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1st timers--right island, right rental home?

Chicago, IL
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1st timers--right island, right rental home?

My parents, my wife, and I are planning a trip to the Caribbean for next January or March. We've been to Turks and Caicos several times, and we're ready to try a new place.

My parents are avid scuba divers. So, we're focusing our attention on places with good diving. Right now, we're looking at Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas.

Since this is the Bonaire forum, obviously, I thought I'd seek some advice from you pros about this location. (But if you have experience with the others, or some not mentioned, we'd appreciate that, too.)

Here's our criteria for both an island and lodging:

1. We'd like to have access to small towns, restaurants, and some activities, but we really want to avoid any overly-commercialized areas at all costs. No AIs, no big resorts, etc.

2. We'd prefer to rent a beautiful house or villa, possibly one that is part of a small community of rental homes or villas. Water views are a must. A pool would be nice. Our budget would be around $1200/night. We could stretch that if we found the perfect place. A little luxury wouldn't hurt.

3. As I said, we'd have to have access to diving facilities, as my parents would do that 2 or 3 days during our stay.

4. My stepdad is also a fisherman. So, if we could access a fishing excursion, that'd also be great.

Any recommendations? I know this is a wide net we're casting, here.

I appreciate any input! Thanks in advance!

New England
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1. Re: 1st timers--right island, right rental home?

There are no AIs or mega-resorts on Bonaire so no worries on that. There are only two towns on the island with most services, hotels and restaurants in or around Kralendijk. It is a lovely small town with some outstanding restaurants. Going in January or February you will want to avoid town on days when cruise ships are in port as then it gets quite congested.

There are some lovely villas in the Belnem, Santa Barbara and Sabadeco areas. Belnem is just south of town and the other two are north. Check out some of the realtors on www.infobonaire.com to see what they have to offer. You can also check out the many operators on the same site. I like Dive Friends because they have multiple locations. Fishing excursions are a bit harder to find because the waters around the island are a protected marine park.

For your parents you might also want to look at the dive guide Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy at www.bsdme.info. Great book about the dive sites on the island.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: 1st timers--right island, right rental home?

I haven't been to Bonaire yet, but hubby has. I am looking forward to the laid back island vibe and of course the highly raved about diivng. We've been to GC and Provo, TCI, as well as many other islands. For diving, he still says nothing compares to Bonaire. I loved Provo for the diving and the amazing Grace bay beach, but I know we won't have beaches like that on Bonaire.

GC does combine both good diving and a gorgeous beach, but since you mention not wanting this - it IS HIGHLY developed and commercialized. We spent some time there, and while he worked I visited every corner of the island. The furtherest North end of 7 mile beach was less crowded, and Rum Point when there are less ships in port. There could be as many as 7 big ships in at a time meaning thouands of people. so you do not want to be anywhere near town at that time, or the beach close to it. Stingray city gets innundated, as does Rum Point. Traffic on the island can be crazy, not from the cruise ship people, but all the land tourists and expats working/living there. I found some quieter spots where the sand wasn't as nice and the water had too much sea grass for people to stop there. Overall it's far too hectic for us. We'd consider Cayman Brac or Little Cayman maybe. People say Aruba is developed. It's not even close to GC, which is about the most busy and devloped island in the Caribbean... just saying :)

Chicago, IL
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3. Re: 1st timers--right island, right rental home?

Thanks so much! I'm thinking we will end up on Bonaire. I'm about to create a new thread with some villas we are considering, and I'd love any input!

4. Re: 1st timers--right island, right rental home?

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