Above: Bonaire’s Little Havana (All photos by CJ)
By Alexander Britell
BONAIRE — WHILE LARGE-SCALE CARNIVALS like those in Trinidad and Haiti have received much of the attention this week, the celebration in tiny Kralendijk, Bonaire has its own unique charms.
The fete on this Dutch Caribbean island begins with a small but robust parade Sunday afternoon, culminating with another on Tuesday evening.
And Bonaire’s laid-back capital heats up in its own right, with a host of bars and restaurants (and an array of imaginative costumes) that can make for an unmatched Bonaire Carnival Pub Crawl.
You can begin the crawl (hopefully after a long day of diving) at City Cafe (Kaya CEB Hellmund) which has been on the island since 1997.
The best way to kick off any Bonaire Carnival (and this itinerary can naturally be repeated any weekend in Bonaire, Carnival or otherwise), is with City Cafe’s Cadushy Mojito, a refreshing blend of limes, mint, sugar and Cadushy lkquor.
The latter is produced on Bonaire, made from the cacti which seem to be the single-largest largest demographic on the island.
City Cafe, like much of Bonaire, features freshly caught fish, from marlin to wahoo, with a specialty of sashimi and ceviche.
Above: the colourful Karel’s at night
Next on the crawl, stroll down the harbour-side to Karel’s Beach Bar (Kaya JNE Craane #12).
Karel’s is across from the Zeezicht restaurant, a Bonaire institution which has been around since 1929. (They share an owner, along with the adjacent Upperdeck Sports and Capuccino Bar ).
The bar seems to float over the water, and provides a vantage point for the impromptu parade of cars that develops over the course of Carnival nights in Bonaire.
Above: Paradise Moon
You can then head to another outpost, Paradise Moon (Kaya Grandi), for one of its adventurously-named cocktails, from the Moon Confusion (mango rum, coconut rum and pineapple juice) to the Green Flash (melon, coconut rum, citrus vodka, banana liqueur, sweet and sour and pineapple juice.
And finally, end the night at Little Havana (4 Kaya Eindhoven), a throwback to old Cuba that is a good bet to be the most raucuous of all the watering holes in Kralendijk by night’s end. (The Havana Club 7 Years Rum is a solid pick).