Sixth Windsurfing Trip To
Setting the StageWe visited Bonaire for the sixth time on March 21 - April 4, again staying for 2 weeks. Since this was our second visit this year and I already provided a fairly detailed report on the first trip, this will be relatively short. Ann Phelan, Caribbean Wind and Sun Vacations, again took care of the Bonaire details and we took care of the air transportation. In general, things went very well.
Getting there and backI found decent fares to/from Bonaire and we had exit row seats both directions. The flight down was very good and on time, with very little delay for clearing customs and waiting for our luggage. The return trip was about 45 minutes late leaving Bonaire, made up about 20 minutes on the way to Atlanta, then we had to wait 30 minutes for a gate. Quite a few people were going to miss their connecting flights. Once again, the Atlanta Customs and Immigration area was overwhelmed and the lines very long. It took us about 35 minutes to clear passport control. (Now more people were missing their connecting flights.) The Baggage claim, recheck, security check and baggage reclaim actually went relatively quickly.
Bonaire's Flamingo International Airport.
On our previous trip we had a problem with the shuttle service to the remote rental car center but this time they were looking for us and the entire shuttle and rental process went very smooth. The economy car we rented from AB functioned well, as usual.
Where we stayedWe again stayed at Sonrisa in a hotel (one room) unit. As usual it was very clean and well maintained. Last time we realized (too late) that Susan was allergic to the duck feather pillows so this time we asked for something else and they provided comfortable "fiber-filled" pillows which was much better for Susan. As usual, we kept the min-fridge stocked with wine, cheese, water and some snacks. We enjoyed the wine and snacks out by the pool after returning from a day of windsurfing. With the convenient "close to town" location and the available shuttle service to Lac Bay for windsurfers, you don't really have to have a rental car, but it is a little more convenient. We again took advantage of Sonrisa's included breakfast and sometimes "enhanced" one of their breakfast sandwiches with leftovers from dinner and took it with us to eat as part of lunch.
A view of Sonrisa. Our room was at the lower right.
Windsurfing commentsThe wind was not quite as good as on our first visit this year and the tide made for very shallow conditions in the afternoon of the second week, but otherwise the windsurfing was great. We both improved our windsurfing skills and I've almost got that elusive carving jib nailed. I did get a bit more practice with large sails (8.0 and 8.8 M) than I really would have liked.
Bonaire Windsurf Place, as seen from the windsurfer's point of view.
Susan is just starting a run acoss the bay (not hooked in the harness yet).
The Cruise Ship Effect ContinuesI've described the cruise ship problem several times in the past. In general the problem does continue and several days there were cruise ship people all over Lac Bay. This time though, Bonaire Windsurf Place (BWP) had taken some actions to help. They had a new larger sign, in English and Spanish, pointing out that it was dangerous to be in the windsurfer access area. On the busiest days they also used a string of floating windsurf boards to attempt to "blockade" the crusiers from using the windsurfer access path. In general this was fairly effective as long as one of the BWP staff stayed close by to "enforce" the blockade. Although the actions were a bit of a "band-aid" solution they did help some and it is appreciated.
The windsurfer board "blockade" and the new warning sign being checked by Patun.
The access path was usually kept reasonably clear for windsurfers and kayakers.
A short tour of the eastern part of the island.One day there was not enough wind to windsurf so we took a bit of a tour. First we drove out to the other side of Lac Bay, across the bay from Sorobon and the windsurfing area, to Lac Cai. Conchs used to be harvested here and there are still large mounds of old Conch shells. There is a small park area with access to the Mangroves of Lac Bay. There are some cast concrete picnic tables and benches that make it look like someone had some big plans for the area but didn't pan out. We backtracked just a little and found a comfortable rock to sit on and ate our lunch sandwiches sitting there about 10 feet form the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Some of the mounds of conch shells along the water at Lac Cai.
Looking toward Klein Bonaire (the island) and Kralendijk from the top of Sera Largu
Looking across the base of the monument, toward the Santa Barbara community and Klein Bonaire beyond.
The cross and top of the monument.
Restaurants we visitedWe visited many of the same restaurants we'd been to before and tried out a couple of new ones. I'll cover them here in no special order
Bobbejan'sWe continued our tradition of visiting Bobbejan's on our arrival night for ribs and it was as good and economical as ever. In addition, we paid another visit the next weekend and tried the Bobbejan "special". If you just want a normal meal of good grilled ribs, get the rib dinner. If you want more food than you can eat, and want to take some leftovers home with you, try the Bobbejan special: ribs, grilled chicken, and chicken satar.
The fruit and vegetable market at the water's edge in the evening.
CapriccioAs on our first trip this year, we visited Capriccio two times. The first time we had mainly fish entrees and on the second visit mainly pasta. Both were very good and the service from the relatively young staff is getting more experienced and competent. We mentioned to the owner/hostess that we really enjoy their coffee (as well as everything else) and she said that she was actually most proud of their coffee. They use a French press for each order so the coffee is very hot and fresh and delicious.
The UnbelievableThe new Unbelievable was an excellent choice again. Both fish meals were very good and the service friendly and prompt. The rooftop dining is pleasant and is a very nice place to watch the sunset.
CasablancaLooking for some beef, we headed to the Casablanca. Last visit we went to the Patagonia, a somewhat similar Argentine steak house but we agreed that while Patagonia has a better view, we liked the food at Casablanca better and it is a better value. We both had sirloins with the normal accompaniments and it was all very tasty and service was also very good. As usual, we took enough steak with us to fortify our lunch sandwiches for a couple of days.
RumrunnersWe wanted to have dinner with our friend Ann, so she made reservations for what she called the "Lover's Table" at Rumrunner (at Capt. Don's Habitat). This was actually one of three tables on a little circular "perch" that projects out over the water. Very nice! The Mahi-Mahi with shrimp sauce was also very good. We lingered over coffee and dessert quite a while, enjoying the view over the harbor area as night fell. .
The bow of one of the large cruise ships just before sunset.
Pasa Bon PizzaAs usual, Pasa Bon was very good. We had the Pasa Bon salad, a medium deluxe pizza and a bottle of Amstel beer. A good salad, tasty pizza, and cold beer is hard to beat! As usual, service was friendly and prompt.
La GuernicaWe returned to La Guernica, one of our favored restaurants. They have a good selection of very nice tapas, so we had several plates of tapas then shared an entree of Dorado. Paired with a nice Pinot Grigio and followed by a cup of coffee, we enjoyed it very much.
El FagonEl Fagon is more of a local restaurant that knowledgeable visitors also go to. We had not been there before so Ann again made a reservation for the three of us so she could introduce us to a new (to us) restaurant. We all had their fresh fish of the day, which was very nice and tasty and we shared a bottle of wine that Ann suggested. We'll be back on future visits to Bonaire.
Wil's GrillWil's Grill is another of our favorites. Wil almost always manages to have a slightly unusual or different approach to preparing relatively standard entrees. We shared our usual mixed greens and toasted pine nut salad and then we each had different fish dishes. Both fish entrees featured the different or unusual seasoning and sauces that seems to make Wil's unique. As usual, the service was prompt, good, and very friendly. Although they were certainly not overrun with customers, we were glad to see that business was significantly better than on our last trip. We definitely want Wil's Grill to be around for our future visits. .
Eating at Wil's Grill is almost like eaing in a garden.
City CafeWe used to avoid the City Cafe because the service was spotty at best and the menu items were just not what we were looking for. But now they have changed the menu and the wait staff seems to be making more of an effort to provide good service to everyone, not just their local friends. One evening we just wanted some light salads and knew that the City Cafe had some on the menu. The dinner salads with a glass of wine, followed by a cup of coffee were just what we were looking for. While not great, the service was reasonable and friendly. .
The City Cafe at night.
SenseSense just had their grand opening the day we arrived, although we didn't get there until about a week later. We first tried their breakfast and enjoyed the Dutch style pancakes (very thin, almost like crepes, with fruit mixed in). Service was friendly, but a bit too "relaxed". I'm glad we were not in a hurry. One evening we joined Roger and Jacqueline for dinner at Sense. I had a dish of pasta topped by some lightly cooked salmon, sliced very thin and arranged like a rose flower on top of the pasta: very pretty and also tasty. Everyone else had a shrimp stir-fry dish which they reported to be somewhat spicy and very tasty. Service was reasonable, but a little slow. We understand that they were still having "start-up" pains and the main large oven and some other appliances still did not have electrical power. They do have a dance floor and live music some nights. I expect it will become more of a "dinner plus dancing" destination rather than just for the food.
Warung Louise (no more)Unfortunately, Warung Louise, an Indonesian restaurant we had visited several times in the past, had just closed when we arrived. A day or two before we left a different restaurant opened in that location. We didn't visit the new restaurant and I don't remember its' name, but it appeared to be Spanish themed. We'll try to check it out on our next visit.
In the morning of the Saturday we left we snorkled at the reef in Lac Bay.
General CommentsThis visit we had reasonably good wind and no illnesses or significant windsurfing injuries. We had several meals with good friends and discovered several new places to eat. We continued to look forward to and enjoy our daily "wine and snacks" refreshment out by the pool each afternoon after windsurfing. I forgot the power supply to my laptop computer so I actually read several books this time instead of having my head buried in the computer each evening. Then again, this trip report is late being done because I could not work on it during the trip. As usual, I'm already figuring out how and when we can return to Bonaire.
Lac Bay and some salt ponds from the air as we leave Bonaire