Another visit

to Bonaire


An escape to warm weather, good food, and friends

January 2024



Like with many of our trips, this was a relatively short lead-time, last minute trip.  We’ve been to Bonaire something like 18 or 19 times because we enjoy the good windsurfing conditions, the warm weather, the good food, and seeing many of our friends, both Bonaire residents and other visitors like us.  The relatively last-minute arrangements did affect some aspects of this trip, especially where we stayed. 

Unlike most of my recent trip reports, this will not be a daily log, but rather a collection of general topics that I’ll cover, such as dining, windsurfing, where we stayed, the “residents” of Bonaire, and several other topics as I think of them.  Also, this will be more of a photo album, with a few comments to tie them together, so you won’t have to read very much.

It occurred to me that many people do not know just where Bonaire is, so I’ll include a map of the Caribbean and surrounding area to give you an idea.

Bonaire is in the very southern Caribbean

The “Set-up”

We had talked about getting back to Bonaire this year, but had not made any definite plans when we got something of an external encouragement to get busy and make those plans, but you will hear more of that later.  We didn’t make arrangements until the previous November and that impacted some things b4ecause Bonaire has gotten very popular the past few years.  I did find a reasonable place to stay and the airline (Delta) schedule and fares seemed to favor a Jan. 15 to Feb. 1 schedule.  As mentioned above, we have been to Bonaire many times and return for a number of reasons.  I think the first hints of the upcoming cold weather may have been a big reason why we finally got busy and put the plans in place.

Getting There and Back

Delta has multiple non-stop flights from Atlanta to Bonaire each week.  The exact number and schedule varies by the season, but in January there were four flights weekly, including on Monday and Friday.  Since the weekday flights tend to be less crowded, we like to use them when possible.  The flights did not look very busy and there were a lot of empty seats in first class, so I made our reservations for Comfort+ and kept my fingers crossed that my Platinum Medallion and Million Miler status might get us a free upgrade.  And…  It worked!  We got the upgrades in both directions, making the 4 hour flights a little more comfortable. 

The shoreline of Bonaire with the “Salt Mountains” in distance

The flights were both on time and there did not seem to be any problems.  We used Uber between home and the Atlanta airport and that worked well.  Bonaire has changed their tourist tax and you now pay your $75 per person tax via the internet prior to traveling.  The resulting paperwork is checked on the walkway, before you even get to the terminal building or to passport control.  Anyone who had not paid in advance got shuffled off to the side to complete their paperwork and pay the tax.

Where we stayed

Because of the late arrangements, we had a limited selection of places to stay this time.  We really like to stay close to town so that we can walk to and from dinner at the Kralendijk area restaurants, so this further limited our choices.  We ended up staying in a one-bedroom apartment in the TerraMar building, which is on the waterfront between the north dock and Karel’s pier.  From a convenient location point of view, it was great, being in about the center of town, and the view out over the ocean was good from our 2nd floor unit.

Our 2nd floor apartment

We had convenient parking spaces for the car, although we did sometimes have traffic problems getting to or from the parking.  But, the great view out over the waterfront did come with a problem: there was no sun shade to protect our balcony so it was essentially unusable from about 2:00PM until almost sunset because of the intense sun.

The balcony was very pleasant in the morning.

From the balcony, we could watch the cruise ships coming and going and all the activity along the waterfront and over at Karel’s pier.  This activity, however, caused the other significant issue: noise.  There were very loud motorcycles being revved late into the night, loud cars (both exhaust and music), loud music from bars in both directions until after 11:00 PM, and the daily large garbage truck at 6:30 – 7:00 AM.  We turned on the AC and closed the windows, but some noise would still get through. 

There were the other nuisance issues with the apartment, like the sheets that did not fit right, instructions in Dutch (only) for the complicated oven, dish washer and clothes washer, a lack of good storage space, and some uncomfortable furniture.  I believe we were the first renters of this unit, at least under the current management, so I expect some of these things to be quickly resolved, although I’m not sure what can be done about the noise.

Animals of Bonaire

The “natives” of Bonaire seem to be doing well: we saw more Flamingos and turtles, and in more places, than we have ever seen before.  We frequently saw turtles along the seawall in the harbor, including directly in front of our apartment: we could sometimes see them from our balcony.  We identified at least four different turtles, including one that was missing a big chunk of its shell, but otherwise seemed to be doing well.

We wondered what had done this.

A couple of times we saw two turtles together along the seawall between the north and south docks

One of the two that seemed to be hanging out together

Of course, there are always some Iguanas around, but we did not see any of the really large ones.  We did see a couple of signs advertising Iguana soup, so perhaps that is where some of the larger ones had gone.

Basking on the coral rubble by the shoreline

Speaking of Iguanas, I really liked this sign we spotted in a souvenir shop window.

We were very careful walking past this store.

And then there were the Flamingos…  in several new locations where we had not seen them previously.  Both new locations were along roads frequently used by tours, so we assumed the tour companies had hired the Flamingos to hang around and look good for the tourists.

They are colorful!

I can’t leave out a long-time friend.  For the last several visits, when we have walked along Sorobon beach and onto the dock with fishing boats, there has been a very white Heron wading/fishing in the shallow water. 

Our old friend was still there.

And, of course, there were the usual goats and donkeys that roam loose all over the island.  Several times we saw both goats and donkeys foraging in the same area as one of the new Flamingo feeding areas.  Perhaps they were on the tour company payroll also.

A visit by friends

One of the things that got us busy finally planning our Bonaire visit was that our good friends, Emily and Murray, would be on a cruise ship visiting Bonaire on January 20 and we thought it would be fun to meet up with them and give them a tour of “our” island.

Murray and Emily at the Lac Bay windsurfing area.

 We had told them about our favorite restaurant, Capriccio and hoped to be able to take them there for a meal.  Unfortunately, they were visiting from 8AM to 5PM on a Saturday and Capriccio does not open for lunch on Saturdays.  I did get a couple of bottles of a nice Italian wine from Andrea, co-owner and chef at Capriccio, which we took with us when we visited their ship and enjoyed a few glasses of wine.  We had a fun day showing them around the island and enjoying a lunch out at the windsurfing beach.  They had made arrangements for us to visit them on their ship, the Oceania Sirena, and they gave us a nice tour of the ship, including one of the bars and a good view of Kralendijk like we had never seen before. 

The fact that only Susan and I have wine glasses is very misleading.

Based on the earlier photo, can you identify our apartment in this view?

After the ship’s tour, we retreated to their very nice suite to enjoy some wine and snacks.  All in all, a very different but very enjoyable day.

Impacts of Cruise Ships

I’ve commented on the impact of large cruise ships in previous trip reports and, unfortunately, it is still occurring.  On several days, we saw two large cruise ships in port and you could see the impact all over the island. 

These two ships brought a total of over 6,000 tourists.

Small ships, like our friends were on, or even a single large ship, could be accommodated without much of a problem.  But, two large ships were just too much.  You could watch the continuous flow of people off and back on the ships.

Many people going on tours or just walking around

We saw multiple water taxi boats taking load after load of people out to the small and delicate beach on the island of Kline Bonaire,  I can imagine the damage that was done to the area.  As an example, I have put together two video clips.  The first part of the video shows part of the beach at Sorobon, where we windsurf, on a “no cruise ship day”: the second part of this video shows some of the same area on a day with two ships in port.  Many of these one-day visitors do not understand the damage that can be done to the turtle-grass areas when they walk across them, ignoring the “Do Not Enter” signs.

There is a plan to restrict the number of large cruise ships in port at the same time: I just hope it does come about.


Bonaire is known for having a surprising number of excellent restaurants for the size of the island.  Our favorite is the Italian restaurant Capriccio, for both the excellent pasta and the amazing wine list, and we dined there three times on this visit.  We also tried out a number of other restaurants, both long time standards, like Patagonia and several new (or new to us) places. 

One of the “Wine walls” at Capriccio

The first new place we visited was actually in an old location: “Hooked by Sunsets” was in the old “La Guernica” location until it closed about 4 years ago.  This was a new restaurant and they were still working things out, but the tapas were good and reasonably priced and they were working on the service.  It was good enough that we went back a second time.  On the second visit we were disappointed that we could not get a glass of “tap water”: they insisted that they had to give us bottled water, at a significant charge, of course.

“Hooked on Sunsets” before opening time

Another good tapas restaurant was, appropriately, “Bon Tapas”, a very short distance from our apartment and in the old (more than 10 years ago) Capriccio location.  The several tapas we had were good and the “little bit of everything” platter was surprisingly well done for the price.  The wine list was a little short, but it did include my favorite white wine, Albarino, which went well with our tapas.  Service was good and very friendly/helpful.

Almost next door to Bon Tapas was a primarily seafood restaurant, el Pescado.  We just wanted a light dinner so we shared their “seachaturie” sampler platter and a bottle of very good Portugal white wine.  We weren’t real sure about the grilled octopus, but everything else was good, as was the service.

One evening we met two of our friends, John and Miranda, who live on Bonaire, at “The Dock” restaurant.  The food and wine was all good although the service sometimes got a bit lax.  But, when you are with friends and having an enjoyable evening, a more relaxed pace can work out just fine.

Several people told us how good Pablo’s was so we gave it a try.  Perhaps it was an off night or something, but service was terrible (50 minutes to get a simple meal that should take 10 – 15 minutes) and the food was just mediocre.  They obviously had staff issues, but even the single server should have been able to handle the three tables with customers.

Julians has been around quite a while, but we had never gone there.  It had just moved into a new building space about a week previously, so we gave it a try.  It is known for serving a lot of food for a very reasonable price, and that was the case with us.  We both got Pasta dishes, ate our fill, and had more than enough for another meal.  Service was very good and friendly.

When we decided to to try Karel’s pier for dinner, I expected there might be some service issues because of the logistics of getting the food from the kitchen, across the street, and out onto the pier.  It turned out that I was right, but even more so.  Everything was slow, not just the food service.  It is safe to say that dining at Karels is about the location out over the water, not about the food or the service.

Patagonia was its usually good food with attentive service.  We ended up going twice, once by ourselves and again to meet our German friend, Wolfgang.  On the first visit we both had their special for the day, Paella, and it was OK, but not really very special in our view.  On our second visit we had beef (sirloin) and it was very good, as it should be in an Argentine restaurant.

The Umbrella has a somewhat limited menu, but an appetizer and their sampler platter was just what we were looking for.  The food was tasty and service was friendly and prompt.

Cuba Compagie has gotten very busy now.  For several years after it first opened, you could count on always getting a table there without a reservation, but no longer.  We made our reservation a little “last minute” but it worked and we got a decent table.  They were busy and service was a little slow, but not bad.  We just got an appetizer and burgers and all was good except that we ordered the burgers to be cooked medium but when delivered they were barely rare.  When we pointed this out to the server, she agreed that they were rather underdone but there was no offer to cook them further or replace them.


A typical walk along the waterfront

Most mornings we would take a walk along the waterfront to get a few miles in before the sun got too hot.  Although we would vary the route a little, much of the walk usually followed the same general; path, northerly along the waterfront sidewalk as far as it went, then back the other way and south past the south dock area to the Divi resort where their gate was closed and locked and back to our apartment building. 

We started directly in front of our apartment building, heading past Karel’s pier complex.  Karel’s pier is undergoing a major expansion: it appears that a new bar area will be added and the dining area will be more than doubled.

The expansion is barely visible from our apartment balcony.

  A little past Karel’s pier, there is a marina/dock area across the road from the “It Rains Fishes” restaurant.  This is often referred to as the “Epic Dock” because a water taxi that goes from here to Kline Bonaire and several tour/excursion/fishing boats based here use the “Epic” name.

The Epic dock

A short distance beyond the Epic dock was an interesting addition to the Bonaire waterfront that was referred to as “the floating swimming pool”.  They used floating dock sections in a large “U” shape, set just off the seawall, to enclose a section of the waterfront about the size of a rather large swimming pool.

Bonaire’s “Floating swimming pool”

There were starting blocks for swimming races at one end of the “pool” and swimming races have been held there.  There is a small park just across the road that provides a meeting point and classes are organized there to teach school children how to swim.  Possibly the most interesting use of the “pool” were the “noodlers”.  Three mornings a week, senior citizens would bring their water “noodles” (floats) and get in the water close to the “pool”.  There was an instructor who would lead some simple exercises, but I think most people just floated around, talking to each other. 

A morning “Noodling” session at the floating swimming pool

There were several more small docks, including one where several fishermen brought their morning catch.  Sometimes we would see them cleaning the fish and getting it ready to sell to the stores or restaurants. 

There were various boats moored just offshore along the whole section of the waterfront.  Sometimes we would see the people on the larger boats going through their normal morning activities, living on the boat.

Just a few of the boats moored along the waterfront

Toward the north end of the walk we would come to the ”Shoe Trees”.  There were two trees next to each other where people had tied shoes (and a few other decorations) to the trees.  I suspect that the first tree became too full of shoes so the effort expanded to the second tree.  There was another tree close to Karel’s pier that had a number of Christmas tree ornaments on it, so we referred to that as the “Christmas Tree” and this was the “Shoe tree”.

A few of the shoes in the “shoe tree”

The walkway ended about 400 feet past the shoe trees at a wall around a nice resort.  We always stopped there to check how many Iguanas were on the wall that day: we would see from one to as many as four Iguanas relaxing on the flat top of the wall.

Two Iguanas today

At this point we would usually reverse direction and head back the other way.  Sometimes we would stay along the waterfront and sometimes we would walk through the middle of town and through the little park in the center of Kralendijk.  If there was a large cruise ship in port, this area would have lots of booths with vendors selling all kinds of products.  We usually continued south, past the northern dock and would look for turtles in the harbor between the north and south docks.  There was one more section of nice waterfront sidewalk between the south dock and the Divi resort, where we would turnaround and head back to the apartment.


Windsurfing conditions went from one extreme to the other:  the first week we were there the wind was blowing about 23 – 26 mph, which is about the high end of what I like to sail in.  The tide was also generally high, which means that I was doing beach/water-starts in chest-deep water much of the time.  The high tide also allows more of the ocean waves to get across the reef and creates a lot of chop in the bay, making for a very “bouncy” ride on the board.  I did get better at handling the wind and water conditions, but after the first day, Susan had enough.

Then, the wind dropped below about 14 mph, which means very large sails are required and most of the time, even the largest 8 sq meter sail was not enough. The tide was lower, making starts easier and there was less chop, but the lack of sufficient wind prevented sailing about 4 of the last 8 days we were there.

I apologize to our windsurfing friends that I did not get any windsurfing photos this year.  I did not attempt to take photos in the initial high wind conditions and then, when the wind dropped, there was basically nothing to take photos of.


One of the advantages of vacationing in Bonaire has to be the sunsets.  Since most of the waterfront faces to the southwest, there is some kind of sunset to view every night.  Sometimes the sunsets are drab, sometimes cloudy, but often beautiful.  And, if you are lucky, you might see one of the occasional, but very real, green flashes.  As a way of ending this report, I’m just going to show some of the sunsets we enjoyed during our visit: I hope you enjoy them also.




Green Flash candidate!



I hope you enjoyed this trip report.  If you have any comments, please send them to me at: