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Bonaire Travel::: Helpful Tips

All the nuggets of information that may tickle your fancy:

Airport:
Flamingo Airport has a runway of almost 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length, long enough to accommodate 747 Jumbo Jets. See airlines.

Banks:
The following banks are available on Bonaire: Royal Bank of Trinidad & Tobago (RBTT), Antilles Banking Corporation Bonaire, Banco di Caribe, Giro Bank, Orco Bank, Island Finance and Maduro & Curiel's Bank. Banking hours are Monday through Friday from 8 or 8:30 AM to 3:30 or 4:00 PM. MCB is saturday open from 10 AM to 3 PM at the airport. ATMS are located around the island.

Currency/Money:
The currency on Bonaire is the U.S. dollar, Travelers checks and major credit cards are welcome everywhere. Other currencies including Canadian Dollars, English Pound Sterling, Euro, Venezuelan Bolivars and Aruba Florin can also be exchanged. Be sure to have your passport or positive ID when changing Traveler's cheques at banks. See currency converter.

Climate:
The average air temperature is 28.7 °C/83.6 Fahrenheit. Low annual precipitation at 700 mm. There is a constant Easterly trade wind providing a refreshing breeze especially in evenings. Average windspeed is 15 mph/25kph. See climate page.
       

Customs:
Besides articles for personal use, visitors over 15 are allowed 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams of tobacco, 2 liters of distillated beverages, 2 liters of wine.

Departure tax:
Effective, December 1, 2008, the Departure Tax for all international destinations is USD $35.00 per person, payable in cash or debit/credit card (MC, Visa, Discover, Maestro, Kompa Leon all accepted, but American Express is not) at the airport prior to check-in. Departure taxes to Curacao and Aruba are lower.
Note: Departure Tax (PFC) Change Effective October 1, 2010.  Starting October 1st, 2010, the PFC will be included in all tickets purchased for travel on or after October 1, 2010. The airport will provide a transition period in which the Airport Tax Booth will remain open for payment of PFC for passengers who do not yet have the tax included in their travel ticket. This transition period will end around the middle of January 2011 but will be extended to a later date if necessary. After this transition period, all travel tickets should include the PFC.

Dress Code:
Casual (but no beach wear) downtown. Evening clothes are casual to casual nice. Topless sunbathing and nudity is prohibited on beaches except for Sorobon Beach Resort (a privately owned nudist resort).

Drinking Age, Casino/Gambling Age, Drug Laws:
The 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:
Bonaire's seawater is distilled and purified to become one of the purest drinking waters in the world. Bottled water is available.

Driving License:
Foreign and international licenses are accepted.

Electricity:
127/120 volts, 50AC. Most U.S. appliances will work on Bonaire, though slowly. Many resorts and dive shops have adapters for charging lights, strobes or delicate equipment.

Emergencies:
Bonaire has a 60-bed hospital called Hospitaal San Francisco (Kaya Soeur Bartola #2, Kralendijk) and a number of doctors. There is an ambulance plane on call for emergencies. The emergency phone number for the ambulance is 114.

Ferry Services:
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.

Hyperbaric/Recompression Chamber:
For diving emergencies, Bonaire has a Hyperbaric Chamber located behind the Centro Medico Office which is accross the street from the San Francisco Hospital.

Internet:
Most of the accommodations offer (wireless) internet connections if you bring your own laptop with you. Cyber City Internet Cafe has 8 of the fastest computers with internet connection. Open from 09:00 AM till 21:00 PM, 7 days a week.

Languages:
Papiamentu (local language), Dutch, English and Spanish. English became an official language of the Netherlands Antilles in March 2007. In practice, it is not used for official purposes on Bonaire.

Location/Size:
50 miles (80 Km) north of Venezuela and 86 miles (94 Km) east of Aruba, well outside of the hurricane belt. 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 the west coast, is 1500 acres.

Passports & Immigration:
Citizens from most countries do not need a visa to enter Bonaire.  U.S. and Canadian citizens need a passport. All others also require a valid passport. A return or continuing ticket is also required along with sufficient means to support yourself during your stay. Maximum stay: 14 days with the possibility of extending the visit to 90 days. All others refer to the Embassy. See passport page.

Personal Safety:
Bonaire has a reputation for being one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, however visitors should take normal precautions and keep personal property secure.  Hotels have safes, etc. to store passports, tickets, etc.

Population:
14,000 +-

Shopping Hours:
Monday through Saturday 8:00AM to noon and 2:00PM-6:00PM.  Some shops stay open through 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 Charges:
There is a 5% tax on virtually all goods and services (NAOB tax). A room tax of US$6.50 is also charged per person per day. Car rental tax is US$3.50 per day. 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.  

Taxis:

Taxis are available at the airport. From other locations you may call the taxi stand at the airport at Tel. 717-8100.

Telephones:
Direct 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 four digits. Prepaid phone cards are widely available as are cell phone rentals (Cell.Rent tel. 09-5692244 /6999, or CellularOne 790-8787).  Many US and European phones are compatible with the local providers. 

Television:
Hotels 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 Zone:
Atlantic 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 Seasons:
High 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.

Vaccinations:
No 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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