With clear blue skies, pink salt ponds, turquoise waters and iconic Caribbean sunsets, it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo on Bonaire. After years of hearing my mom (#Momzilla) rave about the unreal snorkelling and diving on this tiny coral island, I finally got to see what all the fuss is about for myself. It took me no time at all to realize the stories are true. As the shore diving capital of the world, Bonaire sea life really is the stuff of legends.
We checked in to our luxury sea view penthouse at Terramar which can be booked through Sun Rentals Bonaire. We couldn’t believe our eyes, but we could actually see tropical blue parrot fish swimming in the Caribbean Sea across the street from our gigantic penthouse balcony. I loved that they stocked the fridge with fresh fruit and soy milk (thank you Nadia!) and that even the soaps and shampoo were vegan (Body Care brand). Steps away from the main strip of small businesses, the 13-room Terramar Bonaire complex is right next the brand new Terramar museum of Caribbean history and is located right on top of new shops and cafes. Coffee Company is one of them, is open late and serves vegan sorbet and great iced lattes (of which I drank many).
Our villa was located in the ideal spot to explore the small town of Kralendijk, Bonaire’s capital. The Terramar apartments were a great pick for us because they had a full kitchen, living room, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a washer and dryer so it was just like staying in a (swankier) home away from home.
Fantastic Vegan Food
My absolute favourite meal of the week was prepared at the open air restaurant Go Green Bonaire, where our friends from Sun Rentals took us out for an incredible lunch. We later returned for an interesting Ayurvedic workshop by certified practitioner, Ms. Rani Sukhai, to learn all about how food plays a crucial role in the harmony between body and mind. Go Green offers some seriously tasty vegetarian cuisine made exclusively with local organic ingredients and love. For sustainability reasons, this sweet little spot doesn’t have a set menu, but instead serves a couple of different choices daily. Reservations are highly recommended and their daily menu is posted on their Facebook page.
What’s fascinating is that Go Green’s owner, Tina Woodley, is so much more than your run-of-the-mill restaurant owner. She’s more like some kind of Wonder Woman. Somehow, she finds the time to be a holistic fitness trainer, massage therapist, the first female world champion power lifter and body builder (!!), and an all around inspiring woman. She is also one hell of a vegan chef. I haven’t had much experience with Indian food, but this was my first time trying kofta masala and I loved it.
Every Day I’m Snorkellin’…
Momzilla and I spent one epic morning drift snorkelling via Epic Tours’ private sailing yacht at two different spots along very healthy coral reef surrounding tiny uninhabited Klein Bonaire ( Klein means ‘small’ in Dutch), their satellite sister island. The reef and sea life surrounding the island’s Bonaire National Marine Park are in such good shape is because they have been protected by the government since 1979. We weren’t lucky enough to see dolphins as they had the day before, but I was more than happy to swim alongside a majestic hawksbill sea turtle within a few minutes of getting into the water!
The sea is so warm and clear and this tour is great for beginners. The Epic Tour operators really kept an eye on everyone, and made sure we were all comfortable and having fun out in the deep blue sea before rewarding us with a glass of champagne for a job well done at the end of the day.
Out and About in “Playa”
Locals call the downtown area “playa” which means beach as you probably remember from the hit song “Vamos a La Playa”. We briefly stopped by a few other restaurants around town including Cuba Compagnie which, ironically, doesn’t have a single Cuban dish on their menu! But their creative cocktails, Communist Cuba inspired decor and friendly staff were fun enough to make up for it.
As the name might suggest, It Rains Fishes is more of a seafood place than a vegan hotspot, but I was grateful that they were creative enough to send out a fantastic fried mushroom starter and decent veggie pasta with tomato sauce on the fly. We later had a blast at Little Havana watching a local band play some old rock and reggae classics to a packed room full of Dutch divers. The crowd may have started out a little standoffish, but as usual, my mom was the life of the party and got the whole dance floor on their toes and rocking out to Sweet Child O’ Mine.
We ended our time on Bonaire at Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino where we spent our days snorkelling right off the beach bar with schools of dazzling tropical fish. Speciality vegan meals are not on the menu at any of the restaurants, but it’s nice to know that they are available on request if ordered ahead. On “Italian Night” we sat with the chef at Divi’s signature restaurant, Pure Ocean, and ate some wonderful cheese-free veggie lasagna and pizza. The resort has even accommodated full vegan groups with creative buffets and meals for the week.
Because life is all about balance, the highlight of staying at this resort was the outdoor hatha yoga class spent watching the sun dip into the sea over the horizon. Waking up from shavasana looking up at a dreamy sky full of stars was the perfect bonus to a day well-spent.
Next stop, my travel-writing mom and I are back in Aruba for one week. Stay tuned for what happens next by following our hashtag on Instagram #MomzillaAndTheBrat (@suectravel and @veganvacationista).
For more info on Bonaire, visit http://www.tourismbonaire.com/