Island of Bonaire
Apparently George W. Bush spent some of his summer
vacation of 2005 reading a book about the history of salt. At one time
salt was as important a commodity as oil is today, as without it food could not
be preserved for long journeys by sea.
If he really wants to find out about salt, the
Commander-in-Chief might do better to visit the small Caribbean island of
Bonaire. Lying just a little way off the coast of Venezuela, the island is part
of the Dutch Antilles group, forming the ‘B’ of the famous ‘ABC’ – Antigua,
Bonaire, Curacao. Thanks to the shallow lakes and marshes at its southern tip,
the island is very rich in salt. Years ago slaves were brought here not to
harvest to common Caribbean crops like bananas and sugarcane, but rather to
rake over the salt pans to feed North America’s insatiable demand for the
substance. The island is still a major salt producer today, although the
company that runs the Bonaire salt operation, Cargill, doesn’t use slaves
shipped across the Atlantic for the purpose!
For such a small island, Bonaire has many claims to fame. Apart
from being the salt capital of the Americas it’s also famed as a divers’
paradise. Because the island is largely surrounded by dense coral reef, it’s
possibly to enjoy some really great dives straight from the beach. Whether
you’re into scuba or snorkeling, Bonaire is the place for you.
There are a number of resorts on the island that cater for the
diving community as well as those who want to enjoy a more traditional and
relaxing Caribbean vacation. The Harbour Village Beach Club is a typically laid
back resort, offering a range of activities from full-immersion water sports
through to all kinds of relaxation programs and amenities.
Rooms and suites at the Harbour Village Beach Club are clustered
around three areas: the marina, the beach, and the courtyard gardens. Club
Rooms are luxurious, and represent really good value for money for what you
get. All rooms feature king size beds and full en suite bathroom facilities, as
well as the usual run of hotel room amenities. If you want accommodation that’s
even classier still, you should book a Club Suite. Each has a private terrace
equipped with hammocks. There is also a bar and kitchenette with a microwave,
should you feel the need for a snack.
Snacking, inside or outside your room or suite, is never going
to be a problem at this particular Bonaire resort. As well as the usual snack
bars and beach bars and grills, the Harbour Village Beach Club features a first
class restaurant in the form of La Balandra, headed up by Chef Alberto Roldan.
So you can get a real sense of being close to the sea from which much of the
menu has been caught, the restaurant is built on a jetty that sticks out into
the water - there is a option to dine in the open air, and the fresh tang of
breeze is bound to help you work up an appetite!
If even the romantic setting of La Balandra isn’t quite enough
for you, you can also request to have a candlelit dinner for two on the beach.
This is particularly popular with couples visiting the resort, and must be
booked in advance!
Of course, you’re probably going to need to do something to work
off the calories that the restaurant’s superb menu has tempted you into piling
on. If you’re an experienced diver or just a beginner, you have most certainly
come to the right place. Bonaire is considered among the top five diving
destinations in the world, with great conditions and over eight recognized dive
sites to explore. As well as Scuba, the resort also offers facilities for
snorkeling, and is one of the few Caribbean resorts to offer SASY – Supported
Air Snorkeling for Youth. So your kids, providing they’re older than five, can
learn confidence in the water and some of the skills that might lead them on
top a lifetime of fun diving experiences.
The resort also offers a wide range of surface water sports,
including kayaking, canoeing and sailing.
The cool grip of the deep blue sea may be relaxing for some, but
for those who would rather let the stresses of everyday life wash away in more
conventional surroundings, the resort offers a very comprehensive spa service.
Although this isn’t open to resort guests under the age of sixteen years,
adults will find the relaxing treatments at the hands of highly skilled
therapists to be just right for providing the ultimate in relaxation. If you’ve
a diver, why not visit the spa afterwards and have all that salt water washed
The Harbour Village Beach Club is one of the best (and best
value) resorts on this small island. Very few people have even heard of
Bonaire, but it’s certainly worth a visit if you want a really rewarding