Category Archives: People

Bonbons Bonaire Offers the Fine Art of Chocolate-Making

Bonbons Bonaire provides exquisite chocolates.

A chocolate "lolly" from Bonbons Bonaire.

A chocolate “lolly” from Bonbons Bonaire.

One of the advantages of Bonaire’s burgeoning population is the fact that the island is attracting young entrepreneurs who bring new skills and arts to the island. Both tourists and residents can enjoy the fruits of their labors, and one of these that is especially enjoyable to sample is the chocolates of Bonbons Bonaire, by Pastry Chef Janos Aan Vermaat.

The process of making bonbons is fascinating.

The Bonaire Insider visited with Janos on Valentine’s Day, arguably the busiest day of the year for a maker of fine chocolates, but he was accommodating and told us all about his special atelier du chocolate, located in Kralendijk. We learned exactly how labor-intensive the making of chocolates is, and it is obvious that Janos puts a lot of love into his craft.

Special Valentine's Day BonBons, handmade by pastry chef Janos Aan Vermaat

Special Valentine’s Day BonBons, handmade by pastry chef Janos Aan Vermaat

Learning his craft.

Prior to coming to Bonaire in 2015, Janos learned his pastry craft at the three-Michelin-starred De Librije, considered by many to be the best restaurant in Holland. Working days were long and intense, starting at 8:00 AM and done at 1:00 AM. But with the knowledge he learned and the experience he garnered during this internship, Janos relocated to the Caribbean and started Bonbons Bonaire.

Chocolates require a climate-controlled area, as moisture has to be filtered from the air. The work-space where Janos creates his chocolates has a special air-conditioning unit specifically to keep the air dry and moisture-free.

Currently Janos works with two different applications for his bonbons. The first is the classic “lolly” or lollipop and for this he creates a base, inserts the stick, and then dips each one in chocolate, so it becomes similar to a chocolate truffle. Other bonbons we sampled were filled with white chocolate, Bonaire’s Cadushy, and sea salt, incorporating local ingredients which make for a unique taste. Yet another was filled with blood orange and pure chocolate.

The chocolate truffle lollipop.

The chocolate truffle lollipop.

Premium bonbons require premium ingredients.

The base is very important. Janos only uses premium ingredients in his products. The chocolate is by Valrhona, the exclusive chocolate from France. Their cocoa beans are grown in the Dominican Republic, sent to France where they are made into chocolate, and then Janos imports them back to the Caribbean for use in his bonbons. The dark chocolate is pure, the white chocolate is a mix of different world cocoa beans, so that the product has consistency, and the milk chocolate which Janos utilizes is his own personal favorite (from South Africa).

Chocolate seahorses and shells are in development.

Chocolate seahorses and shells are in development.

The special Bonaire collection of chocolates.

Janos is working on a special collection which Bonaire’s diving and snorkeling fans will enjoy–chocolate seahorses and shells. The making of these chocolates can take 24 to 48 hours to create one batch, depending upon how many layers are incorporated. For example, the initial layer (which is the top) is put into the mold, and then needs to set at least 12-24 hours prior to the next layer being added, and so on. Each layer adds time and attention to the process.

Janos shows how to use his special air-brush gun for decorating his bonbons.

Janos shows how to use his special air-brush gun for decorating his bonbons.

Making the bonbons his own with different ways of customization.

Janos adds individuality in different ways: He might dust the chocolate mold with some special “pixie dust” before adding the initial layer, he might add a color to the mold and then artfully hand draw a design with a toothpick, as in the “heart” chocolates pictured above, or he might even get out his special air-brush gun!

Janos mixes all his colors by hand. He melts down the beurre de cacao, or cocoa butter from the beans, and then mixes in the colors himself so he can get it as light or as dark as he wishes.

When asked which of his bonbons is the favorite, Janos informed me that his white chocolate “snickers” is always popular.  It’s made with a white chocolate exterior and milk chocolate filling. Truly the best of both chocolate worlds!

BonBons Bonaire's special Valentine's Day creation.

Bonbons Bonaire’s special Valentine’s Day creation.

At the end of this instructional visit, Janos shared one of his special Valentine’s Day creations with me, a heart-shaped chocolate tray filled with a variety of bonbons. I can attest that it didn’t last too long, and being able to eat the tray after the bonbons were long-gone just added to the pleasure!

Enjoying the special treats of Bonbons Bonaire.

So how does one enjoy these special treats? At the time of writing, Janos’ very special bonbons can be found at Sebastian’s Restaurant, where you will also find Janos in the kitchen at night assisting with creating savory entrées, Between 2 Buns, and Spice.

Bonbons Bonaire also provides wedding cakes or other special occasion cakes and decadent ice cream cones made with his own hand-made ice creams (such as black pepper ice cream or basil ice cream), with personally created cones.

Be sure to try out one of his special treats on your next Bonaire vacation!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)



Video and Photo Gallery of Bonaire’s Grand Carnival Parade 2017

Bonaire’s Grand Carnival Parade 2017.

This past weekend took its toll on a lot of folks here on Bonaire–at least those who were dancing down the long Carnival parade route from about 2:00 PM until past 6:00 PM. Meanwhile, those who where on the sidelines sat back and enjoyed the show!

Costumes glittered and gleamed.

Costumes were indeed extravagant, colorful, with lots of feathers, sequins, and other glittering items. Headdresses were so voluminous that one wonders how the wearers manage to keep their heads up straight!

Each Carnival group has a theme.

A variety of Carnival (Karnaval in Papiamentu) groups offered a fun display of themes: There were creatures from under the sea, celestial bodies and the signs of the zodiac, and even a bunch of construction workers who were spreading “asphalt” to fill all the holes in Bonaire’s roads (something truly needed on Bonaire these days!).

Two more Carnival events before the season closes.

There’s only two more events before the Carnival season ends:  Tonight will be a replay of the Children’s Carnival from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, and tomorrow a replay of the Grand Carnival, starting at 7:00 PM, and ending at midnight with the burning of King Momo.

Video of Sunday’s parade.

If you couldn’t see it live, sit back and enjoy this video and the photo gallery following.


Photo Gallery of Sunday’s parade.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)















Bonaire Maritime Film Festival Salutes Bonaire’s Sailors

The Bonaire Maritime Film Festival is January 14, 2017.

There’s no doubt there is an amazing allure and mystery about those hearty sailors who ventured out onto the world’s oceans and sailed the seven seas for their livings.  Bonaire’s seamen have been part of this sailing tradition, and the Bonaire Maritime Heritage Foundation will honor them at the upcoming Bonaire Maritime Film Festival.

Stormvogel, the last sailing vessel of the ABC Islands.Stormvogel Rising.

The festival will tell the saga about the rebirth of the Bonaire-built Stormvogel, the last of the sailing ships of the ABC Islands. This national treasure is currently being refitted to once again sail the region’s seas.





A Salute to the Sailors.

The film festival will also feature the original crew of Stormvogel, most of whom are now in the 80s.  They will be honored at this special festival evening by the Bonaire Maritime Heritage Foundation. Some of these sailors are even well known to Bonaire visitors, and include Ismael Soliano, captain; Jan Felida, boat building crew; Luis Coffi, cook, and deckhands Lucio Soliano and Boechi Frans.




maritime_film_festivalVanishing Sail.

This award-winner 90-minute documentary tracks the building of a wooden boat on the Caribbean island of Carriacou and shares the wild tales of trade and smuggling as told by some of the last true West Indies seamen.




The festival’s date and time, entry fee, and location.

The film festival will take place on January 14, 2017 from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM at Plaza Beach Resort. Those interested in attending this fantastic cinematic view into the old sailing era of the Caribbean, as well as meet the island’s sailors, will need to make an advance reservation and purchase a ticket.  The cost is $20.00 per person and simply email to request your ticket.

This fine event is made possible with the support of Bonaire’s boating industry, who have donated the necessary funding.  The foundation wishes to thank ABC Marine, Boto Blanku, Budget Marine, Don Andres NV, Harbour Village Marina, and WannaDive.  Special thanks also go to Sign Studio for graphics and design support, as well as Plaza Resort Bonaire, who has graciously donated the use of a 150-seat conference room.

Bonaire's Calendar of Events

(Source:  Bonaire Maritime Heritage Foundation)






A Hero’s Farewell, Final Salute to Officer Ferry Bakx

Final Tribute to Officer Ferry Bakx

Officer Ferry BakxIn an overwhelming display of solidarity and support, the people of Bonaire gathered Friday afternoon to say their farewells, and give their thanks, to the island’s fallen hero, Officer Ferry Bakx.

At 4:00 PM, a cavalcade commenced from the police station in Kralendijk to Flamingo Airport.  Throngs of people awaited the cavalcade, to show their undeniable support to Officer Bakx’s wife, Anita, and his colleagues from the Korps Politie.


Onlookers were silent during the emotional ceremony, as the coffin was boarded onto the plane, for Officer Bakx’s final trip back to the European Netherlands, his birthplace.

farewell_to_Ferry_Bakx3His wife showed immense fortitude throughout the ceremony, and, when she ascended the stairs to board the plane to accompany her husband on the transatlantic crossing, the crowd applauded loudly to indicate their sympathies.

Officer Bakx was killed in the line of duty on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016.










(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)


Bonaire Mourns the Loss of One of Its Finest

policeIt is with the utmost sadness that today we report the passing of Officer Ferry Bakx of the Korps Politie of the BES islands. Bonaire mourns the loss of one of its own, killed in the line of duty, and flags are flying at half mast in his memory.

Late last night, Officer Bakx responded to a call in regard to a home burglary in progress. Shots were fired, and Officer Bakx was hit.  He was pronounced dead at San Francisco Hospital.

Officials are asking the public for any leads or information to help in the apprehension of the perpetrators.

Our deepest condolences are extended to Officer Bakx’s wife and family, his friends, and colleagues.


Statement from OH Henry Hambeukers


Statement from KPCN Jose Rosales

(Source: Bonaire Insider Reporter)




An Evening with Johnny Craane–Tales of the Sea

There will be a very special evening at the new Terramar Museum on Friday, August 19th, 2016 from 6:00 to 9:30 PM, when Bonaire seafaring legend, Johnny Craane, presents Images of Our Maritime Past.

craaneHear tales of trade and trickery, sailing and smuggling as told by the master boat-builder himself.  The Craane family has crafted wooden ships on Bonaire for generations.  The island’s seafaring men form an important part of Bonaire’s history.

Joining Johnny will be Luzday Zambrano, great-granddaughter of the famous Bonaire boat-builder, “Pabubu” Marchena.  The hour-long presentation/tour includes a glimpse into the past, with fifteen stunning historic photographs of sailors and ships.

The presentation/tours in the new museum (located behind Mona Lisa Restaurant), will be conducted in three languages:  6:30 PM in English, 7:30 in Papiamentu, and 8:30 PM in Dutch.  Entrance is $10.00 per person, and all proceeds go to the restoration of Stormvogel, the last of the sailing cargo boats.

For those on Bonaire, this is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into a Bonaire now mostly gone.

(Source:  Bonaire Maritime Heritage Foundation)

Bonaire's Calendar of Events



Bonaire National Marine Park Has a New Manager, Welcome, Wijnand de Wolf

STINAPA welcomes a new marine park manager, Mr. Wijnand de Wolf, who joined the organization as the new manager of the Bonaire National Marine Park.

bmp_managerWijnand began his new duties on August 1st, after completing work with the island government, involved with environmental issues.  He studied Aquatic Eco-Technology at the Hogeschool Zeeland, and he first acquired work experience at two municipalities and a consultancy firm in The Netherlands.

Wijnand will succeed Sabine Engel. Sabine Engel was the interim manager of the Bonaire National Marine Park in the previous year. Sabine will stay closely involved with STINAPA as the project leader of Lac.

(Source:  STINAPA)




Long-Time, Repeat Guests are Honored at Carib Inn

In the last two weeks, there has been a lot to celebrate at Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn, as many of their long-time, repeat Bonaire visitors hit milestones in their visits.

The Poduska Family now has three generations visiting and diving on Bonaire over the last 30 years.  The Poduskas hail from Fort Collins, Colorado, in the U.S.A.  When they first visited so many years ago, now-grandpa Paul was the only certified diver.  Over the years, a son and daughter were certified to dive, with the daughter eventually continuing her dive education to become a divemaster.  Now, it’s the grandchildren’s turn, with one already certified, and ten-year-old twins taking a PADI Discover Scuba Diving course.

Burton Ogle and Tracy Zontek have been visiting Bonaire for 25 and 15 years respectively, and they cherish memories of the friendly Bonaireans, spectacular dives, and their dear friends at the Carib Inn. They both honed their diving skills from Bruce Bowker‘s buoyancy workshops.

Larry and Karyle Mumper have been staying at Carib Inn for 15 years.  Years ago, they saw an advertisement in Skin Diver Magazine showing a picture of Bruce Bowker with his two Dalmatians.  They thought to themselves, “Now Carib Inn must be a great place, if the owner puts his dogs in his advertisements!”  And so they visited, and have continued to visit.

Burt, Tracy, Larry, and Karyle were also honored by Bonaire’s tourism board as Bonaire Ambassadors for their devotion to the island.  Congratulations to all!  Come back soon.

Carib Inn does honor their loyal guests with an in-house program.  Visit their Friends Over the Years web page to see others who have attained milestones.  You may also subscribe to receive their newsletters.

(Source:  Carib Inn)


Learn about How Bats Help Bonaire’s Eco-Systems

batsFor many people, bats have a negative connotation.  However, here on Bonaire, we love our bats!  Bats create plant pollination, and many of them consume hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes each and every night.

Bats are the only mammal in the world that uses wings for its locomotion.  And, because bats are so important to Bonaire’s eco-systems, STINAPA will offer the opportunity to learn about just how important this animal is in a Saturday evening presentation at the STINAPA headquarters on July 9th, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. After the presentation, participants will enter a nearby cave for a first-hand demonstration on how scientific research is done on bats.

If you’d like to attend, register by calling STINAPA at 717-8444.  There are no costs to participate, but STINAPA always welcomes donations.  Please be sure to bring a flashlight that is covered with a red cloth, as bats do not like light.  You’ll also need good shoes that are suitable for climbing up and down on a rocky cave surface, and of course, do bring a bottle of drinking water.

Bonaire's Calendar of Events


(Source:  STINAPA)



Harbour Village Beach Club Announces Partnership With Fabien Cousteau

Harbour Village Beach Club recently announced a partnership with noted filmmaker, explorer, and ocean preservationist, Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau, in an effort to raise awareness for ocean conservation efforts among discerning Caribbean travelers.

greatadventures5As the resort’s environmental ambassador, Cousteau will collaborate with the resort on a wide range of issues including ocean preservation and climate change topics through a series of high-level Global Ocean Summits held on Bonaire at Harbour Village. Continuing their shared commitment of researching and exploring the world’s oceans, Harbour Village will also host “Fabien Cousteau Voyages,” providing small groups with high-end travel adventures on an NOAA research vessel and submarine.

On a recent trip to Bonaire, I encountered Harbour Village Beach Club and it is truly a first-class destination resort in every way with a strong environmental conscience,” said Fabien Cousteau. “From their reef preservation initiatives to their Great Adventures Bonaire program, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center offering scuba diving, snorkel trips and educational dive courses, the property is committed to an ocean ethic.”

Cousteau will expand his non-profit Ocean Learning Center, based in New York City, to the southern Caribbean with headquarters at Harbour Village, furthering the resort’s eco-friendly amenities and offering educational programming for resort guests of all ages. Additionally, Cousteau will join diving adventures with Harbour Village guests as well as unique experiences curated by the resort and Cousteau himself.

“My vision is for Harbour Village to be the center of a ‘think tank’ on critical conservation and environmental issues facing our planet through two annual Global summits and conferences,” Cousteau said. “Our programs will bring together those working earnestly in the field and some of the best minds in the world in order to seek solutions required to save our water planet, while educating resort guests about the importance of ocean conservation.”

(Source: Harbour Village Beach Club)

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