If Bonaire has been on your dream list of dive destinations but your frequent travel points accounts always lead you away to islands with branded chain hotels where you can stay cheap, free, or at least earn points while you dive, you are going to love the fact that a new Marriott Courtyard hotel has changed the accommodations scene on Bonaire. And the best news? By mid-May, the hotel will also boast the island’s newest, and possibly the largest dive shop, operated by Dive Friends Bonaire.
Dive Friends Bonaire General Manager, Pascal De Meyer, says the keys to the shop were handed over to him last week. “We still have to arrange the interior,” he says, but he expects to be fully operational by May 15 featuring the Dive Friends standard of shop that includes gear rentals, retail space, and a wide range of diving options for hotel guests, as well as visitors to the island staying elsewhere.
Dive Friends has made their mark on the dive scene by catering to visitors and locals staying at lodging facilities near their shops, as well as those choosing to stay in vacation rentals, or properties with no shop nearby. Their multiple locations scattered along the island’s coast make it easy to swap tanks whether you are diving north, south, or in the center of town.
About the hotel
The hotel is located near the airport on canals. There is plenty of parking for those renting vehicles for exploring the island, but rooms are situated along a central walkway, without parking directly at the doors. This gives the hotel a charming, and quieter feel, but makes hauling gear back and forth a bit of a challenge.
The dive shop will solve that issue with plenty of storage for hotel guests, allowing them to park at the shop, rinse and store gear before parking at the hotel’s main lot.
The Courtyard has the feel of a charming, Antillean, with brightly colored facades in the shape of the slave huts that are an iconic image of Bonaire. The promenade connecting the front office complex and the restaurant/bar and pool area meanders in a lovely landscaped curve. There are even grassy areas, somewhat a rarity in the desert climate. Director of Sales, Mingli Chung laughingly says people have even asked her if it was real grass. Of course, the first herd of donkeys that discovers the lush green deep inside the hotel property may be in for a real treat.
The rooms have plenty of space for dive gear that you don’t wish to store at the shop. They all have views of the canals and sliding glass rear doors that open to the canal sides. Some have small patios, with plans to add more in the coming months.
Suites have bath and a half, plus plenty of living area, including a dining table. Restaurant and bar combo at the end of the promenade serves three meals per day in an open-air setting. Packages that include meals are available when you book your room.
The infinity pool has a beautiful canal view and a hot tub alongside for the perfect gathering spot for divers and non-diving companions.
Getting to Bonaire
United has connections through Houston and Newark on weekends. Delta connects through Atlanta, also on weekends. American flies to nearby Curacao, where an inter-island hop can be made on Insel Air or Divi Divi Air. The American route is considerably more complicated, so unless you plan to stay a bit on Curacao on your trip, or unless all your points plans involve American, the direct flights are a better option.