What to do on Bonaire: Land Sailing

What to do on Bonaire: Land Sailing
Land Sailing Bonaire: An outstanding windy adventure

As an experienced windsurfer I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about land sailing. My thoughts were – why, why, why? If you fall off your board while windsurfing on Bonaire you fall into some turquoise pool like water – or as my family calls the color,”Lac Bay.” At worst you’ll swallow some salt water and maybe a little pride. If you fall off of your “Blokart” while land sailing you hit dirt, earth, cactus, rock, rock and more rock. I was scared.

So why risk it on wheels? And if windsurfing is as challenging as it is then how could one possibly get this right and not get hurt?

How it’s done

Well, it turns out that land sailing is a lot like going go-carting. Anyone can do it. On Bonaire Land Sailing’s website they advertise it as “fun, fast, safe and easy!” Control of the sail is a lot like control of a gas pedal. A handlebar shaped wheel steers the blokart, unlike a windsurf board where you have to steer using sail technique. And then a pulley controls your speed. The more you pull, the more wind you expose to your sail and the faster you go. The wind on Bonaire blows steadily in more or less the same direction and the land sailing course is designed with this in mind.

You speed around the same track over and over and you always have wind in your sail – you just control the amount by pulling on a rope. Some real life human help (with a smile) awaits you at the sharpest turn where power goes out of your sail and you may need help getting moving again or making it around that one tough turn. The wimpier you are – uh…me… the more help you need because you’ll slow waaaay down for the sharp right and need help to speed up again.

The people running the show are fun, friendly and laid back. You’ll get a good explanation of what to do, how to sail, how to start and stop and what not to do prior to starting to sail. The lesson lasts about 10 minutes. Everyone gets a helmet, seatbelts and gloves to keep a good grip on things.

What can go right and what can go wrong…

My daughter, age 10, got distracted at one point and managed to go straight over the middle of the course, over all that rock and earth I was just mentioning.  I am not sure the people working there even noticed. I also had a bit of a hard time at the end of my course and sort of crashed… It hurt.  I’d counted on my windsurf expertise but instead I think my fears got the most of me. Despite the crashes and burns it was an exhilarating ride and we WILL be back.

The kids loved it. This makes the list of kid-friendly Bonaire activities and will certainly win you some points with yours. You do need some wind and it can’t hurt to make reservations in advance.  When we were there we only saw 8 blokarts, making reservations all the more meaningful.  Fun, fast, safe, easy… well, for some of us.  Some went fast, some stayed safe, some found it easy and we absolutely all had fun!

child land sailing on the course at bonaire blokart
A land sailor coming around the bend on a blokart on Bonaire’s East Coast
anyone can try land sailing on bonaire
Catching some wind land sailing on Bonaire
  • Location: Road to Rincon beside Arawak Center on the East Coast of Bonaire
  • Hours: Open Monday to Friday from 1 – 5pm and weekends and holidays or by appointment starting at 9am
  • Reservations are encouraged but you can drop in M-F 1-5pm
  • Number to call for reservations +599-786-1572
  • price $30 for 30 minutes, $50 for an hour and $60 if you need a ride from your accommodation on Bonaire, $350 for the entire track if you are hosting a special event or have a large group

Should I visit Bonaire during Hurricane Season?

Should I visit Bonaire during Hurricane Season?
Should I visit Bonaire during hurricane season?

September? May? What is the best time of the year to come? A frequent question from new Bonaire visitors regards vacationing on Bonaire in hurricane season. Bonaire, along with Aruba and Curacao are considered to be relatively free from hurricanes during Atlantic hurricane season which runs from May to November.  Yes, we will experience some rain and yes, there will be some puddles to walk through, but we snapped this photo in November 2019,  during the low (hurricane, rainy) season. Rainy season does not mean that it actually rains all day. Bonaire experiences typically sunny weather with occasional rain in very short bursts during rainy season. In the windier months there may be more cloud cover as well.

Pros of traveling to Bonaire in the low season:
  • fewer tourists and crowds, fewer cars on the road than in winter (high season) months
  • cheaper plane tickets than in high season
  • cheaper car rental and low season prices in most rentals and hotels
  • much less worry about bad weather than in other Caribbean destinations
Cons of traveling to Bonaire in the low season:
  • this is the warmest time of the year on Bonaire. September is considered the warmest month
  • more chance of rain but expect heavy, isolated downpours occasionally combined with a lot of sunshine for most of the day
  • more mosquitos (stay in a place with mosquito screens!)
  • fewer flight options; many airlines servicing Bonaire cut down the number of flights. For example Delta Airlines offers service from Atlanta on Saturdays and Sundays throughout most of the year but only on Saturdays in the fall months.
  • winter months are often considered more ideal because tourists are escaping the harsh winter months back home. This makes winter more desirable for those of us that don’t live in Florida, Texas or the like – but travel costs also go up in the winter along with the crowds
Activities and things to do, restaurants and nightlife are more or less the same in high, medium and low season.

Fun events take place throughout low season to keep things interesting. The annual Bonaire Regatta takes place in October. The annual swim to Klein Bonaire is a fun event for all ages that takes place in early October. There are usually major windsurf races in June, classes for Divers, courses to learn to kite surf, etc.  And of course you can dive, snorkel, sail, sunfish, kayak and explore Bonaire 365 days of the year. Should I visit Bonaire during hurricane season. YES absolutely!

What’s on Bonaire? Guided Sunset Hike Bonaire – in the National Park

What’s on Bonaire? Guided Sunset Hike Bonaire – in the National Park
Hike to the Top of Bonaire after hours – Sunset Hike Bonaire

What: Climb during daylight and watch the sun set from the top of Mount Brandaris, the highest peak on Bonaire.

When:  Sunset, Sunday November 4 from 4pm to 7pm. A guided hike to experience the sunset from Bonaire’s highest peak. 

Where: Meet at the entrance to Washington Slagbaai National Park before 4pm.

Why: You get a rare opportunity to be in the park after it closes and get to witness the sunset from Bonaire’s highest peak. Normal park hours have you at back at the main entrance by 4pm but in this instance 4pm marks the START of your adventure in Washington Slagbaai National Park.

How much: Admission price $10 for all pre-registered sunset hikers. 

Who: The Sunset Hike Bonaire is presented by STINAPA Bonaire (the national park association of Bonaire). There is space for 20 participants. Call +599 717-8444 to reserve your spot. Registration is required for participation. In addition participants must arrange their own transportion to and within the park. You will be back at the park entrance at 7pm.

What else: This is an uphill climb on rocky terrain and some of it in the dark. You need to be in good shape and, have a light and have shoes appropriate for hiking.

What to bring: Water, snack, flashlight, hiking shoes. Keep in mind that part of the descent will be after sundown so it’s important to have a working flashlight. 

Have fun!

Did you miss this event?

If you weren’t on the island November 4th, you can do this hike on your own during daylight hours:  Information about hiking Mt. Brandaris

Watch for future full moon or day time guided walks, hikes, birdwatching events on Stinapa’s website.

Lazy Sunday Music and Lunch at Lac Cai Bonaire

Lazy Sunday Music and Lunch at Lac Cai Bonaire

Lac Cai Bonaire

Sunday lunch, or brunch at Lac Cai should not be missed if you are looking for real local food and a real local experience.

Lac Cai, a nature reserve with a large mangrove forest, white sand beaches, a small scale restaurant/bar finds itself pretty far from most tourist itineraries. So lunch at Lac Cai is a secret for those in the know.

Conch shell hills:

If you are familiar with Sorobon Beach and Lac Bay, you may have noticed l a couple small hills on the inlet in the distance. Those hills consist entirely of conch shells discarded by fishermen at a time when hunting conch was still legal on the island. The hills of shells now serve as a reminder of those times.

Off-the-beaten-path

Lac Cai is definitely off-the-beaten-path. Although visible from Jibe City and Windsurf Place it can really only be accessed by a long, windy dirt road; or by windsurf board and sail! You will need a vehicle that can withstand the bumps to get you there along the long dirt road, but it will be worth it, especially if you go on a Sunday at lunch. You can go any day of the week to just relax in unspoiled surroundings but on Sundays with the locals, music and fresh fish prove the most entertaining.

Lunch and Music at Lac Cai Bonaire

The small restaurant at Lac Cai serves lunch every day of the week except Mondays. Live Bonairian music and entertainment takes place most Sundays.

Get away from it all!

A great place for an isolated beach day, Lac Cai boasts great snorkeling, swimming, and definitely some bird watching. Sunday’s you won’t get much privacy but other days of the week you may find yourself all alone. The perfect place for some serious “getting away from it all.”

Lac Cai Tips

Bring everything you would need for a beach day – snorkel gear, rash guards, water, beach chairs, etc. And bring your appetite. Oh and cash. If it’s not a Sunday we don’t guarantee finding the restaurant open but according to their website they serve food six days a week. On Bonaire you never know. So bring food if you want to be absolutely sure. A cooler, cool pack and acrylic wine glasses are located in your apartment if you are staying with us at breezybonaire apartments.

Getting to Lac Cai

Check google maps for “Lac Bay Bar” to get to Lac Cai. Lac Cai is at the end of a long, windy, bumpy dirt road located off of Kaminda Sorobon. You can’t really mess it up – only one road leads to Lac Cai.

Pictured above is the fresh catch of the day with pumpkin, plantains and yucca -it was $11 in August 2018. And pictured below that are some fishing boats and kayaks at Lac Cai during the same Sunday Brunch in August 2018.

Have a very lazy Sunday and enjoy your lunch!

 

Things to do with kids on Bonaire

Things to do with kids on Bonaire

Your kids are probably pretty happy to be here already. But, in case you’re having trouble coming up with things to do with kids on Bonaire, we have some ideas for you.

Things to do with kids on Bonaire:
This island is small but the list of things to do with kids on Bonaire isn’t.

There’s a lot to be explored on Bonaire. Kids can go almost anywhere that adults can go. If your kids are adventurous and want to get up close and personal with donkeys, iguanas, flamingos, pelicans, the fish in the sea and most of all with the water, this is the island for you! Looking for more things to do with kids on Bonaire? Watch this space for more suggestions in the future, and check my Top Ten List for ideas that may be kid friendly.

child getting ready to go land sailing on a blokart bonaire    things to do with kids on Bonairesea urchin invasion bonaire 2018        Gio's Gelateria Ice Cream on Bonaire  donkeys in the car window bonaire things to do with kids on Bonaire see a movie outdoors on bonaire flamingo bird watching bonaire

This week’s movies on Bonaire: Mamma Mia world premiere!

This week’s movies on Bonaire: Mamma Mia world premiere!
This week’s movies on Bonaire playing at outdoor movie theater Bonaire Empire Cinema

Watch the latest releases by the light of the moon and the stars. Bring your own chair or use the chairs provided by the movie theater. Who knew seeing a movie outdoors on Bonaire could be this much fun. Ice cold wine and beer along with popcorn, soft drinks and hot dogs are served. Additionally you can order Thai food in advance and have dinner with your movie. This week’s movie’s on Bonaire start with a blockbuster: Mamma Mia Here We Go Again!

The ADVANCE PREMIER OF Mamma Mia Here We Go Again! will be released this Wednesday at 7:30pm. Don’t miss it!

This much anticipated sequel to Mamma Mia, written and directed by Ol Parker can be seen here on Bonaire two days BEFORE it’s North American Premiere! Apparently everything on Bonaire is on Island time except the movies…

Here We Go Again is the sequel and also the prequel to the 2008 film Mamma Mia. It is scheduled to be released in North America and the UK on July 20, 2018. The release in July 2018 marks the 10 year anniversary of the original film released in July 2008.

Details:

Stars include Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan and Cher.Advance Premiere of Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again!
Wednesday July 18th 7:30pm at Empire Cinema
Rated G
The movie runs 113 minutes and is in English with Dutch subtitles
Admission price $9

Also showing at Empire Cinema this week:

Skyscraper

Starring Dwayne Johnson and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Rated PG13
Friday July 13th 7:30 and 9:30pm
Saturday July 14th 7:30 and 9:30pm
Sunday July 15th 7:30 and 9:30pm
Monday July 16th 9:30pm only
Tuesday July 17th 7:30 and 9:30pm
Wednesday July 18th 9:30pm only
The movie runs 103 minutes and is in English with Dutch subtitles
Admission price $11

Jurassic World

Directed by J.A. Bavona
rated PG13

Monday July 16th only
Special price admission for only $5. Last chance to see this movie at Empire!
The movie runs 124 minutes and is in English with Dutch subtitles
Admission price $5

See you at the movies!

see a movie outdoors on bonaire: this week's movies on Bonaire this week's movies on Bonaire: mamma mia here we go again

 

The amazing Outdoor Movie Theater on Bonaire

The amazing Outdoor Movie Theater on Bonaire
Why we love the outdoor movie theater Empire Cinema!

Empire Cinema Bonaire – an outdoor movie theater in paradise. Enjoy Thai dinner before the show and watch the very latest releases by the light of the stars and the moon.

In 2015 Empire Cinema (figuratively) opened it’s doors and Bonaire finally had a movie theater! I say figuratively because Empire is an outdoor cinema – technically I don’t think they have doors. This is SUCH an unexpectedly awesome place to see a movie and fun way to spend a quiet evening during your Bonaire vacation. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike. On breezy nights you will be cool and comfortable.

A little history:

A movie theater located next to what is now Top Supermarket in downtown Kralendijk existed in the early 2000’s – but the dilapidated building closed down due to disrepair sometime around 2007 or 2008. Islanders and tourists went without a movie theater for quite a few years. Yes – no movie theater in the days before Netflix, before streaming, before decent internet connections! The Plaza Resort held outdoor movie nights under the stars which somewhat filled the void and made for a fun evening but the sound and quality were unpredictable as were the movie choices and language of the films. Either the Plaza’s projector eventually broke or they just didn’t find it a useful part of their business so that too came to an end. Thus the opening of a reliable movie theater showing actual first release films on Bonaire marks a big occasion indeed.

Empire Cinema opened in 2015. They show first run movies in an outdoor setting under the stars. They even  occasionally release films that haven’t yet premiered in the US or Europe.

Can I reserve my seat?

This is the only movie theater you may ever go to where you actually have to pick up and put away your own (plastic) beach chair! Maybe that doesn’t sound too comfortable. But go there because it doesn’t matter if the chair is plastic or that you have to stack it up after the film is over… This place is breezy, refreshing and a great way to spend a quiet evening. Get there early to claim your spot. If going on a night when you expect a crowd it can’t hurt to have chairs packed in your car and ready in case the theater runs out. If you get there early and think you are in the “front row” don’t be surprised if another front row creeps up in front of you. But if it does, just relax. Island time after all…

How to get to Empire Cinema:

It’s not super easy to find and not well marked from the road. Coming from Caribbean Court or the Plaza Resort area, head north on the main road passing through downtown Kralendijk. Continue heading north until you pass the traffic circle at Kaya Amsterdam. A few hundred meters further on your right you will see MCB Bank and then Bon Bida Spa and Gym. Empire cinema is located just past MCB Bank on the right. Turn right into the Bon Bida parking lot just past MCB and continue straight along the narrow dirt road. You will see the small movie theater entrance on your right just up the road maybe 100 meters. The exact address is Kaya Katwijk 6, in the area of the island called Hato.

Popcorn…uh I mean Thai food and a movie…

In typical island style of combining things that normally wouldn’t be associated with one another, skip the popcorn and  have your movie with some authentic Thai food. Call in advance +599 7771122 to reserve your Thai meal. Dine in prior to or during the film. When dining in you’ll pick up not only your own plastic chair but your dining table as well. (If you don’t order in advance you’ll be eating popcorn and hot dogs like we usually do- so definitely make that phone call!) Here’s what’s on the menu:

Menu Odd Days:
  • Thai Burger  (200gram beef)  $ 12,-
  • Krai Jiao, nice filled Thai Omelett, steamed rice and salade  $ 12,-
  • Pad Lomiet, vegetarian meal, steamed rice and salade  $ 13,50
  • Pad Thai kai, noodles with vegetables and chicken breast $ 15,00
  • Pad Thai kung, noodles with vegetables and Shrimps  $ 17,00
Menu Even Days:
  • Thai Burger  (200gram beef)  $ 12,-
  • Pad a Pau, minced meat with vegetables, steamed rice and salade  $ 13.50
  • Pad kai, slices chicken breast slices with vegetables, steamed rice and salade  $ 15.00
  • kengkio-One, chicken breast slices with vegetables in curry with coconut milk, steamed rice and salade  $ 17.00
  • Keng-Paneng, chicken breast slices with vegetables & pineapple in curry with coconut milk, steamed rice and salade  $ 18.00
Movie tickets and showtimes:

Ticket prices range from $5 when there’s a special to $12. Expect to pay $11/person for most films.

Unexpectedly for Bonaire (where many things run on island time) the movies start right on time and there’s generally one preview and a couple simple billboard style ads on the screen. A movie that starts at 7:30 actually starts at 7:30, so be on time to Empire Theater and not on island time!

 

Visit Klein Bonaire; uninhabited island bliss

Visit Klein Bonaire; uninhabited island bliss
But what about the beaches?

Tourists that come back year after year love the island unconditionally. But a big concern for first time visitors planning a trip here is, “but what about beaches?” Bonaire, not known for white sandy beaches actually has some of the most pristine white beaches anywhere in the Caribbean. Enter Klein Bonaire. On arrival by plane flying into Flamingo International Airport, passengers on the left side of the plane should have a pretty clear view of this little blue gem. Pay attention during your flight, though, because your view of Klein Bonaire from the airplane may be your only sighting of it. With so much to do on the mainland the majority of tourists never get quite that far. And think about it – you can actually swim to Klein from Bonaire itself!  Do try to squeeze in a day trip – you won’t be sorry!

White sandy beaches and coral reefs

Klein Bonaire, the small uninhabited island off the coast of Bonaire in front of Kralendijk is nothing if not white sandy beaches! Actually it’s also quite a lot of coral reef and is surrounded by dozens of scuba dive sites and snorkeling sites. Amazingly this little island has a completely different look and feel than the larger main island of Bonaire, and to think they were once connected!

 

The meaning and landscape of Klein Bonaire

In Dutch the word Klein means Little. So the name of this island literally translates to English as Little Bonaire. At its closest point Little Bonaire lies only a half mile from the mainland and stretches about 1500 acres in total. Sandy beaches and thorny plants and trees comprise most of the island. The only structures on the entire island are two huts at a beach aptly named No Name Beach. The thatched roof huts provide shade and shelter for anyone lounging around the beach for the day.

Why is Klein Bonaire uninhabited?

Outside of the two small huts, Klein Bonaire is completely undeveloped and uninhabited. The island is owned by the Bonaire government. Thank The Foundation for the Preservation of Klein Bonaire (FPKB) for the pristine, uninhabited island you enjoy today. FPKB  started in the 1990’s during a fight against development of the small island. The waters surrounding Klein are protected as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP). All waters surrounding the mainland also enjoy protection as part of the BNMP. There is currently no discussion about future development of Little Bonaire. Although or BECAUSE Klein Bonaire has zero facilities, just natural beauty, it simply cannot be missed.

Bring your snorkel gear to Klein Bonaire

This is one of the best places in Bonaire and in the world to go snorkeling. If you come to Bonaire for snorkeling put this on your list of must-do snorkel stops. If you have never snorkeled before – now might be a good time to begin! Dozens of places to snorkel surround Klein Bonaire and access is easy with the sandy bottom and clear, calm water. Your water taxi may be able to drop you off in a location to allow you to drift to the beach where you’ll be picked up later in the day. Inquire with your captain.

The following video shows footage of a few different snorkel spots: No Name Beach, Jerry’s Reef, Ebo’s Reef, and the Sampler dive sites.

How to get to Klein Bonaire:

Each year in October the annual “Swim to Klein Bonaire,” takes place with the departure point at Eden Beach Spice Beach, about as close as you can get to Klein Bonaire from Bonaire proper.

Water Taxis:

For day to day tourism, however, we don’t recommend swimming there! We recommend taking a water taxi. There are several to choose from. Departure points for the water taxis are at hotels on the waterfront in and North of Kralendijk, Karel’s Pier (in Downtown Kralendijk) and from in front of It Rains Fishes restaurant which is a few blocks north of downtown, along the waterfront promenade.

Kantika di Amor: $15/ per person round trip. Phone +599 796-5399. E-mail info@bonairenauticomarina.com. The taxi departs from in front of It Rains fishes at 10am, 12pm and 2pm and returns from Klein Bonaire at 12:30, 2:30 and 4:40pm

Caribe Water Sports Water Taxi: phone +599 700-8080 Taxi’s depart Eden Beach at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 2:30pm and return to Eden Beach at 12:45, 2:45 and 5pm. Taxi’s also service Karel’s Pier. Inquire about departure times and price.

Another idea:

Klein Bonaire is home to turtle nesting grounds. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) offers small scale trips to Klein Bonaire during turtle nesting season (May – November) where you can watch experts monitor sea turtle nest activity and watch for tracks in the sand of newly hatched turtles. This program is very small and fills up quickly. This is a great alternative to just spending your Klein Bonaire day lounging on the beach. Call in advance to make reservations.

One more Idea

If you take a trip on theWoodwind Snorkel Sail you will do a drift snorkel near Klein Bonaire but you won’t actually get off the boat to set foot on this island. Enjoy the marine life with an amazing tour – but no chance to enjoy that white sand.

Boat Rental

Rent a boat for the day. Try Caribe Water Sports – they rent boats, hire out captains, and also provide a water taxi service. If you rent a boat you can moor at Klein Bonaire but you cannot pull the boat up on the sand the way the water taxi’s do. You have to jump out of the boat and swim to shore. If you rent a boat you may want to leave towels and cameras on board the boat.

What to bring to Klein Bonaire for a day trip

What to bring:  rash guard; snorkel, mask and flippers; towels; plenty of water; a cooler for food/drinks if you want; a camera or go-pro; sun screen; a hat for shade; sunglasses; flip-flops and maybe even a fold up beach chair. Upon exiting the water taxi you will just walk through a few inches of water to get to the beach so you can carry dry items onshore.

Have a wonderful day in uninhabited island bliss.