Sunday, April 14, 2024

Our 4th Trip to Bonaire | March 2024

The beautiful and unassuming island of Bonaire is our happiest place! We absolutely LOVE Bonaire and this post cannot capture the overall mood of the island. This hidden gem is not so hidden to the divers of the world. Considered “A Diver’s Paradise” the underwater world of Bonaire is magical.

Most people have never heard of Bonaire, let alone know where it's located. Just think, due south of Maine and 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela. It's in the Eastern time zone and their currency is the American dollar. 

It's the "B" of the ABC Islands in the Dutch Caribbean. Aruba and Curacao make up the "A" and "C". We've been to Aruba 3x and Curacao 2x. This was our 4th visit to Bonaire and we prefer it over the other two islands. The three islands are very different in their ambiance and beach terrain. Bonaire is like no other place we’ve ever been. We love Bonaire so much, we are planning to visit again in July 2024 and I have no doubt it’ll continue to exceed our expectations.

This time, we stayed 11 glorious days on the island.


We traveled with our friends Bill and Sarah. As regular readers of this blog, they were fascinated with Bonaire and thought there was no better way to visit for the first time than with us! Smart people...­čśŐ

We started the trip with 4 first class tickets to paradise. After a quick layover in Miami, we arrived in Bonaire and made our way to our Airbnb. We picked up our multiple rental vehicles, including not one, but TWO golf carts from Bonaire Cruisers.






This was the first time we rented an Airbnb. We previously stayed at the Courtyard Marriott with points (cheapest redemption value in the Caribbean!) I will say, it'll be hard to go back to hotel life...having our own space and pool was awesome and made for an even better experience.











One of the best parts about having our own place (besides the pool!) was being able to enjoy breakfast outside, martinis (chambongs!) and charcuterie before dinner and hanging out at the pool after a long day of adventure.















We also rented a 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser standard shift to get all of us around together. We jumped in through the back and drove around with the wind in our hair. Simply paradise.







On our first day, we drove to the east side of the island and enjoyed a few beers at Jibe City. There is something so incredibly relaxing about sitting in an Adirondack chair, watching wind surfers and sipping on a cold beer. Relaxation at its best!











During our adventures, we also saw several donkeys, goats, old slave huts, Cargill salt works, flamingo sanctuary, Willemstoren lighthouse and Sorobon beach.









As the shore diving capital of the world, the underwater world is like no other. You’ll find reefs with 57 species of coral and 350 species of fish.

We love the ease and affordability of snorkeling and it's one of our favorite things about this part of the world. The diversity of the sites and the beauty of the fish is simply beautiful. With over 85 dive sites, we spent most of our time in the water and snorkeled every day. Each site is identified by a yellow rock. Some areas are more challenging to enter, involving underwater rocks, reef stems, and in some cases long rock stair cases to the beach below. You must wear water shoes. All are marked clearly where to safely enter and exit.



Once in the water the real treat begins. Clear blue water featuring so much aquatic life as far as the eye can see. So interesting and beautiful. We snorkeled 2-3 sites every day and a total of 12. Our favorites were Andrea #1, Andrea #2, Red Beryl and Margate Bay. The highlights were definitely seeing two turtles and countless angel fish.

Driving down the lonely road with the pink salt pans on one side and the gorgeous turquoise water on the other is something that’s impossible to describe. 





Steve has always wanted to do the “park, walk, looong drift” snorkel from Andrea #1 to Andrea #2. This time, we did it twice. It's about a 15 minute walk and 60 minute snorkel.




Steve and I did another park, walk and 90 minute drift snorkel from Red Beryl to Margate Bay. The variety of coral and sea life was incredible. We even spotted another turtle (always a highlight!)











Drinks at the Ocean Oasis Beach Club was a nice way to hydrate between snorkel sites.



During our our island adventures we also visited the city of Rincon where we made a stop at the Cadushy distillery and tasted cactus liquor. We also stopped at Seru Largu, one of the highest points on the entire island.

















While reefs are what Bonaire is known for, the food and restaurants are another highlight. Coursed meals with wine pairings are our favorite way to enjoy food and Bonaire had no shortage of these. 

We enjoyed the sunset in downtown Kralendijk before dinner nearly every night...a cold beer at Karel's beach bar was a nice way to start the evening. 














Some of the best sunsets on the island can be found while enjoying dinner at Sebastian's. We actually ate here three times during our stay. The tuna trio, truffle fries, spicy wahoo spaghetti and lobster pappardelle were our favorites. 
 




Tuna Trio with Sashimi, Tartare and Seared Tuna


Buffalo Mozzarella with Tomato, Arugula, Basil


Truffle Fries






Red Snapper with Broccoli and Basmati Rice


Tuna with Papaya Coconut Sauce and Basmati Rice


Wahoo on Spicy Spaghetti


Lobster Pappardelle with a Creamy White Wine Sauce







La Cantina had a nice outdoor patio and their the wings and fish and chips were excellent.



Bonaire Blond Chicken Wings


Tuna Tartare 


Fish & Chips


Dinner at 2 Fools & a Bull Gourmet Studio Bonaire was quite the delight. We were joined by 12 other diners and we all enjoyed a surprise 6 course dinner and wine. It was a fun night where I laughed so hard my face hurt. Kindness, conversation and laughter were heard loud and clear…it's no surprise I was taking selfies with strangers! The mushroom soup, duck, and steak were the highlights. 





Scallop with Pumpkin Puree


Prosciutto with Pumpkin Puree


Mackerel Tartare


Beef Tartare


Mushroom Soup



Duck Breast with Demi Glaze


Beef Filet with Blue Cheese and Fresh Vegetable Salsa


Selfie with a stranger (John)!


Dessert (I don't remember what this was!)


Selfie with stranger John and his family...and the chef!


Brass Boer is consistently named the #1 restaurant in the Caribbean. Steve and I enjoyed dinner here twice and it did not disappoint. On our first visit, the four of us all enjoyed the same 5+ course tasting and a couple bottles of wine. The food is always outstanding.




Dinner bread waiting to rise...




Amuse bouche of goat cheese lollipops





Oysters



Another Amuse...



Tuna Tataki with Lemon Yogurt, Wakame and Sesame



The bread has risen!


Beef Tartare with Bell Pepper, Tomato, Shaved Smoked Egg Yolk, Brioche with Matured Cheese


Creamy Bisque with Squid


Scallops with Truffle and Anchovies



Duck with Cauliflower, Piccalilly and Pepper Sauce



Jonnie's Revenge Dessert with Cucumber, Apple and Lemon


Another dessert!


On our second visit, Steve and I ordered off the regular menu and enjoyed our own coursed dinner. I’d have to say the watermelon and corvina were the highlights!

Goat cheese lollipops





Watermelon Roasted and Dried and served with Yuzu, Crispy Sea Lettuce and Radish




Red Snapper with Couscous, Baharat and Paella sauce



Corvina with Rieslingsaus, Potato, Bacon and Apple syrup


Cheek of Veal Slow Cooked with Époisses, Potato and Sauerkraut


5 Spices Dessert - Chicory, Mango, Coffee and Ginger



As I already mentioned, coursed dinners and wine pairings are our weakness. When we saw the relatively new Zara's offered a Chef's Table experience, we were quick to make reservations. Zara’s provided a very intimate atmosphere and we really enjoyed talking to the chef and staff as they prepared each course. We were the only 4 people eating at the chef’s table, so all of the attention was on us! The cocktails were also delicious.







Zara’s is located in the Stichting Art Center Antriol. SACA is a non-profit organization committed to promoting art and culture on Bonaire in the broadest way possible. We were able to peruse the galleries while we waited for dinner to begin. 








Asparagus with Ketjap Manis, Basil and Sesame


Tuna with Black Plums, Honey and Wasabi


Tempura Smoked Octopus with Bell Pepper and Balsamic


Pork Belly with Sweet Potato, Celeriac, Toffee and Pickled Onion


Pistachio Souffl├ę


They made us a special St. Patrick's Day drink!


Zara's Special Dessert with Basil, Passionfruit, Green Apple and Lime


It Rains Fishes is another restaurant in downtown Kralendijk and offers great sunset views. The tuna was the highlight of the menu. 


Seafood Bisque and Tuna Tartare


Tuna Trio


Tuna Poke Bowl


Strawberry Cheesecake


El Bigote was a very pleasant surprise. Mexican food in Bonaire? Yes, please! What's even more surprising was their ribs were some of the best I've ever had. I'm not kidding. Honestly, everything was outstanding! In addition to the ribs, the housemade jalapeno poppers and churros were so so good. This was our first visit and we can't wait to go back.



Jalapeno Poppers with Pico de Gallo



So many sauces to choose from!


The RIBS!!!!


Pulled Pork Burrito


Churros


On our last night, Steve and I dined at Ingridi├źnts Restaurant. We had heard some good things. The sunset views were nice, but the food was actually disappointing. Everything was under seasoned and with so many other GREAT options on Bonaire, this is not a place we'd return.



Bread with Garlic Oil and Salt


Oysters


Parmesan Truffle Tagliatelle Served Tableside



I think I ordered the barracuda? I guess it wasn't that memorable! 


Seared Tuna in Sesame Crust with Bulgur, Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Red Onion, Red Wine & Butter Foam


We love stopping for breakfast at Between 2 Buns before driving on the north end of the island. Sarah and Bill ordered a few different items and really enjoyed the breakfast sandwiches. The jalapeno popper sandwich is a must-get every time for me and Steve. It's literally the only thing we order!



Food trucks are another staple on Bonaire. Stoked Food Truck was in a great location on Te Amo Beach. Their tuna sashimi and catch of the day wraps were our favorites. 





The King Kong Truck can be found on Bachelor’s Beach and has great burgers, hot dogs and garlic fries. This is probably our favorite truck. Not only are they very reasonably priced, but we think they have the best burger on the island. 



Kite City is also found on Te Amo beach. We ordered their shrimp and chicken quesadillas. They were pretty good, but it's hard to justify the steep price of $18.50.

 




Cactus Blue is known for their famous Lionfish burger. 

First, a little background on lionfish...The lionfish is an invasive species in the Caribbean. Because they don't have any natural predators, they have the chance to multiply quickly, overtaking and killing native species, which results in a huge danger for the local environment and aquatic life in Bonaire. To control this invasion, hunting lionfish is allowed under strict rules.

Soooo...we're all about saving the environment. 



Steve and I have tried to visit the Cactus Blue truck during every visit to Bonaire, but they're always on vacation. We were excited to finally give it a try.


On our first attempt, we arrived at 11:30 (they open at 11:00) and they were already out of Lionfish. 



During our second attempt, Sarah and I arrived at 10:55 and were 3rd in line. Success!! In addition to the Lionfish burger we ordered the ground beef wrap. The Lionfish burger came in at a steeeeeeepppp $25 and the wrap was much more reasonable at $14. Both were very good, but I'd go back for the wrap.


There you have it! It was another incredible time where we ate and drank really well. While Bonaire is known as a divers paradise, it’s definitely a dream for foodies and snorkelers like us! Bonaire is rustic, beautiful, unassuming and totally unexpected. 

Thank you to Bill and Sarah for coming on this adventure to explore our hidden gem. Steve and I had so much fun showing off our favorite island.

Until next time…Cheers to suntans and sunsets!