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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bonaire’s Traditional Maskarada will be Held on New Year’s Day

Each year there’s an Antillean cultural tradition to have the group known as Maskarada (Masquerade) make a presentation to begin the new year off in the right manner, and this will occur tomorrow, January 1st, 2010.

Normally, the event is held at the home of Bonaire’s Lt. Governor, but this year it will be held at Santa Barbara Crowns Court #14 in Sabadeco.  This year’s Maskarada will take place from 10:00 AM for one hour.  After the presentation with the Lt. Governor, the mysterious group will entertain the folks at the Kas di Sosiegu, and then continue on in the neighborhoods of Amboina, Nort’i Saliña, and other barrios.  As custom holds, a visit by the Maskarada promises good luck in the new year.  The persons behind the masks cannot speak or reveal their identities in public.  They will perform the traditional dances to the accompanying music, while cheerfully wishing everyone “Bon Aña” (Happy New Year).  These will be the only words they will speak in public.

All are invited to join in the new year’s opening festivities. (Source:  Island Government)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 31, 2009 at 1:16pm AST
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Spa at Habitat Opens, Launches New Web Site

The Spa at Habitat has opened its doors just in time for the holiday season and it has launched a brand new web site offering a 10% discount on appointments made in advance.

The Spa at Habitat offers a full line of individual or couples massages by the sea, along with a large menu of nail care services or body treatments.  Run by Omaira Nicolaas and Alda Dirksz, both of whom are well known in the spa world of Bonaire, this new addition will prove to be popular with guests staying in the northern hotels or even those in private villas in Sabadeco.

The Spa is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM through to 6:00 PM, Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  Services for times other than these are by appointment only.  The Spa is also proud to be a smoke-free environment, and one can sip a complimentary coffee, tea, or water while being pampered.  Organic body lotions and treatments are available for sale, and they make wonderful holiday gifts.

They’ve just launched a new web site, available by clicking here.  For those who wish to make an appointment in advance of their arrival on Bonaire, the Spa offers a 10% discount for online reservations.  (Source:  The Spa at Habitat)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 15, 2009 at 2:50pm AST
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Friday, December 11, 2009

BWC Offers a National Park Mountain Bike Tour on Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bonaire Wellness Connexions will be offering their next mountain bike tour in Washington Slagbaai National Park on Sunday, December 20, 2009. This tour is for riders of all levels of experience; distance for beginners, intermediate, and advanced riders.

More advanced/experienced riders will have the opportunity to ride from BWC (in Kralendijk) to the entrance of the park, then ride the park with the whole group and then ride back to town (approximately 80 km). The advanced ride will start from BWC at 7:00 AM. There will be assistance in the park with a pickup so participants can catch a ride in case they get tired.  Cost is $14.50 per person and includes a sandwich, drinks, and fruit. Please note that the entrance to the park is not included, so those who have a dive tag should bring that, along with the receipt, for free entry.  (Source:  Bonaire Wellness Connexions)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 11, 2009 at 11:07am AST
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Insel Air Receives A Fourth MD-Aircraft

Insel Air, which flies non-stop to Bonaire from Miami once a week, recently took delivery of a fourth MD-Aircraft.  As soon as the documents and registration for the aircraft are complete, the jet will be added into Insel Air’s flight schedule.

Insel Air soon will be purchasing a third Embraer Bandeirante and this purchase will complete the fleet for the next three years with seven aircraft in total: four MD aircraft and three Bandeirantes.  The airline has been regularly augmenting its flight schedule with the addition of each aircraft.

Insel Air flies non-stop between Miami and Bonaire each Saturday, and flights can also be arranged on other days of the week with a connection in Curacao.  Insel Air offers more relaxed checked bag weight limits, with up to 40 kilograms (88 pounds) allowed for a combined total of up to two bags.  No single piece may be heavier than 32 kilograms (70 pounds).  This extra baggage allowance is especially appreciated by those visiting Bonaire for diving and who carry their diving equipment with them.

For additional information, visit their web site by clicking here. (Source:  Amigoe, Insel Air web site)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 10, 2009 at 12:37pm AST
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bill Goodwin, Frequent Bonaire Visitor, Wins National Geographic Photographic Competition

Bill Goodwin, along with his wife, Donna, is a frequent visitor to Bonaire and the island’s reefs.  Both enjoy underwater photography, but Bill has recently just won a major photographic competition sponsored by National Geographic.

His shot of a peppermint shrimp in a sponge taken at Margate Bay in approximately 75 feet of water was first entered into the National Geographic competition.  There were 208,000 entries from 28 countries in 20 different language editions of the magazine. Bill placed first place in the Nature category (one of three categories: People, Places, Nature) in the English language National Geographic contest, but his image then went on to win first place in the worldwide competition.

Often a photographer will work with a subject for some time, taking multiple images.  Bill, however, took only this one shot of the shrimp.  His camera was a Sony DSC WX-1 and, unbelievably, the camera was just set on “auto.” The camera took the image at f/2.4, ISO 160, with a shutter speed of 1/100. He did not employ a filter, he had a finger over the internal strobe to avoid double flashing, and the lighting was provided by Underwater Kinetics Light Cannon (HID) handheld on an arm outside the sponge.

Donna Goodwin is also a photographer, and the two will work together many times.  When Bill is shooting, Donna may hold a light for him, or be on the lookout for other creatures that might make excellent subjects.  When Donna is shooting, Bill then will work as the assistant and lookout.  It’s obviously great teamwork which produces results, as evidenced by Bill’s excellent image.

Bill has been winning or placing in competitions since 2007, including the Our World Underwater 2008 Photo Contest and the 2009 Underwater Images Photo/Video Competition.  Last year at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, which is held every four years there was a big photo competition with large prizes for the best work from the last four years by scientists, fisheries people, marine park managers and others who are lucky to have unlimited photographic opportunities.  This competition was judged by noted photographers Paul Humann, Stephen Frink, and a staff photographer from National Geographic in six categories. Bill was honored with a second place in Reefs at Risk (also with a shot taken from Bonaire), a first in Marco (with an image from Bonaire), a first in Reef Inhabitants (also with an image from Bonaire), and the Best in Show (from Cayman Brac)! The Best in Show photo (and a story about the grouper in the picture) was featured in the Cayman newspapers the week before a vote in the parliament on banning all spearfishing for grouper in Caymanian waters, and the ban was enacted, partially as a result of that image and story.  Bill and Donna are certainly making good use of their photography to help conservation efforts. 

Bill and Donna have been visiting Bonaire since 2004.  Since that time, they ensure they visit for two weeks at least once a year, and sometimes twice, having their sons and daughters or friends accompany them.  Before their first visit, they’d heard that Bonaire was too good to be true--and Bill says they had to come and check it out themselves and found it to be true! 

Bill hails from San Diego, and Donna is from Louisiana.  They currently reside in Birmingham, Alabama where they work at their physical therapy clinic.  They’ve definitely given back to Bonaire, too, as they organized a fundraiser with a local dive shop in Birmingham to help fund the water quality monitor program executed by STINAPA, and they are currently working with STINAPA to produce an Underwater Image Bank for students of all ages, so as to help teach many of the local children about the treasures that inhabit the waters around Bonaire.  This image bank will be useful to students and teachers in biology, information sciences, tourism industry studies, art and more.

For more information about the National Geographic competition, click here.  Congratulations, Bill!  (Source:  National Geographic web site, Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 09, 2009 at 9:34am AST
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bonaire’s Living Legend, Captain Don Stewart, Presents and Signs His Newest Book, “Reef Windows”

Captain Don Stewart will present his latest book, Reef Windows, at two book signings in the coming week.  He promises to take readers back to the exciting, early days of Bonaire diving, telling the tales of the true stories behind the naming of Bonaire’s dive sites.

The book will launch this Saturday, December 12, 2009 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at Books & Toys, located at Kaya Grandi #36 in Kralendijk.  Don will be available for book-autographing at that time, but also at the Meet the Captain Night at Captain Don’s Habitat on Monday, December 14, 2009 from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM.  The book will be available for purchase at most book stores and shops around Bonaire, and the book comes with Captain Don’s famous “red ribbon depth gauge” as a handy bookmark.  All are welcome to join Captain Don in celebrating the premiere of this latest book.  (Source:  Captain Don Stewart)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 08, 2009 at 1:14pm AST
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Monday, December 07, 2009

Bonaire Personal Shopper Opens for Business, Launches New Web Site

Filling a definite need for visiting tourists or those who own vacation homes, the new Bonaire Personal Shopper is ready to help and assist with any shopping needs on Bonaire, including food and beverages, gifts, or other items.

Operated by Renee Leach, the new service will definitely make it easier for arriving tourists to find a fully stocked refrigerator or pantry upon their arrival, thus saving them precious vacation time as they won’t have to shop for necessities.  Owners of vacation homes may also take advantage of this new service so they may come “home” to a cool drink, a quick sandwich, or have supplies for a first night’s dinner at home.

And Renee doesn’t limit the service to just groceries or beverages, as those who need a special gift, but don’t have the time to search the island for it, can call upon the Bonaire Personal Shopper.  As Renee says, “Shopping is my second love, and is what I do best--after leading snorkel excursions, that is!”

The new web site is available by clicking here, and offers some tips about what to expect from the stores on Bonaire in regard to brand names, as well as a shopping list of necessities from which one can choose.  Any special items not on the list can be requested via the on-line order form.  Upon receipt of an order, Renee will confirm costs and availability to the person submitting the order.  They then have the opportunity to complete the transaction if they so desire by using a credit card to pay for the order.

With the majority of Bonaire accommodations providing full kitchens or kitchenettes, the Bonaire Personal Shopper is sure to provide an added value making a Bonaire vacation easier.  (Source:  Bonaire Personal Shopper)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 07, 2009 at 4:24pm AST
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Friday, December 04, 2009

Dive Friends Bonaire Upgrades Retail Equipment Facilities with SCUBAPRO and Mares

Diving is an equipment-intensive and dynamic sport, with new evolving technology which continually makes it safer while increasing the fun and enjoyment of diving.  In order to provide the best to its customers, Dive Friends Bonaire has recently upgraded two of its facilities with a full line of equipment from either SCUBAPRO or Mares.  All are invited to stop in to see the latest offerings from these manufacturers, and the knowledgeable dive crew at either Dive Friends facility can assist with making important decisions about equipment. 

SCUBAPRO Dealership at Dive Friends @ Yellow Submarine: Dive Friends @ Yellow Submarine is pleased to announce that this facility is now an official SCUBAPRO dealer.  The interior of the dive facility has been remodeled to highlight the full range of SCUBAPRO equipment, which is now available for sale on Bonaire.

At this location, customers will be able to choose from the popular Vu, Solera, and Orbit masks with Laguna, Escape, and Eclipse snorkels.  Both the men’s Knight Hawk and the women’s Lady Hawk BCDs will be available with the MK2 regulator line and R295 octopus.  There’s also a choice in exposure protection with Profile wetsuits as well as the Caribbean shorty.  UWATEC/Aladin instruments and computers are offered.

SCUBAPRO UWATEC is one of the industry’s premier manufacturers of scuba diving equipment, and, by utilizing their equipment in the rental department at Dive Friends @ Yellow Submarine, visitors who require rental equipment are assured of having the best available to them. 

MARES at Dive Friends @ Dive Inn:  In order to provide even more choice, Dive Friends Bonaire will be revamping their Dive Inn location into a retail center for Mares products.  For nearly 60 years, Mares has been recognized around the world as a leading manufacturer of technologically advanced diving products.

At the Dive Friends @ Dive Inn facility, customers may choose between Liquid Skin masks and goggles, the extremely easy swimming Avanti fins, as well as a wide assortment of Mares regulators and BDCs.

Both SCUBAPRO UWATEC and MARES products also will be available at Dive Friend’s two retail stores in Kralendijk—Dive Friends @ Dive Retail Outlet and Dive Friends @ Divers Discount—both located on Kaya Grandi.  In addition to these two new lines, the retail stores will continue to stock the best equipment from Sherword, Cressi, and Tusa.  For additional information, click here to visit their web site.  (Source:  Dive Friends Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 04, 2009 at 12:38pm AST
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bonaire Oceanfront Villa Is Ready for 2009/2010 Season

With a villa ideally set up for divers and which can accommodate up to ten persons, Bonaire Oceanfront Villa 9 is pleased to announce that it has completed major renovations in 2009 and the property is now ready to accept divers and leisure vacationers during the upcoming high season in 2010.  Over the past two years, the villa has received a variety of improvements that can only enhance the experience that divers will have when vacationing at the property.

The kitchen has been completely redone and enlarged to twice its previous size.  It now sports all new appliances, including a full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and coffeemaker, as well as new windows and cabinetry.

The villa’s outdoor living spaces have all been upgraded:  The third-floor roof-top terrace has new terra cotta tile flooring, while the two bedroom balconies on the second floor have had roofs added to them, allowing all-day use regardless of the weather.  The backyard covered patio has been updated, including new teak furniture.  Lighting has been added to the seaside pavilion, so it can be enjoyed during evening hours.

The interior has also been refurbished with new furniture in the living area and a cable TV/DVD player and WIFI access.  Three bathrooms have been totally renovated, while the other two have new tile and fixtures.  All bedrooms have new split-unit air-conditioning, which offers quiet functioning as compressors are outside.

The entire exterior of the villa has been freshly painted, and the parking area enlarged to accommodate up to three vehicles.

Those contemplating Bonaire Oceanfront Villa 9 for their next Bonaire vacation can visit the newly expanded web site located at www.bonaireoceanfrontvilla.com, which highlights new amenities for the property, as well as an amplified image gallery and an up-to-date availability calendar.

Throughout the site, visitors will find current images of the villa, showing exactly the conditions that those booking their next Bonaire vacation will find.  The image gallery, located at www.bonaireoceanfrontvilla.com/pictures.html, has been augmented with clear thumbnail images, which are clickable for enlarged images of the villa’s exterior, interior, and roof-top terraces.  Additionally, stunning sunsets of the Caribbean Sea offer a taste of what those staying at Bonaire Oceanfront Villa will experience.

The availability calendar, which can be viewed at www.bonaireoceanfrontvilla.com/calendar.html, is new to the site, and can provide an “at-a-glance” check of which dates are still available for upcoming travel plans.  Confirmation of your travel dates can be easily completed via an e-mail to the villa’s property manager at info@bonaireoceanfrontvilla.com.

Located at Hamlet #9, Bonaire Oceanfront Villa 9 offers the ease of diving from your own property, as the famous “Cliff” dive site is only 100 feet from the property’s beach.  The villa accommodates up to ten persons comfortably with five bedrooms and five baths.  Two diving facilities are within a short walk of the villa: Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet to the north, and Captain Don’s Habitat to the south.

Bonaire Oceanfront Villa 9 is one of Bonaire’s premier oceanfront properties offering villa-style vacationing.  It offers affordable accommodations for any Bonaire visitor, but especially caters to those coming to the island to dive.  For additional information or to check availability, visit their web site at www.bonaireoceanfrontvilla.com. (Source:  Bonaire Oceanfront Villa 9)

Posted by Susan Davis on December 02, 2009 at 9:17am AST
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