Bonaire Travel Facts
Language: Officially Dutch but Papiamento, Spanish and English are widely spoken.
Population: Around 12,000.
Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Rainy Season: Less than 30 inches of rain annually. Most showers occur from September to December. They usually are short, quickly pushed away by the trade winds.
Documents: Americans and Canadians need only valid proof of citizenship. All others need passports. A return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds may also be required.
Currency: The Netherlands Antillean guilder (abbreviated NAFL) is used on Curacao and Bonaire . US$1 equals 1.77 florin. Prices are often quoted in both currencies. Dollars are readily accepted everywhere. Many stores close at noon for 1 or 2 hours, then reopen until 6.
Taxes & Tipping: There is a 5% tax on most good s and services. The daily room tax is US$5.50-US$6.50 per person. The departure tax is US$20 departure tax; a 10-15% service charge is standard. Porters expect about US$1 for each bag.
Electrical Current: 127 volt, 50 cycles, or 220 volts, 50 cycles. These are problems for appliances that normally run on 60 cycles, such as hair dryers. Definitely use a surge protector for computers or any sensitive electronic device. Borrow a transformer from your hotel.
Getting There: Delta Airlines offers a weekly Saturday non-stop flight from Atlanta to Bonaire and return. United Airlines offers seasonal non-stop weekly flights from both Houston and Newark. Insel Air flies weekly from Miami to Bonaire with a change of planes in Curacao. American Airlines and Insel Air fly directly to Curacao daily. From Curacao, take Insel Air to Bonaire, a flight of about 20-30 minutes.
Getting Around: Rental cars are easily available on all the islands and most of the large name companies (Avis, Budget, Hertz) are represented. Cost is reasonable, around $200 per week for a small car. Driving is on the right.
Where to Stay: Most large hotels and condos are affiliated with dive operators. One of the most famous is Captain Don's Habitat. Captain Don Stewart started taking divers on tours in 1962, long before diving was even available in much of the Caribbean . Colorful Stewart is also one of Bonaire 's greatest natural attractions. The tourist board should also have a list of small guesthouses.
Hiking & Walking Services: Check with the national park offices on each island for the latest information on any tours they might provide. Bonaire Dive & Adventure offers nature tours weekly led by a local naturalist. The tours explore the 13,5000-acre Washington/Slagbaai National Park which covers almost 1/5 of the island. Kayaking and other activities also offered. Web site.
Safety/Health Warnings: Because of the constant cooling trade winds, many people do not realize just how hot the sun is. Wear sunblock, a hat and dark glasses. Because the islands are so dry, the drinking water is actually desalinated sea water. Locals claim the water is why Curacao-made Amstel beer tastes so good. In the outback, wear long pants, socks and good shoes for protection against the elements, i.e., cactus.
Snakes & Other Venomous Creatures: Scorpions are present, though rarely felt.
For More Information: Web site: www.bonaire.org.