Note – From our friends at Wannadive Bonaire, owner and founder Bart Snelder lends his perspective of where Bonaire has been since the pandemic (and where it is going). Longtime reader’s of our blog will remember Bart and Bob’s Dive Report from decades past. Thanks Bart, for bringing your writing back to the pages of Bonaire Pros.
— August 2020 —
Back in March, when the last plane and the last cruise ship left Bonaire, and the lock down of the island became absolute, we all felt terrible, isolated, abandoned even.
Not a single tourist to service anymore. None! We were left alone on our island, cut off from the outside world AND our livelihood. After all, 90 percent of our economy is based on tourism. Within days going from an absolutely booming tourist destination, with lots and lots of people strolling our streets, not a single guest remained. Nobody could get in and nobody could get out. Being stuck on a tropical island sounds good but it felt like being stuck on Alcatraz with velvet cushions sometimes.
No cars on the road, no planes in the sky, no boats on the water, no parties in the bars, no gourmets in our restaurants, lights out in the hotels … eerie, spooky, scary. What would the future bring? People started hoarding, afraid to be stuck without life’s necessities.
And it didn’t seem fair. The pandemic never reached us, with the exception of a few well isolated repatriated islanders.
But see, optimism is never far away. We could use the time to finish projects. We could use the time to spend with our family. We could use the time to rediscover our island. And so we did! A voyage of discovery! A Staycation! We know all about it and we loved it.
Because beautiful Bonaire and its nature bounced right back to being…well… even more beautiful!
The sea seemed bluer than ever before, marine life seemed to be more relaxed going about. Never seen in a decade, turtles swam right underneath our dock. And underwater there is something missing: the constant hum of boat engines has vanished. While diving, no sounds interrupt the serenity other than bubbles and the gnawing of parrotfish. On land the scenery seemed greener, the parrots louder, the sky clearer, crackling.
And we did finish projects. Wannadive has opened a beautiful new dive shop, located on the brand new, beautiful Grand Windsock Resort, with access to the stunning Caribbean Sea.
And lastly we — Bonaire — started to make plans on all levels. Our leaders and our population all participated in drafting these plans for our future. If and when this pandemic is under control we vow to never return to the old ways of uncontrolled growth. Corona allowed us to take a breather and evaluate our way going forward. Currently plans are both written anew and some already implemented. Big infrastructure projects are being undertaken after decades of decay. Cruise ship numbers will be reduced.
Bonaire will not just be ready to welcome it’s guests again, it will do so with a higher standard and quality. Better not bigger.
Corona may indeed be the blessing in disguise. See you soon!
– Bart Snelder / Wannadive Bonaire