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ABC & Labadee? Easy as 123 & 4!


Fishbone
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This post is specifically for anyone traveling to the ABC islands & Labadee with kids, or at least a very energetic 7 year old boy who keeps going & going & going!

 

I had a difficult time finding the specific island information I needed for our just completed 9 night Southern Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, so I thought I’d share my experience with others.

 

We’re a party of 3, plus Oma!

 

Here’s the Bonaire portion (the other portions can be found under their respective ports of call):

 

BONAIRE

I knew exactly what “I” wanted to do in Bonaire, but alas, the world does not revolve around me.

 

Fortunately, my husband, little boy & mom (Oma) are super awesome & agreed that what I wanted to do was what we would all do - snorkel at Klein Bonaire!

 

We headed off the ship & walked to the end of the pier, we turned left on the first street & walked along the tents setup along the way. I had done a little research in advance & knew I was looking for a water taxi for no more than $20 per person (US$). After a few minutes I recognized one of the vendors (Caribe) from my online research & inquired about the cost. It was $20 per person round trip (US $) & my son was free. The minute she said my son was free, I handed her the cash for the tickets.

 

She gave us the tickets & directed us to Karels Beach Bar to board the water taxi (5 minutes away). On the way, I tucked into the La Creperie & purchased three bottles of water for $2.50 each (US $).

 

Just as we were arriving, one of the three Caribe water taxis was departing, fully loaded. We took a seat in the beach bar & waited approximately 15 minutes for the next water taxi to arrive. It was the smallest of the three, fit approximately 15 people & was captained by the owner of the company. Boarding was chaotic. There was no line & everyone was simply jumping on. In the end, there were too many passengers aboard & after a little bickering between passengers as to who boarded last, the couple who was accused of boarding last got off. It was slightly uncomfortable.

 

Approximately 20 minutes later, we arrived at Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island just off the mainland with a fantastic coral reef just offshore. As we approached, the captain explained that he was going to let us off at the beach, but that we needed to walk to a pole that he pointed out to access a break in the reef in order to snorkel. Once we crossed the break, we would simply drift back to the beach with the current, where we could do it all again.

 

Klein Bonaire does not have bathrooms, food, water, or shade (you can position yourself up against the scrub for a little relief). We were well prepared. Everyone went to the bathroom in advance & in addition to the three bottles of water I purchased, we also had lots of Clif bars & candy in case of an emergency. Yes, candy (Nerds, Skittles, Fun Dip). I’m the kind of mom that likes to prevent a meltdown in advance. Since my son rarely eats candy, pulling out a tiny bag of watermelon sharks on a long, hot, exhausting day works wonders.

 

The water taxi we were in did not have a platform with which to access the shore like the other two, it just had stairs. This meant we had to climb down a 4-5 rung vertical ladder into knee deep water with all of our gear while the boat was rocking back & forth. Not really a problem, but my mom was a little nervous.

 

My mom & son do not snorkel, so we set them up in a comfy spot on the beach up against the scrub. There they spent the next several hours building sandcastles & splashing in the water. In addition to the Octonauts & their Gups, we brought shovels & a bucket. They were all set!

 

My husband & I walked to the end of the beach & then accessed the water where we swam the rest of the way to the pole pointed out by the captain of the water taxi. Sure enough, there was a large break in the coral & we swam across. We were immediately surrounded by hundreds of tropical fish. We spent the next hour or so drift snorkeling along the coral reef. One thing that surprised me was the drop off immediately adjacent to the reef & I must admit to glancing over a few times to make sure a toothy grin was not emerging from the deep blue abyss.

 

Once we drifted back to the beach, we did it all again. There were a few times that we turned around to take another look at something & had to fight the current, which was very strong.

 

We had water shoes with us, but for some unknown reason, we didn’t put them on. They were really necessary as the entrance to the water is littered with thousands of pieces of large coral. Our feet hurt like crazy walking over them, but I think we were just too excited to take the time to put them on.

 

The water taxi captain told me that if a German based ship (Aida or Mein Schiff) is in port, they begin transporting people to Klein Bonaire at 8:45AM with departures every 1/2 hour. If there is only an American based ship (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, etc) in port, they begin departures at 9:15AM with hourly departures. If there are two ships (non German) in port, they begin transporting people at 9:15AM with thirty minute departures.

 

After approximately 4-5 hours, we hoped the water taxi back to the mainland. We could have taken any of the three Caribe water taxi’s, but ended up back on the same small boat. There was a nice orderly line for the return trip, which we stood in for less than 5 minutes. Again, there was no platform with which to access the small boat like on the other two larger boats, just a small vertical ladder with 4-5 rungs to climb. Getting back on was slightly more difficult than getting off because you had to heave yourself & your gear up out of knee deep water & into the boat while it was rocking back & forth. But there was always someone willing to lend a hand, or two.

 

Once back on the mainland, we decided to grab a quick snack at the La Creperie, (because they were very friendly when we purchased water earlier that day, because it smelled so good inside, because it was right on the path back to the ship & because they had free WiFi). We all ordered waffles & they were all very good.

 

We then strolled back to the ship taking pictures along the way (welcome to Bonaire sign, iguanas in the rocks, etc).

 

If we had to do it all over again, we’d have gotten a slightly earlier start (I was under the impression that the water taxi’s didn’t start departing until 10:00AM, which was not the case). We’d have then used the extra time to stroll around town for a few more minutes. We would also have waited for one of the two larger water taxis with a platform to walk across versus the small one with the ladder.

 

Overall, we absolutely loved Bonaire & the excursion to Klein Bonaire was awesome! I would do it again & again!

 

 

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Thanks for the great information on the water taxis! We will be there in January and it is good to know about the differences in schedule based on what ships are in port. Can I ask if the return trips from Klein Bonaire followed the same schedule?

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I’m assuming the return trips also follow the same schedule, but I didn’t specifically ask.

 

On the day we were there (with a German based ship in port), they were doing return trips every thirty minutes.

 

I would highly recommend Klein Bonaire to you, especially if you are an avid snorkel! It was truly fantastic (just remember to bring water shoes).

 

Going there on our own versus a ship’s excursion was super easy!

 

Enjoy your trip to Bonaire! I’m already searching for another cruise with Bonaire as a destination!

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Amazing and immensly helpful write ups. Thank You! (on all ABC & Labadee posts of yours)

Might I ask, did you encounter any of the tour operators at the same spot, and how crowded did the water get?

Thanks again!

 

 

 

Yes, there were many other tour operators dropping off & picking up from the same spot on Klein Bonaire. It was my understanding from our boat captain that the beach was the only accessible part of the island, as the other side of the island was pure rocks.

 

I did not think the water was crowded at all. There were lots of people, but I never felt crowded - perhaps because we were all drifting at our own speeds. But even the beach itself didn’t feel crowded.

 

I truly enjoyed snorkeling at Klein Bonaire & although I had reservations (due to the lack of shade, bathrooms & food/drink), I am so glad we went & would go again in a heartbeat!

 

 

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I totally agree about Klein Bonaire - the snorkeling was incredible! We saw several sea turtles 🐢 so I was THRILLED! Cheapest excursion we’ve done but definitely one of the best! We chose a water taxi after we got there as well and I was so glad we did! We did the 2 stop water taxi so we also went to a small hotel with a beach with a pier and the water was crystal clear- saw hundreds of fish including my favorite parrot fish!

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