Roosters crow at almost any time of night or day, billy goats walk the streets, donkeys bray, and the dogs are howling. The dogs on Bonaire even socialize in groups like they do in Greece or Turkey. You can sit in a Hillside Apartment overlooking Klein Bonaire and see a relief on the horizon that transports you back to the images of community and song on an Island like Cicily.
We decided to spend most of January 2023 in the warmth and in the hospitality of the Dutch in Bonaire. Their motto: Once a Visitor, Never a Stranger. Unlike Aruba the accommodations are among the least expensive of the Carribean. Like Aruba, however, we discovered the Dutch Pastry Shop and the largest grocery store on the Island – Van Den Tweel. We rented a Van scooter for $225 for the 11 days and this limited the things we could bike back to our accommodations at the Hillside Apartments. The scooter by the way is not for the faint of heart, nor the inexperienced. We experienced unusually frequent rain and with it the roads became as slick as ice.
As for our running streak with the USRSA – we found that the shores facing Klein Bonaire had interlocking stones and a level walk from the harbor bearing the cruise ships to a little white condo on the north end of the so-to-speak boardwalk.
Claire was looking at Booking.com and noticed right away that the price point for Bonaire was considerably less that any island we have visited so far. It was clear we could get a resort location for $950 to $1,600 for 11 days.
We chose the Hillside Apartments. It is a 3 star resort, however, we would give it 4 stars over time. Wendy the owner went out of her way to pick us up at the airport. Snorkels and beach towels were provided. Transportation to and from the airport freely offered. The resort sports two pools. It is a Dutch family-owned resort.
Places to Eat
First off Bonaire provides an official FOODBOOK. It is well done though some restaurants are oversold. Here are a few we really enjoyed!
It Rains Fishes- Recently changed ownership and the owner Persia is a delightful person. She offered wine samples for listings not always in stock. Pictured in a blue dress Persia made recommendations including their smoked Tuna and other seafood delights. According to local fishermen she seeks out fresh fish from the sport fishermen.
Bon Tapa – Also a newer restaurant! Reservations help yet the service is quick. It is Tapas after all. It recommend the Caipirinha with Licor 43! Also, the chorizos corn on the cob and the hazelnut zucchini with goat cheese. Loved the location and the experience! A must.
Umbrella Restaurant – A tourist trap meant to be open when the cruise lines are in town. The service was slow and picked up by the overworked staff one we complained. The view is better without the ships.
Hillside Restaurant – A apartment restaurant had great breakfasts and an open air kitchen. I enjoyed the schnitzel but be aware that there are three menus depending on the time of day. The bar is open through the evening and is filled with laughter.
Doner Station – A great little surprise for the budget. Hot sauce is great and the pita bread with doner excellent.
Rum Runners – A super view. We got caught in the rain and we had wines and fish fair.
Karel’s Beach Bar – A great place to wait while you prepare for your ferry for Klein Bonaire. Expensive but interesting cocktails and a great breezy view of the harbor.
Dutch Bakery – Enjoyed the bread, some pastries including cream desserts and apple cake.
Ocean Oasis Beach Club – Too expensive and not much of interest.