Visitors to Bonaire don't have to dive too deep to find a great meal: the tiny Dutch Caribbean island features fun beach bars, lively night spots, and even fine dining worth of a New Amsterdam address.
The Wind and Surf Beach Hut Bar and Grill
When there are surfboards on the ceiling and the floor is made of sand, you can be pretty certain you're in a bona-fide beach bar. Located next to Windsurf Place as well as the Sonrisa and Sorobon Beach resorts, the Beach Hut occupies prime real estate on the white sands of Lac Bay. The open-air establishment features a full bar and an unpretentious but robust menu featuring salads, local catches, hamburgers, and sandwiches.
It Rains Fishes is a nonpareil that wouldn't be out of place in the tonier neighborhoods of Manhattan. The restaurant specializes in fish, from fabulous starters like the Rains Fishes carpaccio -- thin slices of just-filleted wahoo drizzled with lemon vinaigrette and cilantro -- to entrées like a local-style creole red snapper and the popular grilled seafood platter of fresh catch, gambas, calamari, mussels and scallops served in a garlic sauce. Surprisingly sophisticated for a small-island restaurant.
At Sea is a fine-dining, a la carte restaurant with stunning water views. Seating is available outside under large umbrellas or inside surrounded by charming touches. The menu changes frequently to accommodate produce availability.
With a wide variety of American meats, European cheeses, South American vegetables, and local fish, we highly recommend the four course Surprise Menu: it changes weekly and can be accompanied by paired wines. At Sea is an unexpected touch of luxury on an otherwise laid-back island.
Maiky Snack is authentic local cuisine at a quaint locale in Bonaire's outback. There are only five items on the menu: goat soup, fish, chicken, and two kinds of goat stews. Your choice of sides is white rice or funchi, the latter a cornmeal and butter cake that's essentially polenta. The restaurant bills itself as "The best LOCAL food in Bonaire" and you'd be hard-pressed to argue the point.
For a taste of Latin American inspired cuisine, La Cantina Bonaire is a must try. Like many restaurants on Bonaire, there is an open-air section allowing for dining in the sunshine or gazing at the stars. the restaurant has a wide selection of locally caught fish (which the chef will slice and dice in front of you), steak and chicken entrees, and craft cocktails alongside an interesting wine list. The desserts are especially delectable.
Head to Wilhelmina Park in the center of Kralendjik for Taste of Bonaire, a bi-monthly festival showcasing local food and crafts from around the island. Around a dozen restaurants participate, and you can have your fill of funchi (polenta) and quesadillas, or try more esoteric fare like iguana stew and "goat's blood," a goat-liver dish. Sip on a Heineken or a rum punch while browsing local jewelry and paintings, or simply sit back and enjoy the live music. But take our word for it and stay far, far away from the cactus soup.
Taste of Bonaire happens frequently, but not on any kind of a set schedule, so check the calendar at the Tourism Bonaire website or call their office at 599-717-8322.
Posada Para Mira is a no-frills, open-air restaurant between Rincon and Dos Pos. Set on the highest point between the two towns, practically any seat at this restaurant offers views of the Rincon hills and the sea beyond. The menu is short, but all dishes are served with a side of plantains, rice, salad, pumpkin, and funchi. Choose from an assortment of traditional soups, stews, krokets, fish, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
Lovers Ice Cream
Go to the Sand Dollar Shopping Plaza on Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot in Kralendijk to discover the best -- and one of the only -- ice cream shops on the island. Lovers offers 16 flavors, from the traditional vanilla and chocolate to espresso, caramel pecan, and mint. Cups and waffle cones are cheap, anywhere from about $2.50 for a small to about $6.80 for a large.
For the beer connoisseur, Lovers offers another perk: A modest selection of Flemish craft brews you can buy by the bottle, which offer a pleasant break from the usual Heineken and Balashi.