the entire southern tip of the island, passing many small beaches on the right and the Salt mountains and flats on the left.   There are also the original slave huts on the right.  Depending on what day you are here, you will likely see lots of colorful kite surfers in the air at Atlantis beach, on your right as you approach the southernmost beaches.  Not enough time?  Just past the airport, look for signs for Statius Van Epps and go left for a direct route to the other coast.  
 

If you drive the full loop, when you round the bottom of the island and start up the other side, watch for the lighthouse, totems, art and cairns made on the ocean side.  Residents and tourists make these art pieces from materials that wash up on shore such as driftwood, rope and dead coral pieces.  There were a number of sculptures meant to look like Christmas trees last month. 


Hope you have a wonderful trip!
Kate

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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@Katefromupstate, this is awesome, thank you so much!

To answer some of your questions...

I'm currently working out the details on the rental car with Bonaire Rent a Car.  It looks to be about a ten minute walk from the cruise port.

 

Good info about the timing of the shops.  I had expected that they probably wouldn't open until a little later.  I'd love to stop into Cadushy (their downtown shop), but it looks like their hours are 10-5...and like you said, I think exploring along the coast will be more rewarding (for our tastes overall).

 

All aboard should be 7/730 with an 8pm departure. I've never had it more than an hour ahead of time.  That's why I figured the 230-5pm tour would be ok.  Now you've got me a bit nervous.  We will definitely let them know we are cruise passengers.  Regardless, we weren't expecting to have time to do anything but walk back to the ship after returning the rental car.  

 

Google had suggested Kaminda Lac to Kaminda Sorobon to get back from the Mangrove Center.  It says 16 minutes, so I had planned for about a half hour.  Does that sound reasonable?

 

We are hoping to be able to make the full southern loop, and I think that if we leave town without really looking around much that should be doable.  My only concern is if we head off that way in the morning, there aren't really any places to eat (assuming we would be past the food trucks you mentioned by the time they arrive around 11) and I know we'll likely want to have something before the tour.  Are there any groceries or markets in town that open earlier?  If not, we might be doing granola bars and pop tarts for lunch, wouldn't be the first time!

 

ETA:  Ok, I'm going to throw a total curve ball in here...do you think we would be better served exploring the northern loop and skipping the mangroves/kayak tour?  I'm trying to look at this as "I can hopefully come back someday and see the things I didn't get to see on this trip" while still making the most of our one day on the island.  

 

Thank you for your help!  I always feel like I've struck gold when I get to speak with a local 😄 

Edited by Hydro ergo
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Hi,
 

Kaminda Sorobon is off Statius Van Epps so your directions are fine.  You can look at google maps and see how the roads connect, and where your tour is.  
 

Regarding food, there is a convenience store called Good and More on the left as you do the southern loop.   There is also a restaurant called Oasis on the water past that, but you may hit it too early for lunch.   There are a number of grocery stores too, just not on the loop.  
 

If you do the loop early enough, you could eat lunch at Foodies, which is on Kaminda Sorobon.  Great food, view of Lac Bay  and kitesurfers.   Not a quick lunch, but if you get there around noon you should be great to have a leisurely lunch, since you’re near your tour.  Best to make a reservation.    There are also restaurants on the water at Lac Bay but cruise ships sell excursions there so they will be crowded.  


When we have houseguests, we do the north and south loop in a day, including a leisurely lunch and time for snorkeling.   But that’s not including the mangrove tour.  I think you’ll enjoy the southern loop and mangroves, that is a great introduction to Bonaire.    Then, if you fall in love with the island like most of us did (we came here on a one week scuba vacation in 2015 and decided to move here.) you’ll have much more to see when you come back.

 

I tried to send you a direct email but you have that feature disabled.  If you want to email me directly with more questions about your plans, feel free. 

 

Kate

 


 

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@Katefromupstate thank you, this is really helpful!

I tried to message you directly, but it says that the feature is disabled for you as well.  Maybe the problem is on my end?  I couldn't find anywhere to activate/deactivate that option so....here I am!

 

After a lot of thinking, we decided not to continue with the mangrove tour.  While it is something we really wanted to do, I think the scheduling is going to make things a little complicated.  That said, I think we are going to try to complete an itinerary similar to what you mention doing with your guests: north and south loop, maybe a quicker (but hopefully tasty!) lunch, snorkeling break, a stop in Rincon for Cadushy... Any suggestions on sights to see?  

 

In my past experiences, snorkeling is better in the morning before the winds pick up, is that the case in Bonaire?  Any suggestions on a good spot to snorkel from shore?  We'll only have the one car, so a drift option is out.  We're not fancy, so we don't need a beach with lots of amenities.  

 

I always love to try to some local food in port.  Any recommendations?  We'd like to save time for sightseeing, so wouldn't want something that takes too long.  I'm not sure what the cultural norms are for dining as this will be our first (and hopefully not last) trip to Bonaire. 

 

Any suggestions are welcome.  I can't thank you enough for helping me piece something together! I like to have a rough idea what I'm getting into at a cruise port since time/schedule is so important.

 

 

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Maybe the feature doesn’t work anymore but you can probably figure email out with my user name. Since you’re renting a car, you can easily do both loops now that you’re not doing the mangroves.  Here’s an itinerary that covers everything you mentioned you want to see.  Leave town and head north, there is one road, Kaya DeBrot, that runs parallel to the sea and continues all the way north.  When we have guests, we start with a morning snorkel at Andrea 1 dive site, where we live.  After you enter the water, swim to the left. Numerous fish are most active then and it’s a great site.   Continue north (road is now called queens highway from this point on maps) and see the ocean on the left.   Each dive site is marked by a yellow rock with the name of the site.  A nice photo stop is at 1,000 Steps dive site, you can park across the road and take photos at the top of the stairs or go down and snorkel there too. ( It’s not really a thousand steps, it’s about 60, but when you’re climbing back up with a scuba tank on your back it feels like it) continue on the road until you come to a choice of the shortcut to Rincon on the right, or the road to the left.   Follow the road to the left, it will eventually turn to the right and you’ll see Gotomeer lake, a brackish lake frequented by flamingoes.  Keep going till you see a parking area and overlook on the right. Great photo stop, and has porta potties.  The road will continue down to the shores of the lake where if you see flamingoes, you can park on the side of the road and take pics.  No walking on the shore is permitted.    Continuing on, you will continue upwards on the road and eventually arrive in Rincon.   On the right after you enter town, you will see a sign for Posada Para Mira, a hilltop open air restaurant with magnificent views, serving traditional Bonairean food.  They are closed Tuesday and Thursday, but are open the other days from 11 am to 6.  You can see their website and photos online.  After lunch, you can continue on and follow signs for the Cadushy distillery you want to see (they are closed only on Sundays).  You can sample the products and buy what you like at the bar area, and if you ask them to show you how it’s made they will take you to another counter and explain the distilling process and how the cactus is gathered.   Very interesting.  Follow signs to get back to kralendijk (town) and you will be on the eastern side of the island with the sea on your left.  You will pass the go kart land sailing place on your left, and sometimes you don’t need a reservation.   You can just pull in and watch them, or ask them if you can join for a half hour.  There are back roads out to Kaminda Sorobon, but at this point for expediency I would head back to the right side of the island where you pick up the southern loop.   Use the Marriott as your destination on google and continue south from there with the ocean on your right.  If you have time, you can snorkel at Salt Pier if a ship is not docked.  Sometimes you see a turtle in the shallows.  You can swim out to the pylons at the end, there are usually lots of fish swimming amid them.  If it is crowded with cars and tour buses, continue on.  Then you’ll see the things I mentioned in my other post.   When you get to Sorobon/lac Bay on the other side, either turn left and head directly into town on Statius Van Eps to go back to the ship or if you still have time, drive down the dirt road past Sorobon beach club and park at the end.   You can see beautiful shallow Lac Bay and windsurfers, and have a drink at one of the beach bars.  Then turn around and go back to Statius to go back to the cruise. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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This is absolutely amazing @Katefromupstate!! I can't thank you enough!!!

 

If it's not too much trouble, I do have a few follow up questions... (and seriously, feel free to duck out of my incessant questioning at ANY TIME; I will not be offended, you aren't a tour guide or travel agent!!!)

 

Is it pretty easy to park at Andrea I?  On Google it looks like there is a small parking area behind a neighborhood.  I keep seeing notes about not leaving valuables in your car.  Will we be ok in a rental?  I would hate to have it broken into while on the beach.  All we would have with us is day packs which we would lock in the trunk. (I have a waterproof case for keys while in the water)  I assume leaving towels and similar beach items on the beach is ok (cheap sunglasses, sandals, shorts, that sort of stuff)

 

I'm psyched we will be there on a Wednesday and able to try Posada Para Mia!  It looks like they take reservations.  Do you think we should make one?  I hate being tied to a time, but I definitely understand if that is a standard practice.  Also, do they accept the US dollar and/or credit cards?  

 

How is Kos Bon So in case we need a lunch backup? I'm always leery when cruise ships come in and take over a place ... and yes, I realize the irony in being one of those people myself...

 

The dirt road out past Sorobon Beach Club--is it passable in a sedan?  That's what we currently have reserved.  

 

Finally, are there any spots in Kralendijk you would recommend to stop in?  I recall you said everything closes around 5, so that may not be an option, but figured I would check.  Oh, and I guess safety too---it sounds like Bonaire is pretty safe to wander, but checking with a local is always handy!

 

Thank you again for all of your insights.  This has been absolutely wonderful!

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hi (realized I don’t know your name)

No worries, this is fun.  I feel like we made a new friend.  Yes, it’s easy to park at Andrea 1 and it’s rarely crowded on a weekday morning. You can also park on the street and walk down the path.  We live at #20 on that street, yellow house on the left.  What date are you arriving?  Feel free to push the gate bell, we may even come snorkeling with you!  You can also use our outdoor shower after your snorkel for you and your gear so you’re not driving around sticky.  We always leave our towels and coverups on the beach with no problem. Locking your daypacks in the trunk is a good idea, don’t leave anything in view in the car, the same as you wouldn’t anywhere.    
 

Bonaire is one of the safest places we’ve ever been, there is no area to avoid.   And, you’ll be glad to hear our official currency is the US dollar!   Credit cards widely accepted. 

 

 Since you want to keep your time flexible, I’d just go to lunch when you’re ready, especially on a weekday.  I’ve never eaten at Kos Bon So so can’t comment on that. 
  
Yes, the dirt road that Sorobon Beach Club, Jibe City and Sebastian’s Beach restaurant and bar is on is driveable in a sedan.  There are some bumps, but we just drive a little slower.  There is plenty of parking.  

 

Lots of lovely gift shops downtown selling jewelry, clothes, souvenirs, art and glassworks by local artists, etc.  Our downtown shopping area is basically two long streets parallel to each other (one on the sea) so you can just wander between them and see almost everything.  
 

All the best,

Kate
 

 

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Hello again Kate!

And yeah, I have a bad habit of not signing messages...but it's Toni---pleasure to make your acquaintance! 😄

 

You are too kind to offer up your outdoor shower!  We are typically not the types that would just randomly show up at someone's house, but that is such a generous offer!

 

I can't thank you enough for all this excellent insider advice.  We are really excited about our trip and I'm particularly looking forward to our stop in Bonaire.  It's always nice when you feel like you've been able to make the most of a day in port.  

 

One other thing I did just think of---do you recommend water shoes or anything for the snorkel site you mentioned?  I typically just go barefoot (no fins either) but I can see on the satellite images that some areas look like the coral/rocks come right up to the shore.

 

thank you again!

Toni

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi @Katefromupstate!  

It's me again!  I hope that you are doing well.  We are getting ready to leave for our cruise next week and heard the very sad news about the awful oil spill reaching the shores of Bonaire.  I've been trying to find information regarding any areas we should avoid, but it's still a bit sparse.  I imagine there is a lot of planning and such happening right now.  I did see that Lac and Sorobon areas appear to be closed.  Do you know if there are other areas we should avoid?  I would hate to be that tourist that just shows up somewhere where people are trying to work.  I certainly don't want to make the situation any worse than it already is!  I also realize that this is likely to change by the day and we'll certainly do our best to check when we arrive.  I hope the proper people are able to get this thing under control soon.  It's heartbreaking the potential impacts for all the surrounding areas.  

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Hi Toni,

Yes, unfortunately an oil spill made its way to our eastern shore, where the mangroves and Lac Bay are located.   The western side of the island is not affected.   Our environmental protection group, STINAPA, the government and volunteers have placed oil blocking booms off the east coast in an effort to prevent more oil from coming into the shallows and shore.   During this time the area is closed.  Since you aren’t cruising for another week, it is possible the area will be open by the time you get here. What date are you arriving?   You can look at the Bonaire Reporter online (free weekly newspaper) to see updates and also InfoBonaire.   
 

Hope to see you when you arrive, just ring the bell!

 

all the best,

Kate

 

 

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Thank you again so much! I really hope it doesn't get any worse for you all. Fingers crossed. You are so kind, we won't trouble you. All the information you've shared has been absolutely awesome, can't thank you enough!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Good Morning!

We got back a couple weeks ago and I wanted to let you know that we had an AMAZING time on Bonaire (despite me being a smidge under the weather)! Thank you so much for your insights and planning tips, I know they made the day even more special.

We're already looking to schedule a similar itinerary (ABC) again later this year because there is so much to see and do.

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So glad to hear you enjoyed it!   Next time you’re scheduled for a stop in Bonaire, we’d love to meet you.  


We are currently in Japan on an NCL cruise and having a great time. 
 

all the best,

kate

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  • 2 months later...

This thread has great info about Bonaire.  We will be stopping there in October on Carnival Horizon and would like to snorkel from the shore/beach ourselves rather than taking a crowded cruise line sponsored snorkeling excursion. Sounds like Andrea 1 is a good spot but what is the best way to get there and back?  Is renting a golf cart feasible or is it too far?   Thanks for any suggestions.

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Hi @Bluewake

When we were there in March we rented a car and toured the whole island. Golf carts had been booked solid and the car ended up about $10 less. I think either one is a good solution for transportation. We started our day at Andrea I and I think it was maybe 15 minutes from the port. Definitely accessible by golf cart. We saw golf carts much further out while we were exploring that day. If you have the time, check out other parts of the island as well, you won't be disappointed. Bonaire was our favorite!

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You will have a great time in October, the sea will be 85 degrees or more, and since the wind dies down then, the visibility will be even better than usual.  Andrea 1 is an easy ride by golf cart, it’s just under 4 miles from the cruise port. 

all the best,

Kate

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the helpful suggestions!  We looked at websites for golf carts and the one that seems to garner the most recommendations on Cruise Critic, "Bonaire Cruisers", has nothing available for the date we will be in Bonaire.  We found a second company that seems to have carts but charges a bit more.  We also saw a Youtube video about a couple who just went to Karel's Beach Bar and took a water taxi operated by Caribe Watersport to Klein Bonaire where they snorkeled for a couple of hours and returned.  That actually sounds good because it would give us time to explore Bonaire afterward.  Would Klein Bonaire be decent snorkeling?

Edited by Bluewake
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