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Sharks in the Dutch Caribbean, and truly around the world, are some of the most misunderstood species in the world.

For generations, sharks have had an undeserved bad reputation, even here on Bonaire or in other parts of the Dutch Caribbean. People tended to see them as terrifying animals that pose a danger to everything that swims in the ocean, including humans. But we now know that is very far from the truth; these magnificent creatures are essential to healthy oceans and risks to humans are small. Humans should respect sharks, not fear them.

There are at least ten reef-associated shark species in the Dutch Caribbean

Wageningen Marine Research has reported ten reef-associated shark species in the Dutch Caribbean in a recently published study as part of Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance’s (DCNA) Save Our Sharks Project. The most common species are the nurse shark and the Caribbean reef shark. Overall, more sharks were observed in conservation areas than in unprotected areas, highlighting the importance of these zones in shark conservation.

Why sharks are necessary for healthy oceans.

More than 100 million sharks are killed each year as a result of fishing and shark finning activities, twice the rate at which they can reproduce. The demand for fins and other shark products has driven a number of species close to extinction. Sharks are especially vulnerable to overfishing and habitat degradation as they are late to mature and produce few young. The main threats to sharks in our waters are accidental bycatch, habitat degradation, and the risk of a shark fin market developing, which would lead to targeted fishing of sharks.

Humans need healthy oceans and healthy oceans need sharks.

Sharks keep our oceans healthy. These top predators remove sick or weak members of their prey populations. A decrease in the number of sharks leads to a disturbed natural balance in the sea. This can affect the overall fish population, and good fish stocks are not only important for fishermen that depend on fishing but also for (dive) tourism and the local community.

 

Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance’s Save Our Sharks Project

There is a lack of knowledge concerning the distribution and abundance of shark and ray species throughout the Dutch Caribbean. To combat this knowledge gap, from 2015-2018, DCNA ran the “Save our Sharks” (SOS) project for the Dutch Caribbean, funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. In this project, DCNA collaborated with local fisherman and scientists and aimed to build popular support for shark and ray conservation amongst the local community, as well as increasing knowledge about shark and ray species within the region by conducting a number of research projects.

Nurse sharks are one of the species more commonly found on Dutch Caribbean reefs.

Shark research establishes a baseline for the Dutch Caribbean.

A recently published study by Wageningen Marine Research, as part of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance’s SOS Project, established a baseline for current shark diversity, distribution, abundance, spatial behavior, and population structure for inshore reefs around the Dutch Caribbean islands.

There were two methods used by the researchers to study sharks in the Dutch Caribbean waters. One method used Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) which used a device consisting of two cameras set in front of a baited feed bag. The idea is that as sharks come near the bait bag to feed, video footage can be collected to identify and count local shark populations. The other method was acoustic telemetry to track sharks. In this method, a small acoustic tracking device is implanted within the shark. Acoustic receivers are installed at specific locations, and whenever sharks with these transmitters travel near the receiver (within a range of 450 to 850 meters) they are recorded. This method also helped researchers better understand the movements of sharks, habitat use, migration, and connectivity between islands. The telemetry study tracked two shark species, Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) and nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum).

Research findings of sharks in the Dutch Caribbean waters.

In BRUVs deployed around Sint Maarten, Curaçao and Bonaire, the most common detected shark species were Caribbean reef sharks, with Sint Maarten also frequently showing nurse sharks. Overall, more sharks were observed in marine parks or areas of conservation than in unprotected areas, highlighting the importance of these zones in shark conservation.

Furthermore, when comparing the BRUV surveys from Sint Maarten, Curaçao and Bonaire to previous BRUV studies from Aruba, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Saba Bank, it showed that the Aruba survey had the largest shark diversity (8 species) and the Bonaire survey the lowest (2 species). The Saba survey documented 5 shark species, Saba bank had 4 shark species with Curaçao, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten each registering 3 shark species. There was an additional BRUV submarine test at 300 meters deep off Curaçao which found an additional shark species (Cuban dogfish). In total, at least 10 shark species were seen within the Dutch Caribbean in the different BRUV surveys.

The acoustic telemetry studies demonstrated that both the Caribbean reef shark and nurse shark have small home ranges and strong site fidelity. Large crossings between areas were rare.

The importance of protected areas, such as the Bonaire National Marine Park and Yarari Marine Mammal & Shark Sanctuary.

Both the BRUV and acoustic telemetry studies showed a higher presence of reef-associated sharks within the conservation zones in the Dutch Caribbean, along with high site fidelity and small home ranges. Furthermore, as some longer distance movements were also documented, interconnectivity between these areas is just beginning to be understood. The ongoing study on acoustic telemetry (funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV)) will yield more data on this. Therefore, not only are local marine parks crucial for the conservation efforts of sharks and rays, but larger conservation networks, such as the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary which comprises all the waters of Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius, are vital to protect entire populations.

Related Posts

 

(Source:  Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA, images courtesy of Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern and Hans Leijnse (SHAPE/DCNA))


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


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Restaurant Reviews on BonReviews:

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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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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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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