Had a wonderful time end of January - here are a few memories and ideas for others:
First time to Bonaire - neither Patty or myself scuba dive so we planned to relax the entire time. Arrived Sun January 20, stayed in a Junior Suite at the Plaza Resort. Only unpleasant part of the trip, apart from having to go back to NJ, was the walls are paper thin in the suites (seems to be a common complaint there) and next time we will choose their villas instead. The resort is lovely; we had a laguna view and that was fine. We took an island tour on Tuesday which was scheduled for 9am to noon. Well, noon came and we arrived at the Donkey sanctuary. Not a big complaint, but didn't get back to the hotel until almost 1:30pm. Unless you plan for this long a time without food you may be hungry. Tour was well run (with the usual stop every 20 minutes for a cigarette break for the tourists (this might bother non smokers). Nevertheless, worth the $27.50 pp.
We rented scooters on Thursday and visited the world headquarters of Bonaire Webcams :-) and the home of Jake Richter. He was very pleasant and we dutifully appeared on camera for our offices back home in NJ (that's us on the 24th at 1pm looking rather goofy). He's not that easy to find except for the satellite dish. Scooters are worth the $18 per day; it's a great island to explore and probably would be even better for snorkelers - you could find all the neat spots like 1000 steps and Pink Beach to park the moped and just walk out and snorkel. Next trip we will visit the other side of the island.
Apart from that we relaxed and spent our days on the beach or by the pool with good books. We ate at the following restaurants (Patty is a vegan) and we are hardly qualified as critics but here goes:
Sunday - Banana Tree at the Plaza - Good service, food standard issue.
Monday - LeWok - Good service, some good vegetarian choices, nice people.
Tuesday - Crocantino - Terrible service, good food, rude people. On an uncrowded night, took 20 minutes to get (the owner) to our table to get the appetizer order and over an hour and a half for the entree (spaghetti!) to come. When asked what was happening with the food she seemed genuinely shocked that spaghetti would take less than 90 minutes to prepare. I can understand Bonaire time being laid back, no problem, but did not have these problems anywhere else. I see others have the same problem.
Wednesday & Thursday - Garden Cafe - Great service, great people, great food. Specializing in 'Lebanese' food, vegetarians will love this place. Raja, the owner who closely resembles Santa Claus, was gracious in preparing more American dinners for me both evenings while Patty could not get enough of the Baba Ganuch and Falafel and other veg delights. I had shrimp kebabs and a red snapper dish that were very good. Boring I know. They have salads as well. Raja is very talkative and you can learn a lot about Bonaire from him. Highly recommended.
Friday - Richards - Everyone will say, whether on BT or on the island, you must visit Richards at least once. Great food, fast service, pleasant people. The menu is basically on a blackboard as it is the freshest food he finds at the market or off the boats that pull up to the dock that day. You can watch the fish come up the dock and go into the kitchen; it doesn't get any fresher than that! Had a nice time overlooking the water.
Saturday - Chibi Chibi - Good food, service a little slow, people so-so. This restaurant is at the Divi resort, and we noticed many more Americans than at the Plaza. We wanted to see the differences between the two resorts, and a fellow tourist showed us his room. The dinner was adequate and the service a bit uncaring, but ok anyway. Overlooks the water too.
Anyhow, we will DEFINITELY go back next year, and rent scooters again. A couple of things you leave the island with if it's your first time... 1) There are no traffic lights on Bonaire, no golf courses, only 1 KFC and 1 Subway. No discos or nightclubs (at least not that we found), no swimup bars in the resort pools. Plan to slow your momentum way down. 2) You don't need pants to go to any of the restaurants, at any time of the year. We packed 3 pairs each. :-) The less you do the better you will feel at the end of the vacation. After visiting several Caribbean islands we no longer need to search for a better one. Thanks to Jake, Linda's recommendations for veggie food and the BT'ers who take the time to contribute to this site. You're the reason we went.
Carl & Patty