Since our time in Bonaire has come to a close, we discussed what the content of this article should be and decided that providing you with a sense of our experience in Bonaire would be the best way to capture the essence of this most unusual little island in the Caribbean Sea, one we thoroughly enjoyed in every which way. From the magnificent sunsets, where you felt like you were in the middle of a kaleidoscope, to the feeling that we lived (floated) on top of a massive fish tank for nearly 3 months. Where the fish were there to greet us as soon as we popped our faces under the water, whether to snorkel or dive, to the wonderful, welcoming, kind people we met. In particular, the owner of Café de Paris and Zazu Bar, who offered us his bicycle and car to get around the island as well as access to his wifi to make phone calls home to family and friends. Who set up a TV especially for us to watch the 2014 Soccer World Cup and who always welcomed us as family (3 kisses vs. 2 on the cheek). Also, his staff, Julian, Diani and Claudia who always had a welcoming smile and ensured we never went thirsty or hungry during the many Happy Hours and Rum and Burger nights spent with them.
After one of our scariest sailing experiences - getting caught in a storm packing 50kt winds with extremely poor visibility on leaving North Sound, which resulted in us having to take shelter in Spanish Town - we made it to Trellis Bay, where our “crew” arrived as scheduled, but short of a couple of suitcases, not to mention, soaked with the torrential rain. This didn’t dampen spirits as we got to spend a very enjoyable Mother’s Day at De Loose Mongoose serenaded by a Steel Band, while we awaited the arrival of the luggage. The next few days were spent frequenting everyone’s favourite spot, as well as giving everyone the opportunity to get their sea legs and practice some basic sailing drills like MOB. With watch schedules agreed, provisioning completed and “Team Paw Paw” ready for the adventure, we set sail for Bonaire just before sunset on 15th May.
From a weather perspective, the sail included everything from strong winds to no wind, rough seas to calm seas and rain to sunshine, but a good time was had by all. It was a blessing though that we weren’t reliant on our fishermen for dinner, although there was one catch that got away. Other highlights included seeing the Southern Cross amongst a beautiful starlit sky before the full moon peeped out, wonderful sunsets and sunrises and a chance to “rock” our way across the Caribbean Sea – compliments of Roy’s music collection – as we cruised into Bonaire around noon on Sunday, 18th May.
Our first impression of the island left much to be desired, but we hadn’t realised, being a Sunday, everywhere was closed. On Monday, however, this most unusual little island sprang into life. We hired a car for two days and explored the island, which offers the usual water sports of diving, snorkeling, windsurf, kite surfing, etc, but what makes this island unique are the beautiful beaches and rugged coastlines which spill on to the desert landscape, the abundance of sea life and healthy coral no matter when or where you decide to stick your head under the water, the flocks of pink flamingoes that wade in the inland lakes, the sound of the wild parrots that wake you in the morning, the sunsets, where you feel like you’re in a kaleidoscope, as the sea is so clear it takes on the colours of the evening sky, the friendly, generous and interesting people and the huge iguanas that decide to sunbath on your dingy. Aside from the natural beauty, the island is very well organised and offers top notch supermarkets, stores, etc, but if you take a stroll off the beaten track you’ll discover great restaurants offering local food, as well as bars, bakeries, ice-cream shops, coffee shops, etc tucked away. This is truly a jewel of the Caribbean.