The Sand Dollar was pretty much as advertised. It's a fairly typical Caribbean timeshare/condo development that rents/trades time when the owners aren't using their units. We looked at several different units while we were there, most were pretty much the same level of quality. Some were in need of new doors [all the doors are louvered and the older ones didn't close well so air-conditioning escaped and bugs came in], some didn't have screened porches. For the second and third floor rooms, probably less of an issue, but all of the first floor porches really need to be screened in, only about 2/3rds are.
Some things didn’t work [like the TV in our bedroom] and unless it’s critical to the usability of the unit, it doesn’t appear they make repairs during your stay the way a hotel/resort would. The other TV in our unit worked, so this wasn’t an issue for us. The door to the screened porch was broken to the point where the only way to open it was to give it a kick at the bottom when you wanted out – again, minor flaws are very typical of owner rented units throughout the Caribbean, not something unique to this facility.
The front desk staff was very helpful when we needed anything, others commented that they had bad experiences with the desk staff – this wasn’t the case with us. We stayed in our room on one of the cleaning days and the cleaning staff was very pleasant and thorough – again others commented that they had issues with house cleaning, we didn’t have any issues during our stay.
The kitchen was well stocked with dishes and utensils; we cooked all our breakfasts and a handful of other meals. None of the pots/pans/utensils were state of the art, but they were serviceable. Our stay was during the “rainy season” so we did see a few more critters in the kitchen than we’d have liked to. We bought some insect spray at the local market and a few shots under the sink on the first day eliminated most of the ants we were seeing. I expect during the dryer months it would be less of a problem. Also be aware that during the rainy months an insect repellent is NOT optional, on our first night on the island, my wife counted up over 40 bites from no-see-ums and mosquitoes. A little insect repellent each day took that number down to a few each day afterwards.
Look hard at the local menus before you go out for lunch/dinner, we only found a few places that we enjoyed. All had great venues, but the food was often not to our liking. For lunch there is a little strip mall directly in front of the property with good sandwiches and there is a restaurant on property [Eddy’s] that had a good lunch and dinner each day [located beside the pool]. I understand that Eddy’s hours seem to fluxuate, this week they were open all week for all three meals. We did try out several other restaurants around town during our stay, easiest way seemed to do a bar crawl in the afternoon, checking out dinner menus along the way. After a couple days of this, we really only found a couple places that we liked [Karels, Eddy’s, Rum Runner, Wanttaburger and Buddy’s Dive Pool Bar]. Our taste is definitely not “international” so I’m sure others would have a completely different opinion, for us it was tough to find food that didn’t have “that little extra thing” that made it taste/look/sound just awful – a few that fell into this category were [City Café, Bistro de Paris, Spice Beach Club]. The absolute worst meal we had while on the island was at Spice, I’m not sure what was in their hamburger, but it wasn’t any four-legged animal I recognized.
The part everyone probably wants to really hear about is the diving. I really don’t know what they could do better in this regard. The briefing was great [Shaun was our briefer and he was very good], he gave us ideas about how to handle our week and how/where to go, logistics, safety etc. They have a locked gear room with a code for everyone to use for 24hr access. Tanks were setup the same way, they were kept up on shore for anyone diving away from the property and kept on the dock for anyone diving on the house reef – again both had a code for guests to use for 24hr access. The dock facility was great, steps for in and out, showers, separate rinse tanks [4 of them] for gear and cameras. We kept our gear on our porch since we were in the A unit, it really was about the same walk to the room as it was to the 24hr gear locker so we opted to hang it on the porch. It appears each porch is setup with plenty of pegs on the walls just for gear. They have two dive shops on property, we dove with Bonaire Dive and Adventure wich is adjacent to the property, the onsite property doesn't seem to really be up and in full swing yet. The two LDS are physically back to back on the property line, you'd have to check with Dive Friends to see what their agreement is for use of the BDA dock facilities - there seems to be some friction in this reguard.
All in all – we feel we got a good value for our money. This property is a SCUBA lovers paradise, the amenities are really tailored for divers, if you're mixing up your holiday with a lot of different activities, this might not be the place for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sand Dollar Condominiums, member of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame, offers guests everything they need to enjoy the best of Bonaire’s scuba diving with their “Ride to the Reef” packages including condo, diving and rental truck for island exploring. All Sand Dollar units have individual modems offering free high speed Wi-Fi, air-conditioned bedrooms, full kitchens, dining and living areas, and roomy porches or balconies overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The complex includes a pool, Eddy’s bar and restaurant, several seaside lounging areas, seaside grill areas, two tennis courts, deli and ice cream parlor. Several good restaurants and a full service gym are located within easy walking distance. Sand Dollar’s on-property dive partner Dive Friends Bonaire operates a dive center adjacent to the Sand Dollar Reception Office with a drive up tank station, rinse tanks, rental gear, private gear storage lockers that can be accessed 24/7. Tanks and benches for gearing up for shore diving Sand Dollar house reef Bari Reef are located seaside just steps away from a sandy beach entry. REEF organization rates Bari Reef the #1 site in the Caribbean/Atlantic for species richness, with a recorded 403 species to date. Tanks can be access from this are 24/7, enabling diving on the house reef dawn, day, dusk and night. In addition to having Dive Friends on-property facilities at their disposal, Sand Dollar guests have the added benefit of being able to swap out tanks for shore diving at any of the Dive Friends facilities at Dive Inn, Yellow Submarine, Port Bonaire and Hamlet Oasis. Dive boats depart from Dive Friends Yellow Submarine, a 3 minute drive in your rental vehicle, at 9:00 AM for morning 2-tank dives. You’ll be back in time for lunch to then take advantage of unlimited tanks for shore diving the rest of the day. Whatever your preference – studio or three bedroom, shore diving or boat diving, they have the condominium option and dive package perfectly suited for you and your fellow travelers. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sand Dollar Condominium Hotel Kralendijk
- Sand Dollar Condominium Kralendijk
- Sand Dollar Condominiums Bonaire/Kralendijk