Travel Tips

Below is a table offering “Bonaire in a nutshell” – all the key topics we are frequently asked about.

BANKSBonaire has a number of banks, all of which have ATMs located conveniently around the island. Banking hours are Monday through Friday 8 or 8:30am until 3:30 or 4pm. Some are open during the lunch hour.
CURRENCYThe US Dollar is the official currency. Traveler's checks and credit cards are widely accepted. Be sure to have your passport or positive ID when changing Traveler's cheques at banks.
CLIMATEThe average air temperature is 82º Fahrenheit (30ºC)
and 75% relative humidity. Average water temperature is 80ºF (29ºC). Rainfall averages 22" (52.8cm) per year. There is a constant trade wind that generally makes the evenings cool and comfortable. Average windspeed is 15 mph (25kph).
CUSTOMSBesides articles for personal use, visitors over 17 are allowed 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars, 125 grams of tobacco, 2 liters of distillated beverages, 2 liters of wine. Residents are allowed to bring half of each.
DEPARTURE TAXEffective, December 1, 2008, the Departure Tax for all international destinations is $35.00 per person. Departure tax to the domestic locations of Curacao, Aruba, Sint Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius is $9.00. This PFC (Passenger Facility Charge) is included in all tickets purchased for travel on or after October 1, 2010.

Additionally, an Airport Improvement Fee is in effect for tickets issued for travel as of January 1, 2016 and will remain in effect for five years until October 31, 2020. The AIF is $5.00 for passengers with international destinations, and there is a phased incremental implementation for passengers with a domestic destination (territories of the former Netherlands Antilles) with $2.50 beginning November 1, 2015, $3.25 beginning November 1, 2016, $4.00 beginning November 1, 2017, and $5.00 from November 1, 2018 through October 31, 2020.
DRESS CODECasual (but no beach wear) downtown. Evening clothes are casual to casual nice. Topless sunbathing and nudity are prohibited on beaches. See our Religion page for appropriate church attire.
DRINKING AGE, CASINO/GAMBLING AGE, AND DRUG LAWSThe legal drinking age on Bonaire is 18 for both beer and other alcohol. The legal age for gambling in a casino is 21. The Dutch Caribbean has its own drug laws which are not the same as Holland. Our drug laws are not lenient.
DRINKING WATER The water is distilled from seawater and is perfectly safe to drink.
DRIVING LICENSE Foreign and international licenses are accepted.
ELECTRICITY127 volt, 50 cycle electric is the most the most common current provided. 220 volt is also available at some resorts. Most U.S. appliances will work, however a bit hotter. Dive shops and resorts have stations for guest use for charging camera batteries, etc. It is recommended that you use them to avoid damage to delicate equipment.
EMERGENCIESBonaire has the 60-bed hospital, Hospitaal San Francisco (Kaya Soeur Bartola #2, Kralendijk), and a number of doctors. There is an ambulance plane on call for emergencies. A hyperbaric recompression chamber is located adjacent to the hospital and is run by a highly trained staff - admittance via the emergency room at the hospital. The emergency phone number for any emergency is 911.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTSUS and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport and a return or ongoing ticket. A Birth Certificate with a picture ID is also acceptable for entry into Bonaire. See our entry requirements page for more details.
FERRY SERVICESMany people ask but unfortunately there are NO ferry services of any kind between Bonaire and Aruba, Venezuela or Curacao. Scheduled travel between these destinations are limited to air travel. It might be possible to charter a boat for your own personal tour. If that is of interest, go to our Sailing page for contacts.
INTERNETCyber Cafes and wireless Internet services are available in numerous locations, as well as several hotels and resorts. See our Technology page for the latest information.
LANGUAGESPapiamentu (local language), Dutch, English and Spanish.
LOCATION50 miles (80 Km) north of Venezuela and 86 miles (94
Km) east of Aruba, well outside of the hurricane belt.
MONEYSee CURRENCY above.
POPULATION+/- 19,500 people
SIZE OF ISLAND Bonaire is 24 miles long (38.6 km) and 3-5 miles (4.8 -8 km)wide, 112 sq. miles (180 sq. km) in area.Klein Bonaire, an island off our west coast, is 1500 acres.
STORE HOURSMost stores are open Monday through Saturday from between 8 or 9 AM until 12 noon when they close for one to two hours, then remain open until 6 PM.Hours vary widely and some stay open during lunch hour. The larger supermarkets are open from 7:30 or 8 AM until 7 PM (may close during lunch) and some may be open on Sundays from 11 AM to 2 PM.
TAXES, TIPPING, AND SERVICE CHARGESThere is an 6% tax on virtually all services (ABB tax), which is normally included in the retail cost of items or services.A Departure Tax of USD $35.00 for international destinations is due at the airport upon departure (see DEPARTURE TAX above).Tipping is much the same as in the States. Some restaurants add a 10-15% service charge automatically, so if in doubt, ask. Taxis - generally a 10% tip is greatly apppreciated. In dive shops, etc. 10% is also the norm.
TAXITaxis are available at the airport. From other locations you may call the taxi stand at the airport at Tel. 717-8100 (See Taxi Rate page for fees)
TELEPHONEDirect dialing is possible from most resorts. AT&T, MCI,
etc. can also be accessed. The local telephone office,
Telbo, can also place calls to all locations.For on-island calls, dial just the last seven digits. For cell phone users, you can rent a cellular phone for the length of your stay, which are available from several different providers.Details of cell phone services and roaming can be
found on our Telephone page.
TELEVISIONHotels offer 22+ cable channel viewing including premium
movie channels, ESPN, CNN, Disney, Spanish, and German language channels as well as the local station TV 11. Bonaire uses the NTSC system. Telbo provides digital TV with 100+ stations
TIME ZONEAtlantic Standard Time (AST). Same time as the United States East Coast during Daylight Savings Time (mid-Spring to mid-Fall). Bonaire does not change time for Daylight Savings, as is the custom in the US and Europe.
TOURISM SEASONSHigh Season Winter/Spring: Dec. 15 - Apr. 14
Low Season Summer/Fall: Apr. 15 - Dec. 14
Windy Season: May - Aug, moderate wind Jan-Apr
Rainy Season: Nov. - Jan.
VACCINATIONSNo vaccinations or preventative medications are recommended for travel to Bonaire. Yellow fever and Malaria are not a problem here. The Center for Disease Control in the the US offers updates and advisories for travellers.
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