Tolo: Off-The-Beaten-Path Beach on Bonaire

Tolo Bonaire Beaches

Off the beaten path Bonaire

We thought we’d share a few photos from another gorgeous off the beaten path Bonaire beach. Come swim, snorkel and relax at the dive site Tolo.

A long drive home

What makes this Bonaire beach a little more off-the-beaten-path than many others is that you have to commit to it! Once you continue along the Queen’s Highway past Thousand Steps on the road toward Tolo you literally cannot turn back. The Queen’s Highway becomes a one-way road at a certain point before arriving at Tolo. To get back to your home base you have to continue North toward the little town of Rincon and then double back. Most likely you won’t encounter traffic – probably not a single other car for miles. But still, it’s hot and isolated and the two way road back towards civilization is kinda on the beautiful side making it hard to commit to getting back via the long back road.

Why we love Tolo

But Bonaire is for adventurers. And Tolo is worth it. The two little cement benches under the trees have been there as long as we’ve been visiting the island.  So if you don’t bring beach chairs you know you’ll at least have a place to sit that’s not on thorns and with a bit of shade.

Sea Urchins on Bonaire

The only real novelty from previous years is the amount and density of the sea urchin population. If you want to swim plan your entrance carefully. You can scuba dive, swim and snorkel here with a fairly easy entrance. There’s even quite a bit of open space for playing paddle ball. This location also works for a slightly larger group of people to come gather than at a smaller and thornier beach like Jeff Davis.

Tolo is the perfect off the beaten path Bonaire day trip. Have a picnic, get some shade and get away from it all. When out exploring the Queen’s highway on a day trip we suggest a stop at Tolo after other stops along the way. First have a swim at Oil Slick Leap, then check out the little sandy beach at Jeff Davis, next a snorkel at Weber’s Joy and last make the descent down to Thousand Steps. Round out your exploration of this route with a swim at Tolo.

If you continue on through Rincon after stopping at Tolo, stop for a Bonairian style lunch at the non-touristy, off the beaten path Bonaire local restaurant Rose Inn. Tip: try the goat stew – cabritu stoba.

queen's highway bonaire scenery; off the beaten path bonaire divi divi tree on bonaire at Tolo; off the beaten path Bonaire

tolo dive site off the beaten path bonaire sea urchin invasion bonaire 2018; off the beaten path bonaire

The Best Ice Cream on Bonaire – Gio’s Gelateria

Gio's Gelateria ice cream on Bonaire

Places to go for Ice Cream on Bonaire: Gio’s Gelateria

Yesterday we went for a run so today it’s time to indulge. Gio’s Gelateria, a huge favorite among locals and tourists alike serves up some good ice cream. Gio’s central location on the equivalent of what we’d call Main Street, Kaya Grandi  in downtown Kralendijk makes it an easy after dinner stopping point. Although we like the view better from the newly opened Luciano’s, Gio’s Gelateria has still got it. Definitely the best place to go for Ice Cream on Bonaire.

Great gelato, great atmosphere

Some things we love about Gio’s: Elegant chandeliers as decor, plenty of seating inside and out, and best of all delicious gelato. On cruise ship days expect a crowd. Bonaire isn’t known for it’s hustle and bustle but on cruise ship days that changes.  Sit outside and enjoy some good people watching.

Koffie and Vlaai – coffee and pie

We also find Gio’s the perfect spot for your morning cappuccino. Coffee comes with a little dash of gelato on the side! You can also try the dutch apple pie with your coffee as a breakfast or dessert option. In Dutch Koffie and Vlaai – try Gio’s pie and cappuccino special for $5. We also love a Gio’s ice cream after a dinner downtown. Rather than ordering dessert at the restaurant take a walk along the water front and then head over to Gio’s for dessert and an espresso. Gio’s Gelateria is central to most restaurants and lodging on the island.

Gio’s Gelateria also has a small refrigerator with gourmet chocolates and other delicacies.

2 scoops, 3 scoops, 4 scoops or 5

Portion sizes for ice cream are small compared to the equivalent in the United States. Current prices: One scoop is $1.75 and each additional scoop is another $1.75. Add whipped cream for another $1.00. Savor every bite!

coffee and dutch apple pie at Gio's Gelateria            outdoor seating at gio's gelateria in downtown Kralendijk bonaire    The best ice cream on bonaire - Gio's Gelateria  the best ice cream on Bonaire - gio's gelateria

Where to go running or jogging on Bonaire – Queen’s Highway

running jogging on Bonaire vacation
where to go running on bonaire where to go jogging on bonaire

Where to run or jog on Bonaire

One of our favorite places to go walking, running or jogging on Bonaire is the coastal road north of Kralendijk called Queen’s Highway. Along the Queens Highway you find the dive sites Thousand Steps, Jeff Davis and Witch’s Hut (Weber’s Joy.)

Drive your car to get there:

We suggest parking your car at Caribbean Club Resort which you’ll come across just before the dive site Oil Slick Leap and right across the street from Stinapa Bonaire Headquarters. From Caribbean Club start your run or walk down the short but steep hill towards the sea. Stop to stretch and enjoy the view at Oil Slick Leap and take in the scenery before embarking on your run. The run from Oil Slick Leap to Thousand Steps is under a mile so round trip you’d only do a two mile run if you stop at thousand steps. But you can go much further and the road continues, beautifully winding along the bright blue coast.

Go with a running partner

We recommend running in a group of two or more since the road can be pretty isolated as you head farther north, passing Thousand Steps. Between Oil Slick Leap and Thousand steps a few cars are sure to pass by now and then but further north you may not encounter anyone at all. The road becomes especially quiet as you pass Karpata where it becomes a one way street. Surprisingly the very narrow oceanside Queen’s Highway supports two way traffic until you reach Karpata. In our opinion this is the prettiest place to go running on Bonaire.

Tips for your run, walk or jog

Go early before it’s too hot, bring water, stop in at Caribbean Club afterwards to check it out and get a drink or try breakfast at their restaurant. Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit and go for a swim at Oil Slick leap after your run. Oil Slick has a deck with a ladder down to the water – a gorgeous place for a swim and a cool down after your workout. Oil Slick and the rugged coast along the Queen’s Highway make for an isolated and beautiful place to stretch and do yoga after your run as well.

Have a healthy Bonaire vacation!

 

Local food to try while visiting Bonaire – Pastechi

local food to try while visiting bonaire

Local food to try while visiting Bonaire – pastechi

Taste something new on your next trip to Bonaire. A tasty local food to try while visiting Bonaire is the Pastechi. These half-moon shaped fried dough pockets come filled with your choice of gouda cheese, ham and cheese, salt fish, tuna fish, ground beef, chicken as well as some vegetable or vegetarian options. Some of the chicken and beef pastechi include raisins.

Where to buy Pastechi

Pastechi, available at Van Den Tweel grocery store at the front counter and also at many of the smaller local shops such as Zhung Kong supermarket. Many shops sell pastechi that are made by locals and sold directly at the cash register out of tins brought in fresh daily. In our opinion the best pastechis come from The Flamingo Airport restaurant Techno Bar. So if you don’t get to try them during your trip, absolutely stop by the Techno Bar after checking in for your flight home. Sit in the air-conditioned Techno Bar before going to the departure gate area or take some pastechi on the plane for one last Bonairian lunch to go!

Pastechi at the supermarket

Van Den Tweel Supermarket also offers the option to eat-in. Try your pastechi with a cold beer or coffee at the supermarket while you people watch. Pastechis make the perfect, not-so-healthy snack, especially loved by kids but adults won’t complain. Warehouse Bonaire, another large supermarket, sells Pastechi in the bread section. Buy them to take home or bring to the beach for an easy lunch during a day out exploring Bonaire.

Other snack food and fast food from Bonaire

Other local food to try while visiting Bonaire includes fried Dutch treats. The most popular, frikandel, made with fried skinless bite-size sausage is an old fashioned Dutch comfort food. Frkenedel usually comes with curry ketchup and mayonnaise. 

Other snacks typically served alongside frikandel and also considered Dutch comfort food are bitterballen and kroketten. (The “en” at the end makes Dutch words plural but we think bitterballen sounds tastier than bitter balls… so will leave it at that). More on what we really think about Frikandel and these Dutch snacks in another post but suffice it to say we recommend sticking with pastechi! If you want  to try the other Dutch snacks we recommend tasting them with a real live Dutch person who can explain why, why, why. And barring that – wash them down with a few beers. Enjoy!

Jeff Davis Dive Site – The perfect off the beaten path beach day

Jeff Davis Dive Site Bonaire

Jeff Davis Dive Site wonderful for non-divers too

On arrival at the popular Thousand Steps for a little snorkeling one Friday afternoon we stumbled onto seven or eight cars in the parking lot. Well, that’s a crowd on Bonaire! We put the car in reverse and drove back toward where we’d come from. We wanted a spot with a bit more privacy and elbow room – Jeff Davis Dive Site.

What we love about Jeff Davis Beach

Our brief search took us about a half mile down the road to the dive site Jeff Davis. This special place, named for medical researcher, war veteran, and NASA scientist Dr. Davis, cannot be beat for privacy. Dr Davis, an American medical doctor, pioneered using hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of decompression sickness in divers. This treatment remains in use for divers suffering from that illness.

What a beautiful spot to go for a swim, snorkel or just to take in the view. We found only one couple at the beach, one scooter parked in the “parking lot” and an entire beach for our own private enjoyment. Amazing snorkeling, shocking crystal clear blue water and even some sand, unusual on Bonaire. This beach wins for perfect off-the-beaten-path place to beach for the day.

Entering the water for a snorkel, swim or dive

The entrance into the sea is pretty rocky – you need to step down a few steps on rocks because no ladder or any easy access exists. Shady areas consist only of thorny rocky areas under thorny unwieldy divi divi trees, so bring beach chairs. No facilities are in the are so make sure to bring water and snacks.

Location

Jeff Davis Dive site, marked by one of the iconic yellow stones that indicate all marked dive sites on the island isn’t hard to find. The location on the Queen’s Highway along the same road where you find Thousand Steps, Weber’s Joy, Tolo and Karpata provides gorgeous scenery and abundant nature. This is a wonderful road for biking, running, walking or just going for a ride to check out Bonaire’s amazing scenery.

Tip: bring beach chairs  and watch for thorns on the ground!

   

FAQ: Do I need a converter or transformer for travel to Bonaire?

plugging in electronic devices on bonaire. do I need a converter or transformer?

Will my electronic devices work on Bonaire? Do I need a transformer?

Probably the most frequently asked question of new tourists to Bonaire relates to boring old electricity. Will my electronic devices work? Will they get damaged? Are there standard US/Canadian or European sockets or outlets where I’ll be staying? Is a converter or transformer needed? What is the electric current on Bonaire?

Whether from Europe or North America your devices will work

The short answer is YES, your electronic devices will work.  But you need to be careful. The electric current on Bonaire is 127-220V/50Hz.

Outlets, converter or transformer…

Most accommodations on the island come equipped with sockets (outlets) that will work for both European and North American visitors. The 127V/50Hz sockets are the exact shape and size as what we normally use in the US and Canada. They have either two prongs if ungrounded or three prongs if grounded. If your appliances have three prongs you may want to travel with two prong adapters since not every hotel will have grounded outlets available. European outlets found here consist mainly of Shuko outlets, round with two prongs  found in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.  If you plug in an appliance built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter suffices.

But Unplug it!

For guests coming from the US and Canada: Electrical devices like hair dryers and electric shavers made for use in the US generally rated for 110V/60Hz will not be 100% functional with Bonaire’s 50Hz (slower) cycle. This difference in electric current can cause these appliances to overheat and eventually burn out. Transformers can only adjust voltage, not the cycle so they won’t help.

Appliances work but not exactly

At Breezy Bonaire Vacation Rentals we provide a hair dryer for our guests in all apartments. For everything else, like your computer and phone chargers, the only way to know if it’s completely safe to plug them in is to check your device. If the label found on the battery pack or charger of your device reads “input 110-240/V/ 50-60 Hz,” that means your appliance has dual voltage/cycle and you are good to go. For something like a curling iron or hair dryer, because you use it for such a short amount of time it should  not have a problem even if rated for 110V/60Hz. A clock such as a clock radio or one found on the face of a microwave oven rated 110V/60Hz will not run the correct time.

Laptops come with universal power supply so don’t worry!

Laptops and phones, along with more and more electronics that people bring along on their travels are now made with a universal power supply. As a result you won’t have issues. But, to be safe check the power cable for that information. We suggest always unplugging already charged up appliances or those not in use.

We occasionally experience power surges

Keep in mind that because Bonaire is prone to power surges, travelers need to protect valuable items like scuba computers, dive cameras, go pros, etc.  For extra precaution bring a surge protector (power strip with built in surge protector) from home for use when charging these items.

Converter or transformer for European Guests? Not necessary!

For guests coming from Europe, the discussion is shorter. Standard European current of 220V/50Hz is the same found on Bonaire. European outlets, found in many hotels and vacation rentals work the same as back home. All of our apartments at Breezy Bonaire come equipped with 220V circular two prong outlets where you can charge or use your devices without worry. However, due to occasional power surges we still recommend unplugging devices when fully charged or not in use.