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Just Back From: Bonaire

by Anje Jager

Little Dutch babies sun-drenched by the seashore. All photos by Anje Jager

Just back from: Bonaire, Dutch Antilles.

Was it your first time? Yes.

How long were you there? Two weeks.

What was the best tip you got before you left? My sister, who lives there, told me to buy my own pregnancy-safe mosquito repellent. A good tip since I am pregnant.

Bonaire

What's the #1 tip you'd give a friend who wanted to go? Don't just hang out on the beachy part of the island. Go to the rough coast as the nature there is wild and special. It would be a pity to miss out.

What did you do?
1. Went to several beaches: Sorobon, Donkey Beach, Kitesurf Beach.

2. Took the taxi-boat to Klein Bonaire, a small island just in front of Bonaire with beautiful beaches for strolling, finding shells, and snorkeling. It's a popular hangout for Bonairians having serious Sunday picnics.

3. Went shopping in Kralendijk. I must say it was quite difficult to find nice things as, apart from touristy shops selling mostly the same touristy items, there's not much to find. People living on the island all do their shopping on Curaçao. There's a great ice-cream shop, though.

4. Went to Carnival, a colorful parade of dancing Bonairians! They were in shiny costumes, shaking their hips to Caribbean tunes.

Bonaire

5. Went up to the cross on the hill in the middle of the island. From there you have a great view of both sides of Bonaire. One side is full of houses, the town of Kralendijk, and sandy beaches. The other side is very green with cacti and the beautiful rough coast.

6. Hung out on Kitesurf Beach to watch my brother-in-law fly over the water. You can take lessons or just jump on a board. There's also a wind-surfing beach at Sorobon.

Were you there for the right amount of time? Two weeks was perfect, but I could have stayed much longer.

How did you get there? I flew from Amsterdam since there's a direct flight with KLM (there's a cheap one going from Dusseldorf as well). I had to transfer on Curaçao, as there are people for both islands on board. This was rather annoying, but I suppose the most efficient. On my way back to Amsterdam, the plane was already filled with Curaçao passengers, so it was a straight shot in nine hours.

Bonaire

This was especially great: To hang at the beach and swim in the sea without many tourists.

But this wasn't: The island doesn't seem to have much culture of its own. Because of its difficult history as a Dutch colony, the culture could not progress in a natural way. Locals and foreigners are very separated, and it's hard to find original products, food, and customs.

Speed round of favorites.
1. Meal or meals: I had dinner at two great restaurants in Kralendijk. Appetite serves four or six small courses, instead of starter-main-dessert. They were amazing, very tasteful and original. (Every dish is a new surprise, even for a vegetarian.) Capriccio is a great Italian restaurant located on the boulevard.

2. Thing you saw: The cross/view point on the hill in the middle of the island.

3. Casual hangout: Gio's Gelateria. Great ice-cream! Great coffee!

What's the local speciality? Their version of Carnival. So much fun.

One thing/place you didn't get to visit, but wanted to: The fish. I didn't snorkel even though it's one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world! How could I have missed that? I'm afraid I was too relaxed.

Bonaire

Let's talk about stuff.
1. Glad you packed:
Sunscreen (it's very expensive on the island).

2. Wish you'd packed: More long dresses to protect my legs against mosquitoes in the evenings.

3. Didn't need: A sweater or jacket since the temperature stays around 28-30 degrees Celcius and doesn't go down in the evenings.

4. Brought back: Shells, found coral, and special stones. The beaches are packed with amazing treasures.

Would you go back? If so, what would you do differently? This time I would snorkel!

Any surprises? Unfortunately more Dutch people and bars then expected.

You can't stop thinking about: My family! And the tropical life, where you can always be outside and in the midst of nature.

SHOP IT

Pack your bags for a beach getaway.

Anje is a Dutch illustrator living in Berlin. You can see some of her work here. She travels to open up her mind and senses.

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