05 SEP 2018: Bonaire just might be the perfect destination for clients who want to brag they've found a little known quiet sun get-away. Once after a car accident, I was advised to lie in the ocean to help heal my neck injury. At the time, a clever agent taught me about the single supplement, and that I didn't need a long transfer on bad roads. She suggested I pay a little more and be in a better resort, and visit a quieter destination. That trip sent me to Bonaire, and it was exactly what I needed.

Sunwing is offering Bonaire this winter, with weekly flights beginning Sunday Dec. 16th, and the program will run till April 14th, 2019. It is the only Canadian tour operator to do so. It has been years since it was in the dream books.

Where is it? Bonaire is the "B" in what is affectionately called the A, B, C islands.... Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, around 80 kilometers off the coast of Venezuela and outside the hurricane zones. It was part of the Netherlands and now since October 10, 2010 it is a special municipality of the Netherlands. They now use the US dollar instead of guilders to make it easier for visitors

Bonaire is a top world diving destination, and famous for windsurfing, and kite sailing.

For those clients that love water sports, it is perfect.

Bonaire is committed to sustainable coral preservation and brags about 86 dive sites, home to 350 species of fish and 57 corals. I don't dive but spent hours in the water snorkelling, or just floating, watching the many curious fish swimming around me. I often had the beach or the dock to myself when everyone else was out diving. It was amazing. When I came home with a much better neck, and people asked what I did, I had to think. "I spent probably eight hours each day in the water, and was never bored."

The entire island is half the size of Toronto, and with a population of 17,000, it is never crowded even when the cruise ships arrive.

Kralendijk, the little capital city on the leeward side of the island has a craft market that visitors love. They rave about the friendly vendors, the sauces and of course the scented bath salts.

Sunwing offers nine resorts, all small and intimate, and on the ocean. Your client won't have to call for a ride to the beach, or deal with 3,000 other guests.  

The Divi Flamingo Beach Resort and Casino with an inclusive plan is 126 rooms and close to Kralendijk. There are two pools, Wi-Fi, a PADI dive centre fitness facilities, and sauna. There is a buffet and two a la carte restaurants, beach grill, and two bars. Restrictions may apply.

Both divers and non-divers can opt for the inclusive 129 room Plaza Beach Resort, which also has great snorkelling nearby.

The Buddy Dive Resort is wonderful for divers, it even has its own house reef.

The newly-built 86 room Delfins Beach Resort caters to groups with one or two-bedroom studios.

The Captain Don's Habitat package includes flight and hotel. The family accommodations have fully-equipped kitchens. There is a restaurant, pizzeria and bar on site. Yes, there is WiFi.

Eden Beach Resort package is flight and hotel. They have Wi-Fi in the rooms, and of course, a restaurant and bar.  

For those clients who want a "European Plan" meaning no food or liquor, it is good to know from reviews that people like the food on the island. For instance, Cactus Blue on the beach serving American food gets rave reviews for their burgers. A family of four's bill was $30.

Visitors who want to be close to town but still enjoy a relaxing environment can try the Divi Flamingo Resort and Casino, while both divers and non-divers can opt for the inclusive

Land adventures include an exploration of the capital town of Kralendijk, renting a motor scooter or climbing 241-meter-high Mt. Brandaris, which is rated a medium-difficult climb that usually takes 45 minutes or so.

Land sailing is a fun thing to do and a great way to learn to sail on water. What is it? Land sailing is three-wheeled blokarts, or go carts with a large sail... in other words, sailing on land.

Sunwing officials said Bonaire "is recognized for its commitment to sustainable tourism practices and coral preservation."

It is truly a wonderful destination and Tourism Bonaire says 40% of their tourists return.

It could be for the flamingos.

 

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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