Bonaire is a remarkable small Caribbean island, relaxed and peaceful, undeveloped and unspoilt, with an atmosphere unlike anywhere else in the world. Bonaire is not a major tourist destination – no crowds, no theme parks – and will be unknown to many people. The wonderful weather and friendly welcome of the local people lets you enjoy your holiday to the full, without feeling like a tourist. You will be surprised how easy it is to totally relax and unwind here. Nowhere quite like Bonaire.
The weather is always warm and sunny with a refreshing breeze. “Perfect” all year round. Whatever kind of holiday you prefer, active or inactive, you can enjoy it to the full.
A good time to go ? . . . . . . Anytime is a good time to go!
Bonaire is a winner of the “Sustainable Tourism Award”. Bonaire’s coast and ocean are strictly protected. Already a premium diving and snorkelling destination, this legal protection has ensured the reef and ocean environment are in superb condition. Bonaire is one of the best scuba diving and snorkelling destinations in the world.
Bonaire is in the southern Caribbean and the Caribbean Sea is known for its rich variety and abundance of marine life. The warm, crystal clear water is ideal for the many water sports on offer – in particular the island’s world famous excellent diving and snorkelling.
Easy conditions and access to the ocean means that diving and snorkelling does not get any easier than this. Legal protection of the reef means that diving and snorkelling doesn’t get any better than this.
But diving is not compulsory. Bonaire offers a lot of sporting activities and opportunities to enjoy its natural world, all organised in that informal, Caribbean way. You can enjoy them as and when it suits you, with no long queues. No crowds on Bonaire, in or out of the water. The friendly atmosphere and absence of an “audience” might encourage you to try new adventures.
Bonaire has so much to offer and a holiday on Bonaire is a genuinely memorable experience. No surprise that so many people fall in love with Bonaire. Bonaire is a peaceful, natural “oasis” – in our hectic, busy world. With our help, you can enjoy places of interest and things to do, no fuss no rush, in your own time and your own pace as a welcome guest rather than a tourist.
Bonaire – one of the safest places in the world.
Destination Travel on msnbc.com says ” . . . we analyzed piles of data, from U.S. State Department …and the latest United Nations survey on global crime to the Mercer rankings of the world’s safest cities … and can include Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao on a list of the world’s safest places to travel”.
We are an ATOL licensed Caribbean holiday specialist with a wealth of local knowledge and many years’ experience on Bonaire. For many people our islands are “undiscovered” places – exciting new holiday destinations. Having enjoyed and experienced much of what Bonaire has to offer, we know the island well. We can answer your questions from personal experience and tailor-make a holiday to your requirements and wishes. We enjoy talking about the islands and would be delighted to discuss any plans you have for a holiday in this special part of the world.
Bonaire is a small island, in the southern Caribbean, 30 miles east of Curacao and 50 miles from South America. Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are the “ABC islands”, part of the Dutch Caribbean. Bonaire is just 22 miles long by 5 miles wide with a population of only 13,000 people. Bonaire welcomes just 60,000 visitors per year from around the world.
Bonaire has a dry climate, warm and sunny almost every day of the year. There is gentle breeze from the ocean, which keeps the air fresh and you can enjoy your holiday in comfort. The weather does not vary, almost always a comfortable 29°C (84°F). Bonaire is outside the hurricane belt. The rainy season is September to December, but Bonaire only gets 21 inches of rain each year, falling in short, heavy showers – then it’s bright and sunny again.
Whatever kind of holiday you prefer, active or inactive, you can enjoy it to the full in “perfect” weather.
Bonaire’s earliest inhabitants were the Caquetios, from Venezuela. The Spanish, including Amerigo Vespucci, arrived in 1499. Over the centuries, the Dutch, Spanish, British and pirates, fought for control. Eventually the Netherlands regained control and Bonaire is now a municipality of the Netherlands. The island has a cosmopolitan heritage of Spanish, Dutch and West African influences. The official language is Dutch, but islanders speak Papiamento, a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, Dutch and African languages – but everyone speaks English.
Bonaire has a rich and varied cultural heritage which has given this small island a relaxed atmosphere and a welcoming attitude to visitors. Bonaire’s unpretentious character, perfect weather, diving freedom and friendly people, combine to create a carefree atmosphere in which you can enjoy your holiday to the full. The local people are unassuming and helpful, visitors are always made to feel like welcome guests. There are no tourist areas. You will be surprised to find how easy it is to totally relax and unwind on Bonaire. We have not found anywhere else in the world to compare. Each day on the island is a genuinely refreshing experience. There numerous restaurants around the island, the majority in the capital Kralendijk, offering a surprising variety of cuisines from many different cultures. The nightlife on Bonaire is very low key and revolves mainly around the resorts, restaurants and various bars.
In 1979 the people of Bonaire voted to protect the island’s environment and resist over-development – a brave and admirable decision. Only 5% of Bonaire’s land area is developed and 25% of the island is set aside for conservation schemes. The island of Klein Bonaire, off the west coast, is a nature reserve. Bonaire has been the winner of the “Sustainable Tourism Award” and is one of the Caribbean’s least commercially developed islands. No mass tourism, no theme parks and no high-rise hotels. The absence of a large “tourist industry” makes Bonaire almost unique in the modern world. The protection given to natural habitats allows many fascinating tropical species, plants, birds and animals, to thrive. There are numerous opportunities to enjoy the natural world, above and below water. Washington Slagbaai National Park is a wilderness park set aside as a wildlife sanctuary, where tropical birds, lizards, goats and iguanas etc., live in their natural habitat. Iguanas do particularly well – there are some very large ones in the park. You will see quite a few no matter where you are on Bonaire. Bonaire is famous for its flamingos, (you landed at Flamingo Airport), one of only four breeding sites in the world for Pink Flamingos. Lake Goto, a beautiful lake, is a sanctuary for thousands of Pink flamingos.
The Caribbean Sea is famous for its warm, clear water and abundance of colourful reef creatures. The south west coast, where most accommodation is located, has little or no current. Ideal conditions for swimmers, snorkellers and divers. Wherever you are on Bonaire, you are no more than 15 minutes from your resort, and 5 minutes from the ocean. Bonaire’s coast and ocean are strictly protected and this legal protection has ensured the reef and ocean environment are in superb condition. Bonaire has more species of fish and more fish than any other location in the western Atlantic. Bonaire is one of the best scuba diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Bonaire’s island motto is Divers Paradise – they even put that on their car number plates. Bonaire offers a great deal to divers of all capabilities. Bonaire is world famous for the huge number of shore entry dive sites – each one of which is also an opportunity for snorkellers to see this fantastic underwater world.
If you want to do more than relax on a quiet beach or dive, Bonaire has a lot of activities which make the most of its natural attributes. All the “activities” on Bonaire are organised in a very informal Caribbean way. You can enjoy them at your own pace. There are no long queues or crowds on Bonaire, in or out of the water. The relaxed atmosphere and absence of an “audience” might encourage you to try new adventures.
We are regular visitors to the island and have personally selected the accommodation we offer on Bonaire. We offer accommodation all along the south west coast a few metres from the Caribbean Sea. Our holidays are designed for “independently minded” people and we offer small resorts and hotels with character and personal service. The accommodation on Bonaire includes hotel rooms, apartments, studios and bungalows. There is a range of board options available at hotels and resorts, while apartments and studios give you the freedom to self-cater, if you wish. Usually there will be restaurants nearby, should self-catering lose its appeal. Some of our accommodation is on small resorts with amenities like swimming pools, dive centres and a restaurant (or two) on site. These are small resorts, nothing like the large European holiday resorts.
We are the preferred tour operator for many resorts and have the best air fares, prices and offers. We offer a wide choice of services for you to get the very best from your holiday. On a small island, services like accommodation, vehicle hire, excursions, diving etc, get booked very quickly. To avoid disappointment these should be booked in advance.
Booking services with us will save you money and be part of an ATOL protected holiday.
In 1979 the islanders voted in a referendum to protect their environment and resist development. Bonaire is one of the Caribbean’s least tourist-developed islands. There are no high-rise buildings, no chain hotels, no theme parks and no mass tourism. Only 5% of Bonaire’s land area is developed. Bonaire set aside nearly 25% of the land, mainly in the Washington Slagbaai National Park, for conservation purposes. The entire island of Klein Bonaire, close to the west coast, is a nature reserve. Being “undeveloped” means that visitors who want to explore and enjoy Bonaire’s natural world can do so in peace and quiet.
There are 569 indigenous and naturalised species of flora on Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – South American, Central American and Caribbean species. Bonaire’s flora consists of a variety of native and imported species, 387 registered plant species, 301 indigenous and 86 of foreign origin. Bonaire’s elevated northern area is a desert landscape with many cacti species including Candle and Prickly Pear – and trees like Brasilwood, Divi Divi, Mesquite Acacia and Calabash. Gardens, and more fertile areas around the island contain numerous, colourful flowering plants and trees. Bright orange Flamboyants, Bouganvilla, and Oleanders of all colours. Century Plants, Rock sage and Aloe appear in different places throughout Bonaire.
The annual rainfall on Bonaire is just 532 mm (21 inches) per year. There are only one or two months during the year in which rainfall exceeds evaporation. The flora on Bonaire has had to adapt to this very dry environment. Consequently there are numerous “annuals”, plants which complete their life-cycle within the three months of the rainy season. Visitors will notice the common characteristics associated with a dry environment on plants and shrubs – thicker leaves and a thin wax cover combined with water storing tissue in leaves and stems, in plants such as cactus and agaves.
Vegetation on Bonaire has suffered from the voracity of the goats and donkeys roaming the island, which has also prevented rejuvenation. The native flora has to compete against exotic species imported for different purposes like agriculture and ornamentation. Rubber Vine was introduced from Madagascar to Curacao with the purpose of extracting latex, but the development of synthetic rubber stopped the project and the plant ran wild. With no natural “enemies” the plant spread very rapidly across the Antilles – suffocating other plants and trees.The donkeys and goats are now more closely controlled , and with reforestation of indigenous species, the natural flora of the island is in a much healthier state than it has been for many years. Some of the most common species on Bonaire : Candle cactus, Melon cactus, Prickly pear, Snake cactus, Calabash, Yellow poui, Divi-divi, Brasilwood, West Indian cherry, Lignum vitae, Century plant, Sea spinach, Aloe, Cat’s nails, Lady of the night etc.
Bonaire’s large mangrove forest is a fascinating and vital part of the island’s natural habitat. The mangroves, designated as internationally important wetlands, have immense value as a nursery, refuge and food source for fish and marine animals. Mangroves consist of around 70 species of trees and grow only in tropical coastal areas. Mangrove forests are vital for our eco-systems: as natural coastal protection – producing organic material to feed the reefs – the extended roots of each tree are a nursery. For example the seaweed in the mangroves, green strands like tagliatelle, is a vital food source for green turtles – animals just as fragile as the coral reefs. Mangroves grow slowly and, although standing in salt or brackish water, the trees need fresh water. These amazing trees make their own fresh water out of seawater. Until recently mangroves were considered useless swamps – of little scientific interest and certainly not protected habitats. Consequently mangroves became one of the most endangered habitats – the planet lost about 50% of all mangrove forests during the 20th. century. The vital importance of this special habitat is now recognised and protected – not just as a coastal defence system – but as the nursery for much of the marine life we all value so highly – and need so much.
There are several guided tours and kayaks for hire. A kayak trip is a novel, and easy, way of enjoying this unspoilt natural environment. There are day and half day kayaking trips through the mangroves – we can personally recommend these as an interesting and fun “day out”.
The Washington Park is an exceptional area where the indigenous flora and fauna of Bonaire thrive, and is the focus for people who are interested in the natural world of this small tropical island. The Park museum has a display of local flora. Slagbaai is an old plantation – one fifth of the entire island – which has been set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. The rugged terrain of the 13,500 acre Washington Slagbaai National Park is a wilderness style park where tropical birds, lizards, goats and iguanas etc., live in their natural habitat. The landscape is dominated by cactuses, trees and bushes. The park has a 33k (21 miles) and a 10k (6 miles) route. Bring something to eat & drink. This is a fairly rugged 3 to 4 hours drive and saloon cars are not allowed.
Close to the national park is Goto Meer – lake Goto – a spectacularly beautiful lake, a sanctuary for thousands of Pink flamingos, surrounded by lush vegetation and many indigenous plants and flowers.
The most common road sign is “overstekende ezels” – “Donkeys crossing” . Donkeys used to roam free and would, from time to time, block your path, and demand food. You are advised not to feed them, but . . . . . . There is a donkey sanctuary on Bonaire to care for these “descendants” of the donkeys brought to the island as pack animals for the salt industry. Recently more controls have been introduced to prevent the donkeys from roaming too freely on the roads.
Bonaire is known for its birdlife, with over 170 species of birds, 80 of which are indigenous to the island, including the strikingly colourful trupials and hummingbirds, heron, osprey, frigate birds, cormorants, parrots and parakeets. Bonaire is famous for its flamingos, (you landed at Flamingo Airport). Tens of thousands feed and breed on Bonaire, and can be seen at Goto Meer (Lake Goto) in Washington Slagbaai National Park and the Pekelmeer Sanctuary in the south. The best time is sunset. Bonaire is one of only four breeding sites in the world for Pink Flamingos. They feed on brine shrimp in the salt pans in the south of Bonaire, and this gives them their pink colour. Bonaire’s avian inhabitants have featured in the UK’s Bird Watching magazine. The Slagbaai National Park will probably give you the best opportunity to see the any different species of birds that live or visit Bonaire.
The flora of Klein Bonaire has suffered due to grazing by goats. Historical photos show large, full-grown trees but no shrub layer – when the island was heavily populated by goats. The absence of goats for over forty years has allowed the natural flora of Klein Bonaire to make a comeback, so that it has become home to many varieties of plants and animals, some not present on the main island of Bonaire. The island still does not have its large trees or candelabra cacti back, but there are signs of recovery towards a more luxuriant vegetation. On Klein Bonaire 76 species of flora were recorded: 21 trees, 12 shrubs, 20 herbs, 17 species of grasses, 5 succulents and 1 water plant. Most common species on Klein Bonaire : Sea Purslane plants that can withstand a saline environment, Wild Olive and Calabash trees with branches covered with small groups of oblong leaves, broadening out to the tips. The fruits are the well-known gourds, which are hollowed out and filled with the seeds of the flame tree and used for maracas. Button Mangrove or Buttonwood grows along the edges of the Salinas of Klein Bonaire.
Bonaire is a small island, just 22 miles long, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, famous for its huge diversity of marine life and the ability to enjoy it. The reef is just 25 metres from shore in shallow water. The ocean is almost always a wonderful 28°C. Water visibility is an amazing 30-40 metres! For almost the entire length of the south-west coast, there are no serious currents. Exceptionally easy ocean conditions make Bonaire a perfect place for anyone who wants to enjoy and explore the ocean. But easy, comfortable ocean conditions are not the full story. The quality, quantity and diversity of the marine life around Bonaire is probably the most exciting you’ll ever see – considered by many to be unique. It is impossible to convey the magnificence of the colourful and exciting marine life that you will see.
In 1979, in a referendum, islanders voted to resist commercial over development and the entire coast around Bonaire, from high water mark to a depth of 60 metres, was designated the Bonaire Marine Park. This park has become the model for many other islands in the Caribbean. The coast and ocean around Bonaire are legally protected. Bonaire has a parallel fringing reef – easy to navigate – it’s either dark blue or turquoise blue water The shallow sandy shelf extends from shore to a depth of around 8 metres, to the reef, around 25 metres – the length of a swimming pool – from shore. This shelf is like a natural aquarium – “busy” with all sorts of marine creatures.
The protection of the reef and ocean for more than 30 years, and the subsequent superb condition of the reef, means that the marine life is thriving – a wonderfully rewarding and exciting experience for divers and snorkellers. If you do not wish to dive or snorkel, just viewing the marine life through a mask – while standing in the shallows – will give you views of colourful tropical fish and marine creatures you are unlikely to be able to see elsewhere in the world – and certainly not see so easily. There are also glass bottomed boats available for short cruises which will give you a wonderful view of the underwater world.
A staggering 390 species of fish have been recorded by marine biologists in the ocean around Bonaire.
Bonaire has the largest number of fish and the greatest variety of species of fish, in the Western Atlantic.
Bonaire is consistently voted the best for scuba diving and snorkelling.
Readers of Scuba Diving Magazine voted Bonaire:
* Best Caribbean Dive Destination
* Best Marine Life,
* Best Shore Diving,
* Best Snorkelling,
* Best Destination for Underwater Photography
* Best Beginner Diving
We can’t list the 390 species but some creatures you are most likely to see are : nurse sharks, rays, dolphins, peacock flounders, seahorses, blue tang, long jaw squirrelfish, princess parrotfish, sergeant major fish, peppermint goby, tiger grouper, yellowtail snappers, red faced morays, spiny lobsters, southern stingrays, barracuda, jacks, parrotfish, french angelfish, nudibranchs, flamingo-tongue shells, frogfish, octopus, flying gunard, hawksbill, loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles
Lots of coral – of course – most typically : fire coral, elkhorn, grooved brain coral, mustard hill coral, and boulder star coral. Beautiful, colourful sponges : green finger sponges, giant orange elephant ear sponges, rope sponges, lavender stove-pipe sponges, mustard yellow tube sponges.
We can’t do justice to Bonaire’s underwater world in words – you’ll have to come and see for yourself.
Bonaire is a small volcanic island in the southern Caribbean, a very quiet island – no major commercial development – no crowds, no rush, no fuss. Most of the island is pristine – as nature intended. Visitors to Bonaire can enjoy the island in peace and take time to appreciate the island’s unspoilt natural world. There are guided tours and excursions and, on a small island, this does not mean being on a bus for long periods. Tours are always in small groups and a great way to enjoy the scenery. There are several other ways visitors can enjoy the natural world of the island – hiring a 4X4 or a scooter, hiking, horse riding or cycling. There are hiking / cycling trails, old donkey tracks, which you can use to explore the island. Guided walking tours are also available. Bonaire is small and relatively flat – getting around is easy – so you can enjoy the scenery and the natural world comfortably.
In 1979, in a referendum, the islanders decided to protect their environment, and voted to resist development. Bonaire is one of the Caribbean’s least tourist-developed islands. No high-rise buildings, no chain hotels, no theme parks, no nightclubs and no mass tourism. Only 5% of Bonaire’s land area is developed. Bonaire set aside nearly 25% of the land, mostly in the Washington Slagbaai National Park for conservation purposes. The entire island of Klein Bonaire, close to the west coast, is a nature reserve.
Washington Slagbaai National Park is an old plantation – one fifth of the entire island – which has been set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. The rugged terrain of the 13,500 acre Washington Slagbaai National Park is a “wilderness style” park where tropical birds, lizards, goats and iguanas etc., live in their natural habitat. The landscape is dominated by cactus, trees and bushes, inhabited by an unexpected variety of animals. Inside the park is Brandaris Hill, at 245 metres the highest point on the island. The park has a 33k (21 miles) and a 10k (6 miles) route. Bring something to eat & drink.
Due to its volcanic origins Bonaire has many geologically interesting features, which can be seen more easily on the Wildside. This coast faces the open ocean and has been sculptured by the pounding of the waves. The ocean has carved many small “bocas” or bays, some of which, eroded along the waterline, have formed natural “blow holes”. When a large wave hits the shore, the water is forced through these blow holes, making a spectacular natural fountain. The most impressive of these is Boca Onima. The entire Wildside is evidence of the volcanic origins of Bonaire. Distinct layers of rock can clearly be seen – evidence of volcanic activity from different periods during the island’s formation.
Seru Lagu is a hill, 123 metres high, just north of Kralendijk the main town. The easy walk to the top, will give you fantastic views over the entire island and beyond. Seru Largu means “large hill” and at the top there is a monument, a large cross. The area north of Sera Largu is a scenic, naturally pristine area. This area is called Hilltop – higher than the rest of the island – with some fantastic views. It is easy to see both coasts from here – lots of places to stop and enjoy the scenery. This is the area around Rincon the first settlement on Bonaire. Rincon is a village of 2000 inhabitants, an authentic islander’s village, very few “tourist facilities”, well worth a visit. Rincon means “Corner”, because it is in the corner of the island.
A large, beautiful lake with lots of viewing points along the road. The lake is “home” to thousands of pink flamingos. Dusk is an especially good time to see the flamingos.
Bonaire’s famous salt pans cover almost 10% of the island. Salt is the man export of the island and production dates back to 1636. The white “mountains” of salt dominate the landscape of the southern part of the island. The salt mountains and brightly coloured salt pans are a spectacular sight. The various pans are different stages of production. Crustaceans and bacteria thrive during the crystallisation process, giving the pans their striking colours – white, pink and blue. The “red” salt pans get their colour from the pink brine shrimp ñ which flamingos feed on, giving them their distinctive colour. You can see the salt mountains from almost everywhere on the island. Bonaire is one of the world’s largest suppliers of salt ñ mainly for roads. Next time you are stuck behind a lorry salting icy roads – think Bonaire!
Bonaire’s large mangrove forest, an interesting, and important, part of the island’s scenery, is best viewed from a kayak! Mangroves are vital to the world’s eco-systems, as “nurseries” for marine life and for their essential role in the conservation of the coral reefs. A kayak trip is a novel way of enjoying the scenery of this wonderful island. You will also get a magnificent view of Lac Bay.
Buddy Dive Resort is an internationally renowned holiday resort, on the south west coast, one and a half miles from Kralendijk, Bonaire’s capital, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The resort has a variety of excellent accommodation, a few steps from the ocean. Buddy Dive is one of the larger resorts on Bonaire – but still very small by European standards. The management of Buddy Dive has, over the 30 years, enthusiastically and tirelessly improved the resort and its facilities. Although Buddy Dive was founded with divers in mind, and has an excellent dive operation, the resort appreciates that not everyone feels the urge to submerge. It has a full range of services, facilities and amenities to offer all its guests. Buddy Dive Resort invites its guests to “Discover Our Diversity” – with an impressive Activity Centre which offers an exciting range of sports, excursions and activities. Mountain bikes, kayaks and volleyball are available on the resort. Windsurfing, boat charters, parasailing, sunset cruises, cave exploration, guided island tours can all be arranged. The resort has two super pools and a raised beach with sun loungers and easy access to the ocean. You can be as active, or as inactive, as you like !
Buddy Dive has choice of high quality accommodation, suitable for single, couples and family groups, all within 100 metres of the ocean.
Buddy Dive Studios have a large, air conditioned (separate) bedroom with twin beds or a King size bed, TV, telephone, a safe, separate dining area with a small kitchen, separate bathroom/shower. All studios are ground floor with a private patio.
Buddy Dive One Bedroom Apartments have a large living room with TV, telephone and a safe, separate bathroom, modern fully equipped kitchen with microwave, hob, dishwasher and refrigerator. The bedroom is air conditioned with a Queen size bed (UK King size) or a King size bed (huge!). Apartments are ground or first floor with a large private patio or balcony with ocean or garden view.
Buddy Dive Two Bedroom Apartments have a large living room with TV, telephone and safe, a modern fully equipped kitchen with microwave, hob, dishwasher and refrigerator. Bedrooms are air conditioned, master bedroom has a Queen size bed (UK King size) or a King size bed (huge!) with bathroom en suite, second bedroom has twin beds with bathroom en suite. All apartments have a large, private patio or balcony with ocean or garden view.
Buddy Dive Three Bedroom Apartments are on two floors. On the lower floor: air-conditioned bedroom with a Queen size bed (UK King size) or a King size bed (huge!), separate bathroom, spacious living room with TV, telephone and a safe, modern fully equipped kitchen with microwave, hob, dishwasher and refrigerator. On the upper floor: two air-conditioned bedrooms, both have en suite bathrooms, with either twin beds or Queen size bed (UK King size). Apartments have a large, private patio or balcony with ocean or garden view.
Buddy Dive is very aware of their younger guests and offer baby sitting service, by trained staff. Buddy Resort has also arranged a “nanny” for some of our customers, to accompany them and look after their children while they dive. Shore diving means you are not away for long. Cots are available free of charge. Children under 12 can have an extra bed in an apartment free of charge – and do not pay tourist tax. Children 0 – 5 eat for free, 6 – 12 eat half price.
Activities for Children Kids Club, daily activities including introduction to the ocean, snorkel lessons, fish and coral identification, guided snorkel trips, “SASY” units on Buddy’s Reef, bubble maker courses, games and much more. Children can enjoy supervised activities and make new friends. The Scuba Rangers program is a wonderful way for your child to see what is just below the surface of the water and get them excited about snorkelling and diving.
Bonaire is famous for its excellent reef – some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world – and the fantastic freedom of shore diving – dive when you like and pretty much where you like. Snorkellers will enjoy the shore diving sites as much as the divers. Air for shore diving is “unlimited” and as much air as you want. To make the most of this freedom to dive, snorkel and explore the island – we recommend visitors to Bonaire hire a vehicle.
We work closely with the Buddy Dive Centre, which is on the ocean and just a few metres from your room ! The dive centre has everything divers and snorkellers need. A full range of equipment for sale or hire and instruction courses for all levels, including complete beginners. The excellent Buddy Dive Centre has six dive boats with three departures daily. The Drive-thru refill station makes it easy to off load empties and load up with fresh tanks, air/Nitrox.
Booking your diving, vehicle hire or other services with us, will save you money and is part of an ATOL protected holiday itinerary. Any service you book with us will be ready and waiting for you on island – avoiding any possible disappointment.
Bonaire is in the southern Caribbean, 30 miles from Curacao, 86 miles east of Aruba and 50 miles north of South America. In 1979 the islanders voted in a referendum to protect their natural world. No mass tourism, no theme parks and the Bonaire Marine Park was established, the model for many islands in the Caribbean. The coast and ocean are legally protected and the island of Klein Bonaire, close to the west coast, is a nature reserve. Already a premium dive site, this protection has ensured that Bonaire is, without doubt, one of the finest diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Bonaire has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which you can enjoy the very best snorkelling and diving. The exceptionally easy ocean conditions make Bonaire a perfect place for anyone who wants to enjoy the ocean. There are over 80 dive sites on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, 51 are shore diving sites. Dive when and where you like, for as long as you like.
It is no surprise that Bonaire’s island motto is – Divers Paradise.
Bonaire’s south west coast faces the Caribbean Sea and the north east coast faces the Atlantic Ocean. The Caribbean Sea is famous for its warm, clear water and abundance of colourful reef creatures. The open ocean coasts are often visited by larger ocean roaming creatures. The variety of habitats and conditions produces an amazing diversity of marine life. Bonaire is recognised by the NOAA as having the most pristine coral reef and the most species of fish in the Caribbean. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation has 8 of Bonaire’s dive sites in their top 10 Caribbean sites in terms of species richness. A staggering 390 species of fish and the greatest abundance of fish in the Tropical Western Atlantic.
The island has an unbroken, fringing reef – easy to navigate – turquoise water turns deep blue at the drop off. No matter where you are on the south west coast you will be able to enjoy the pristine reef. The sandy shelf slopes gently from the shore to the reef drop off, in just 8 metres of water, around 25 metres from shore, the length of a swimming pool ! The shelf is like an aquarium, full of marine creatures, over 100 species of colourful reef fish, in less than 4 metres of water. The adventure starts in ankle deep water and even non-swimmers can enjoy the wonderful fish and coral formations. As soon as you enter the water you will be greeted by large numbers of fish. A very short swim out and you will see lots of hard and soft corals, typically fire coral, elkhorn coral, brain coral, mustard hill coral, fire coral and yellow pencil coral. Dotted around the reef you’ll see beautiful, colourful sponges, green finger sponges, giant orange elephant ear sponges, rope sponges, lavender stove-pipe sponges, mustard yellow tube sponges. There are 20 excellent reef dives around the small island of Klein Bonaire which is a nature reserve. The open ocean coast, the “Wildside”, has heavier seas and currents and there are larger fish in these waters. It’s a challenge some divers can’t resist. Only boat dives on this coast, which we can organise if you want to experience the open ocean and the “bigger stuff”.
Easy access to a warm, clear, calm ocean sounds like paradise, but easy diving is not the full story. The protection of the ocean for more than 30 years means the reef is in excellent condition, the quantity and diversity of the marine life is considered to be unique, which makes diving on Bonaire rewarding and exciting ñ for divers and snorkellers of all capabilities. It is hard to describe the magnificence of the colourful and exciting marine life that you will see. Bonaire has a few small wrecks all close to shore. The famous Hilma Hooker, in 20 metres, is an easy dive for all levels. The Windjammer lies in 50-60m, is too deep for most divers and Our Confidence, a Danish fishing boat, in 17 metres. Coral spawning occurs in the September to October period and can be accurately predicted, as it is connected with phases of the moon. Photographers love the macro life on Bonaire – the sunshine provides excellent light in the clear, very calm, shallow water. There are many photographic specialists – who also run courses – on the island. Cameras are available for hire.
Up to 390 species of fish have been recorded by marine biologists in the ocean around Bonaire. Bonaire has the largest number of fish and the greatest variety of species of fish, in the Western Atlantic. We won’t list 390 species but some of the creatures you are likely to see are: Banded Coral Shrimp, Barracuda, Black Durgeon, Blue Tang, Dolphins, Flying Gunard, French Angelfish, Frogfish, Morays, Jacks, Nudibranchs, Squirrelfish, Parrotfish, Octopus, Hawksbill/Loggerhead/Green/Leatherback turtles, Peacock Flounders, Peppermint Goby, Princess Parrotfish, Red Faced Morays, Reef/Nurse Sharks, Seahorses, Sergeant Majors, Southern Stingrays, Spiny Lobsters, Tarpon, Groupers and Yellowtail Snappers. Whale sharks have been seen at the extremities of the island, closer to the open ocean. One of our clients encountered a hammerhead on neighbouring Curacao. So, you never know. Coral reefs “wake up” at night, Octopus, Squid, Crabs and a whole new cast of characters are busy around the reef. Bioluminescent organisms are a beautiful spectacle. The conditions here provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the coral reef at night.
Bonaire is a small island, just 22 miles long by about 5 miles across. Wherever you are on Bonaire, you are always close to the ocean. Bonaire has over 80 excellent dive sites, most within a few metres of the shore and in very shallow water. The drop off is around 8 to 15 metres down. You will always be close to a site and spoilt for choice. The south-west coast has no serious currents and an amazing 51 shore diving sites along a 15 mile section of coast. Each shore entry is also an excellent snorkelling site. Most accommodation is along this south west coast and you are never far from any of the dive sites. Often your bed will be less than 200 metres from the reef! Almost every resort has facilities for divers, lockers, rinse tanks, refill stations, etc.
Our dive holiday itineraries include unlimited air/nitrox.
Yes, as much as you want. You don’t have to stop when the sun goes down. Divers can enjoy the freedom of shore diving and, to make the most of this freedom, we can arrange a hire vehicle. No need for a boat timetable. You can often park on the coral beaches within a few metres of the ocean, sit on the tailgate to get kitted up and walk into the ocean. It is as easy as that! You will find most sites deserted. There are no crowds on land or sea on Bonaire. With a huge number of shore diving sites to choose from, our “unlimited air” package and a vehicle you can dive when and where you like, for as long as it is safe to do so.
“Diving Freedom” is not just a catchy phrase.
Although diving freedom is the culture on Bonaire it does not mean you are “left on your own”. No one will follow you around, or tell you what to do, but if you need boat dives, guided dives, help or advice – just ask. Guides are available and boat dives are not expensive. Bonaire’s San Francisco hospital, a fully staffed, 60 bed hospital, in the centre of Kralendijk, the capital, has a hyperbaric chamber, operated by highly trained professionals.
Bonaire is famous around the world for its fantastic snorkelling. You can snorkel wherever you fall in the water. Warm clear water and the absence of currents makes snorkelling very easy. The shallow reef is close to shore, with a wonderful variety of colourful tropical creatures, clearly visible from the surface. Some of the best snorkelling in the world. There are guided snorkel trips and snorkellers can join the dive boats if they wish. The huge number of shore entry dive sites are obviously ideal spots for snorkellers too.
Divers and snorkellers can go out on dive boats, if they prefer, it isn’t a long trip! Boats can be useful to access some secluded coves but they are not essential for diving on Bonaire. Custom dive boats take small groups, usually around 6 to 8 divers and snorkellers, on the short ride to the sites 2 or 3 times per day. At most sites there will be just you and a few (new) friends – very relaxed and comfortable. As these are small groups, availability is limited and any diving you wish to do should be booked before your arrival on island. We can also organise a dive on the Wildside coast for you.
The water temperature is almost always a wonderful 28°C. Most divers will be comfortable in a 3mm shortie. Visibility is an amazing 30 to 40 metres. There is little tidal variation and for almost the entire length of the south-west coast, there are no serious currents. As a tropical island, there is no marked seasonal change in the weather and Bonaire is outside the hurricane belt. The air temperature on Bonaire is almost always 29°C (84°F) – with a cooling breeze which lowers humidity and keeps you fresh – perfect weather – all year. Bonaire has around 22 inches of rain each year, falling in short-lived tropical storms, in the later part of the year. It is very rare for diving to be disrupted by the weather.
Bonaire is good for families trying to juggle diving and non-diving family members. Dive sites are close to shore, so you are not away for long, and you decide how long you will dive for. Good for families looking for something special – away from the commercialised tourist traps.
In the About.com reader’s poll Bonaire was voted the favourite dive destination in the Caribbean. From seven dive destinations from around the world including The Philippines, Galapagos Islands and Cozumel, Bonaire received an overwhelming 51% of the total votes! About.com, is part of the New York Times, reaching nearly 21 million unique visitors per month.
Readers of Scuba Diving Magazine rated Bonaire: * Best Caribbean Dive Destination * Best Beginner Diving * Best Destination for Underwater Photography * Best Marine Life * Best Shore Diving (19th consecutive year) * Best Macro * Best Snorkelling * Best Value for money
Bonaire is consistently voted – by divers around the world – as the best scuba diving and snorkelling destination in the world as well as the world’s number one “beginners” dive destination.
We are an ATOL bonded, diving holiday specialist for Bonaire. We work closely with the dive centres on Bonaire who have everything divers and snorkellers might need. They offer boat diving, guided dives, night dives, equipment for sale or hire and instruction courses for all levels, including complete beginners and youngsters. Bonaire is a great place to learn or take a referral or refresher course. Shore diving means you don’t get thrown over the side with 20 other people!
We tailor-make holiday itineraries, which can include all your diving requirements, to ensure you get the best from your diving holiday. We know how the diving works and have prices lower than you would pay on island. Tell us what youíd like, and we will book your diving with our dive operator partner, at your accommodation, or nearby. On a small island services like diving, instruction courses, excursions, vehicle hire etc., get booked up quickly. It is important to reserve any services you may want for your holiday, before you arrive on Bonaire. Booking with us saves you money and ensures those services are available to you when you arrive on island, avoiding any disappointment. Those services then become part of your ATOL protected holiday itinerary.
Bonaire’s pristine reef and huge diversity of marine life are considered unique. A staggering 390 species of fish have been logged by researchers in the waters around Bonaire. The reef is home to more fish, and more species of fish, than anywhere else in the Western Atlantic. The beautiful coral reef is just 25-30 metres from shore – the length of a swimming pool. The ocean is usually calmer than the average swimming pool – and as warm. Over 100 species of fish and many other forms of marine life inhabit the shallow, crystal clear water above the sandy shelf that leads out to the reef. Perfect for snorkellers to enjoy the amazing marine life. The fantastic condition of the ocean and reef around Bonaire, make it one of the world’s best snorkelling sites.
Spectacular snorkelling – like snorkelling in an aquarium.
You’ll see hundreds of species of colourful reef creatures far too numerous to mention – but some of the “favourites” we get asked about are: seahorses, frogfish, nurse sharks, various rays, dolphins, turtles, southern stingrays, octopus, sergeant major fish, barracuda, and parrotfish. You’ll see hard and soft corals, sponges of all shapes, sizes and colours, most typically: fire coral, elkhorn, grooved brain coral, mustard hill coral, boulder star coral, blade fire coral, yellow pencil coral. Amongst other sponges you will see: green finger sponges, giant orange elephant ear sponges, rope sponges, lavender stove-pipe sponges and mustard yellow tube sponges. When you book with us we will send you a specially commissioned fish card showing the marine life you can expect to see. It is impossible to do justice to Bonaire’s underwater world in words. You’ll just have to come and explore it for yourself.
The shelf that slopes gently towards the reef is packed with marine life and covered with coral outcrops – like a tableau of marine life laid out on a sandy sea bed in perfectly clear water. The coral starts at low water mark – ankle deep – coral formations and fish (beautiful parrot fish etc.) can be seen in water as shallow as 60 cm. (2 feet). Even non-swimmers, can stand in the water, put on a mask and see the coral and hundreds of colourful tropical fish. I have introduced more than one non-swimmer to the joys of Bonaire’s underwater world. The coral outcrops are home to various species of marine creature, delicate sea fans, brightly coloured sponges etc. The reef is around 25 -30 metres from shore in just 8 – 12 metres of warm clear water. With visibility of up to 40 metres, snorkellers get an excellent view of the reef and its diverse, colourful marine life and some wrecks – in some of the easiest ocean conditions you will ever experience. The coral reef is a parallel fringing reef. It runs, unbroken, for the entire length of this 22 mile long island. Very easy to navigate, light blue water one side, deep blue water the other and very close to shore.
Bonaire has a couple of small wrecks in shallow water – great for snorkellers. The Hilma Hooker and Our Confidence are the two best and are both close to shore. There are numerous small fishing boat wrecks. See the diving pages for more information.
Ocean conditions are perfect for snorkelling. The water is a wonderful 28°C (82°F) and the visibility up to 40 metres – snorkellers get a fantastic view of the whole underwater world. For almost the entire length of the south-west coast there are little or no currents. You will not “drift”up and down the coast – or out to sea ! Exceptionally easy ocean conditions make Bonaire perfect for swimmers, snorkellers, divers, anyone who wants to enjoy the wonderful Caribbean Sea. As you approach the tips of the island, the open ocean has more affect, these areas will have some currents.
Photographers love the macro life on Bonaire as the sunshine provides excellent light in the clear shallow water. There are many photographic specialists, who also run courses, on the island. Cameras are available for hire.
Bonaire is a small island with over 80 recognised dive sites – so they are all nearby !
It is recognised as probably the best dive destination in the world. Its marine life and reef system are unique. You can snorkel pretty much wherever you can get into the water on Bonaire. However it is also famous for having over 51 shore entry sites. These are sites, with relatively easy entry into the ocean, which divers need. They are also close to shore, divers do not swim far. They are also internationally recognised as premium sites – with interesting features and creatures – which receive awards and recommendations from dive magazines around the world – voted for by divers. They give divers a huge amount for freedom, to dive without needing a boat. All this makes the shore dive sites perfect for snorkellers. They are clearly marked, on island and on maps, and show snorkellers the best places to snorkel up and down the coast. All the shore entry sites are along the calm, south western coast. Snorkelling here is not about floating and hoping for the best. Snorkellers on Bonaire can enjoy the underwater world at some of the best underwater sites in the world – a rare treat. Snorkellers can also join the divers in their family or group, at the same sites – and enjoy their holiday together. The accommodation we offer is along the calm south western coast – you won’t be far from the ocean and the wonderful snorkelling sites.
On the island, each site has a yellow “milestone” marker on the side of the road – so you won’t have any trouble finding them. You can often park on the beach – if not you can park on the road – but you won’t ever be much more than 50 metres from the ocean. We recommend hiring a vehicle to give you the freedom to explore as you wish. You will find most sites deserted, there are no crowds on land or sea on Bonaire. Some sites are accessed from a beach – some are down a few steps from a dock. Some sites, as you would expect on a coral island can be a little rocky – but with so many to choose from there is more than enough to keep you happy. However, with a little foot protection these sites will not be a problem.
The whole of the island of Klein Bonaire is a nature reserve and lies half a mile from the south west coast of Bonaire. You can catch the water taxi for a 10 minute ride and enjoy this uninhabited island and its wonderful snorkelling. Take some food and drink for a picnic unlike anywhere else in the world. See the diving pages above for more information and a map of the dive sites.
The reef is very close to shore so no need for lots of boat trips, but you might like to visit some of the harder-to-get-to bays – usually less than 15 minutes on a boat. There is a dive operator at your resort or very close to your accommodation. Boats leave daily – so you have plenty of choice should you wish to join a boat trip. Dive operators welcome snorkellers for a small fee – usually around $10. Alternatively you can take one day/half day boat trip excursions along the coast, all of them stop at one or other of these bays to give people a chance to snorkel. Always take a towel and your swimming gear.
In 1979 the islanders of Bonaire voted in a referendum to protect their environment and resist development – and the entire coast around Bonaire, from high water mark to a depth of 60m, was designated the Bonaire Marine Park – and is legally protected. The entire island of Klein Bonaire, close to the west coast, is a nature reserve. This all adds up to a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy the spectacular marine life that thrives in the ocean around the island. Bonaire is famous around the world for its protection of its excellent coral reef. The Bonaire Marine park is now a model for many other Caribbean islands.
An important benefit to visitors of this opposition to mass tourism is that you can enjoy the island and the ocean in peace and quiet – at your own pace. No rush – no fuss. You can completely relax and enjoy whatever it is you choose to do. Bonaire is a great place to enjoy a holiday. Many tourist guides will tell you the Bonaireans are very friendly, and it is refreshingly true. You will be thrilled to find how easy it is to totally relax and unwind on Bonaire. Bonaire depends on visitors that appreciate the natural world – and that obviously includes divers and snorkellers. The island culture is to leave people alone, to do their own thing. But help and guidance are always available. The people on Bonaire are very approachable and endlessly helpful.
Bonaire is consistently voted by people around the world as the best scuba diving and snorkelling destination in the world. Readers of Scuba Diving Magazine voted Bonaire the number 1 destination for :
* Best Destination Overall
* Best Shore Diving (for the 19th consecutive year),
* Best Marine Life
* Best Macro
* Best Snorkelling
* Best Value for money
* Beginner Diving
“Scuba Diving” readers also vote for a Top 100 Gold List. In 2012 the top 100 list included
No. 1 – Best Dive Site ? “Anywhere on Bonaire”
No. 4 – Best Shore Dive ? 1,000 Steps, Bonaire
No. 22 – Best Marine Park ? STINAPA, Bonaire
Bonaire was designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as having the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean (January 2008), and as the “Favourite Dive Destination in the World” by About.com (June, 2008).
Be warned – it is common for snorkellers to enjoy the conditions and marine life so much, they take a “try dive” and get the bug for diving!
We work closely with the hotels, dive centres, vehicle hire companies etc., on the island. If you want to take some boat trips, special courses or excursions, like cave snorkelling, you should book in advance. Boat trips and excursions are in small groups and can get booked up. Many divers hire vehicle so that they can visit various sites along the coast and explore the island. Hiring is not expensive and we have worked with a reliable hire company for over 10 years, and we have the best rates for vehicle hire. Booking your on-island services with us is a little cheaper and we can include that into your ATOL protected holiday itinerary.
We have a very close, friendly working relationship with all the dive centres on Bonaire. Many are located on resorts, some are independent centres, but all of them offer dive services to all visitors to the island. Bonaire dive centres have a full range of equipment, for sale or hire, and instruction courses – from a first “try dive” to Dive Master. There are numerous “special” excursions you can enjoy – special either because of the type of diving or the location. We offer a range of courses, boat diving packages and excursions – tailored to your personal diving itinerary. Bonaire dive centres are small scale – courses and boats can get booked very quickly. Booking in advance is strongly recommended – to make sure you get precisely what you want – when you arrive.
Pre-booking your diving itinerary leaves nothing to chance for your precious time on the island.
Most diving on Bonaire is shore diving – boat dives are not essential. There are so many shore entry sites you will not get to them all – unless you stay for several months! ( we can book that ). But you might want to take some boat dives. Snorkellers can also join the boats. The boats do not go far – the reef is only 25 metres from shore – so they are short trips, up and down the coast. But they do go to some bays that are hard to access to from the shore. A good example is Klein Bonaire – a small island close to Bonaire – for which you will need a boat. Bonaire dive centres are small scale operations – boats can get booked up very quickly. We can book these as part of your itinerary.
The east coast is known as the wild-side – the open ocean side of the island with some big creatures. There is a specialist dive operation for east coast diving. These excursions must be pre-booked – just one boat – so space is tight. Booking with us ensures a place on the boat – and a discount. Every one of our divers that has dived the Wildside have thoroughly enjoyed it – and told us what a thrill it is. Bonaire has something for all divers – one coats is like diving an aquarium – the other coast is a little more challenging – with some bigger creatures to encounter.
Bonaire regulars will tell you they were captivated by the wonderful diving freedom. So many sites – wonderful marine environment very close to shore – easy access. The complete absence of any hassle and fuss in or out of the water – makes Bonaire “Divers Paradise”. Some have mistaken this “freedom” to mean that you are “own your own”. Not at all ! It is very important to emphasise that the dive centres offer guided dives, boat trips (small groups with guides) – and all the help and support you could possibly want. Just because the freedom is there – does not mean you have to dive that way ! You will receive all the help, advice and encouragement you could possibly want – all you need to do is ask.
We can book a full range of dive courses – from absolute beginners – basic training for learner divers – up to professional ratings like Dive Master. Instruction is available in several languages. The length of the course may vary according to divers’ ability. Please note: Bonaire dive centres train to the highest standards but they are small. A very good thing for personal service – vital for instruction courses – but it is essential to book courses in advance to be sure you do not waste valuable holiday/diving time.
Discover Scuba Diving – An introduction to scuba diving. Short pool session followed by an ocean dive. (Max. depth 40ft/12m)
Scuba Review – One day refresher course and includes 1 ocean dive.
Open Water Certification – This 4/5 day course includes classroom sessions, confined water and 4 ocean dives.
Referral Course – Pass your theory and the pool work module of your Open Water Course in the UK and complete the ocean dives in the warm, calm, clear waters of the Caribbean.
Advanced Diver – Two day course – a continuation of the PADI Open Water Diver and involves minimal classroom work and 5 ocean dives. Core dives are Deep and Navigation, other dives can be chosen from speciality courses that interest you. Minimum Age: 15 (Junior 12).
Rescue Diver – This 3/4 day course covers problem prevention, self rescue and 12 rescue scenarios.(Prerequisites: AOW & EFR certification).
Dive Master Course -This Professional Training Course includes Diving theory, Physics, Physiology, Equipment and Environment, confined water training and open water sessions. (Prerequisites: Rescue Diver, Medic First Aid, 20 logged dives). Minimum Age 18.
In addition, there are a full range of speciality courses available.
Dive centres run several courses for appreciation of the ocean and marine life identification to diving qualifications budding divers. All fully supervised of course and lots of fun for the youngsters.
SASY (Supplied Air Snorkelling for Youth)
SASY allows them to breathe from a regulator and mini-tank at the surface while wearing a flotation device, which does not allow them to submerge. They have their own small sized equipment and are always safe with the PADI dive instructors.
Bubble Maker is an introductory course for kids aged 8 and above, during which they get acquainted with real scuba diving. Under close supervision of an instructor they will learn the fundamentals of scuba diving in a swimming pool.
Students are then given the opportunity
to dive in the shallow open water up to 2m deep (all equipment is provided).
Junior Open Water Diver
Kids aged 10 and older can earn their PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification and can dive to 12m.
Open Water Diver
At 15 young divers with a PADI Open Water Diver certificate -can dive to 18m.
Hopefully you won’t need it………but there is a hyperbaric chamber on Bonaire. The chamber can deal with gas mixtures such as nitrox – and has air and carbon dioxide monitors and filters so that the CO2 content and temperatures are accurately regulated. The chamber is next to the Centro Medico Central Clinic less than 100 metres from the emergency room of the hospital – centrally located on Bonaire. On Bonaire you are never more than 12 miles from the medical centre.
Bonaire Dive centres use American equipment – if you have DIN fittings you will need an adaptor. If you don’t have one – the dive centre will have one for hire. Always best to let us know before you go – to make sure everything you need is available.
Bonaire is a quiet island – no theme parks or fun fairs – but lots to see and do, especially if you like outdoor activities and nature. Bonaire is relatively unknown, and being off the beaten track makes it an exciting new holiday destination. Bonaire has resisted commercial development to protect its character and natural habitats. A key characteristic of “our” Caribbean islands is being able to relax and enjoy various activities – if you want – when you want – at your own pace and in your own time. A refreshing change from being part of a tourist package. You will enjoy the activities and sights all the more – and hopefully be tempted to try new things. Bonaire has an interesting choice of activities for all its visitors. Activities, tours and services are offered in a relaxed manner that typifies Bonaire. No crowds or queues here.
There are lot of sports and pastimes to enjoy on Bonaire – a surprising number given the size of the island – and the lack of commercial development. As with most things on Bonaire these are organised in a relaxed way – individually or in very small groups. This is a very refreshing change from over-organised activities, queues and crowds and all the time feeling like a customer – as opposed to a welcome guest – enjoying their time on the island. This allows you to relax and not just enjoy your chosen activity – but hopefully you’ll be tempted to try things you have always wanted to do – but never got the opportunity in such a pleasant environment.
On the west coast, there are no serious currents, so you can snorkel anywhere you can fall into the water. Bonaire is famous for its diversity and abundance of marine life. With up to 40 metres visibility the snorkelling is breathtaking – so be careful ! Swimming, snorkelling or diving is easy and comfortable. You will love this clear, clean, warm ocean. The ocean is calmer than the average swimming pool !
Bonaire is known as one of the best windsurfing destinations in the world. The glorious (only word for it) Lac Bay is a magnificent (another good word) Caribbean bay – wide, warm and wonderful conditions for surfers. The huge bay has room – and various oceans /wind conditions – for all surfers – absolute beginners right up to world class professionals like the local hero Tonki Frans.
Kitesurfing – is rapidly gaining in popularity and Bonaire is the perfect destination for kitesurfers of all levels. With the year round steady trade winds, warm water and laid back atmosphere, learning to kitesurf has never been easier! Head down to Pink Beach or Atlantis on the south west coast, the wind will take you parallel to the shore, at amazing speeds. N.B. For safety reasons, no kite surfing on Lac Bay.
Kayaking is great fun and very popular on both the ocean and in the Mangroves. Ocean kayaking is only on the calm, south west coast – where currents are very light. Some resorts have kayaks on site for you to enjoy. You can paddle the protected waters of Lac Bay, or through the mangroves, one of the least known and most endangered environments on our planet. There are guided tours (one includes a snorkelling stop). There are single or double “sit-on” kayaks available. They are very easy to handle, great for beginners and with a very gentle pace you won’t get tired! If you’d rather sit back and let someone else do the work try the Solar boat, which has as an electric-driven outboard – no pollution – no noise!
With constant northeast trade winds and fantastic weather, there is no better place than Bonaire to experience this exhilarating new sport. Bonaire has a 580 metre track, the longest man made track in the world. It is easy to learn and can be enjoyed by anyone over the age of 7. Tandem rides available. Protective gear supplied.
Cycling is an excellent way to enjoy viewing wildlife and exploring the island in peace and quiet and without too much effort. Bonaire is relatively flat and the coast road is a good quality tarmac road. There are over 300 km of trails, to explore the island, many are old donkey tracks dating back hundreds of years. The island’s rugged hinterland is for those who like something more challenging. Bonaire offers something for everyone. A simple pedal around the island – or a bone shaking adventure across country. Either way you’ll get to see this fascinating island from a whole new perspective. On a small island there is little danger of overdoing it – as you will never be far from home.
Every February the whole island of Bonaire lets its hair down for Carnival week. Enjoy the fun of the Carnival in Rincon and Kralendijk, Bonaire’s two main towns. Visitors can enjoy the infectious Caribbean carnival celebrations – a mix of dancing, music, international shows, cultural events, delicious local delicacies to eat etc. Highlights of the carnival include the magnificent costume parade of people dancing through the streets of Kralendijk and Rincon.
“Piedra So” is Bonaire’s first Golf Club. The founders of the course wanted to keep the landscaping as natural as possible which means no grass grown fairways, but fairways of local soil – “browns” rather than greens ! A very special golf experience ! It’s Golf, Jim – but not as we know it !
Over 170 species of birds including the strikingly colourful trupials and hummingbirds, heron, osprey, frigate birds, cormorants, and many other species of birds. Bonaire is one of only four breeding sites in the world for Pink Flamingos. Bonaire has tens of thousands of these beautiful birds On Lake Goto, or feeding in the salt pans. They feed on brine shrimp in the salt pans, which gives them their pink colour. Bonaire’s avian inhabitants have featured in the UK’s Bird Watching magazine.
There are numerous boat trips on offer – and a variety of craft. many of these tips will include an opportunity to snorkel some of the more inaccessible bays – so you should always take some kit. Many will also include refreshments – even barbecues ! Great fun – and highly recommended. A very relaxing and interesting way to enjoy the coast. On our last boat trip we were joined by a pod of around 30 playful dolphins – magical end to a wonderful day. The Aquaspace is a catamaran with a Perspex hull, for viewing underwater life, while staying dry. Great sightseeing and snorkelling trips. The boat gets into some inaccessible bays – where the snorkelling is superb ! They offer excursions with food provided. We have enjoyed a few of those !
Steady winds and calm seas make Bonaire ideal for sailing and yachting. There are several excursions available, gourmet sunset dinner cruises or chartered crewed vessels. You can hire smaller boats to sail yourself. Bowalie is a luxury sailing yacht that sails the beautiful coastline. The Bonaire Regatta is held in October. All the action is clearly visible from shore. The week long festivities include nightly entertainment in the streets of Kralendijk.
There are a number of horse ranches, or ‘kunukus’, where group tours, private lessons and trail rides are available. Like every other activity on Bonaire this is very low key – and the horses are very well cared for.
People who enjoy fishing can experience the supreme challenge of catching an elusive, feisty, bonefish. Fly fishermen rave about this particular sport. Roll up your trousers for this one – because you will be getting your feet wet. There are a number of “secret” spots the local guides have staked out on the island and are willing to share with visiting fishermen. There are a number of charter boats that will take anglers into deeper water away from the island – for the big game fish – Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo etc.
Let us know if you would like to book any activities, tours or excursions for your holiday.
In 1979 the residents of Bonaire voted, in a referendum, to resist commercial over development and protect the island’s environment and heritage. Consequently, Bonaire is a quiet island – no major commercial development – no crowds, no rush, no fuss. Most of the island is pristine – as nature intended – which visitors can enjoy at a peaceful and easy pace. Bonaire set aside nearly 25% of the land, mainly in the Washington Slagbaai National Park for conservation purposes. The island of Klein Bonaire, close to the west coast, is a nature reserve. Bonaire is small and flat – hiking or cycling is a great way to explore. You can also hire a 4X4, a motorbike or a scooter. Being able to see and enjoy the island – at your own pace – will let you make the most of your holiday. There are guided walking and mini-bus tours. On such a small island, you won’t be stuck on a bus for long periods. Tours are in small groups – no crowds, no queues. There are a lot of tours and excursions we can book for you, if you wish, like island tours, nature tours, sail & snorkel excursions etc. Most taxi drivers are trained tour guides as well.
Kralendijk, the capital, is a small town, with colourful, Dutch colonial buildings dating back to the time of the Dutch West India Company. The 17th. century Fort Oranje is one of the oldest buildings on Bonaire – complete with a cannon – built to defend the island by whoever had possession of the island – against whoever was trying to capture the island – at that time – Dutch, English, Spanish or French. Just outside Kralendijk, on the road north to Rincon, stands a statue of Simon Bolivar, the great South American liberator. Kralendijk sums up Bonaire, small, relaxed and interesting.
Rincon is the oldest settlement on Bonaire, established in 1527, and is full of cultural history. Rincon is in the northwest, in the hills leading into the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. RincÛn has around 3000 inhabitants. Tourist facilities are scarce – making the village more attractive. There is a weekly market on Saturday. Walking and bus tours are available. The “Historical Walking Tour Around the Village of Rincon” publication ($5) is useful to those who want to explore the heritage of the village. Guided tours available every Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm. at the Bonaire Heritage Center at the Cadushy Distillery on Plasa Cadushy.
Every February the whole island of Bonaire let’s is hair down for Carnival week. Enjoy the fun of the Carnival in Rincon and Kralendijk, Bonaire’s two main towns. Visitors can enjoy the infectious Caribbean carnival celebrations – a mix of dancing, music, international shows, cultural events, delicious local delicacies to eat etc. Highlights of the carnival include the magnificent costume parade of people dancing through the streets of Kralendijk and Rincon.
Seru Lagu is a hill, 123 metres high, just north of Kralendijk the main town. The easy walk to the top, will give you fantastic views over the entire island and beyond. Seru Largu means “large hill” and at the top there is a large monumental cross. The area north of Sera Largu – Hilltop – is a scenic, naturally pristine area – with some fantastic views. It is easy to see both coasts from here – lots of places to stop and enjoy the scenery. There are caves in this area. Guided tours – and snorkel tours – of the caves are available.
Due to its volcanic origins Bonaire has many interesting geological features, which can be seen most easily on the Wildside. Layers of rock can clearly be seen – evidence of volcanic activity from different periods during the island’s formation. This coast faces the open ocean, the Caribbean Sea – and this coast has been sculptured by the pounding of the waves. The ocean has carved many small “bocas” or bays, some of which, eroded along the waterline, have formed natural “blow holes”. When a large wave hits the shore, the water is forced through these blow holes, making a spectacular natural fountain. The most impressive of these is Boca Onima.
On the road from Kralendijk to Rincon, near Onima ñ over 500 years old. Evidence of the Caquetio culture have been found at certain sites northeast of Kralendijk and near Lac Bay. Caquieto rock paintings and petroglyphs have been preserved in caves at Spelonk, Onima, Ceru Pungi, and Ceru Crita-Cabai. The Caquetios were apparently a very tall people, for the Spanish name for the ABC Islands was ‘las Islas de los Gigantes’ or ‘the islands of the giants.’
The rugged terrain of the 13,500 acre Washington Slagbaai National Park is a wilderness style park where tropical birds, lizards, goats and iguanas etc., live in their natural habitat. Slagbaai is an old plantation, a fifth of the entire island, set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. The landscape is dominated by cactus, trees and bushes. You can drive or hike through the park. Bring something to eat & drink. This is a rugged 3 to 4 hours drive, saloon cars are not allowed. Inside the park you can enjoy the peaceful sandy beaches as well as dive and snorkel – don’t forget to take your gear. The “Diver Nature Fee” or “Nature Fee” – gives you entry to the park. Brandaris, at 239 metres, is Bonaire’s highest point, and is in the National Park.
Close to the national park is Goto Meer – lake Goto – a spectacularly beautiful lake, a sanctuary for thousands of Pink flamingos, surrounded by lush vegetation and many indigenous plants and flowers. Dusk is an especially good time to see the flamingos, and there are observation points along the road.
Lac Bay is an idyllic bay with a beautiful, small beach. Lac Cai is on the north side of Lac Bay. Off the beaten track, but worth the bumpy ride. On Sunday afternoons locals gather here, at the open air bars, to relax, and listen to local live music. Bags of atmosphere. The barbecue is cheap and cheerful. Great fun.
The Butterfly Farm is a tranquil place in a green tropical setting – close to the mangrove forests ñ with butterflies that live in and around the area of the Caribbean and South America.
Bonaire has some beautiful old lighthouses, some of which have been restored. Probably the most famous is the one on the southern tip of Bonaire – the Williamstoren Lighthouse.
The mangroves, designated internationally as important wetlands, have immense value as a nursery, refuge and food source for marine life. One example is the seaweed in the mangroves is a vital food source for green turtles – animals just as fragile as the coral reefs. Mangroves consist of around 70 species of trees and grow only in tropical coastal areas. Mangrove forests are natural coastal protection – producing organic material to feed the reefs. Mangroves grow in salt or brackish water, but these amazing trees make their own fresh water out of seawater. Mangroves were considered useless swamps and consequently became one of the most endangered habitats. The planet lost about 50% of all mangrove forests during the 20th. century. The vital importance of this special habitat is now recognised and protected – not just as a coastal defence system – but as the nursery for much of the marine life we all value so highly – and need so much. There are several guided tours – and kayaks for hire – ask us for details. A kayak trip is a novel and easy way of enjoying this unspoilt natural environment. We can personally recommend these as an interesting, fun trip.
Bonaire’s famous salt pans cover almost 10% of the island. Salt is the man export of the island and production dates back to 1636. The white “mountains” of salt dominate the landscape of the southern part of the island. The salt mountains and brightly coloured salt pans are a spectacular sight. The various pans are different stages of production. Crustaceans and bacteria thrive during the crystallisation process, giving the pans their striking colours – white, pink and blue. The “red” salt pans get their colour from the pink brine shrimp – which flamingos feed on, giving them their distinctive colour. Bonaire is one of the world’s largest suppliers of salt – mainly for roads. Next time you are stuck behind a lorry salting icy roads – think of Bonaire – it might help !
Along the southern part of the west coast, near Pink Beach, adjacent to the salt pans, are small, stark huts, poignant reminders of a time now thankfully gone. The salt pans are red or white reflecting the different stages of production. Likewise the hits are red (orange) or white. They were used for shelter and sometimes overnight accommodation for slaves working on the salt pans.
The whole of the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire is a nature reserve. It is short 10 minute ride on the water taxi. There are no facilities on Klein Bonaire – take water and a picnic. Klein Bonaire has become home to many varieties of plants and animals, some not present on the main island of Bonaire. On Klein Bonaire 76 species of flora were recorded. Klein Bonaire is a breeding ground for sea turtles and birds and surrounded by reefs of the best diving and snorkelling locations. It is one of the last uninhabited islands in the Caribbean.
Bonaire is located in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea, outside the hurricane belt. This small island is just 50 miles from the coast of Venezuela, the south western coast faces the south American continent and is the lee side of the island, calm and tranquil. The north eastern coast faces the open ocean and catches the trade winds – virtually constant, on-shore and 15 -25 knots – which ought to pretty much tick all the boxes for a windsurfer !
Quote from a very happy customer an experienced surfer :
“Windsurfing on the lagoon at Lac Bay is as good as it gets. Great on shore winds and waist high water mean that 5 hours out on the water there buys you a week’s worth of windsurfing at lesser locations. Fantastic!”
But…….. just to tick the other boxes ! The water is constantly 28°C – you won’t need a suit of any kind. The air temperature is almost always 29°C. The only possible interruption to the fun might be during the rainy season – October/November/December. Short, heavy tropical showers of around 5 to 10 minutes – enough time to grab a drink while you are waiting for the rain to stop. Then the sun is out – and off you go !
On the north-eastern coast mother nature has carved a gloriously beautiful Caribbean bay – Lac Bay, rated as one of the top ten windsurfing destinations in the world. Lac Bay was also voted number one for learners, so it is excellent for all standards, attracting experts for high quality competitions as well as learners in search of easy conditions with a “constant” wind. The unique geographical combination of wind, water, and land has created an ideal windsurfing environment in Lac Bay. Winds across the bay are as reliable as sunshine on Bonaire, and its shape creates various zones, suited to varying skill levels. You can vary the challenge to suit your mood, and your ability!
Lac Bay is over a mile across, and over a mile from shore to the reef. Lots of room for everyone – and for those long runs ! The reef protects the bay from heavy seas, so the water in the bay, close to shore, is very calm, warm and shallow, about waist deep. The wind is on-shore, an almost constant 12 to 25 knots, making it safer still.
Those who demand a greater challenge will love Lac Bay’s outer edges. Mast-high swells of the Caribbean ocean and the strong trade winds blowing, unhindered, across open ocean, create windsurfing conditions of unequalled quality, consistency and excitement.
This unique bay has it all ! Safe and warm close to shore ñ tiny tots can learn to sail. The further out you go – the conditions vary and become ever more challenging. The real beauty is that you have it all on your doorstep and can choose the areas of the bay which will give you the most pleasure and enhance your skills. No “hit and miss” with the ocean conditions or the weather.
Lac Bay has hosted the freestyle world championships and was a PWA World Cup venue in 2011. One of the world’s best windsurfers is a local surfer – Tonky Frans. Every October, the island celebrates Regatta Week, with a series of international windsurfing races.
Lac Bay beach is a small – always quiet – soft sand beach, a fantastic beach. Nearby non-surfers can enjoy kayaking in the mangrove , or some the snorkelling around the reef. There are two bars, where you can get a meal and of course, lots of cold drinks. So there is a good mixture for surfers and non-surfing friends. The beach, the bay and the windsurfing are all world class.
Jibe City and Bonaire Windsurf Place are both on the beach at Lac Bay. They have instruction packages for all standards, and the very latest equipment for hire. We can include windsurfing, equipment and lessons, into a holiday package for you.
SUP (Stand up Paddle Boarding) is the latest trend in water sports. SUP is the perfect complement to windsurfing, surfing and kiting and initially also started the non-wind days. Good for your balance, great for cruising on the water, or to catch smaller waves. It is easy to learn and is a great sport for all ages.
Bonaire has a relaxed and very informal “nightlife” around the restaurants and bars, either in the capital Kralendijk or on one of the small resorts, who welcome non-residents to their beach barbecues etc. Kralendijk, surprisingly, has 51 restaurants and several excellent bars. Many of these are “tucked away”, there is no “tourist area” in Kralendijk. Each has a distinct character and most have terraces, facing the ocean, for al fresco eating. There is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, people enjoying their evening, taking a stroll along the ocean promenade or enjoying a drink in one of the bars. No noisy clubs, pubs or discotheques. A night out in Kralendijk means socialising with other people who are also there to enjoy themselves. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to relax and enjoy yourself in such a friendly atmosphere.
There is a wide range of cuisine available, Creole, Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, French etc. Fish is on every menu and will always be fresh, often something new to you – always straight out of the ocean.
There are four “resorts” on Bonaire with their own bars and restaurants and occasional live music. They welcome visitors. You may be staying “out of town” – you won’t ever be far from the main town – but there will be a resort or two nearby and some “independent” restaurants. You will still have a wide choice within walking distance. The atmosphere is always very informal, friendly and welcoming. Resorts have “theme nights” and, while Europeans might be wary of theme nights, everything is very different on Bonaire. Part of Bonaire’s unique charm is the lack of any fake “gloss” – and a theme night on Bonaire is great fun. Usually a barbecue on the beach – plenty to eat and drink – and lots of good company. The “theme” seems to get lost somewhere in the mix ! We can personally recommend them.
Some of Our Favourite Restaurants
It Rains Fishes is on the ocean promenade in Kralendijk. This excellent restaurant serves international cuisine and specialises in seafood, the ‘catch of the day’. Tapas, pasta, vegetarian and meat dishes are also on the menu. It Rains Fishes has a fantastic – well deserved – reputation. Highly recommended – magnificent food.
Rum Runners is on the famous Captain Don’s Habitat Resort and offers wonderful food, with an ocean view. Rum Runners offer international cuisine, local specials, and the Pizza Temple with authentic Italian thin crust pizzas. BBQ buffet is a must from 19:00 until 22:00.
Karel’s Bar – a Kralendijk landmark – in the middle of town – on a pier stretching out into the ocean – you can’t miss it ! Karel’s is a great place to chill out and watch the sun go down. Personally high recommended – hard to beat – sipping a rum punch and listening to the ocean. Live music most weekends. Happy hour is early – 5:30 to 6:30 – worth it for a pre-prandial aperitif – or a cold beer !
A great place to spend a Sunday afternoon. Not “nightlife” exactly, but certainly deserves a mention. On the north side of Lac Bay – drive for a few minutes off the main road to a small area next to the ocean. Park where you can. You’ll find two bars and a small cafe. This is place for locals – it’s about as “authentic” as it gets – the food and beer is cheap and cheerful. The entertainment is by local people and visitors – on an “open mike” basis. You can’t buy atmosphere like this and Sunday lunches were never like this at home ! Definitely worth the trip. At the entrance to Lac Cai there is a small bar. Sunday nights they have a fantastic barbecue, often accompanied by a campfire and live music.
Flights to Bonaire are with AirFrance/KLM – the only major airline to fly from Europe to the Dutch Caribbean islands. AirFrance/KLM gives you a huge choice of departure points in the UK ñ flying from over 15 airports. Flying from a local airport means there is no long trek to a central airport, a shorter journey and far less hassle. It might also be possible to avoid airport parking fees if departing from an airport closer to home. The service on board KLM is excellent – meals and drinks are free of charge – luggage allowances are higher and seats are more spacious than the usual “holiday” charter flights.
Flights to Bonaire are via Amsterdam (Schiphol) – the flight to Amsterdam takes around one hour to 90 minutes. The check-in time in the UK is just one hour – and the transfer is quick and easy ñ AirFrance/KLM arrives and departs from the same two piers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The combination of a short check-in and a local UK airport will mean that you save a lot of time and hassle starting your journey. It may seem counter-intuitive – but the route via Amsterdam is usually quicker than if there were a “direct” flight to the Dutch Caribbean.
We know how the flights work – it’s our job
We always check the days around your preferred departure dates AND the various routes – to make absolutely sure we get the best price, schedule and route. Companies that lack that specialised knowledge – and automatic booking machines online – are unable to match that level of care and attention to your holiday.
It is important to know which days of the week you can travel ñ as we will always look for the best fare and schedule for you – and give you the best options for you to decide.
Any payment you make for a flight inclusive holiday is safeguarded by our ATOL bond issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL licence is an important guarantee for your peace of mind. We are also bound by European consumer protection laws – which protect consumers against misleading advertising and information.
Travel websites, comparison sites and accommodation suppliers, in the UK or the Caribbean, without an ATOL licence have no such guarantee and are not allowed to sell flights in the UK. Websites / suppliers based outside the UK are not bound by UK law.
Two very important reasons for buying from a UK based company with an ATOL licence.
Booking with us is easier – cheaper – safer
One of the big attractions of “our” islands is that they are not over-developed as tourist destinations. That means a limited number of flights and availability can be tight. These are scheduled flights, not charter, flights. As with all scheduled flights the fare depends on availability. For this reason, we always take options on flights as soon as possible. Taking flight options involves no obligation or payment from you. Taking options fixes the fare for you. After taking flight options you are able to consider our holiday proposal in your own time. We know of no other company that can offer you such a service. If you do not travel with us this time, we will cancel them (if notified) or the options will automatically cancel. No obligation and no penalty. there is no downside – this is a “win-win” for customers – taking all the time pressure off the important decision making process. You do not have to buy flight tickets now – and hope your plans do not change. Now you can spend time thinking about what you want in your holiday – and not worrying about flight fares increasing every time you look ! You have the added reassurance that the schedule and itinerary can still be revised if your plans change.
The flight market is now so competitive – and often deliberately confused by website booking machines that offer no service, discussion, advice or accuracy. Often offering unworkable schedules whilst offering unrealistic prices. Only when you get to the “payment page” do you get the flight schedule and the final price. Many websites offer a cheap headline fare (without luggage) – but hide the awful flight schedule and demand immediate payment. Even the major airlines play this game.
To take flight options we need the full names of passengers as per their passports.
If you prefer not to give us names, we will send a detailed holiday itinerary and quote of course, but without flight options, the fare might rise. Taking options involves no obligation or payment – until you are completely happy with our holiday proposal and decide to proceed. By taking options early, we have the best fare and we have fixed the fare – it cannot go up. If the fare goes down – it happens from time to time – we re-book and get you the lower fare. Other travel companies are unable to quote for a holiday “including flights” or give you 48 hours to decide ! Booking flights online and with some travel companies, requires an immediate payment. Often with no changes or refunds allowed. Takes some of the fun out of booking a holiday, doesn’t it ?
No matter how or where you book – we have the terms and best fares !
We include all taxes and surcharges in our price quotes. Beware of travel companies that do not include all taxes and surcharge. Taxes, fuel surcharge and the new Air Passenger Duty now total more than 50% of the flight ticket price. Some travel companies still quote price without taxes etc., or without the air fare included – a nasty shock when you receive the final holiday invoice. Please be sure to compare prices – like for like – with all taxes included.
. . . . are very busy – people flying home for Christmas (to and from the islands). The islands are never crowded but the flights are very busy and fares are at a premium. If you are considering a holiday in the Dutch Caribbean at Christmas, please ask us as early as possible to take flight options for you. We can do this February 1st onwards for the following Christmas.
overnight in Amsterdam
If your flight to the Caribbean leaves early morning, or you usually stay in a hotel close to an airport in this country, you might like to consider “breaking” the journey, by staying overnight in Amsterdam. You can fly from the UK in the evening, stay overnight, get a good night’s sleep and continue the journey the following morning. We have a contract with the four-star Hotel Schiphol, with a free shuttle to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (10 minutes). The airport has a train station. It is a 20 minute journey to Amsterdam city centre. It may be possible for you to enjoy some time in Amsterdam.
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29ºC / 84ºF AVG
28ºC / 82ºF AVG
We had a really good time, diving and weather were excellent.
Thank you so much for a really well arranged holiday.
KLM flights, accommodation, diving all good.
We had a great time. Everything went smoothly.
We would not hesitate to recommend Fun Travel to others.
Thank you very much for your help and excellent service.
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