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Friday, October 30, 2015

Bonaire Insider Dining Review--Blue Garden Brazilian Grill and Pizza Gourmet

I recently had the opportunity to try out the newly opened Blue Garden Brazilian Grill & Pizza Gourmet.  This new Bonaire eatery opened on the site of the previous Casablanca Restaurant, on Kaya Julia A. Abraham Boulevard #6.

I have to say that this new restaurant–in one visit–made it my Favorites list.  The renovated restaurant has a cool and refreshing blue look to it, the staff were attentive and pleasant, and the food was simply excellent!

Blue Garden specializes in gourmet pizza, creating 17 specialty pizzas that you probably won’t find anywhere on Bonaire.  I personally enjoyed the Blue Garden special, with mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, arugula, fresh mushroom, capers, green olives, bacon, and buffalo mozzarella

Others in our party enjoyed the Four Cheese Pizza, with mozzarella, Italian Gran Padano parmesan, gorgonzola, and Requeija gourmet Brazilian cheese, served with black olives.  And yet we had another pizza to try out, the Spectacular Shrimp Pizza, served with flambéed tiger shrimp, mozzarella, Requeija gourmet Brazilian cheese, crispy fried garlic, parsley, and green olives.

Are your mouths watering yet?  With only three taste-tested, I have only 14 more to try!

For those wishing a lighter fare, there is a veggie pizza, as well as a fresh tuna pizza, and those who wish to eat green can enjoy either a Salad Navegantes, made with tiger shrimp and mussels, croutons, and slices of Gran Padano parmesan cheese, or the Salad Primadonna with lettuce, croutons, Gran Padan parmesan cheese, and served with the house’s specially prepared sauce.

But what about the carnivores?  Meat lovers will not have a problem with finding something as well. The grill offers three choices of fine Brazilian meats:  Picanha Brasileira Combo, a prime cut of the top sirloin, sliced and light seasoned.  This is served with a small grill on your table so that you may cook the meat to your own preference.  And for those who cannot choose just one meat, there’s the Mix Grill Combo with Picanha, Sausage, Chicken and Brazilian Cheese Bread and yucca, or the Carré Combo, a New Zealand Rack of Lamb (12 oz/350 grams), also served with Brazilian Cheese Bread and yucca.

Although all of my dining companions and I tried to say no to dessert, we were just too full, our hostess wouldn’t hear of it.  She informed us that we simply could not leave without sampling one of her dessert pizzas, so she made a small personal-sized Banana pizza with ice cream for the four of us taste and share.  I have to say it was sublime.  The mix of the mozzarella with the sweetness of caramel and the bananas made the dessert almost savory, and I will have to return to try out (just a bite!) the Choco Noir Pizza Mango or the Choco Noir Pizza Cherry.

All in all, Bonaire has a wonderful new restaurant to enjoy!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 30, 2015 at 3:19pm AST
Restaurants and DiningPermalink


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Austin and Lorrie Headland Honored as Gold Bonaire Ambassadors

Last evening on the pier table at Sebastian’s Restaurant, Austin and Lorrie Headland were honored by Rolando Marin, of the Tourism Corporation Bonaire, for their dedicated annual visits to Bonaire.

The couple has been visiting Bonaire each year for over 21 years, and in some years, visited twice.  They hail from Alabama in the United States, and even though they habitually travel to other dive locations, they admit that Bonaire is the destination that they continue to return to year after year.

Both Austin and Lorrie are divers, and underwater photographers as well.  Although they do spend long hours underwater (many dives reach almost two hours in length), they also enjoy just kicking back and enjoying the island.  Over the years, they have made many friends on Bonaire.

Chef Sebastian himself placed their honorary gold medals, when they were dining at his restaurant.

Congratulations, Austin and Lorrie, and continue to visit for many more years!  (Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 29, 2015 at 3:24pm AST
PeopleTourism AnnouncementsPermalink


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Piedra Azul (Blue Rock) Petting Zoo Offers a True Kunuku Experience and More

Deep in the heart of Mexico (Bonaire’s Mexico, that is) resides a wonderful place in which to spend a few hours.  All children will love the Piedra Azul Petting Zoo, but even big kids of all ages will enjoy a visit.

Piedra Azul means Blue Rock in Papiamentu, Bonaire’s spoken language, and the big, brightly painted blue rock marks your arrival at this petting zoo in the kunuku (farm) area of Mexico, roughly located between the neighborhood of Antriol on Kaya Korona and the east coast of Bonaire.

At Piedra Azul, director Burnett Felida has created a wonderland for all sorts of animals, including goats, sheep, ponies, pigs, cows, tortoises, a capuchin monkey who needed a good home, and a very large quantity of birds–geese, white doves, ducks, chickens, turkeys, and ostriches.

Wait–ostriches?  On Bonaire?  Yes, Burnett has several adult ostriches, the largest birds on earth, and even has a breeding program with an incubator so that any eggs can be safely brought to term and add to the current population.  Sometimes visitors can feed these large, flightless birds.  Ostriches can reach up to 9 feet/2.7 meters tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs./145 kilograms.

The animals that live at Piedra Azul are happy and healthy.  They have enclosures which not only provide for their physical comforts, but also insure that their mental needs are taken care of as well.  The entire petting zoo is clean and well kept and it’s a joy to see the obvious affection these animals have for their caretaker.  That affection goes both ways, as Burnett’s eyes shine when he speaks of his animals.

Burnett enjoys working with some miniature species, and he has miniature goats and even a miniature donkey.  All baby animals are cute, but miniature baby animals win the prize for cuteness.  And, because the animals at Piedra Azul are happy and healthy, there are lots of babies around the zoo, with more on the way.  Nothing can put a smile on a young child’s face faster than getting almost nose-to-nose with a mother pig and her baby piglet.

And although there are miniature species, there are also some very large animals.  The ostriches are, of course, extremely tall birds, but there are immense pigs and huge, grass-fed cows, and even a bull.  In fact, Piedra Azul is now in the process of growing its own specialty grasses, just to give the cows nutritious feed.

When asked how many animals reside on Piedra Azul, Burnett smiles and readily admits he doesn’t know.  But what he does know is that he loves his work with the petting zoo, and he will continue to do all he can to keep his animals happy.  Expansion plans call for a refreshment area and patio on which to sip a cool drink, and a kids’ driving track where they can begin to learn about road signs while having fun in a safe manner.

Piedra Azul is open Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM through sunset, and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  The zoo does not have a large staff, so it’s best to call ahead to let them know you would like to visit (telephone +599 780-3524).  The petting zoo covers 6 acres/2.4 hectares.  Entrance is totally free.

Piedra Azul Petting Zoo is part of the Bara di Karta hiking, cycling, and driving trails.  To find the zoo, turn east onto Kaminda Lagun from Kaya Korona.  When you see a low, red marker sign on your right, turn left onto the dirt road and continue to follow the red markers.  When you see the zoo’s namesake, the blue rock, you have arrived.

Additional images can be viewed on the Bonaire Insider Photo Gallery by clicking here(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 28, 2015 at 10:29am AST


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bonaire’s Tourism (Arriving by Air) Increases Five Percent in First Half 2015

As reported by Statistics Netherlands, Bonaire received five percent more air passengers as tourists in the first half of 2015 than in the same period in 2014.

In the first half of 2015, 68.8 thousand tourists landed on Bonaire, an increase of over 5% compared to the first six months in 2014. April 2015 was an especially high month, when Bonaire saw 1,300 more tourist than the year before for the same month.

More than half of the tourists flying to Bonaire were Dutch nationals. Of this group, 29%lived in the European part of the Netherlands, while the other 25% were Dutch nationals who lived outside of the Netherlands. Those from the United States formed the second largest group of tourists with 23%.

(Source:  RCN)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 27, 2015 at 11:55am AST
Air TravelGovernmentTourism AnnouncementsPermalink


Monday, October 26, 2015

Enter the Bonaire Photo Contest 2015 Before It’s Too Late

For all those who have visited Bonaire this year, or in 2013 or 2014, it’s still not too late to enter the island’s photo contest for 2015.

Entries can still be made through November 20th, 2015, at which time the contest will be closed for final judging, with the winners announced in December, 2015.  There are some very nice prizes available, including seven-night stays for two persons for the winning images in all categories.  Second places still offer wonderful prizes, with five night stays for two.

All visitors of Bonaire are invited to participate: Those who have visited during 2013 through 2015.  New this year is that there are categories for professional photographers, as well as amateur photographers.  Images can be submitted in either an underwater grouping, or top-side grouping.

For more information and the rules and regulations, visit the contest’s web site at www.bonairephotocontest.com(Source:  Bonaire Photo Contest)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 26, 2015 at 10:21am AST


Friday, October 23, 2015

Sunscreens Can Cause Damage to Reef Systems

A new study published this week in a toxicology journal has found that a chemical widely used in personal care products, such as sunscreen, poses an ecological threat to corals and coral reefs and threatens their existence.

It only takes one drop of that chemical, oxybenzone, to cause disaster.

Oxybenzone is found in over 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide, and pollutes coral reefs from swimmers wearing sunscreens and through wastewater discharges from municipal sewage outfalls and from coastal septic systems.

“The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Craig Downs of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory Virginia.

“We have lost at least 80 per cent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”

Between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotion are emitted into coral reef areas each year, much of which contains between one and 10 percent oxybenzone.

The results of the study, which was conducted in the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii, come less than two weeks after NOAA declared the third ever global coral bleaching event and warned that locally produced threats to coral, such as pollution, stress the health of corals and decrease the likelihood that they will resist bleaching, or recover from it.

It demonstrates that exposure of coral planulae (baby coral) to oxybenzone, produces gross morphological deformities, damages their DNA, and, most alarmingly, acts as an endocrine disruptor. The latter causes the coral to encase itself in its own skeleton leading to death.

These effects were observed as low as 62 parts per trillion, the equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Measurements of oxybenzone in seawater within coral reefs in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands found concentrations ranging from 800 parts per trillion to 1.4 parts per million. This is over 12 times higher than the concentrations necessary to impact on coral.

A team of marine scientists from Virginia, Florida, Israel, the National Aquarium (US) and the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, undertook the study.

It should be noted that some retail outlets on Bonaire do sell only ecologically friendly sunscreens.  When visiting Bonaire, be sure to only bring or purchase on island sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone.  (Source:  Caribbean360.com)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 23, 2015 at 10:36am AST
Kite BoardingNatureScuba DivingSnorkelingWater SportsWindsurfingPermalink


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Have Fun and Help With a Good Cause This Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bonaire is well known for its famous yellow-painted rocks……they have been employed to mark dive sites for decades, but more recently have been also used to mark areas of no-access to keep vulnerable habitats secure.

This Saturday, CIEE will be painting and placing “Do Not Enter” rocks at Gotomeer to help keep this important natural resource pristine.  If you are on Bonaire, and want to spend a few hours helping out for a good cause, either meet at Gotomeer at 10:00 AM, or arrive at CIEE’s headquarters at Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot by 9:15 AM for carpooling.

Water and snacks will be provided.  Please come out and join, and have some fun while you do! (Source:  CIEE)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 22, 2015 at 12:04pm AST
Community ServiceEventsNaturePermalink


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Carib Inn Launches Weekly Photo Contests

With the proliferation of wonderfully small and high quality cameras these days, more divers than ever are taking their own underwater and travel images and coming home with great images.  Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn has just launched a weekly photo contest for their guests and divers to help showcase these wonderful images.

It’s very simple–post your favorite images taken during your stay on the Carib Inn Facebook page.  Images must be uploaded during your stay by Thursday each week.  The week’s winner will be announced on Friday and is awarded by the most number of “likes.” Each weekly winner receives a T-shirt (winner must be present to receive the prize), and each winner is automatically entered into the annual contest, with a prize of a shore diving package for two.

Images can be from above or below the water, and can be of guests, staff, flora, fauna, landscapes, or activities.  It’s only limited by your own imagination!  Be sure to submit only current images, those taken during your stay at Carib Inn or while diving with them.

Other terms and conditions do apply, so visit the Carib Inn web site for additional details. (Source:  Carib Inn)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 21, 2015 at 11:17am AST
PotpourriScuba DivingSnorkelingWater SportsPermalink


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Enjoy a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner This Year at Sebastian’s Restaurant

This year, Sebastian will be hosting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for all North Americans, visitors and residents alike, who would like to enjoy an excellent Thanksgiving feast, without all the work.  This year, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 26, 2015.

Sebastian will be serving pumpkin soup, roasted turkey with apple-nut stuffing, mashed white potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, baked sweet potato, glazed carrots, green beans with bacon and almond, and pumpkin pie.  The fixed-price menu is $45.00 per person, and advance reservations are highly recommended to avoid disappointment.

There will be two seatings on this day, in order to accommodate everyone.  Please make reservations for either 6:00 PM or 8:30 PM by clicking here.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it!  (Source:  Sebastian’s Restaurant)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 20, 2015 at 1:49pm AST
EventsRestaurants and DiningPermalink


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Do Divers Impact Reefs--A New Scientific Study Gives Insight

Earlier this month, a group of past and present CIEE Bonaire staff, interns, and students published a research paper titled, “The effect of recreational SCUBA divers on the structural complexity and benthic assemblage of a Caribbean coral reef” in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation. For many of the group of interns and students, the paper is their first peer-reviewed scientific publication, a major step in the path to becoming a scientist. CIEE Bonaire is very pleased to have been able to offer this opportunity to these first-time authors.

Guided dives have been shown to reduce diver impacts

The goal of this research project was to examine the specific effects that divers have on the benthic organisms (hard corals, soft corals, sponges, etc.) that make up tropical reefs. It has been known for quite some time that divers break, dislodge, and abrade benthic organisms. However, it is less understood how divers might affect the structural complexity of reefs and the relative abundance of different benthic organisms. The research project examined these two aspects through a series of underwater surveys conducted at areas that are heavily and lightly trafficked by SCUBA divers.

Benthic survey team

The results indicate that divers reduce the structural complexity of reefs (make them flatter), which is alarming because much of what makes coral reefs so diverse is their complexity. Additionally, in areas of high diving traffic, there was a shift from a reef dominated by hard corals to one dominated by sponges, soft corals, and rubble. This could be problematic for the future of corals because hard corals make up the structure on which coral reefs are built. The results of the paper indicate that more needs to be done to educate SCUBA divers on how to minimize their effect. This is crucial for island nations like Bonaire that rely on having healthy reefs to attract SCUBA tourism.

For those who would like to learn more, the scientific paper is available in PDF format by clicking here(Source:  CIEE Bonaire)

Posted by Susan Davis on October 08, 2015 at 3:19pm AST
EducationNatureScuba DivingWater SportsPermalink


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