Dec 042016
 

The holidays are rapidly approaching (yikes), and, if you’re like most of us, you may be struggling with gift ideas for those on your list.  We’re here to help.

We’ve put together a list of some of favorite products and services for Travelers, Photographers, Scuba Divers and Bonaire Lovers.

 

For Travelers & Global Nomads

Swatch Watches– I rarely travel without a Swatch watch.  The affordable price point means that you don’t have to fret about loss or theft.  And the fact that all Swatch watches are waterproof makes them indispensable for ocean lovers. Another plus, many larger airports have a Swatch store, and Swatch offers free battery changes for the life of your watch.  This white one is my new fave.

Amazon Kindle Voyage – This is the new device in my arsenal, and I’m in love.  Where do I begin?  The battery life is incredible.  It lasts for weeks.  The screen is easy to read, easy on the eyes and user-friendly.  And who doesn’t want access to new books at their fingertip?

Elta MD UV Clear Sunscreen, SPF 46 – Whether you are trekking in the Himalayas, Skiing in Taos or sailing the South Pacific, sunscreen is critically important.  I go through bottles of this product.  It has a high level of protection, yet it feels light and will never cause breakouts.

Dakine Split Roller Duffle Bag – My Dakine bag has not had an easy life.  It’s been thrown onto luggage belts in Fiji, rolled through rocks and dirt in the Serengeti and hauled in and out of multiple boats in The Maldives.  Yet it has held up like the workhorse it is.  And type-A neat freaks those who like multiple organizational options will love its many sections and pockets.

Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarers – These classic shades are now made in a cool folding design that fits easily into your pocket or travel bag.

 

For Photographers

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 – This is hands-down the most critical element of my photography arsenal.

Gitzo 3532LS Tripod – This sturdy carbon-fiber tripod is also flexible and adaptable.  We love it for outdoor and wildlife photography.

Think Tank Perception Pro Camera Backpack – This backpack went with me to Tanzania, and it was perfect for my safari needs.  Inside it I hauled one SLR body, two point and shoot bodies, two lenses, an underwater housing for my Olympus TG-4, my MacBook Pro and multiple other accessories.

The Underwater Photographer, by Martin Edge – If you want to learn underwater photography or want to perfect your underwater photography, this is without a doubt the book for you.

 

For Scuba Divers

Henderson Lycra Dive Skin – Whether you wear it alone for snorkeling or under a warmer wetsuit for diving, this dive skin is comfortable and well-made.

Reef Fish Identification Book – These fish identification books by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach have been a crucial part of our library for as long as I can remember.  They are a must-have for every scuba diver.  They are available for the Pacific and Indian oceans as well as the Caribbean and Atlantic.

Scubapro Spectra Mini Mask – My mask of choice.  The low-profile design and smaller size is a great choice for female or smaller divers.

Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) Membership – We faithfully renew our DAN memberships each year.  The benefits are numerous and include dive accident insurance, a subscription to Alert Diver magazine and dive safety education.  Membership is $35 for an individual and $55 for a family.

 

For Bonaire Lovers – Our favorite local Bonairean products & services

Cadushy Rom Rincon – This spiced and artisan-crafted rum is made for sipping.  Get it while you are in Bonaire. It’s not available anywhere else.

Phish Phaktory Bags – These tote bags are made from recycled sails and materials found in underwater cleanup dives on Bonaire.  The bags are cute, sturdy, well-crafted and will last forever.  The owners/artists are super cool and truly care about our environment.

Carrying my Phish Phaktory tote at Bonaire's Carnival

Carrying my Phish Phaktory tote at Bonaire’s Carnival

Flaming Flamingo hot sauces, salt and jams – We love these made-in-Bonaire products.  Our fave is the mango hot sauce (Steve practically drinks it).

A tank card from Dive Friends Bonaire – Give the gift of air!  Dive Friends Bonaire offers a handy tank card for local divers.

Elements Jewelry – Elements dichroic glass pieces made great colorful gifts and souvenirs.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire hats and shirts – Help Bonaire’s sea turtles and wear cool gear at the same time.

Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire Diver Certification Course – We are both PADI certified Coral Restoration Divers.  It’s both fun and important work.  Courses are available at Buddy Dive, Harbour Village and Wannadive.

Cleaning the algae from a tree in the coral nursery

Meredith cleaning the algae from a tree in the coral nursery at Klein Bonaire

Italy in the World, Bonaire – Give a beautiful bottle of Italian wine or a great Prosecco from this boutique and restaurant in Bonaire.  We love the Santero 9-5-8 prosecco for a sunset toast.

An extensive wine selection at Italy in The World, Bonaire

An extensive wine selection at Italy in The World, Bonaire

Latitude 12° Designs Bonaire Necklace – OK, this is my jewelry design company.  I design and create custom jewelry in sterling silver (or the metal of your choice).  My Bonaire Necklace is a great choice for showing your Bonaire love.  But the choice is yours – all pieces are custom made, and the sky is the limit.

The Bonaire necklace in sterling silver

The Bonaire necklace in sterling silver

Custom mermaid necklace in sterling silver

Custom mermaid necklace in sterling silver

Custom, hand made necklace for the ocean lover, by Latitude 12° Designs

Custom, hand made necklace for the ocean lover, by Latitude 12° Designs

custom bracelet set by Latitude 12° Designs

custom bracelet set by Latitude 12° Designs

All of the products mentioned above are products we use and love.  We have purchased each of these products (some over and over), and they were not gifted to us or given to us for promotional purposes.

Sep 152014
 

One of the best things we can do to help control the Caribbean lionfish population is to eat it.  Don’t be afraid!  It’s a fantastic white flaky fish with a wonderful texture.

Bonaire is far ahead of many other Caribbean islands when it comes to eradicating lionfish and creating consumer demand for it as a food fish.  You’ll find it at several of the island’s restaurants, thanks to a team of dedicated lionfish hunters and skilled chefs.  Thankfully, demand is high, and it’s not uncommon for restaurants to be sold out of lionfish.

One of our favorite ways to eat lionfish is on the beach with Hagen.  Hagen is the owner of, and chef at, Cactus Blue on the Beach.  This funky food truck is one of Bonaire’s most popular eating establishments, and for good reason.

Cactus Blue food truck

Cactus Blue food truck

cactus blue2

The always-friendly Hagen is undoubtedly doing his part to help Bonaire’s reefs.  He hunts his own lionfish then skillfully serves them up in the form of his ever-popular lionfish burgers.

lionfish burger

The word is out, and everyone wants this highly-coveted lunchtime favorite.  But be forewarned, Hagen often sells out of lionfish well before noon.  But you can still get one of his awesome wraps or kite burgers (he makes a fantastic veggie wrap) and consume it while staring at the turquoise sea and pondering your next dive.

View from Cactus Blue's current location

View from Cactus Blue’s current location

Cactus Blue is currently located on E.E.G. Boulevard by the airport runway.

Editor’s Note, Oct. 10, 2014 – I’ve just found out that, sadly, Cactus Blue has permanently closed.  This is a disappointment to all of us who enjoyed its wonderful lunches.  We wish Hagen the best in his new endeavors.

Editor’s Note #2, October 16, 2014 – I stand corrected.  The beloved Cactus Blue truck has been purchased and is still serving the famous lionfish burgers (among the other great offerings).  Look for it at Windsock Beach, and follow them on Facebook for more info.  

Jul 252014
 

On Bonaire’s rugged east coast, you’ll find an idyllic lagoon as expansive and stunning as a Tahitian atoll.  It’s called Lac Bay, and it is part of Bonaire National Park.

On the Sorobon side of Lac Bay lies one of the windsurfing meccas of the world – Jibe City.  Windsurfers flock here for its consistent winds, warm waters and sandy bottom.

Sorobon Panorama

Sorobon Panorama

windsurfer at Lac Bay

We recently enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Jibe City’s Hang Out Bar.  The food was very good, the wine was very cold, and the view was simply stunning.  And while I’m partial to the ultra relaxed beach bars in the British Virgin Islands, Jibe City’s beach hut is right up there in terms of the qualities I prefer in a beach bar – sandy floors and salty patrons are the norm here.

View from the Hang Out Bar

View from the Hang Out Bar

jibe city signs

Lac Beach

Beach at Jibe City

 

If windsurfing is not your sport, Jibe City has plenty of others activities from snorkeling to paddle boarding to kayaking to massage to simply lounging on the beach.

Can’t get to Bonaire?  See the action for yourself on Jibe City’s webcam.

May 122014
 

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am not a morning person.  I do not awake, wide eyed, at the crack of dawn.  Nor do I eagerly spring out of bed just as the early morning birds begin chirping.  Instead, I slowly roll out of bed, still half asleep, with a laser-like focus on one thing.  Coffee.

Seeing that I’m not exactly brimming with early morning energy, I’m always looking for ways to simplify the coffee making process.  Enter the Keurig.  Dare I say it changed my life?

As I began using the pods that were packaged with the machine, I quickly realized that I was not comfortable using that much incremental plastic on a daily basis.  Then I began to think about the cumulative impact that these ever popular plastic pods would have on our environment and our fragile ocean ecosystems.

Desperately seeking an environmentally friendly solution, I came across these Keurig-compatable coffee pods from San Francisco Bay Coffee.  They are 97% biodegradable, and the coffee is fair trade, shade grown and incredibly delicious.  Seems like the best of both worlds.

Fog Chaser is a bold blend which has quickly become a favorite.

Jan 032014
 

…at least that’s the mantra at Bonaire’s Paradise Moon restaurant.

Paradise Moon Menu

This funky, open-air restaurant and bar is one of my favorite low-key spots for lunch or dinner on the island.

Dive Flag Tabletops at Paradise Moon

Dive Flag Tabletops at Paradise Moon

And the restaurant is doing its part to help control the island’s lion fish population by serving (its extremely popular) lionfish ceviche.

Paradise Moon Menu Closeup

I had my first (and definitely not last) taste of lionfish here recently when Mr. Reeftraveler ordered the ceviche. I’ve often heard others rave about its delectable flaky texture, but I remained skeptical.  Was it truly tasty, or was that a myth designed to convince Caribbean travelers to embrace this “exotic” menu item?  Would I be poisoned? The answers are yes and no.  Yes, it is really tasty.  And no, you won’t be poisoned by eating lionfish.  It’s flesh does not contain venom.

Paradise Moon's Lionfish Ceviche

Paradise Moon’s Lionfish Ceviche

According to Reef, eating lionfish is one of the most important things we can do to help control the population. So go ahead and indulge!  You’ll get a great meal AND help the environment at the same time.  A list of restaurants serving lionfish is below.

Lionfish Links

Lionfish Recipes

List of Restaurants Serving Lionfish

10 Frightening Facts about the Lionfish Invasion

NOAA

And here’s a video showing how to clean a lionfish for cooking