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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Washington-Slagbaai National Park Holds Annual Celebration Day on June 3rd, 2007

On Sunday, June 3, 2007, STINAPA will hold a commemorative celebration at the entrance of Washington-Slagbaai National Park, marking the past 38 years with Bonaire’s first protected area.  The Open House will keep everyone in the family entertained with walks, climbs (both easy and more difficult), swimming at Slagbaai, and bike tours.

The activities will begin from 8:00 AM and continue through the day.  (Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult.) There will also be live music and cultural dancing, and the museum will be open all day for those who wish additional information.  Transportation to Slaagbai from the entrance will be available with departures at 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM, and 1:30 PM. 

Local food and beverages will be available for sale with all proceeds benefiting the foundation, Stichting Kunst en Kulture.  For additional information, click here, or contact STINAPA at telephone 717-8444 to register for individual events. (Source:  STINAPA)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 31, 2007 at 9:35am AST
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Rent A Chef Bonaire Premiers New Services and Launches Web Site

Rent a Chef Bonaire is now providing private chef services offering succulent meals with fresh ingredients, all prepared to order in your own villa’s kitchen.

Rent a Chef Bonaire offers Bonaire visitors the possibility of dining in style in their own villa, apartment, or rental vacation home.  They will go to any location on Bonaire with everything that is needed for the gourmet meal that has been requested—no need to shop for anything.  The food is prepared in the visitor’s own kitchen, allowing them, their family, or visitors to relax.  Cleanup is, of course, included in the service.

Sietse de Jong is the man behind Bonaire’s new Rent a Chef service, and he is an experienced chef, having worked in Bonaire’s restaurant industry for the past three years and is locally well known for his creativity in fusing tastes and textures and setting up innovative kitchens.  Chef Sietse’s affinity for fresh ingredients and a simple preparation style coupled with his creative attitude yields novel dishes.  Before relocating to Bonaire, he was trained in French and Italian cuisine, and he had his own restaurant in Amsterdam for 19 years during which time he worked with such notable chefs as Christoffe.  He can ably assist with menu planning, giving special attention to individual tastes, food preferences, dietary needs, or nutritional goals, whether it is for one special evening, a series of dinners or lunches, or three meals a day for an entire stay.  An aficionado of modern-day fusion, Chef Sietse has been influenced by Thai, Japanese, and Australian cuisine whereby he can use fresh, new, exotic products and herbs.

Visitors may contact Rent a Chef Bonaire in advance of their trip to plan their menu.  To assist with ideas, the company has just launched a web site which offers samples of various courses that can be mixed and matched.  Chef Sietse, of course, is willing to offer his advice at any time or listen to personal suggestions.  Those interested may visit the new web site by clicking here. Rent a Chef Bonaire may be reached by email at info@rentbochef.com, or phone +(599) 717-2631, or cellular phone + (599) 786-0621.  (Source:  Rent a Chef Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 31, 2007 at 9:11am AST
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sarah Biggerstaff of TCB-NY Tours Area Around Lac Bay

Sarah Biggerstaff is the newly appointed Bonaire Account Executive at Adams Unlimited, Bonaire’s North American Tourism Office.  Although on past trips Sarah learned about much of the island, while she was on-island recently for TCB meetings, she decided to spend an additional day before returning to the States to familiarize herself with some of Bonaire’s lesser known areas in the south and to visit new activities.

Sarah’s tour started on Saturday morning with Rolando Marin as her guide.  Rolando has been with the Bonaire office of the Tourism Corporation for fifteen years and was born and raised on Bonaire.  In fact, his father was the well known divemaster, Bas, who initiated many of Bonaire’s travelers in the ‘80s and ‘90s to the island’s undersea life.

Heading out to Lac Cai, Rolando paused to show Sarah many of the natural watering holes which the area’s fauna use on a daily basis.  He explained that the holes on one side of the road were fresh, while those on the other side were briny with salt.  Arriving at Lac Cai, Rolando explained how the conch was of historical significance to the local peoples in times past--not only did they use the meat for sustenance (conch on Bonaire are now protected), but the shells themselves were used as a means of communication between villages.  Blowing different sound patterns on the conch could mean anything from, “it’s time to party”, to information regarding a community member’s death.

When preparing to depart Cai for the next stop, Sarah and Rolando were surprised with the arrival of several tourists (Charlie and his friends) and their guide on horseback from the Riding Academy Club, who planned a swimming session with the horses at Lac.  Deciding to stay awhile, they watched as the horses and their riders had a great time cooling off in Lac’s calm waters with a bareback ride once saddles were removed.

Once it was time for the riders to continue on, so did Sarah and Rolando, this time to visit the newly opened Butterfly Farm, owned and managed by husband/wife team Jan-Dianna Knaken and Laura Jaap.  The farm, only opened a few months, is a quiet oasis in Bonaire’s desert habitat.  Once inside the exhibit, Sarah and Rolando were entranced with the multi-hued butterflies which were flying around, or alighting on nearby plants.  The exhibit also includes a pond with Japanese koi.  The hatching area was opened by Laura, and newly hatched butterflies immediately took flight into the exhibit, while others, also newly hatched, waited a few more moments to dry their wings.  Laura explained that new species are constantly added; they are shipped in the pupae (chrysalis) stage, and then hatch after arrival on Bonaire.  Laura and her husband, Jan, further explained they are now creating a new visitors center, and hope to begin a small-animal zoo in the not-too-distant future.

Sarah’s final stop was to check out the new WebCams that were recently upgraded at Eden Beach Resort.  She had a fun-filled and information-packed morning and closed out her tour with the hope that, on her next visit to Bonaire, she can learn more about the hidden wonders on the northern side of the island.

Images of her morning’s tour can be seen on the Bonaire Insider Photo Gallery by clicking here. (Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 27, 2007 at 12:56pm AST
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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bonaire WebCams Family Grows with New Underwater ReefCams

Caribbean WebCams, LLC announced today that it has successfully installed a new Bonaire ReefCam on the island of Bonaire, joining the upgraded original Bonaire ReefCam which has been in Bonaire’s waters entertaining millions of Internet viewers for nearly seven years.

The new Bonaire Pier ReefCam resides in a protected area under the pier at Bonaire’s Eden Beach Resort in only about 1.6 meters/5 feet of water, while the original ReefCam has been remounted and upgraded and now shows views across the hull of the Bakanal, a sunken yacht located at approximately 19 meters/60 feet of depth. As such, the original ReefCam has been re-christened the Bonaire Wreck ReefCam.

Additionally, the three land-based Bonaire WebCams located at the Eden Beach Resort have also been upgraded and recabled to provide long term use and viewing pleasure, and join three other land-based WebCams on Bonaire: the DonkeyCam, the WindsurfCam, and the DowntownCam.

“With eight live WebCams on Bonaire running day in and day out, we figure Bonaire has the highest per capita public WebCam ratio of any island in the Caribbean, if not the world. And Bonaire also has the only long-term permanent open ocean ReefCam installations anywhere. Tens of thousands of people view our WebCams from all over, and we regularly get e-mails and thanks from people who discovered the snorkeling and diving paradise of Bonaire via our WebCams and now vacation here regularly,” said Jake Richter, a Bonaire resident and Chief Operating Officer and Chief Diver of Caribbean WebCams LLC, owner of the Bonaire WebCams web site and a majority of the WebCams on display.

The Bonaire WebCams can be viewed at any time (although at night, Bonaire-time, some will be dark) at http://www.BonaireWebCams.com, with images being captured every minute off each camera. The site also offers memberships to people who would like to peruse the archives of all image captures--archives which go back as far as December 2000. The searchable WebCams archives allow Bonaire visitors to the cameras to look up images of themselves on the WebCams, meaning that vacationers to the island of Bonaire, the Caribbean diving and snorkeling capital, who pose for the ReefCams underwater or for the topside WebCams, for example, can look up the images captured of them upon their return from vacation. Memberships are free for limited archive access, and as low as US$4.95 for a one week membership or US$24.95 for an annual membership.

The Bonaire WebCams are so popular among the growing list of Bonaire fans that daily discussions about what has appeared on the Bonaire WebCams are held on the popular BonaireTalk web site in a section dedicated to the Bonaire WebCams (at http://www.BonaireTalk.com/webcams).

About The Bonaire WebCams
The Bonaire WebCams Web site is among the most popular Web sites featuring Caribbean content, with over 150,000 visitors and millions of page views per month. The Web site is provided with WebCam images from a proprietary image capture server on Bonaire, as well as custom programmed individual WebCams. Live weather information is also provided on the web site.

About Caribbean WebCams, LLC
Caribbean WebCams, LLC, owner and operator of the Bonaire WebCams and the award winning Bonaire ReefCam, specializes in all aspects of commercial WebCam set-up and installation for resorts and travel destinations. Company headquarters are located in Bolton, Massachusetts in the U.S.A. Caribbean WebCams information can be found at http://www.CaribbeanWebCams.com, and the company may be contacted at info@CaribbeanWebCams.com, or by phone at +1-703-783-8370 or by FAX at +1-703-783-8371 in the U.S. or by phone at +599-7-174112 on Bonaire.

Links to Related Site:
Bonaire WebCams
BonaireTalk WebCams Discussion
Bonaire Information Web Site

“Bonaire WebCams” and “ReefCam” are trademarks of Caribbean WebCams, LLC.  (Source:  Caribbean WebCams, LLC)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 25, 2007 at 5:03pm AST
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STINAPA Bonaire Premieres a New Web Site

On May 24th, 2007, STINAPA Bonaire launched a new web site which had been in development.  STINAPA is the entity responsible for the management of Bonaire’s national parks, which encompass the Bonaire National Marine Park, Washington-Slagbaai National Park, and other areas of ecological importance.

The new site offers information about the foundation, its history, board of directors, management, and personnel, volunteer group, and data about the Nature Fee, which is collected from users of the parks.  Additionally, there are downloads, brochures, and maps (including a dive map) available, as well as a virtual tour.  Information about the Visitors Center at Washington-Slagbaai National Park is also included.

To view the new web site, click here. (Source:  STINAPA Bonaire Web Site)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 25, 2007 at 2:12pm AST
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Bonaire Tourism Statistics for 2006

Following up on our recent story about the Tourism Corporation Bonaire releasing an overview of Bonaire’s tourism trends for 2006, we have now also received the complete tourism statistics report to share with our readers.

The report provides very detailed statisical information regarding the various data points that TCB collects data on, as well as an analysis of what those numbers mean in the context of prior years and various other happenings on Bonaire and elsewhere in the world.

The complete report can be found in PDF form here. (Source: Tourism Corporation Bonaire)

Posted by Jake Richter on May 25, 2007 at 2:11pm AST
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First Mountain Bike Race is Organized by Bonaire Wellness Connexions

Adding to a menu of bicycling events, Bonaire Wellness Connexions has now announced that they will begin conducting mountain bike races for riders of all levels of experience.  Their goal is to create local sports events for people of all ages and abilities who wish to compete and also to grow the sport of mountain bike racing on the island.

The Pre-Race has been organized for June 10th, 2007.  Additional information about the race will be announced in early June and will be handed out at the race or be available via the Internet.  The specifics are as follows:

Location: Antenna di Bonaire Paging & Trunking System Kaminda Broertje Janga

Registration:  Begins at 3:30 PM by the Antenna Kaminda Broertje Janga, or pre-register by June 9th at BWC situated in the Activities Center at Eden Beach Resort.

Entry fees:  Men and Women:  FL 25.00 (USD $14.04)
Kids under 16:  FL 10.00 (USD $5.62)

Categories:  Kids:  One Lap at 4:15 PM
Beginners:  Two Laps at 4:45 PM
Men/Women:  Four Laps at 4:45 PM

For more information or to register, call Bonaire Wellness Connexions at +(599) 717-3637 or +(599) 785-0767, or email: info@bonairewellness.com(Source:  Bonaire Wellness Connexions)


Posted by Susan Davis on May 25, 2007 at 1:46pm AST
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tourist Corporation Bonaire Announces 2006 Tourism Statistics

Yesterday, May 23rd, 2007, the Tourist Corporation Bonaire (TCB) announced the finalization of the tourism statistics for 2006--Bonaire received slightly more visitors in 2006 when compared to 2005.

For the year 2006, 1.6% more tourists visited Bonaire than in 2005.  In real numbers, there was a total of 63,552 tourists in 2006 compared to a 2005 total of 62,550.  After an initial drop in tourism in the first half of 2006, which was primarily due to a loss of three of four Air Jamaica flights, tourism did increase in the latter half of 2006, closing the gap caused by the airlift decrease.

It should be noted that the North American, South American, and Caribbean markets increased, compensating for a decreased European market confronted by airlift capacity problems.  In 2006, the North American market (USA and Canada) increased 6.7% compared to 2005, in great part due to the new non-stop Continental flights from Houston, Texas and Newark, New Jersey.  These two weekly flights alone compensate for the loss of 450 seats which occurred when Air Jamaica cut back service to one flight per week in 2005.

In the TCB release, it was forecast that Bonaire will see an increase of tourism from North America of about 8% to 9% in 2007.  A separate analysis of the other markets will follow.

Additional information is available in the Statistical Year Report 2006, which can be requested by contacting Joanny Sint-Jago-Trinidad at TCB via email statistics@tourismbonaire.com.

To view the complete TCB press release (in Papiamentu), click here (in PDF format). (Source:  TCB Release)

Note Update May 25, 2007:  An additional communication from TCB was received on Friday, May 25th.  In this release, it was stated that all markets, except Europe, saw an overall increase in tourism in 2006 as opposed to 2005.

In 2006, the South American market climbed by 15.2% compared to 2005.  This is primarily caused by positive results of marketing strategies in Brazil, as many dive groups from Brazil traveled to Bonaire in 2006.  All other South American markets, with the exception of Ecuador, also climbed.  It is projected that visitors from the South American market will rise 10% in 2007.

The Caribbean market is historically limited to Aruba, and total visitors in 2006 climbed 22.9%.

The only market not seeing an increase in tourism was the European market, which experienced a drop of 6.2% when compared to 2005.  The principal market from Europe is that of Holland.  Total European visitors in 2006 were 28,202, which was impacted by the fluctuation in overall seat capacity.  The introduction of the Arke Fly flights in November, 2006 helped, but it was not sufficient to stimulate capacity for other European markets.  Indications project that the European market will increase in 2007.

The second TCB release can be viewed (in Papiamentu) by clicking here. (Source:  TCB Release)

Note Update May 31, 2007:  In a final communication from the TCB, it was noted that cruise tourism grew 54% in 2006 when compared with 2005.  Although fewer ships actually called in 2006 (89 visits compared to 78 in 2005--a drop of 12.4%), the number of actual cruise visitors rose from 40, 777 in 2005 to 61,844 in 2006.  This means that larger cruise ships with more people on them are arriving in Bonaire’s port.

The TCB has a master plan for 2007 through 2009 in which the number of overall stay-over visitors (those staying one night or more) will grow to 80,000.  (Source:  TCB Release)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 24, 2007 at 5:30pm AST
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BONAI (Bonaire Archaeological Institute) to Hold Special Evening Onboard The Freewinds on May 28th

The BONAI (Bonaire Archaeological Institute) will hold a special evening presentation on-board the Freewinds on May 28th, 2007.  The evening will be both entertaining with a benefit concert and also educational as BONAI presents information regarding recent archaeological investigations.


The image shows a group of American military personnel in the Antilles in 1940.

The historical period in question that will be discussed is the period of World World II, with an emphasis on the visit by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to Bonaire in 1944.  This project covers an important phase in Bonaire’s time.  Thanks for the coordination of the work to initiate this project go Dr. Jay Haviser, Mr. Raymundo Saleh of the Bonaire Economic Platform, Mrs. Jacki Bernabela of BONAI, Mr. Hubert Vis of SKOL, and Captain Mike Napier of the Freewinds.

With donations that have already been received, the start of the initial phase began with Dr. Haviser spending ten days in Washington, D.C. pouring over the U.S. National Archives and the U.S. Military Archives, specifically looking for data about any U.S. military presences in the Antilles during the Second World War.

The second phase will be to inform the public about his results of the initial archives research; this information will be provided on the Freewinds on May 28th, 2007 at 7:30 PM.

The final phase of the project must take place on Bonaire in the form of interviews with those still living on Bonaire who were involved in the Roosevelt visit along with archeological excavaton in areas specific to Bonaire.  This work will most likely be conducted in June and July with the assistance of interested students of the SKB school.

The project will close with a new book by Dr. Haviser on the subject, along with a commemorative plaque to record the visit of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

The combined evening will include the discussion, R&B music by the Freewinds Band with Antillean singer, Debby Beaujon.  Cost is FL 15.00 (USD $8.43) per person, and tickets can be purchased at either SKAL or The Tourist Corporation (on Kaya Grandi).  (Source:  BONAI)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 23, 2007 at 9:52am AST
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Dive Friends Bonaire Offers Free Buoyancy Clinic to Celebrate World Ocean Day, 2007

World Ocean Day is celebrated across the globe on June 8th, 2007, and Dive Friends Bonaire is announcing a local event on Bonaire to assist divers with the awareness and importance of the world’s oceans. 

Any divers who are on the island on June 8th, 2007 are invited to join Dive Friends Bonaire for a free Buoyancy Clinic in the afternoon starting at 1:30 PM at their Dive Friends Yellow Submarine facility on the ocean promenade in Kralendijk.  The clinic will begin with a talk by manager Gerrie about how divers can contribute to the ocean’s health, followed by an in-water workshop on how all participants can improve their buoyancy in the water to help from touching reefs.

Following the workshop, a social happy hour with free rum punch will be available to all the clinic’s participants to end the day’s events.  For more information or to register for the clinic, email info@dive-friends-bonaire.com.  For additional information about diving on Bonaire, visit their web site at http://www.dive-friends-bonaire.com or for more information about World Ocean Day, visit http://www.worldoceanday.org.

(Source:  Dive Friends Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on May 23, 2007 at 8:55am AST
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