Bonaire and its people are, without a doubt, very passionate about their food and beverages. The mighty Caribbean Sea provides the island with a widespread variety of mouthwatering fresh fish and other delicious sea foods. On land, hidden from the public eye, local agriculture makes it possible to grow different sorts of fruits and vegetables. Harvest amounts are depending on the rainy seasons impact. Besides, boats from mainland Venezuela supply our island with plenty of other products such as tropical fruits and vegetables.
As a visitor on our little oasis, most of your attention will be drawn to big, famous coastal restaurants, trendy food-trucks, and big commercial supermarkets. It’s a pity that most of these places don’t offer a stage for authentic Caribbean food and products. Though, if one searches thoroughly, outside the mainstream area, lovely (small) local businesses will pop up. Most of these places will give you a feeling that they don’t work out of a financial point of view, but a rather passionate one.
We have been cruising around and discovered wonderful local treasures which got us very excited.
Already curious? Good, below you will find a line-up of our detections.
Yes, thank us later…
1. "The smallest shop in town" - Kaya Industria 29 (next to Bondigro)
-“It’s a real family business, I work together with my mother and sister. We prepare the juices right at home and we sell them at different places on the island. My mother you will find in town ( Kaya L.D. Gerharts ). My sister is located at Kaya Korona. All our juices are made with fresh fruits and other pure ingredients. I love my job, every day I get to meet all sorts of people. Besides, I like the fact that I don’t work for a boss!
Our first stop, and probably one of our favorites. This amusing lady recently opened her business, about 4 months ago. She sells homemade fresh juices made with real fresh fruits. They’re ice-cold and come in different delicious flavors such as passionfruit, lime, and tamarind for only $2 a bottle. Her business consists of a cooler, a chair, lots of passion, a friendly smile, and the open air.
Business hours: Daily 08:00–13:30 (while stock lasts)
2. "E Teras" - Kaya Nikiboko Zuid 8
-“We see all sorts of people coming in, tourists and locals. We serve local Antillian dishes but also international cuisine. No day is the same here which I like a lot
While driving down Kaya Nikiboko-Zuid it’s impossible to miss this bright blue colored restaurant. Lovely salsa, bachata, merengue and other warm rhythms will entertain your ears when entering this authentic Caribbean spot which already exists for over 14 years. They serve different kinds of "Kuminda Krioyo" (Local food), varying from chicken/goat/cow/fish stews to pan-fried fresh "Piska Kora" (Snapper) with creole sauce, rice, potatoes, and salad for very reasonable prices. Furthermore, they also prepare international food such as their famous Pasta Alfredo. You can either choose to be seated at some of the tables in their cozy ‘garden’, or sit at the bar accompanied by locals socializing with you.
On Friday’s and Saturday’s, they often organize an "in-house karaoke" and live music played by local bands.
Business hours: Thursday/Sunday 10:00–23:00 and Friday/Saturday 10:00–03:00
3. "Mi Banana" - Kaya Nikiboko Noord 42
For the ones who want to experience the real authentic Colombian atmosphere. Beautiful Colombian and international dishes prepared with fresh fish, meat, rice, veggies, beans, salads, baked banana, homemade sauces, etc. Eleven years ago, they opened their doors and hearts for all the hungry costumers in need for an excellent, fairly priced meal. When we asked the bartenders to take a picture, the lady in pink pulled all the kitchen staff members out of their cook room and they proudly posed for us!
Business hours: Tuesday till Sunday 11:30-15:00 – 18:00-22:00, Mondays closed
4. "Divi Divi Bar Restaurant" - Kaya Dr. Hernandez
A sparkling local gather point located in colorful Antriol. Just to mention a few dishes they serve: Kabritu (goat), piska salu (salted fish), bakiyou (stewed fish), rabu di baka (oxtail), galina (chicken), ribs and papaya stoba (stewed papaya) which are served until 20:00. The little yellow bar/restaurant has a typical Bonairian appearance and has been taken over by the current owner about 8 years ago. She told us passionately about their food and organized events. Friday’s happy-hour is assisted by the local band "Trio Los Amigos", and later on they have Karaoke night. On Sunday’s they have a "Picknick" with different bites and drinks until 3 or so in the afternoon.
Business hours: Monday till Saturday 10:00-until night time, Wednesdays closed, Sundays 07:00-15:00 (or later)
5. "Mati’s Place" - Kaya Korona/Kaya Nikita 5 (next to Flamingo TV)
-“Me and my wife opened up our business around 3,5 years ago. Before we lived in Rotterdam, Holland, where my wife is from. I lived on Bonaire before but moved to Holland in 1989, I’m originally from Suriname. I used to work as a star chef and my wife had her own beauty salon in Rotterdam, though we choose to live on this beautiful island. We prepare our food with love and passion. Even though our restaurant is not very notable for the outside world, we don’t really have to advertise since our customers do this when they talk about us. Our restaurant is doing very fine, and we love what we are doing!
This hidden pearl serves tasteful Surinam/Javan food that will positively invade all your senses. We were served by a joyous man whom happened to be one of the owners. He told us about their specialties such as “Bami Kip” (spiced spaghetti with marinated chicken), “Nasi Kip” (spiced rice with chicken), Roti (wrap with a sauce of egg, curry, veggies,chicken), saoto soup, and different kinds of delicious Surinam style sandwiches with chicken, fish, egg, and meat. Prices are very favorable and range between $4 for a sandwich to $7/8 for a small Bami/Nasi portion and around $13 for a (very) big Bami/Nasi portion.
Business hours: Tuesday/Saturday 7:30-16:00, Sunday/Monday closed
6. "Zarpin L.V.V. Paradijs" - Kaminda Lac 18
-“I’ve been growing up with it and it’s a part of me. We know exactly what we sell and where it comes from. We bring in fish that we catch ourselves but also that we get from other local fisherman. Besides, I have a piece of land where I grow different kinds of organic vegetables and fruits such as: cucumber, okra, bell-peppers, spinach, chili-peppers, banana, lime, watermelon and many other products that we sell seasonal. Furthermore, we have goats and chicken which we also use for meat production. I actually love everything about my job, it’s my passion: catching and preparing fish, working on my land, and getting along with all the different kind of costumers that approach our shop.
Do not read the next sentence. Ha! You didn’t listen. Apparently, we got your attention now, since this fish shop deserves all of it. Any fresh fish lover will black out from all the qualitative options and freshness this family business has to offer. Daily fresh catches are flaunting in their showcase waiting for you, yes you, to be consumed. Super-fresh-tuna, snappers, mahi-mahi, barracuda, purunchi, and many other sorts cached that very morning are sold for prices our supermarkets should be ashamed of. Five years ago, they opened up. Besides fish, also home grown, organic products. We spoke with one of the sons and his mother, whom attended us with a big smile and lots of enthusiasm.
Business hours: Monday/Friday 08:30-12:30 – 15:00-18:00, Saturday/Sunday closed
7. "Chacho’s Seafood Restaurant" - Kaya Papa Cornes 33
-“We opened in April 2017, and it’s a real family business. My father is a fisher man, he catches and also prepares fish in our restaurant kitchen. I’m the manager. I love the social aspect of working with different kind of people: colleagues, costumers, and suppliers. We’re still in the start-up phase with our restaurant and planning to stay open during evenings as well from coming November and on.
Recently opened and gaining popularity! This unique concept works as follows: You park your car, walk in the cozy-decorated-blue colored-air-conditioned restaurant, get served with a smile by their kind staff members, pick one of the fresh fish in their showcase (the price will be based on the weight of your fish), add additional rice/fries/pumpkin/veggies/sauces/casave, then be seated and wait for the feast. Their specialties are funchi hasa (baked corn bread), 1-day-marinated-baracuda-in-garlic-sauce, and balchi di buni (tuna ball). They serve big, royal amounts of food for very fair prices. We spoke with the manager whom proudly explained us how everything comes together.
Business hours: Tuesday/Saturday: 11:45 - 15:00, Sunday: 12:00-16:00
8. "Tha Toko" - Kaya Korona 1
Sometimes you have to spoil yourself, luckily there is "Tha Toko" where a variety of ice-cold, home-made $1 "Lee cups" (Local term for ice-creams and fresh-fruit sorbets) waits for your purchase. They come in a variety of fruity/creamy tastes such as mango, banana, pear, or pineapple, peanut-butter or pistachio. Besides try his local pudding "Kesio", which functions excellent as a dessert.
Business hours: Daily 12:00-16:00