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Reviewed 15 July 2012

First off...this is no reflection on the Inn at all, but the first thing anyone should know about Bonaire is they do have a lot of biting bugs...we took 2 cans of bug spray with deet and ended up buying 4 more while we were there....so....first thing you pack...even before your dive gear is....bug spray.

Arranging the accommodations and diving was the easiest part; I emailed Harry (the owner), he emailed me back with prices, I emailed him back with my choice and a small down payment and we were set with a 1 bedroom apartment, rental car, to and from the airport, and a dive package. I had several other questions after my reservation, and Harry quickly tended to each one of them and answered them in a professional manner. This was the easiest trip I have ever arranged.

At the airport, a gentleman was standing outside with our names on board, he took our bags, loaded us up in a van and had us to the Inn in about 5 minutes. He gave me the key, showed me where our apartment was, and told me someone would be here to get me for the rental car around 10:00. A rental car agent arrived and drove me back to the rental car office while showing me where everything was and giving me tips and hints along the way. I drove myself back, and we had the perfect pickup truck for the week. We met Harry, Siggi and the rest of the crew while we filled out our dive paperwork and we were on our check out dive by 2:00.

The apartment had everything we needed; a full kitchen with pots, pans, dishes, microwave and refrigerator. The AC was a little tricky; after making the floor VERY wet the first night, and ice chunks being spit at us the second night, we finally figured out that you do not need to run the AC all day, and 26 was a really good temperature for the bedroom at night. We also closed the door to the bedroom and the bathroom at all times, which helped with both the AC and the bug issues. We also realized after the first night that the bug net hanging over the bed was not for decoration, and it became our best friend every night before we went to bed...thank goodness for bug nets and bug spray. The location is not on the beach, but walk 2 minutes up the road and you are on probably the only beach on Bonaire. If you are looking for white sandy beaches...Bonaire is not your place. The Inn is not the Ritz Carlton, but it provided a safe, affordable place to stay that had everything we needed to be comfortable. Armando, the maintenance/fix it/landscaper/pool cleaner/boat captain/anything else that is needed guy kept everything beautiful and his wife kept our apartment clean and made sure we had clean towels and fresh linens at all times.

We bought groceries in town, go to the large store rather than the small store across from the rental car place. If you want to use a cart, you have to put money in the handle to get the lock off, but if you go through the little gate, there are small baskets with wheels for free. Also, be aware, the stores do not have plastic bags, so you have to buy a large Bonaire bag for $2.49 and then remember to bring it with you every time you go to the store. The large store has everything you need, and the prices for food were not bad, it was the essential items such as bug spray $11, and shampoo/soap $8. The hike the essentials because they know you need it...so make sure you bring it with. We bought everything we needed for breakfast and lunches, so we only ate out for dinner and had several stops at the ice cream shop.

The town is really easy to get around, and there is plenty of parking, but make sure you read the signs; some parking is only for the establishment. I never saw a tow truck, but why risk it. Some of our favorite eating places were The Rib Factory, Sense, and Paradise Moon. Our least favorite place was At Sea; if you are looking for a 5 course meal that will cost you 2 arms and 2 legs...then that is the place for you. The nice thing about Bonaire is English is basically the language that is widely used, so it is very easy to ask for directions, talk to the shop owners, or just say Hi. The US Dollar is also the currency, so there is no hassle of trying to figure out the conversion or anything like that. Almost every place takes credit cards or cash.

Getting gas can be an interesting experience. Stay in line and do as the attendant tells you and you will be fine. Don't back into an open pump...you will not receive any assistance or gas.

We visited the donkey sanctuary. I guess they used to roam all over the island, but they became a nuisance, so they created a safe place for them to roam. There is a tower you can climb to get a fantastic view of the island, and it is fun to feed carrots to the donkeys. They can be a bit aggressive if you get out of your vehicle, so if you have little ones, I would suggest throwing the carrots towards the donkeys as you drive...they will chase your vehicle to get the carrots...so beware. We did not make it to the National Park, but we did drive the South loop of the island. The slave huts and salt mines, flamingo's and Loc Bay were all cool to see.

This really could not have been an easier, more relaxed way to arrive for an amazing dive vacation. Harry and Siggi run a fantastic, safe Inn and dive shop and Dive Master Bart was a great resource for questions, or concerns and was very professional. We came strangers, and left feeling like family. Tropical Inn and Tropical Divers (will be a separate review for the diving) both win 5 gold stars in my book, and when we return to Bonaire, we will stay there again.

Room Tip: A few hints: - I have already mentioned the bugs...but there are so many it is worth mentioning again. If you are over your bag weight limit...DO NOT REMOVE THE BUG SPRAY!!!! - If you get an apartment, keep the doors to the bedroom and bathroom closed at all times. - Get an apartment if you want to save some money on food. Quick and easy breakfasts and lunches saved us a lot of money to spend on diving. - Only run the AC at night and keep it at 25 or 26. - Use the bug nets if you have them....they are not decoration. - Visit the larger grocery store, the small one did not have everything you need, and the prices were a bit higher. - Leave your car windows down during the day and do not leave anything inside or in the back of your rental car. - Always take a dive site map with you; the sites are marked with large yellow rocks, but it is nice to have a map with you too. - Drive the island...it is an amazing place. - The drinking water is amazing...don't worry about drinking it...it tastes better than any water I have ever had.
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
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10  Thank mexsandbabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 August 2010

We went to Bonaire for our honeymoon, having recently learned to dive. We are so lucky that our diving instructor in the UK recommended the Tropical Inn to us - the whole experience was fabulous from start to finish.
Harry and Siggi run a beautifully relaxed place with total German efficiency. The hotel complex is small, intimate and lovely: we stayed in a self-catering apartment which had a big patio terrace backing on to the beautiful garden (a real treat in a desert-like island) with a lovely pool and resident iguana. The bar / restaurant 'Sense' is at the end of the garden but didn't disturb us at all - it's very cool, with a good buzz and good food, and one night a pretty good band playing. You can have breakfast there if you choose the B&B option.
As for the dive centre: we felt phenomenally well looked-after. Due to problem with the British weather, we hadn't finished our open-water training, so after a quick trial in the centre's training pool (which is a good depth, and separate to their leisure pool in the garden) Harry took us out to finish our qualification. We also did 2 further courses with Siggi - Nitrox and Night Diving (a MUST do), all done to at times to suit us, totally relaxed and totally well-organised (as Harry would say "Totally easy"). There were always staff on hand sitting outside, willing to tell us novices where to dive next, how to best make the entry at Karpata, where we could eat out cheaply, "no that's not a bend, you just got stung by a jellyfish" and so on...
We hired all our kit from the centre at a very good rate, and found the equipment to be really good (at least for newbies like ourselves), especially the dive computers. Being a smaller centre, it's all very convenient for unloading cars, washing kit, collecting tanks and so on.
Flying from Amsterdam gets you in to Bonaire at the ungodly hour of 3am, but we were picked up and whisked to our room and left to sleep for as long as we wished. We were driven back to the airport by Harry himself, who was happy to take us over whenever we wanted. We were also able to use the computer in the dive shop for emailing / downloading photos etc, and I think there is free wifi if you bring a laptop.
While the Inn tends to be busy with tourists from Germany, The Netherlands and similar, everyone spoke perfect English and we felt extremely welcome, so fellow Brits and Americans shouldn't be put off at all by this.
As for the diving itself - it is every bit as easy and breathtaking as the websites would have you believe.
We will be counting the pennies until we can save enough to go back. Massive thanks to Harry and Siggi (and all the instructors)!

  • Stayed: April 2010, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank AWatsonLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 July 2010

My 18 year-old son and I decided to make our first trip to Bonaire to celebrate his high school graduation. I did a lot of on-line research looking for the best value proposition I could find – quality and price were both important. Since Bonaire is the capital of shore diving, and almost every package deal you will find for divers on the island includes a rental vehicle equipped with a rack for scuba tanks, I knew that a location directly on the waterfront, while appealing, was not a critical element for enjoying the spectacular diving that Bonaire offers.

I considered a lot of different dive resorts and compared the deals they offered, and eventually found Tropical Divers, run by Klaus “Harry” Neuman, to have the best deal on the island. They also own a small lodging facility directly adjacent to the dive shop, and Harry also owns the recently-opened “Sense” restaurant which is also immediately next door to the compound. The location is not directly on the waterfront, but across J.A. Abraham Blvd from the Plaza resort, and guests from Tropical Inn have access to shore diving from the beach at the Plaza. The map and dive guide we were given with our rental truck lists the site as “Eighteenth Palm.”

Tropical Inn and Tropical Divers cater largely to German, Swiss and Austrian tourists and is very convenient to the airport; it is one of the closest resorts to Flamingo Airport, probably less than a kilometer, but with so little air traffic there was never a problem with noise. Tropical Divers is less well known to Americans, and having fewer reviews and recommendations from American guests, I was just a bit concerned about what to expect, so I am happy to report that we had a really wonderful stay and were extremely pleased with every aspect of our stay.

We took the direct flight from Atlanta on Delta, which was extremely late arriving due to mechanical problems before departure, but upon arriving in Kralendijk, after clearing customs and immigration we were met by our driver who had a sign with our names on it. He drove the 2 minutes to our destination and as he unloaded our bags, he told us that the reception desk in the dive shop was closed, but told us where to find the key and which unit was ours. I was a bit surprised, since when making the reservation directly by phone, I was asked for a credit card, but not required to pay a deposit. At the time of our arrival, we were given access to our 1 bedroom apartment for the first night without having paid a dime. This was my first clue that I was in for a different kind of experience, and one that was a refreshing change from what I was used to.

At the Tropical Inn the accommodations are either a hotel room or an apartment. There are only a few of each, but all are spotless and comfortable.

Our apartment was immediately next door through a small gate and courtyard. The large front porch area had a seating area and also a separate small dining table and chairs. On entering we found a spacious kitchen / living area with a television (satellite TV) a small stove, large kitchen counter, refrigerator, microwave, etc. The single bedroom had twin beds (as we had requested) a closet with a safe, and there was also a very comfortable connected ensuite bathroom with shower. The wall mounted A/C unit had been turned off and was located in the bedroom, so the apartment was stifling hot when we arrived. We turned on the air, closed the bedroom door and set about looking for a place to eat dinner. We walked a few blocks around the corner (past Sense, which was open), and decided to enjoy the waterfront seating at Richard’s Restaurant. The food was OK at best, and I was a bit disappointed, but the view was excellent and when we returned we found our bedroom very cool and comfortable. We later found that leaving the air on during the day, and the door to the bedroom open, would make the entire apartment very comfortable.

The next morning the dive shop opened at 8am, and we walked the few steps next door. We checked in and I signed my son up for a level one Nitrox class. While he spent the next 2 hours in class, I went across the street to the car rental office inside the Plaza resort facility and presented my voucher for the vehicle. It was very basic – a 4-door Mazda pickup with a manual transmission and air conditioning and a wooden rack in the back for SCUBA tanks.

Harry’s policy is to provide a guide for the first dive his clients make to familiarize them with the logistics of finding the dive sites, entering and exiting the water on shore dives, making sure we understood the rules imposed by STINPAA, the conservation authority on Bonaire, and to assess the skills of the divers to insure safety and competence of the divers before turning them lose to dive when and where they like. Our guide was Juerg; originally from Switzerland, and one of Harry’s most experienced divemasters. Juerg was extremely friendly, very competent and helpful. Always ready to lend a hand, whenever I had any question I soon cam to know that the answer was going to be prefaced with “That will be no problem!”

Our package included a week stay in a one bedroom apartment (very new, clean, roomy and functional), the rental vehicle, and unlimited air or nitrox. The initial guide service was also included. The shop has it’s own boat and dock just a quick drive around the corner and across the street and they run boat dives to Klein Bonaire twice a week. For $40 you get two-tank boat dives and lunch and a stop at “No Name” beach to swim, snorkel and enjoy the gorgeous beach and soft, white sand.

Tropical Divers is a full-service SSI dive training facility with its own deep freshwater pool. The rental equipment is high-quality - mostly Aqualung Titan regs, and SeaQuest weight-integrated BC’s. My son rented a nitrox-compatible dive computer also, which turned out to be a Suunto Gekko. He had never used a computer before and found that it was intuitive and completely adequate. You can tell that everything from the air filling equipment, to the steel tanks and rental equipment is all meticulously clean and well-cared-for.

There are always plenty of tanks filled and ready and there was never any deviation from the EAN32 provided – it became almost boring to see the analyzer consistently come up to precisely 32% on every single tank. It was extremely easy to drive up and swap tanks – you can pull up directly to the facility and swap tanks in a matter of only a couple of minutes. They ask that you only take two tanks per person at a time, but when I asked if it was possible to take a couple of extra tanks for a night dive – I got the standard answer “It will be no problem!” Just make sure you analyze the tanks and sign them out and make sure we know which ones you have out and when you expect to be back.

Another pleasant surprise - at my request, I was granted free access to the dive shop's wireless LAN so that I could use the WiFi setting on my iPhone and make SKYPE calls to the states for free. I also found it easy to post photos and trip updates to my family and friends via Facebook. Wireless access was strong and dependable.

A note about “Sense” - the on-premises restaurant – we skipped it the first night, since we weren’t sure what to expect for quality of food. Even though it was visually very appealing, I had researched restaurants on-line before arriving, and it wasn’t listed, being so new. When we finally did decide to give it a try, we were VERY impressed. It wasn’t cheap eats –but the quality of the food and the menu was outstanding. I ordered a sesame-encrusted tuna steak served with wasabi and soy, and my son ordered a pasta dish with a mustard-based sauce and topped with smoked salmon. I think it was the best meal we had the entire week. Absolutely wonderful. We dined al-fresco, and they had engaged a local jazz band that was superlative. I am a musician and former professional recording engineer, and I live in a major metropolitan area – I know good jazz and great musicianship – these guys were phenomenal. It was amazing. I strongly recommend visiting Sense whether you are staying there or not – it’s worth the drive.

The only negative I can add – and this is something I was not aware of at all even after substantial research before going to Bonaire – was that I had a problem with mosquitoes.
The local variety are small, fast and caused me a fair amount of discomfort. My dive buddy never had a problem with them. I would strongly recommend that no matter where you stay on the island, that you be prepared with a DEET-based repellent.

Bottom Line: Tropical Divers strikes what seems to me to be the perfect balance of “hands off” freedom, but there was always someone immediately available to answer a question or to fulfill a request. From the guest lockers for equipment storage to rinse tanks and rental gear – these folks run a tight ship and offer a great value for your money. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed: June 2010
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6  Thank Mark R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2010

The Tropical Inn is not a luxury resort, but it offers clean and comfortable accomodations, lovely surroundings, excellent value, and a friendly and very competent management team running both the hotel and the dive base. Although we arrived at about 4 AM, we were picked up at the airport and delivered to our apartment (bedroom and living/kitchen area), where we could sleep off the trip. When we finally wandered up to the reception area, Harry had everything ready and waiting, including our rented pick-up.
The entire team is friendly and competent, including Bobby the Golden Lab, and the dive base is well organized and clean.
It is not the place if you want luxury, room service, and a private beach, but it is attractive, clean, comfortable, small (6 apartments and 6 rooms), and just the right distance from downtown.
We enjoyed our stay there so much that we are going back for our next holiday -- with so many dive sites on Bonaire, we have a lot left to visit!

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank itchyfeet_2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 weeks ago
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  • Stayed: October 2018, travelled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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