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  • Sand Dollar Condominium Resort

    Many Amenities and Great Activities on Bonaire

    by Susan L. Swygert, Jun. 1997



    Choosing a vacation destination isn't easy; your wish list probably reads: great diving, great dive shop, great weather and water, accommodations and food. Those of us who love the ocean want to spend as much time as possible near the water, on the water and especially underwater! We want our vacation experience to be fun and hassle-free, a perfect timeout from the typical ups and downs of daily life.

    The Caribbean region can fulfill many of the vacationing diver's needs, particularly Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, just north of Caracas, Venezuela. Known as one of the top diving destinations in the world, it has many unique characteristics that blend to earn it this reputation. Visitors find Bonaire to be extraordinarily special.

    Only a few degrees above the equator, Bonaire is beneath the hurricane belt and cooled year-round by steady trade winds. Lying north to south, the island boasts 265 miles of leeward coast, dotted with more than 75 spectacular dive sites easily accessible by beach and boat. Beneath the calm, turquoise sea, these sites have been protected by law since the early 1970s. No spearfishing, anchoring or collecting are the basic tenets of the Bonaire Marine Park. Park users must pay an annual $10 (U.S.) fee, which funds the boat mooring system, education and research. The lush reefs that surround Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, a nearby uninhabited island, are teeming with colorful tropical fish and healthy corals.

    The diving, water conditions and weather are truly great. Bonaire is an ideal destination for divers of all skill levels. Famous for its lack of high rise resorts and traffic lights, its diver-friendly inhabitants have assured a plethora of professional dive shops. Diving tourism is the primary business and, consequently, Bonaire also offers great accommodations and food.

    Sand Dollar Condominium Resort has a well-earned reputation for its unique 'home away from home' atmosphere. Stretching along Bonaire's central coast, it offers 73 studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments overlooking the Caribbean. Each condo, designed as a vacation home, sports luxurious details, including private balconies, air-conditioned bedrooms, tropical furnishings, cable TV and fully equipped kitchens right down to dishwashers and microwave ovens. Perfect for couples, families and groups, Sand Dollar offers a variety of activities or just plain peace and quiet. Easy and convenient, a small shopping arcade on the property has a bank, grocery store, car rental agency, ice cream shop and an island tour operator.

    Nestled along the sea within the resort are the Sand Dollar Dive and Photo Shop and the Green Parrot Restaurant. The Green Parrot is one of the most popular eateries on Bonaire, well known for its sunset happy hour and specialty frozen concoctions, as well as its easy, American-style dining and fine service.

    Andre Nahr, director of Sand Dollar Dive and Photo, has spent more than ten years developing a reliable and reputable program to satisfy an amazing variety of diver demands. Any visitor can choose a dive package ranging from basic to adventure filled.

    Unlimited shore diving and staggered boat departures; 8:45 and 10:30 am and 1:30 and 3:30 pm; allow divers to customize their vacations. Start the day early or sleep in, just sign up for the boat dive of your choice! Knowledgeable instructors oversee one of the largest teaching operations in the Caribbean; more than 20 classes are available. Diving development instruction ranges from one day learn to dive lessons, week-long certification classes, advanced and divemaster courses to medic first aid and rescue specialties.

    It is also possible to sign up for introductory and advanced photography and videography classes taught by two of the best photo pros in the Caribbean, Jim Brandon and Julie Morgan. Jerry Ligon heads up a special department for nature lovers and naturalist classes are offered both underwater and topside. Introduction to Fish Watching: Identification and Behavior, is taught to both snorkelers and divers. There are wonderful excursions around the island to experience Bonaire's unique flora and fauna, including iguanas, parrots and myriad species of cacti.

    Sand Dollar Dive and Photo even has a unique adventure package that appeals to all ages and interests. A week-long program or just a daily taste can be arranged, featuring diving, ocean kayaking, nature excursions, guided snorkeling and mountain biking.

    There's a special Sand Penny Club that schedules daily activities for children throughout the year. August is Family Month on Bonaire and, during this special month, all children under the age of 15 stay free at Sand Dollar.

    Visit Sand Dollar for the June 21 to 28, 1997 annual Nikonos Shootout or try your photo and video skills during November, when the entire month is devoted to Sand Dollar's own photo contest.

    Whatever your interests, you are going to have a great time at Sand Dollar Condominium Resort on Bonaire. For brochures, further information and/or reservations, call Sand Dollar Reservations at (800) 288-4773 or (407) 774-9292, fax (407) 774-9322 or write to P.O. Box 3253, Longwood, Florida 32779. The direct phone number is (011) 599-7-8738; fax (011) 599-7-8760.