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With a plethora of outdoor activities on this long holiday weekend on Bonaire, be sure you choose and use the right sunscreen to keep our reefs safe!

As more and more research is being conducted, there is a clear indication that using sunscreens which have Oxybenzone as an active ingredient are harming coral reefs! When visiting Bonaire, we encourage everyone to choose their sun protection wisely, but many people do not know exactly what to look for in an environmentally friendly sunscreen. Here are six of the best tips to ensure your sunscreen is healthy for Bonaire’s reefs, as well as yourself!

Is Sunscreen a threat to Bonaire’s reefs?

It’s helpful to understand why the chemical sunscreen issue is becoming a hot topic. Scientists have been researching the harmful effects of sunscreen on corals for more than a decade. The most leading scientist in this area of research is Dr. Craig Downs, Executive Director, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory (HEL), Virginia USA, who has focused his scientific research on Oxybenzone; a UV filter used in many sunscreens. Craig Downs’ research has led to a dedicated community movement on Hawaii that has been raising awareness and that has also been advocating legislation to ban sunscreens with oxybenzone on Hawaii.

The threats that sunscreens containing Oxybenzone form to our reefs on Bonaire are very complex, but the solution can be quite simple.

The reality of today is that our reefs face many threats, such as climate change and the subsequent increase in water temperatures, and water pollution through sewage and sedimentation. In most cases, global environmental issues need global solutions. However, water pollution by sunscreens with Oxybenzone is a global issue that can actually be solved locally. According to Dutch scientist Diana Slijkerman of Wageningen Marine Research, getting rid of harmful sunscreens on Bonaire is “totally do-able.”

 

The effects of Oxybenzone

The UV filter Oxybenzone impacts the coral in various ways, thereby affecting the coral’s natural integrity to withstand other pressures such as climate change as it:

  • Acts as a hormone disruptor, and harms or kill coral larvae by inducing deformities;
  • Induces DNA damage and viral infections;
  • Bio-accumulates in coral tissue;
  • May enhance coral bleaching.

In laymen terms, this means that sunscreens containing Oxybenzone cause irreversible damage to corals in general, but are specifically life-threatening to juvenile corals.

 

Research of harmful effects sunscreen on Bonaire

Recent studies were done by Dr. Diana Slijkerman (Wageningen Marine Research) also showed that Oxybenzone can be found on Bonaire. She studied the potential risks of Oxybenzone and three other UV-filters and has specifically looked at the concentrations in Sorobon, the nearby mangroves, and Lac Cai, and she estimated the risk of the actual concentrations towards the nursery areas in the surroundings.

Contrary to three years ago, Bonaire now receives cruise ships all year round. Cruise ship tourists visit Sorobon with increasing frequency, resulting in a large increase in sunbathers. Consequently, these sunbathers increase the risk of sunscreen with potentially damaging UV filters ending up in the water of the Lac Bay area. The risk assessment performed shows that the environmental risk and potential effects resulting from this emerging pollution cannot be denied, especially in the scope of increasing tourism. Dr. Slijkerman concludes that it would be wise to take precautionary measures to prevent future environmental effects.

 

What can we do to preserve our reefs on Bonaire?

Bonaire is not the first to acknowledge the harmful effects of Oxybenzone in sunscreen products and hopefully not the last. Hawaii has paved the way for Bonaire, and we can learn from the steps that they have taken to educate tourists and inhabitants. There are simple steps you can take to make a difference and safeguard coral reefs on Bonaire:

 

Do not use sunscreens with Oxybenzone.

Inform yourself and read the ingredient list; look for Oxybenzone, also known as benzophenone3 (or BP-3). Note: Manufacturers can make false claims, promoting their sunscreens as reef safe products. If sunscreens do contain Oxybenzone they are NOT reef friendly!

Do use sunscreens with mineral barriers!

Those with active ingredients of either zinc or titanium oxide or a combination of the two are good to use. Read the label! Just check the active ingredients on the label.  If you see anything else, it’s probably not recommended for use.

Use lotions over spray cans.

Aerosol spreads sunscreen much further so that it is able to form a film (thin layer) on the water surface.

Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before entering the water.

By doing so, the sunscreen has time to adhere to the skin, which decreases the wash-off factor when entering the water.

Wear protective clothing instead.

Long-sleeved rash guards protect against the sun. Clothes have their own UV protection rating, called UPF. Synthetic fabrics have a higher UPF than cotton fabric, especially when wet.

Avoid SPF above 50.

(SPF 50 blocks 98% of UV rays, SPF 100 blocks 99%) SPF 30 to SPF 50 should provide adequate protection when used correctly. Sunscreens with higher SPF contain many more chemicals than lower SPF, but only offer a minimal increase in UV-protection.

Next steps for Bonaire

Boneiru Duradero and Wageningen Marine Research, with the support of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in the Netherlands, just recently completed a seminar on Bonaire about the harmful effects of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone. Lead speakers at this event were Dr. Craig Downs (HEL) and Dr. Diana Slijkerman (WUR), who shared their scientific research with participants.

The first mission coming from this seminar is to create an island-wide awareness about the possible threats to our reefs, caused by sunscreens with Oxybenzone. The second goal is to unite all resellers of sunscreen products on Bonaire with the common goal to only sell sunscreens that are FREE of Oxybenzone. The hope is that this initiative will be carried forward to other islands in the region.

A consortium of nature organizations, dive facilities, and retail stores are already on board and only sell sunscreen products that do not contain Oxybenzone. If you are planning to visit Bonaire, do read the label of your sunscreen product, and if it lists anything other than zinc or titanium oxide as the active ingredients, then ditch it and purchase your sunscreen protection on the island.

(Source: Boneiru Duradero)


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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

Restaurant Reviews on BonReviews:

3/5

So-so at Between Two Buns. If you never had a sandwich before I suppose you might think it was good. Sandwiches are not served on buns but rather on a sliced baguette about 8″ or so. A piece of meat or cheese is placed in between and voila! Sandwich. No lettuce, tomato, mustard or aioli, […]

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5/5

Food is excellent @ Donna & Georgio’s, Donna always made me feel special. Great food and always a take out service.  As an owner at Sanddollar and full kitchen facilities makes their take out food a very good place to eat in or take out. Every trip to BONAIRE requires multi stops at this restaurant. For pizza […]

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5/5

Tipsy Seagull – Best dinner ever! We decided to have dinner Friday night at the Tipsy Seagull at the Plaza Hotel and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more! The 3 course meal was fantastic and the music was so awesome.  The servers were so friendly and attentive and the food was wonderful. We will definitely […]

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5/5

Bistro de Paris is accommodating for vegans and vegetarians.  We love going to Bistro because we know we can eat a fabulous meal for our vegan needs. Mary makes a mean veggie salad large enough for a meal. The rice bowls, carrot bourgenon is soo tasty, the potato terrine is to die for, so rich […]

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5/5

I have been coming to Bonaire for over 20 years. Without a doubt, Donna & Giorgio’s is our favorite place to dine. A husband & wife team, Donna is the hostess with the most-est and Giorgio is the fantastico Italian chef. Our favorite thing for dinner is to tell Giorgio to make us whatever he […]

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5/5

Gourmet burgers at King Kong Mobile Food Truck! Very convenient at bachelor’s beach. Great burger! Next time I will go for the Junk Yard Dog.

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5/5

Not a Typical Pizza! I’m a pepperoni and sausage pizza guy so I was skeptical when I saw pizza topped with shrimp on the menu.  I tried it, I loved it, and I’ll go back to Blue Garden Brazilian Grill & Pizza Gourmet for more the next time we are on the island.  They offer […]

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5/5

Best food on Bonaire at Donna & Giorgio’s! We had 2 dinners and one lunch during our week in Bonaire. We loved the food, Donna, and her daughter. Everything we had was great! Be sure and call for a reservation.

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5/5

Hot Spot King Kong!   Bachelor Beach is er een stuk leuker en lekkerder op geworden. King Kong levert uitstekende kwaliteit. Verrassende smaken!

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5/5

Sebastian’s Restaurant is an Epicureans Delight!  You have to try this seaside gourmet restaurant. The chef is known for combining foods and spices you will not taste elsewhere.

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5/5

Eddy’s Restaurant–Again, as an owner at Sanddollar you could not find a better place to eat. Friendly casual great food with a different variety. Family owned and run and will cook to your pleasure. Eddy is the cook, Sonia runs the front along with their children–another Sonia and Eddy!

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5/5

Awesome burgers and fries at King Kong Burgers & Hotdogs!  I would eat these burgers 7 days a week if I could, but my wetsuit would not fit after awhile. They are wonderful and the area the truck is at couldn’t be better. Great job to the owner. Will be back next visit to the […]

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5/5

Sebastian’s Restaurant By the Beautiful Sea! You know the saying about saving the best for last?  Lorrie and I save Sebastian’s Restaurant for the end of our trip because we love the food selections, service, scenery, Sebastian and the friends that join us for our farewell dinner.  The restaurant offers a local menu with several nightly […]

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4/5

Best Fries On Bonaire! I have been enjoying Bobbejan‘s weekend BBQ since 2001. Maggie and Robert run a tasty restaurant. My daughter loves the rib dinner. I enjoy the fish when it’s fresh. Their side cole slaw is garlicky and tasty. The reason I go so often is their french fries. They are the best […]

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5/5

Eddy’s is Excellent!  We love going to Eddy’s. The service is always great and the food is fresh and outstanding!

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5/5

King Kong Burger Food Truck. Find it on Bachelors Beach. Tuesday through Sat…I think. We have returned to these freshly made, gourmet burgers several times. The meat is fresh and tasty. Prepared when ordered and seasoned to perfection. Several special recipes to choose from. Our favorite is the French connection….so unique and tasty, paired with mosquito […]

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5/5

Sebastian’s Restaurant is the best all around!  I’ve eaten at Sebastian’s maybe five times in the last three years and it’s always been a unique experience. From the greetings that make you feel welcome to the creative menu and exceptional food to the natural ambiance of water and sky–there’s nothing to match it on Bonaire.

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5/5

Bobbejan’s is our first dinner upon arrival!  Upon arriving on Bonaire after food shopping my first dinner is always at Bobbejans. They have the best chicken Sate and ribs. Known as the best take out restaurant and they developed an outdoor dining area. Only opened Friday’s, Sat and Sunday’s but well worth the wait and […]

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5/5

Goat stew at Eddy’s Restaurant was the best meal on the island, so tender. The barracuda was excellent and the mojitos were special.

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5/5

Best experience on Bonaire at King Kong Burgers & Hotdogs! Quality burgers! I was one of their first customers and now almost 2 years later they are still the best on Bonaire!

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5/5

Fine dining at Sebastian’s Restaurant!  I had two wonderful dinners recently at Sebastian’s, one out on their private pier.  In my opinion Sebastian’s is the place to go whenever visiting Bonaire.  The ambiance is lovely, the service impeccable and the food outstanding.  It is in my opinion, the best place to dine on the island […]

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5/5

Service & Food  at Breeze ‘n Bites–OUTSTANDING We always make a point of eating here at least once during our trips.  Service is always friendly and the food is always tasty.

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5/5

Gio’s is an amazing place!  We go here every day we are on the island. We so love the Gelato and desserts! I think we both gained 20# in one week but well worth it! Amazingly tasty gelato! Thank You!

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4/5

Mezze is a great new spot!  They installed a makeshift wheelchair ramp so a bunch of us decided to try this new addition to the island’s many awesome restaurants. Loved the excellent lamb shank served with delicious vegetables. Started with the eggplant and fresh pita. Decent prices too. We’re heading back soon.

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5/5

Best tuna ever at Sebastian’s Restaurant! We visited Bonaire 06/16 & I have to say that our visit To Sebastian’s was one of the highlights. The tuna was some of the best I’ve ever had & was done to its rare perfection. Cut with a fork & melt in your mouth!!!! Of course, washed down […]

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5/5

Capriccio Ristorante is wonderful!  This was a nice surprise! We were greeted with a welcome drink and a wonderful basket of bread and fresh pita chips. We had scallops and pasta which was wonderful and bolognese was nothing to brag about. Staff was pleasant and welcoming. Reservations (highly recommended) were for 6pm for party of […]

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4/5

My wife and I had a wonderful meal at Ingridients, but I have to say that the waiting staff did pressure us to select items we did not want.  Don’t hesitate to eat here because the food is excellent…just be prepared to say no to serving suggestions.

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4/5

Don’t miss Mezze while on Bonaire! We visited Mezze with friends and had a delicious meal. “Mezze” like “tapas” means “small plates” and all of the apps were outstanding: hummus, falafel, tabouleh, and baba ghanous, which we lapped up with homemade pita, forks and fingers. The concept of “small” evaporated when the entrees were served, especially […]

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3/5

Great food at Sebastian’s Restaurant, but exceptionally slow. After waiting 30 minutes for our snickers ice cream dessert they told us they were out of peanuts and have sent someone to buy some and would be at least 10 more minutes. we said forget the dessert and bring us the check. it still took 30 […]

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5/5

Fantastic fresh fish at Chibi Chibi.  We have now eaten the fresh fish special (mahi) twice on two separate trips (November and January).  The service is impeccable, the restaurant and bathrooms are very clean, and the food is amazing.  I struggle to understand why this restaurant doesn’t have better reviews on Trip Advisor.  It truly […]

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5/5

Excellent daily specials and “to die for” ribs at Joe’s Grillhouse!  Excellent casual place. Jessica and Bart, along with the staff, make you feel welcome and comfortable. We always visit Joe’s at least twice during our yearly dive trip to Bonaire. The daily catch special is always excellent while the ribs are “fall off the bone” […]

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5/5

Delightful evening at Bon Aroma! Be sure to include Bon Aroma on your list of fine dining experiences. The ambiance is lovely, the service impeccable and the cuisine delicious. The marlin and lionfish duo with its sides was outstanding. Dessert was a delight – apple tart with vanilla ice cream and a mixed berry cobbler […]

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5/5

Pizza, pizza at Rum Runners!  My second dinner upon arrival on Bonaire is going to Rum Runners and seeing my good friend TT and ordering two spicy shrimp pizzas and taking them home. Best pizza on the island. Well eating healthy I also order their Caesars Salad no anchovies with the pizzas. Note-TT is the […]

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5/5

Fast and delicious.  Nice ambience, good service, delicious food at Cuba Compagnie.

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5/5

La Cantina is absolutely the best!   Great ambience! Great service and the food was absolutely stunning!!  Chef Cook Rick and his wife Kim did it again! They created a new food experience!  You can order a la carte or take a surprise dinner and watch how your food is being prepared.  You should definitely […]

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5/5

Good taste at Bon Aroma! The elegance of this small beautifully-appointed space provides privacy between the five tables and quiet from the street while breezes flow through the open walls encouraging relaxation and conversation. My meal of braised marlin and lionfish with mango and basil sauce, a medley of fine vegetables and Italian rice, finished […]

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4/5

At Sea Restaurant Accommodating to Vegans and Gluten Free Folks.  First off they have my favorite…Hendricks gin, but a steady supply of fever tree tonics is a must to enjoy its smooth flavours. An enthusiastic bartender willing to earn your praises is a great start to an enjoyable evening. I asked the waitress if chef […]

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4/5

Latin Vibe at Cuba Compagnie!  I was invited to dinner by friends. Previously, I had been to Cuba for cocktails but dinner was a new experience. We sat outside surrounded by a lively and bustling vibe. The wait staff are very friendly and helpful. They are very busy so it takes patience and some effort […]

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5/5

Great local flavor of the island at Mi Banana. We were directed to Mi Banana to a great surprise. Friendly and personable staff and food was great. Chicken and fish dishes were our favorites up until the dessert. The three leche cake was to die for. Don’t miss the dessert.

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5/5

A great experience at BonAroma! Excellent food and presentation, reasonable prices, great service and wonderful people.  Best dining we have had on Bonaire!

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5/5

At Sea serves works of art!  We dined at At Sea twice while we were recently in Bonaire. Both times we chose the Surprise Menu, and all of the dishes were beautifully prepared and delicious. The dishes were true works of art, decorated with beautiful garnishes and great imagination. Dessert one night was an underwater […]

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5/5

My new sushi place…Osaka Japanese Fusion Restaurant. A friend recommended this restaurant for dinner and I had a great experience. I simply love this restaurant! Friendly staff, and amazing sushi! The fish is fresh and everything is very well made. I love the Volcano and Kamikaze roll!! Next time I’m in Bonaire, that’s the place […]

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5/5

Bon Aroma is fantastic in every way! Incredible food (in top 3 on island); impeccable and warm service, intimate ambiance – BonAroma has it all. We had asparagus soup with shrimp, tuna carpaccio, lion fish and tuna duo, all perfectly prepared and presented. Well balanced menu, vegetarians will be very happy. Good wine list. Delicious and […]

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5/5

Great breakfast and lunch at Between Two Buns! Nice salads and sandwiches. Don’t forget to try the home made pies!

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4/5

Al fresco dining at Cuba Compagnie. We loved dining at Cuba. The outdoor setting is casual and comfortable. It’s a lively vibe. Service is efficient and friendly. I typically order the fresh fish. I have also enjoyed the ceviche.  Cuba is a fun spot for a group of friends.

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5/5

Best pizza at Pasa Bon Pizza! Best pizza on Bonaire.  We look forward to getting that crisp crust and hot cheesy pizza served at Pasa Bon pizza every time we go to Bonaire. Try their Lion Fish pizza….it is good !!

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5/5

Jasmine Garden is a typical Chinese restaurant, where we had a delicious dinner. We ordered the Yeung chow fried rice and the Kung pao chicken, which were served by friendly staff. During our 2 week’s holiday in Bonaire, we went there 4 times to eat. Every time we were satisfied.

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5/5

Best Lunch Spot!  I am a tuna sandwich aficionado. I have sampled tuna sandwiches across Bonaire. Between Two Buns serves the best by far. I love their multi-grain bread with seeds and goodness. The salad itself is chock full of flavor. They put salty briny capers in their salad adding an extra flavor blast.  Wow, […]

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4/5

Good food, friendly service, reasonable prices at Diver’s Diner Bar & Grill.  Place looks very unpretentious, but the staff is very willing to please. The food is very good and very reasonably priced.

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5/5

Pasa Bon Pizza, Not your usual pizza place Third trip to Bonaire and this is our go-to place for dinner at least two nights each trip. Cozy outdoor place. Wait staff very pleasant. Lion fish pizza is awesome. Frozen Lime and Guava dessert is yummy and refreshing. Open Wednesday through Sunday (I think). I am […]

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5/5

Good food at Between Two Buns.  As an owner at Sanddollar, this is one great restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Very friendly owner and staff. I think that I order the same thing every time, great looking desserts and salads.

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4/5

Good food and good friends at Diver’s Diner Bar & Grill!  We have been return customers every time we come to Bonaire. This is trip number 7. Try the walking sticks for sure and the dipping sauce. I could go on and on. Try it out you won’t be sorry.

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4/5

Love lunch at Zen’s Bar Café!  I am always impressed with the Lunch specials. They are as appealing to the eye as to the stomach and my pocketbook.

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5/5

Between Two Buns, Love this place! When we two Canadians visit Bonaire, we plan on almost daily visits to “Between Two Buns.” The sandwiches and salads are terrific and the staff very friendly! Sure fills the bill after a morning of snorkeling!

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5/5

Great lunches at Donna & Georgio’s.  It’s like stepping off Bonaire’s streets and into Italy. Wonderful food and great atmosphere plus air conditioning. Daily specials and mouth watering pizzas await you…..

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4/5

Nothing is better than Seared Tuna at the Beach!  The Kite City food truck at te’ Amo beach near the airport is not to be missed. Fresh fish prepared just right in oh-so-many ways is one of the expected pleasures of coming to the Caribbean, and Kite City does not disappoint.  The beach dining is […]

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2/5

Pizza needs work at Blue Garden Brazilian Grill & Pizza Gourmet. The mojitos are great Service started off OK, then once I got my food, I never saw the server again, so never got any more water. The pizza needs work. The crust is about 2mm thick & is heavy & still not totally cooked. […]

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3/5

Cuba Compagnie Going Downhill We have been here a few times before. I went there tonight with my son and the service was unresponsive and when I said something I got a rude smart mouth response from management. The food is generally good. But don’t order the sodas. You get a small glass full of […]

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