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Living on Bonaire, where it is endless summer.
Home » Living on Bonaire, When Visiting is No Longer Enough

Making the transition from visitor to resident.

Bonaire’s visitors have been known to return year after year, and year after that year, and for even more years.  Some of our visitors have arrived each year for over 40 years!  That is love. In fact, a high percentage of Bonaire’s tourists are repeat visitors.

When people fall in love with Bonaire, eventually, they make the decision to move to Bonaire to live.  But exactly what is the process, and what must be done to live your dream on Bonaire?

Benefits of living on Bonaire.

These probably do not need to be enumerated for those who have visited the island, but here are some of the wonderful reasons why we choose to live on this small rock in the southern Caribbean Sea.

It’s always summer.

We don’t have to worry about snow, ice, or driving in slush. Yes, we get a few days a year when we have some heavy rains, and yes, a seasonal tropical storm, or even a hurricane, can brush by us, usually to the north, but most days the weather is just glorious. After a year or two of pretty much non-stop 85ºF or 30ºC, one acclimates and even stops breaking a sweat.  Residents learn to find shade early-on, even if it means crossing the street to walk on the shady side.  And, winter evenings can become quite chilly for us residents.  Temperatures can get as low as 72ºF or 24ºC.  Don’t laugh at us when you see us bundled up in a sweatshirt!

It’s all about nature on Bonaire.

No matter where on the island you choose to live, you’ll be just minutes away from a great nature spot!  Or, if you’re lucky, you’ll be living in concert with nature already. Enjoying your favorite sport in Bonaire’s waters, or relaxing at the shoreline, or in the kunuku (farming area), is a great way to spend one’s days. Life becomes simple and good.

Still small, still friendly.

Although Bonaire’s population has steadily grown in recent years, and now hovers around 20,000 inhabitants, the friendly, smiling faces of the people who live here haven’t changed a bit.  When asked why visitors keep returning, invariably, their response is, “Because of the friendly people here on Bonaire.”  Once someone relocates to live permanently on Bonaire, they become one of those perpetually smiling faces.  Why wouldn’t they, when they live in paradise!

The water is always warm.

Many people wishing to relocate to Bonaire are users of the Bonaire National Marine Park.  They might be SCUBA diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, or kiting, but what they all have in common is that they are all spending lots of time in the waters around Bonaire.  Having a nice warm water temperature allows one to spend even more leisure time in pursuit of one of these activities.  The water temperature is warm from about July through December (82 to 84ºF or 27.5 to 29ºC).  Starting in December and January, the water temperature can dip a bit colder (76 to 80ºF or 24.5 to 26.5ºC).

Free health care.

Once you become an official resident on Bonaire, you will receive your island identification card, called a sedula. Once you have your sedula in hand, you are eligible for the Dutch health care system provided at no cost to residents of Bonaire.  You won’t ever have to worry about co-payments again, or deductibles, as, for any allowed medical visit, you simply present your sedula and services are given.  An added benefit is that, since Bonaire became a special municipality of The Netherlands in 2010, Bonaire’s health care system has been totally upgraded and now the island offers excellent health care.

Events and activities will keep you busy……if you want them.

Many people, when they first move here, wish to see and do everything.  For those, there’s no lack of activities which one can enjoy when living on Bonaire.  Along with the steady population growth, clubs, events, and activities have expanded as well.  For those who wish, there are concerts, lots of nightlife, special interest groups, such as the chess club, as well as a variety of cultural, educational, or historical events.

For others, the simple life is enough, and one is free to pursue that.  Some choose to live in the kunuku (farm area), while others choose a  local neighborhood in which to live, while yet others choose a condo or villa on the shore. Whatever lifestyle you wish to have, it can be enjoyed on Bonaire!

If you like to keep busy and wish to enjoy Bonaire’s myriad activities, visit the Bonaire Calendar of Events to see the latest happenings.

Finding or building a home.

Once you make the decision to relocate to Bonaire, you’ll need to start thinking about either finding a home or building your home. In many cases, there are excellent turnkey properties, many with furnishings included, just waiting for the right person to say, “this is my new home!”

Bonaire’s realtors are all experienced in buying or selling homes or property on Bonaire, and they can ably assist you with all aspects of becoming a homeowner.  Should you decide to build your own dream house, they can also assist with finding and purchasing the proper lot.

Should you decide to build instead of purchasing an existing home, you will need to find an architect to draw up your blueprints and then find the right builder to make the home a reality.

In the purchase of an existing home or lot, transactions are handled by one of Bonaire’s two Notaries (locally they are called a Notaris).  The office of dr. Aniek H. Schouten has excellent information available online for prospective home-owners.

Establishing a banking relationship.

Establishing a banking relationship for those who are not local citizens can be a lengthy process.  It is recommended that you begin the process immediately upon making the decision to move to Bonaire.  Bonaire’s banks are excellent, offering all the services of larger international banks, but you might have to wait several weeks to a month or more to get your initial appointment for an interview. 

Choose your bank and request an appointment along with the list of documents you may need to provide.

Religious services.

For an island with a small population, Bonaire has diversity in religious services and every denomination (or non-denomination) will welcome you into their community.  Services are held in a variety of languages, including Papiamentu, Dutch, and English.  Many new arrivals on Bonaire will attend the services of different churches before finding the one which they feel is best suited to their needs.

Recycling.

With the burgeoning population comes additional trash.  All new residents are encouraged to recycle as much as possible.  The recycling center at Plasa Medio Ambiente is administered by the island’s waste management company, Selibon, and is located on Kaya Industria, just next to Warehouse Bonaire Supermarket.  Be sure to separate your cardboard boxes, batteries, plastic, and glass, and visit the recycling center to deposit them in the appropriately marked bins.

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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

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

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

I’m at the Flamingo Airport about to leave Bonaire until next year. What I’ll miss most during my absence are the absolutely best tiger rolls at Exito Buffet & Grill.

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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

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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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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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh Italian at Donna & Georgio’s!  Intimate, fresh Italian dining that offers a regularly changing menu. From traditional lasagna to wonderful fresh fish and intriguing salads! Don’t miss this place!

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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 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

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

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

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

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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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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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

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

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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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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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

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

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

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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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

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

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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5/5

A wonderfully diverse selection of unlimited tapas at Coco Beach Bar & Restaurant on Wednesdays; lovely beachfront setting.

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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

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, 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

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

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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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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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

Great food at a great price! Had some of the best sushi I’ve ever had the other night at Exito Buffet & Grill along with a wonderful wok dish prepared by their new chef. Service was great and the food fabulous. The new menu is coming shortly so be sure to go and try it […]

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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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