It’s not often a new oceanfront resort opens on Bonaire. It’s rarer still to find an idyllic stretch of Bonaire coastline that’s been transformed into a palm fringed oasis of sand and sea. But such a place now exists, and it’s called Delfins Beach Resort Bonaire.
On an island noted as much for its rustic charm as its rugged, coral-rimmed shoreline, Delfins is a true standout. Opened in November 2017, this splendid vacation retreat is located less than 15 minutes’ drive south of Kralendijk, where the hamlet of Belnem ends and Bonaire’s long southern coastline becomes a ribbon of mostly uninterrupted sea and solitude.
Beach & Pool Life
The setting here is as beautiful as any on the island and the resort captivates guests with an understated sophistication and relaxed vibe. Their expansive beach is noteworthy on an island with few natural beaches (or man-made ones, for that matter). It’s the sort you dream about; white sand with turquoise blue waters and endless ocean views. It begs your feet to stop and plant the rest of your body for a moment. Believe us – you’ll willingly obey.
Comfortable loungers tucked throughout the many well-spaced palm trees let guests enjoy privacy with an ideal balance of sun and shade. While relaxing, you’ll be enamored with not only Instagram-worthy ocean vistas, but all types of sea birds, including a group of pelicans that apparently like Delfins, too. It’s not unusual to see a pod of dolphins parading by, and their regular appearance is what inspired the name of the resort — the Papiamentu spelling for dolphin – as a nod to the island’s local dialect. Along the beachfront’s wave-lapped waterline, the sand transitions to natural coral and rock jetties with several entry points to Bonaire’s marine life, a few fin kicks offshore.
What makes the beach here even more hangout friendly is the top-notch beach bar – a low key, any-hour spot to sip drinks or order off their small but tasty snack menu. Beach level seating surrounds the open-air bar among palm trees and large umbrellas, offering a toes-in-the-sand approach to socializing. We happily plopped ourselves here for more than one happy hour, evening snack and nightcap.
When you’re ready to cool off, it’s just a few steps over to the resort’s signature swimming pool – the largest and most impressive on Bonaire. Surrounded by chaise lounge chairs, and with four private cabana beds seemingly floating in center stage, this mineral water oasis is worth spending time in and soaking up the Caribbean sun. If you get thirsty, just make your way over to the swim-up bar (not yet open during our visit) to sip something cool while you relax on in-water barstools. There’s also a wading pool for younger resort guests.
Delfins’ breezy reception area greets you with lots of verandah style outdoor seating alongside a welcoming indoor front desk, where you quickly collect your key and an ultra large and plush beach towel. No kidding; it’s a serious towel made for high performance lounging. From there, a short stroll takes you to the cluster of 2-story condo-style buildings housing the modern, European design studios and one-bedroom apartments. For guests desiring more room, they have one larger, four-story building where you’ll find more spacious two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom Penthouses. All have large furnished terraces and are ideal for families or couples. Although we deemed the sweeping ocean views from the upper floors worth a stair climb, the building has its own elevator to whisk you up to your quarters.
You can choose between ocean view or garden view among most room types (there are 84 total apartments) and all have generous outdoor areas, furnished to enjoy Bonaire’s breezes and warm evenings. The apartments are appointed in simple, contemporary styles with nice details, including the convenience of kitchenettes in the studios and 1-bedrooms, and larger kitchens in the 2 and 3-bedroom apartments. Expansive windows with screened louvers let in natural light and refreshing breezes.
The 1-bedroom apartments have AC in the bedroom only (as is typical in many of Bonaire’s resorts), but studios as well as the 2 and 3-bedroom apartments are all fully air-conditioned. Maid service was friendly and consistent.
We had no complaints with bedding and sleep, although space in the bedroom and bathroom of our 1-bedroom apartment left little room to spare; they’re designed to focus space on the living areas (both inside and out). On the other hand, the 2 and 3-bedroom units and their respective rooms are quite roomy. While we did not put the kitchenette through any real test, we were impressed with the utensils provided and made daily use of the expresso maker.
Bonaire is becoming known for its fine dining with amazing cuisine. Delfins’ Brass Boer Restaurant has quickly staked its spot as one of the best on the island. Operated by one of Holland’s top chefs (their Michelin 3-star rated restaurant, de Librije is considered one of the world’s finest), the food and culinary genius at Brass Boer is impressive. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with both seaside al fresco seating as well as air-conditioned indoor dining.
Although our credentials as food critics are non-existent (with a dining budget to match), we thoroughly enjoyed breakfast and dinner at the Brass Boer. You can order traditional items a la carte to start your morning, but we tried the Brass Boer Breakfast — a delightfully creative departure from your typical resort buffet. Dinner was beyond sublime. While it may be expensive, you better get a reservation. The foodies are here nightly, and for good reason.
Delfins answer for fast food is the Truki Pan, a food truck inspired grill shack set on their beachside walking path. It makes for a lazy, can’t-miss lunch with remarkable gourmet burgers (beef or lamb) and unforgettable fries (garlic parmesan with parsley mayo). You simply order at the window and enjoy your meal picnic-style in the shade.
Diving at Delfins
What does a scuba diving enthusiast do at such a luxurious enclave? Enjoy terrific shore diving and services with Dive Friends Bonaire, the onsite dive operation. They command the island’s largest drive-through fill station for tank exchange, complete with gear rental and storage, rinse tanks, retail shop and daily Marine Park Orientations – or a cup of coffee. The friendly staff offers advice about the many nearby dive sites along the southern coast, featuring some of the easiest shore diving entries on Bonaire. It’s strategically placed near the resort entrance for fast getaways to your next dive adventure.
Delfins has its own shore dive entry and staging area on their beach, complete with shaded bench, rinse tanks and gear hangers. Kudos to the decision to place it adjacent to the beach bar (for required post-dive hydration). Just offshore, divers and snorkelers can explore Lighthouse Point dive site. The location is unique, as this area (called Punt Vierkant) is a bulge in the coastline where you’ll often find octopus, tarpon, spiny lobsters and turtles, along with the usual array of reef fish. If you’re lucky, a pod of dolphins cruising past might join you, too. The sandy shelf hosts soft corals for some 50 yards out, giving way to a sloping coral reef starting just 22 feet below the surface. Just your typical ‘world’s best’ shore diving that is so unique to Bonaire.
Delfins’ diving guests have full access to Dive Friends’ 6 other locations around the island for tank exchange, dive instruction or boat dives (their nearest pier with boat departures, at Port Bonaire, is a five-minute drive away). Delfins plans to install a large pier at the resort, but this is not scheduled to occur until later in 2018.
Trips into town for shopping and dining, to Lac Bay for windsurfing or to Atlantis Kite Beach for kiteboarding are all quick, easy drives. And with a location south of downtown Kralendijk, it’s nice to be in a place where you won’t have to navigate your way through Bonaire’s daytime traffic (not like at home, but traffic nonetheless). If you only care to venture as far as your immediate vicinity, the Belnem neighborhood has added more restaurants and even a new grocery/convenience store.
If you’re like us, Bonaire is as much about going and doing as relaxing and chilling. But at days’ end, nothing could top being back in our own little paradise, away from the rest of the world. Mellow tunes at the beach bar. Waves gently crashing. Palm trees swaying. There’s nothing quite like an island beach to escape, and Delfins delivers.
Editor’s note – this review is provided by staff of Bonaire Pros, one of the island’s leading travel specialists since 1986. As an agent for many of Bonaire’s resorts and hotels, including Delfins Beach Resort Bonaire, Bonaire Pros strives to provide insight and guidance when booking your Bonaire vacation. We welcome your feedback. Contact us at 800-748-8733 (817-416-2580 outside USA) or email us at email@example.com