Aqua View Oceanfront Vacation Rental

Getting to Bonaire

getting to Bonaire

Bonaire is beautiful, but what’s the best way to get there?

No matter your plans, it’s always advisable to plan getting to Bonaire well in advance. Vacation properties fill up during the high season, and so do flights. And now that Bonaire is becoming more popular, even the off-season has its challenges if you don’t plan ahead.

Your Destination

Bonaire has a small airport, Flamingo International Airport, recognized by its flamingo pink buildings, also called Bonaire International Airport. The airport code is BON.  Be careful you don’t book tickets for Bonaire, GA!

Getting to Bonaire From the US

United Airlines flies to Bonaire from Newark and Houston, and arrives on Saturdays and return flights are on Sundays.

Delta Airlines flies to Bonaire from Atlanta on both Saturdays and Sundays with return flights both days.

American Airlines flies to Bonaire with return flights on Saturdays. During the high season, December 15 through the end of March, they’ll also have service on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

You can also take Southwest Airlines to Aruba and then take a Aruba Airlines from Aruba to Bonaire.

jetBlue flies to Curacao and you can then fly from Curacao to Bonaire, but travelers have had issues getting stuck in Curacao. If your flight is delayed overnight or cancelled, the airport closes and you’re not allowed to stay there to wait for your flight, and Curacao is generally less safe than Bonaire. Particularly for solo travelers, this may not be your best choice. Also, Insel Air flies from Curacao to Bonaire, but they have a history of poor service and safety issues, so much that the locals refer to it as “Insult Air” and “Cancel Air”. If it were me, I would chose to come from Aruba rather than Curacao.

From Canada

Sunwing has service directly from Toronto in the high season, mid-December until the end of March

From Europe

KLM  has daily flights between Amsterdam and Aruba.

The Frans Paradise

The Frans Paradise is a dream becoming reality in Sorobon Bay, Bonaire

Taty Frans welcomes you to The Frans Paradise
You’ll be greeted with a beautiful smile at The Frans Paradise.

Is it any wonder The Frans Paradise is quickly becoming the most popular windsurfing venue on Bonaire? Tonky and Taty Frans have accomplished world-class honors as windsurfing pros through years of dedication and hard work. You might watch the fun videos and think to yourself they’ve got some cool moves! But what you don’t see that it’s the result of day after day, weeks, months, and years and years of practice and dedication that it took to accomplish their competitive goals. You also may not see the immense support of their family making sacrifices, giving everything they’ve got, and good friends lending their support.

It’s no surprise to me that their lifelong dream of owning a successful windsurfing enterprise – The Frans Paradise – is off to such a great start. As of last week, they’re open for business giving windsurfing and foiling lessons at the best location at Sorobon beach. Come on by and see what all the excitement is about, and have yourself a windsurfing lesson from one of the top pros in the world!

When you’re in Bonaire give it a try!

Keep an eye on Aqua View at Elegancia del Caribe, as we will announce on our facebook page package deals where a windsurfing or foiling lesson will be included when you book a stay for available dates. Follow us on facebook so you don’t miss out!

In the meantime, take a ride to Sorobon and take the road all the way to the end. Once you find them, the friendly staff is in the trailer with the light blue doors.

container with the blue doors
The container with the blue doors is where it’s happening.

Beginner windsurf lessons – 1 hour of instruction and 1 hour of practice for only $50

A group of 5 or more friends will reduce the cost to $45

Foiling lessons – 1 hour of instruction and 1 hour of practice for $100

1 hour foil gear rental $60

2 hour foil grear rental $80

To make arrangements, call +599 785 0514 or email thefransparadise@gmail.com 

Like them on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefransparadise/

 

the Spirit of Bonaire

Experience the Spirit of Bonaire

Island locals want to share the Spirit of Bonaire with you.  They’ve come up with this new video that accurately depicts our island vibe.. Check out the latest video and share it with your friends, after all, you’ll want them to come with you!

 

 

 

Rancho Washikemba

Something Fun to Do

I had been adventuring on the island for a week before my daughter arrived. I collected a fun list of things to do when she joined me. Sitting in our warm, sunlit studio apartment while snow piled up in my driveway back home, we made a schedule of things to do. We confirmed with the owners of Rancho Washikemba that Tuesday, we’d go to the ranch to ride the horses. Just as promised, Marc and Bregje arrived at our apartment in the morning in their pick-up truck.

 

cactus landscape surrounding Rancho Washikemba

We drove out past the seaside town where the moist, windy ocean air gradually changed to a dry, dusty breeze. Foreboding cacti stood shoulder to shoulder silently along the bumpy dirt roads. High up in the hills of this expansive wasteland rests a golden haven. We pulled up to the ranch with the tires slowly crunching along the dirt road to a stop. Marc got out of the truck, his footsteps breaking the silence as he opened the wide gate. After we pulled up to the stalls, we hopped out of the truck with the sun beating down on us; it was very hot even though it wasn’t close to noon yet. I was wondering whether I had brought enough water when my thoughts were interrupted by their friendly dog, Fleck. His warm welcome instantly made my cares dissolve.

 

The air was dry and dusty, but the place was remarkably clean. The couple’s authentic relationship became more evident as we watched them work together to prepare for our ride. He was quiet, and she, outgoing; very committed to each other, they’re clearly a hard working couple. Bregje introduced us to each horse, sharing details of their individual personalities, each having a unique temperament like Bregje and her husband. As she explained each horse’s story and how they came to the Rancho Washikemba, I marveled at the couple’s resourcefulness and all that they’ve achieved.

Riding through the Landscape

When the horses were ready, my athletic daughter mounted her horse effortlessly, but I had some difficulty getting up on Blondie. With a little help, we were settled and on our way. Clip-clopping down dirt roads, the ranch eventually was out of sight. Bregje’s voice explaining the history of the area punctuated our peaceful ride. Among the desert landscape, we come upon a long drive to a beautifully kept estate on the side of a hill. Once a plantation where the owner mistreated slaves, the current owner took meticulous care of the landscaping, but no one dared live there, or stay on the property after sundown. In the hot breeze, I said a silent prayer for those who perished there.

haunted place

 

The sun beating down had me concerned about how much water I had, but it felt a bit cooler as we reached the coast. Descending from the hilly brush, Blondie’s footing took on a faster stride over the vast volcanic rock cliff overlooking the vigorous surf. The riding was easier along the shore and eventually, we turned inland to a protected bay.  There was a tall rock where we tied up the horses and changed to go for our swim.

 

Swimming with Horses

I opted to cool off in the bay while Bregje took my daughter into the water with the horses. They entered the water and instantaneously everyone was having fun! The horses were actually swimming and my daughter was gliding along, Bregje confidently leading the horses with each new direction. Bregje is a beautiful woman, with a body as magnificent as the horses, powerful and strong. She puts you at ease and has the presence of a confident proud animal.

horses tied up

 

At the end of the swim, we were all smiles, as we headed back to the ranch basking in our new experience. After arriving back at Rancho Washikemba, we had a chance to relax while Marc and Bregje tended to the feeding, so we played with the dog and visited the horses in the stalls. One of the horses had chickens in its stall; they came freely through a small entrance in the back of the stall to visit their favorite friend, Poco. The chickens that were best friends with a horse was just one of the many charms of this magical place that I remember well.

I was curious about how this was possible, it was truly a wonderful gift that it even existed. I asked them about how they managed all this; developing the ranch, sourcing out the ideal horses from different countries and arranging the transportation to this remote location had to have taken careful planning, funding, and confidence. It was impressive how they managed to pull it off, and now it seemed they were quietly enjoying their accomplishment — in control of and content with their lives.

 

Considering they spent a good part of the day with us, and knowing how much they charged us, I asked whether they were able to make a good living with the riding – providing for the animals alone was surely a big expense. She told me that it didn’t always cover the expenses, and they supplemented their income in other ways, for example, they raised chickens and sold them. Even that wasn’t a lot, but they managed, and they were happy.

 

My Return to Rancho Washikemba

Two years have passed since then, and a lot has changed since my visit to Rancho Washikemba. My company was closing and I didn’t have a job, so this could very well be my last time visiting Bonaire or seeing the ranch. I wanted to write about it, and Bregje was kind enough to allow me an interview. I was happy to be back on the island and excited about going back to the ranch.

 

This time, I was driving out to Rancho Washikemba in my rental car, slowly guiding the car through the continuous ruts in the dirt road that went on for miles. I hadn’t remembered the place being so far out of town, but I guess it doesn’t seem as far when you’re not the one driving. I stopped my car at the entrance to the ranch where I could see down the hillside a riding lesson going on. The absence of sound invited my mind into the past, standing on a dirt road among cacti in the hot breeze where the timeless landscape is just the same as it was hundreds of years ago.

 

I decided to take some pictures of the scenery while waiting for the lesson to end. It was hot and windy in the harsh landscape – way out in the middle of nowhere. As the saguaro cactus stood several stories tall all around me, the birds entertained me while I snapped some pics. Looking West through the brush, in the distance I could see the haunted house on the hill, where time stood still.

 

A Charming Story

After the riding lesson ended, Bregje welcomed me and I greeted each horse as we walked past the stalls to the tack shop where we sat at a table to talk. She grew up in the Netherlands, and she met Marc in a restaurant where she worked when she was about fifteen. He was much older, and they liked each other, but he was her boss, so nothing happened between them. When she was twenty, she started college, working towards a bachelor’s degree in human resource management, and at the same time, working in a fitness center.

 

She enjoyed sports; and she was very athletic, and at the time also doing some acting and some modelling. Doing so many things made her happy. At the end of her study she had to write a paper about something she was interested in, and she wrote a business plan for starting a modelling agency. Having some modelling experience, her motivation was to make a difference because of the problems in the industry. She saw things happening in that industry that she didn’t like, and she envisioned something different that was the basis for her paper.

 

It wasn’t the original plan to start that business, but when she finished college, she had the completed plan, so she started her modeling agency at the age of twenty-three or twenty-four. She was doing great — at the peak, she had 200 models or so, and not just fashion models, but also commercial models. The most interesting part for her was the fashion industry, especially the parties and fashion weeks in Amsterdam.

 

It was a nice period in her life with good friends, and being a newbie youngster in the business. She gained credibility by behaving as though she had already been doing it for years, and the more established agencies soon took notice of her. She had some very successful models, and others were forced to acknowledge that there was something she was doing right. They took her seriously because she had the skill to find the right models in the right spaces. Even though some of the models she discovered are still working, she’s not involved in that business very much anymore. Among her models, a girl that she discovered when she was fifteen is still working for Victoria’s Secret today.

 

Now that she’s living on the ranch, she’ll occasionally refer a model to an agency, but she doesn’t do the management of models anymore. Of course she can do it, but for now, it’s more of something from the past. She admits though, she can’t stand it when she sees a perfect, beautiful face because she can tell when there’s potential or not. There’s a girl from this island she discovered and she’s been working for about five years now. Talking about the modeling, she admits she still likes it; it’s nice.

 

With the modeling agency, she never made that big, big money. She says they were doing OK; she had a nice life, and then there came a point where she and Marc started talking again on facebook. They still liked each other, and he was living on the island of Bonaire. Soon, she wanted to find out if this could be something for her. She had been to the island once before, and decided to come and live with Marc. Together, they would figure out some way to make it happen.

 

She was twenty-seven and still had the agency, and thought she’d continue it while living there, but it didn’t work out. When it became too hard to keep contact with everybody, she didn’t enjoy it anymore. She was working in Bonaire, and would be in her dirty clothes, and someone was calling from Milan about a model, well… they didn’t know, but it felt strange, and it didn’t feel that right anymore. Between the two worlds, the surroundings of the ranch felt more natural to her. In her life, she’d always had animals, and always two or three horses – even throughout college and while owning the modelling agency. Thinking she was done with horses, she sold the horses, saddles, and everything before coming to Bonaire. She was going to start a new life – just go for it and see how it goes and it will work out.

 

Within a year she already had a new horse here on the island but not a job.  Marc had a construction company at the time, but she didn’t know what she would do. The lifestyle was not that enjoyable or profitable, and they were living in a neighborhood down the road from here. The first horse they had, they boarded with their neighbor. At the time, they had some money but not a plan for the future. She was riding and playing with a friend, and they thought there’d be others who would also enjoy this. They discussed this with a neighbor who had the piece of land from their family, and they thought it would be a good idea. They thought they could make it profitable, and they made a business plan.

 

Hard Work and Better than Expected Results

I asked her about the business plan for Rancho Washikemba. Did it evolve and did things turn out the way they planned? “Better,” she said. They’ve been in business for six years now. Most of the time it takes up to five years for a new business. They were withing their five year target within three years. “We won’t get rich here. But that’s not the point.” she said. “We don’t need that. We just want an easy life.” She and Marc have been together for nine years, and that’s their story.

 

They both thought the plan would work, and there were challenges, but still, she never doubted it.

 

Sourcing out the horses was challenging, it was hard to find the right horses. They bought them one or two at a time. They were very careful; it took a lot of effort and much more money than you would expect. She said they needed good characters, and were not concerned with what they look like. The horses truly are all a part of a great family.

 

On the island, this is a special place, but not visited as much as other attractions. Most tourists stay in the city or go to the National Park up North. Few people come out this way. They expect that to change now that they’ve established a new nature park in this area. More people will come out, but not too many so far.

 

I asked her, looking back, what would she tell her younger self?  “Just go for it. Just do it. But I didn’t need to hear that. I didn’t have fear for anything. Just trust yourself and go for it.”

 

I asked her how she managed this monumental task. She answered succinctly, “we made a business plan and then we did it,” as if anyone could do the same. She explained, “you’re going to die anyway, so why not just go for it?”

 

To me she seemed like such a remarkable person. Perhaps she is not so extraordinary – maybe it’s I who hasn’t yet become extraordinary as I could be.  I was forced to examine my own desires. I asked myself why have I not been able to realize my own dreams? There was nothing holding me back more than my own limited thinking.

 

Note: To visit Rancho Washikemba yourself, click here  and you can also follow them on facebook.

Bonaire’s beautiful Kibrahacha Tree

Kibrahacha Tree

We’re fortunate to have the bright yellow blooms of the Kibrahacha Tree the last few days. A tall vase of branches covered with large yellow flowers greeted me when I arrived in an office. This signaled the bloom that the locals adore. The hillsides are covered with these flowering trees for only a few days.

After a long period of drought, if the conditions are just right, after a second rainfall, it bursts with beautiful blooms. You’re lucky if you’re in Bonaire during the bloom, before the petals fall, creating a carpet of yellow everywhere.

Find out more here.

Snorkeling at Sorobon

snorkeling at Sorobon

Start out with a great guide

I was fortunate to be invited to join friends snorkeling at Sorobon. You don’t want to go snorkeling there unless you are familiar with the area and the weather conditions are right. Our guide was Bud, an educator and biologist who is very familiar with the reefs around Bonaire. On this day the weather conditions were perfect to take beginners out snorkeling. On windy days, the reef could be dangerous if you aren’t a strong swimmer.

See the sights along the way

He picked up my friends and I and offered two options, the scenic or the more direct route. Because everyone wanted to take the long road there, we were treated to Bud’s expert knowledge all along the coast. We drove past the Salt Pans to see the towering mounds of white salt rising out of the ponds looking particularly pink. The colors complemented the aqua and marine blue ocean and the azure sky. After we passed the slave huts and the Willamstoren lighthouse, we spotted a flock of flamingos at the flamingo sanctuary. It was during the nesting season and we saw both juveniles (which are gray) and the adults. Bud commented that they were the brightest pink flamingos he had ever seen, and there were hundreds of them. It’s good to see this rare species thriving when so much of the world’s ecosystems are being damaged by humans.

The mystery of mermaid rock

Jamie on Mermaid rock

We stopped to take photos at mermaid rock. On a windy day, the crashing waves can be seen towering over mermaid rock. According to legend, this is where a beautiful mermaid would appear during storms. Some say she was calling to the ships to come ashore so they would crash and the locals would take the debris that washed up on shore. But instead, I believe the more thoughtful version of the story that says the mermaid warned ships of the dangerous shore so they would pass safely in the storm.

mermaid rock and the shipwreck of William and Ezra
Painting by Winfred Dania

Snorkeling at Sorobon

At the end of the scenic route, we took a dirt road just before Sorobon to a fisherman’s hut where we parked the truck. We had to wade through knee-deep water with our gear to a spit where that was going to be our starting point. Looking towards the swimming platform and the windsurfers was a thriving coral reef. It started out very shallow and that was the tricky part about snorkeling at Sorobon.

Getting into the water, you had to watch your step and start off where you have very little wiggle room to navigate the reef. Being careful not to come into contact with anything, I followed our guide into the deep where we saw giant coral formations and huge fish. We saw parrot fish that were almost 2 feet long, and barracudas, and giant sea urchins. Bud knew just where to go to get the most out of this adventure.

white spotted fish orange sponge Porcupine Puffer Rainbow parrot fish

Let’s do this again

When we made our way back, we carefully made our way out of the water and back to the spit. Bud was happy to have the company and we were grateful for the guide. Bud said all he cared about is that we had a good time. You know everyone had a good time when you get back and everyone wants to do this again! Because we had so much fun, I hope someday you’ll have an opportunity to go snorkeling at Sorobon and share the experience with some of your best friends.

If you’re interested in diving, visit our diving information page for more details on diving in Bonaire.

Evening walk in Bonaire

I invite you to experience a taste of the island life as I take a typical evening walk along the oceanfront boulevard. It’s almost exactly a two mile stretch in each direction, which is close to 10,000 steps for me.

evening walk path
10,000 step walk along the shore

Island greetings on my evening walk

When I first started going on my evening walk, people I didn’t know would look at me and greet me. It was as if they were friends of mine, and I would wonder, have I met them? It’s actually part of the culture to acknowledge and greet everyone you meet. I began to enjoy this smiling and greeting and it became a welcome part of my daily walks.

I start out leaving my apartment and walking by the resort gate as I walk towards the ocean. I’m often greeted by the gate staff at the resort and have come to know them well. Depending on the status of the sunset, sometimes I’ll walk through the resort because it has the best views when the sunset is looking colorful.

evening walk sunset
Sunset view at Plaza Resort

There’s a little side road after you pass Sebastian’s restaurant where you can get a nice view of the best seat in the house. There’s a bench where you can sit and listen to the lapping waves. Because it was so pleasant, I watched the clouds drifting and the colors changing on the horizon for a while.

The best table at Sebastian's restaurant
The best table at Sebastian’s restaurant

Local Birds and Flowers

I go back to the road and there’s a stretch where birds are very active at this time of day. The Bonairian Lora are particularly vocal and colorful, and the homes along the way are adorned with palm trees, bougainvillea, oleander, and my favorite bright white Bonarian Oleander.

Bonairian Oleander
Bonarian Oleander

The Golden Hour

After walking through this neighborhood, there’s a left turn to an area with a lovely walkway, seats and a pier where families and friends gather.

friends gather at sunset

All along the shore, I encounter people coming out to watch the sun set, families spending time together to enjoy the golden hour.

couple pause to take in the sunset
A couple pauses to enjoy the sunset

a man and his children out for a walk
A young man takes children for a walk. I see them later having ice cream at Luciano’s.

When I reach the center of town, I walk past many historical buildings as I imagine the times past.

Pavillion
The pavilion was used by ships bringing in fruits and vegetables from Venezuela.

historic governor's residence
This historic building was once the Governor’s residence.

I pass the pier where the cruise ships tie up, on this night, there’s one of the biggest yachts in the world. It has a sailboat mounted on its side and even a helicopter pad on the back! I watch the occupants enter through the gate with their kite-surfing gear.

Luxury yacht Tatoosh
“Tatoosh”

After passing the center of town, I encounter a tree that has been adorned with wishes in several languages.

The good wish tree
I encounter a tree full of good wishes.

A History of Sailing

I arrive at Kas di Regatta, a sailing center, and the site of frequent fun regattas. I’m tired, and I sit for a few moments. My mind wanders the spectrum between discouragement and gratitude. While I’m sitting there, an acquaintance arrives and of course, greets me with a smile, then sits next to me. We share some of our life experiences, and I share a challenge I’m currently dealing with. My friend stops for a moment and picks up his phone to talk to a friend, and then we continue our chat. Fifteen minutes later, a friend of his arrives who can help me out with my situation. “This is Bonaire”, he says with a smile.

For all its natural beauty, and the ability to enjoy being outside every day of the year, and the positive effect on my health, it’s the people of this remarkable island that hold its true beauty.

The Sailing Center is one of my favorite stops on my evening walk. It offers sailing lessons and membership at a reasonable cost. They also have a sailing program for kids, where kids as young as five years old practice and race, and no one is turned away because of their inability to pay. The regattas are all day events filled with families, fun, great food and music.

Bonaire Sailing Center
Kas di Regatta, the sailing center where regattas are frequently held.

kids sailing
Local kids launching their boats for the regatta.

Historic Fishing Boat Restoration Project

At the Kas di Regatta, there’s also a historic fishing boat restoration project that I’ve been volunteering with. Doing this unpleasant work of scraping, sanding, tearing apart and rebuilding, more sanding and painting in the hot, hot sun was greatly appreciated by the locals. We were occasionally rewarded by local friends bringing by cold drinks or the best fish stew you’ve ever tasted. We’ve restored four historic fishing boats and have a few more before we finish. The old timers love to joke with me even though we have some challenges with the language.

me and Jopi
My supervisor on the project congratulates me on completing the restoration of this boat, Arantsa, named after a special member of his family.

Aqua View

I continued my walk along the beautiful shore, almost at the end of my evening walk. On my left is the aqua sea, and on the right is the vacation rental property I own, Aqua View. I didn’t know if it was going to work out for me to stay here, and I hadn’t been able to get a job, so I went out on a limb and purchased this beautiful property so hopefully I can generate some income and continue to live in this beautiful place. Because I live on the island, I can offer my guests valuable local assistance for things to do, places to eat, and where to get emergency assistance when needed. I’m only footsteps away!

Aqua View at Elegancia del Caribe
Aqua View at Elegancia del Caribe

If you travel here, there’s many wonderful things to enjoy that I haven’t touched on.

A healthy ocean

The island is known as one of the best shore diving destinations in the world because of its incredible coral reefs. This is because of the many efforts to protect the environment.  As a result, you can participate in a coral restoration project, or be trained to hunt the invasive lionfish. Don’t worry though, if you’re not a lionfish hunter. You can help the environment by eating the delicious lionfish at the Kite City food truck on the beach.

Nature conservancy is a part of the culture here, and you can participate in Sea Turtle nest monitoring with the Sea Turtle Conservation Bureau, or help with the beach cleanups with the Junior Rangers. Because of their efforts, there are many species to enjoy.

If sports is your thing, we have one of the best windsurfing locations in the world at Sorobon bay. This is where beginners can learn amongst some of the local professional and world champion windsurfers. You can try kitesurfing on the West side of the island. You can kayak, stand-up paddleboard around the bay, or go hiking and biking trails in the national park.

I hope you’ll come for a visit someday. If I happen to see you on your evening walk, I’ll be sure to smile and say, “Bon Nochi!”.

A promise to return

As I near the end of my walk, last but not least, I come across the flip flop tree. Local legend has it that if you hang a flip flop in the tree, as a result, you will always return to Bonaire.

flip flop tree
The flip flop tree – the last stop on my evening walk. It’s said if you leave your flip flops on the tree, you will always return to Bonaire.

Bonaire Culinary Team Awards

Bonaire Culinary Team Logo

The award winning Bonaire Culinary Team returns to Bonaire after an impressive competition. Taste of Caribbean 2018 is the premier culinary competition for the Caribbean Islands. The regions top chefs and culinary teams share their expertise and compete for top prizes in their fields.

This year, the team brought home 7 medals. In addition, they won the award for the Best Rum Cocktail. They also won the “Tony Mack Spirit of the Competition” award. All in all, an impressive accomplishment.

And the awards go to…

Chocolate Competition – Sherundly Bernabela, Bronze Medal

Seafood Competition – Sherundly Bernabela, Silver Medal

Beef Competition – Dustin Libier, Bronze Medal

Caribbean Pastry Chef Competition – Maria Mastrangelo, Silver Medal

Caribbean Junior Chef competition – Josue Chalabi, Bronze Medal

Caribbean Bartender Competition – Kelvin Ventura, Silver Medal

Caribbean Chef Competition – Miguel Sarago.za, Honorable Mention

Caribbean National Team 2018 – Silver Medal

Bartender Special Award – Best Rum Drink – Kelvin Ventura

Tony Mack Spirit of the Competition Award – Bonaire Culinary Team

A bright future ahead for the Bonaire Culinary Team

The team is managed by Floris van Loo, who led the team to victory winning a silver medal for the Team of the Year Competition. Congratulations to the Bonaire Culinary team and thank you to everyone who supports them through the year. We look forward to even brighter accomplishments in 2019!

Learn more about the local cuisine on Bonaire and the more about the team.

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Why we offer bar soap for guests

wave bar soap

Before I became a vacation rental host, I had a business making handmade bar soap and lotions. In the process of making those products, I learned a lot about the products and their ingredients. I also learned why liquid soaps are not a good choice for your skin or the environment.

Like a lot of people, I wanted soaps that were free of harmful ingredients, and to offer my customers high quality products. But, the more you learn about product safety, you come to realize that’s not such an easy thing.

Shelf Life and Product Safety – Liquid vs. Bar Soap

Make your own lotions and liquid soap solutions at home and you’ll find how quickly they spoil. However, bar soap will last a long time. The reason is bar soap contains less water. Yes, Water is the evil ingredient that compromises product shelf life but is loved by both customers and industry. Who doesn’t love the convenience of liquid soap? What company doesn’t love selling products for huge profits because it’s comprised mostly of water?

The problem with products that contain water is that they have a shelf life of about two weeks and need to be stored in the refrigerator. You know what happens to standing water – it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Lotions and liquid soap contains as much as 80% water, and without preservatives bacteria can grow after about two weeks. It may not be safe to use products that have bacteria growth, but the alternative is to add harmful preservatives.

 

The solution is preservatives, and it’s not good

In order to combat spoilage and to extend shelf life, preservatives are added to these products. When I added preservatives to my products, I learned how harmful they are. You need to handle them with extreme care. Even though the amount added to the products is very small, it made me question its use.

Take for example, Phenonip, and popular preservative used in making shampoos, washes and lotions. It’s supposed to be used at 1% or less of a product, but in handling the bottle of Phenonip, you have to wear gloves, goggles and ventilate the area to avoid breathing the toxic fumes. Even if it’s just 1% of the product, is this something you want to put on your face?

According to EWG’s cosmetic database, a source I use heavily for product safety information, Phenonip is listed as a high hazard ingredient. It’s listed as a “human skin toxicant” and is listed as an irritant to skin and eyes. Not the smartest thing to be adding to a skin product in my personal opinion.

The reality is that lotions and liquid soaps contain harmful ingredients in order to have a shelf life because the products contain water. The more water in the product, the more harmful preservative must be added to prevent bacteria from developing. For that reason, I consider bar soap a much more sensible and safer to use.

 

Why refills may not be a good idea

We all are more aware of the plastics ending up in the ocean and in order to help the cause, let’s agree that we should avoid single-use plastic containers. So we try to be environmentally friendly by refilling the liquid soap containers. If you purchase commercial soap to refill the containers, the product is only calibrated to combat bacteria in its original sanitary container. If you refill soap containers, you need to sanitize the container each time before you refill it. Some people add water to the bottom of liquid soap containers to use up the last of it. I don’t recommend that because adding water that doesn’t contain preservatives will quickly promote bacteria growth.

Even when I planned to sanitize and refill the soap containers, many guests just throw the plastic pump containers away when the soap runs out, defeating the purpose of doing the refills. So then I would have to go out and buy more plastic containers. And you also have to consider that when plastics are recycled, the recycling process uses a lot of energy and is riddled with problems. It’s very possible the plastic you put in the recycling bin could end up in a landfill anyways.

Hopefully this will help you make better choices in selecting your products, and remember these three things:

The less water in a product, the less preservative it requires, making it a better, safer choice.

It’s better for the environment to avoid buying products in plastic containers than recycling.

If you refill liquid soap containers, you need to sanitize the container to avoid spreading bacteria.

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Jellyfish Jamboree

Jellyfish Jamboree

Jellyfish Jamboree

Would you be daring enough to hold one of the most deadly jellyfish in the world?

I was invited to meet Bud Guillian, a biologist and educator who calls himself a Jellyologist. Bud is known for identifying a new species of jellyfish, the Tamoya Oboya, also known as the Bonaire Banded Box Jellyfish. People were gathering at Karel’s beach bar to witness

People were gathering at Karel’s Beach Bar, for the Jellyfish Jamboree where friends watched the mating of deadly jellyfish from the safety of the dock. Bud Gillian was on hand to identify all sorts of sea creatures retrieved from the water into the blue bucket. When I arrived, they already had two box jellyfish specimen, both males, ready to release their sperm in this perfectly timed ritual.

A Deadly Creature

Every month, between eight and ten days following the full moon, the box jellies ride the tide to the shore to mate. Once the male releases his sperm, he dies and drifts onto the shore. Come and join us next month at the Jellyfish Jamboree and learn more about these amazing creatures.

Box jellies the most deadly jellyfish in the world and the stings from their tentacles have caused thousands of deaths.  We watched safely on the dock as the creatures appeared in the floodlight and danced in circles. There were bio luminescent creatures in the water lighting up like fireflies, and there was one jellyfish that had eaten one. The jellyfish’s stomach is at the top, so it looked like the jellyfish had a headlamp!

Bonaire Banded Box Jellyfish
Box Jellyfish with a bio luminescent creature in it’s stomach swimming in a jellyfish sperm cloud

The jellyfish’s tentacles expand and retract. When holding the jellyfish, they were several feet long. Bud told us they can extend to a meter long. Sometimes groups of jellyfish will let their tentacles extend and swim in a formation that weaves a web to capture prey.

Don’t Try This at Home!

holding a deadly jellyfish

Bud helped us understand how to properly handle in order to observe this dangerous creature. You can hold it from the top, as long as you don’t let the tentacles touch you. Over time, Bud has become slightly immune to jellyfish stings, and he did a “sting test”. He voluntarily ran the tentacles over his arm to evaluate the potency. Bud advised us that these particular jellyfish had a very strong sting and could kill you. He said you have to be very careful, even the dead jellies on the shore can give you a severe sting.

It was fun to see and learn about the sea creatures on a pleasant night with good friends. One things is for sure – you won’t find me in the water during the times when the jellyfish are coming in!

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