advertisement

Banks -- Banks are open Monday through Friday from 8am until 4pm. ATMs are along Kaya Grandi in Kralendijk and at the airport.

Currency -- In February 2011, Bonaire switched their official currency from the Netherlands Antillean florin (NAf) to the U.S. dollar. Traveler's checks and credit cards are widely accepted, though American Express and Diners Club are not as popular as Visa and MasterCard, while Discover is gaining popularity.

Electricity -- Bonaire's electricity (127 volts/50 cycles) is slightly different from North America's (110 volts/60 cycles). Most North American appliances function without a transformer but older ones may run warm or burn out if left plugged in for a long time. Warning: Electrical current used to feed or recharge finely calibrated diving equipment should be stabilized with a specially engineered electrical stabilizer. Every diving operation on the island has one of these as part of its standard equipment for visiting divers.

Emergencies -- Call tel. 911 for the police or tel. 912 for an ambulance.

Hospital -- San Francisco Hospital, Kaya Soeur Bartola 2, Kralendijk (tel. 599/717-8900), has a hyperbaric recompression chamber and handles most emergencies, but an evacuation plane provides backup.

Internet Access -- Most hotels have Wi-Fi in the lobby and many have it in the guest rooms too. Chat'n'Browse, in the Sand Dollar Shopping Plaza (tel. 599/717-2281; www.chatnbrowse.com), as well as Bonaire Access, in Harborside Mall (tel. 599/717-6040), provide access for about $6 per hour.

Language -- English is widely spoken, but you'll hear Dutch (the official language), Spanish, and Papiamento (the tongue spoken in Aruba).

Safety -- Bonaire is safe, but keep an eye on your valuables and use your hotel's safe.

Taxes -- Virtually all goods and services are subject to a 5% tax. A room tax of $5.50 to $6.50 per person per day is also charged. Upon leaving Bonaire, you'll be charged an airport departure tax of $35.

Telephone -- To call Bonaire from the United States, dial 011 (the international access code), 599 (the country code), 717 (the area code), and then the four-digit local number. On Bonaire, dial 717 plus the four-digit local number only. It's often difficult to make international and toll-free calls from hotel rooms, and lines aren't always clear. If you're having a problem, contact Telbo (tel. 599/717-7000), the central phone company on Kaya Libertador Simón Bolívar. The direct-dial access number for AT&T is tel. 916/843-4685 from cellphones and tel. 800-8000 from pay phones; for Verizon it's tel. 800-8888. You can reach a Sprint/Nextel operator throughout the Caribbean at tel. 011-817/698-4199. Check with your carrier before you leave home to find out if your phone will work on the island and be sure to check the fees, which are about $2 per minute for outgoing and incoming calls. Prepaid phone cards can be purchased from convenience stores or from the Telbo office downtown. Cellphone rentals go for about $5 per day plus the cost of minutes. There is a $200 deposit. Local calls cost about 40¢ per minute and international calls run about 60¢ per minute. Bonaire Access has an office in the Harborside Mall (tel. 599/717-6040) but the best place to rent is Chat'n'Browse (tel. 599/717-2281). You can also buy phone cards and make international calls from Chippie, a local cellphone carrier in town.

Time -- Bonaire is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time and the same as Eastern daylight saving time. Due to the difference in electrical current, U.S. clocks may run slow and PDAs won't always update to local time.

Tipping -- Tipping is much the same as in the U.S., with some restaurants adding a 10% to 15% service charge automatically. Tip taxi drivers and dive masters 10%.

Water -- Drinking tap water is perfectly safe.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.