Here at Peconic Puffin World Headquarters we receive a lot of inquiries about Bonaire. The blog posts are apparently not enough...some folks want specific questions answered. Here are the answers to the usuals:
Best Place to Rent Windsurfing Equipment: Jibe City, because it opens at 8AM. Windsurf Place is just as good, but it opens at 9, and the wind has been up in the morning in Bonaire. (If you've never been, these places are 50 yards apart...both on the water with excellent equipment and service.)
Restaurants We Loved: We don't eat everywhere in a week, but here's our latest news: At Sea is still outstanding, as is Appetite. We tried the tasting menu at Appetite this time (with paired wines)...we were entertained, but I think we'll go with the menu next year. Bistro de Paris gets a downgrade. I hate saying this, but since they moved to a larger location two years ago it's just not as good. The food is fine, but service and charm are down two notches, two years in a row. New spot worth checking out: Ingridients (that's the correct spelling.) On the water at a dive club, we ate great entrees while watching pools of light move on the water from the night divers below. Their appetizer concept is annoying ("bites"...bite sized individual items that we predict will not be there in 2015) but otherwise very pleasing. We'll be going back.
Do I Need To Wear Booties? Every year I say yes, though I haven't stepped on anything that felt (through my booties) like a problem in years. Like a sea urchin, for example. On the other hand why would you want to risk hurting yourself and possibly missing a lot of sailing? Bonaire is almost entirely shallows...you'll be walking on the bottom a lot.
How is the wind? Word there is it's been blowing solid for two years straight. I spent time on six meter sails every day of our week.
Best Windsurfing Instruction: ABK is there (of course.) If you're not going during a clinic week, Caesar (the lightwind freestyle master) is teaching out of Jibe City, while Elvis at Windsurf Place has a number of people who I observed teaching, though I can't say which is better
Flights to Bonaire: All we know is the Newark run on United, but if you haven't heard, it's civilized now. Used to be take off at midnight Saturday, arrive 5AM Sunday and have to wait for your hotel to open (or book an extra night for early arrival) with a very early departure the following Saturday (7AM so get to the airport before dawn, and no windsurfing of course.) No more! Now arrive Sunday afternoon (we got two hours of sailing in on arrival day) and leave Saturday afternoon (we got two hours of sailing in again!)
With Bonaire it's important to get in front of these things. If you arrive without a gear reservation or restaurant reservations, you can actually get shut out (on this trip I planned to rent from Jibe City, for example. I forgot to book it in advance but took for granted that I'd be okay when I arrived. Jibe City was polite and a bit mortified when they told me they could not equip me! Fortunately Windsurf Place still had some slots left. Same for restaurants...the good ones book up more than a week in advance, and they're not all open every day of the week. Best solution for me has always been Ann Phelan, Bonaire travel agent (and windsurfer) who lives there half the year, knows everybody and knows the minutia and latest changes better than anyone. (I have made mistakes by ignoring some of her recommendations!) She doesn't charge you (she charges the vendors) so there's no reason not to use her. Peconic Puffin endorsement.
Other commentary and recommendations welcome (let the Wil's Grill fans let it fly!)