2019 Bonaire Trip: Money Review

In true Small Living, Big Life fashion, we’re disclosing the nitty-gritty, dollar-by-dollar, nothing-hidden, full cost of our 8 day Bonaire adventure.  Let’s break it down!  In part, the full financial disclosure posts help us keep ourselves accountable.  But, we’ve found that it’s pretty damn difficult to find reliable, honest answers about how much things really cost (especially big-ticket items) on the internet.  We’re hopeful that maybe offering a no-nonsense view of what things actually cost us will empower someone else to take the plunge into living smaller in order to enjoy a bigger life.  Let’s check out the trip costs.

ALL-INCLUSIVE BONAIRE TRIP PACKAGE: $2,744 (The price per person for a double occupancy room with a rental truck was $1,372 per person.  The all-inclusive trip package included: 7 nights / 6 days in a standard Junior Suite with a Laguna View; 6 days unlimited shore diving with free Nitrox fills and weights for the week; buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner; unlimited at-will snacks during the day; unlimited house brand drinks; daytime & evening activities; WiFi; beach chair, beach towels and beach activities including kayaks and paddle boards; and hotel taxes and service charges.  The package also included a manual transmission rental truck; rental taxes and fees and unlimited miles on the rental truck.  West Shore Scuba also threw in a Stream2Sea Reef Kit which contained 5 travel size bottles of reef safe essentials – sunscreen, face sunscreen, after sun lotion, shampoo and conditioner – which we used the HELL out of throughout the week and a trip t-shirt.)

FULL COVERAGE RENTAL TRUCK INSURANCE: $208 (At $26 per day for full coverage insurance for the rental truck, we figured it was worth it so that there was less of a chance that anything would ruin our vacation.  Hindsight being 20/20, we’re glad we got the full coverage insurance because we ended up using it when we got a flat tire after driving over some cactus spikes.  If we hadn’t opted for the full coverage insurance, we would have spent the better part of a day messing around with what seemed like the only “tire guy” on the island.  $208 was worth it!)

AIRFARE: $1,553.40 (Our round-trip direct flights between Newark, NJ and Bonaire, including flight insurance, cost us $716.70 per person.  Despite our best efforts, we both ended up checking a bag, too, which cost us $30 per checked bag, per flight, for a total of $120.)

PARKING: $328 (We waited until the last minute to make a solid decision on what we wanted to do about parking the truck for the week we were away.  After a bunch of research on some less costly parking options with not-so-great reviews, we decided to invest the $328 in parking right outside our terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport.  We think it was well worth it, as our truck was safe and sound throughout the time we were gone and easy to get to and from with all our luggage.)

STINAPA BONAIRE MARINE PARK FEE: $50 (Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (or STINAPA Bonaire) is a non-governmental, not for profit foundation commissioned by the island government to protect and manage the two protected areas of Bonaire: the Bonaire National Marine Park and the Washington Slagbaai National Park.  Before entering the beautiful waters surrounding Bonaire, we were required, by law, to purchase a STINAPA Marine Park tag at $25 per person.)

BOAT DIVES: $375 (This expenditure was not at all necessary for our trip.  But, we really wanted to be able to dive with Josh’s boss, who is confined to a wheelchair, so this was a no-brainer for us.  After all, he’s the whole reason we started diving.  We wanted to take advantage of our time together and get to make some bubbles by his side.  We paid $255 for three days of boat dives and then split a $120 tip between the boat captain and divemaster that were with us all week.  The experience and memories are well worth the money we invested here!)

GAS FOR RENTAL TRUCK: $40 (This was the most surprising expense of the trip!  We wanted to return the rental truck with a full tank of gas to avoid any additional fees, so we filled up before returning it.  We had only used 1/4 of a tank of gas during our 8 day adventure but it cost $40 to put 1/4 of a tank of gas into the truck!  No wonder so many people ride around in electric golf carts!)

KENNEL: $185 (We always take the dog to the kennel (a.k.a. doggy daycare) when we go on vacation, as to not inconvenience anyone else with his neediness.  It’s $20 per day to board him, but, we have absolutely no worries while we’re gone and he absolutely LOVES the kennel, so it’s definitely worth it for us.  We dropped him off on Friday,  1/25/2019 and picked him up on Sunday, 2/3/2019, so, that’s 9 days of kennel fees plus a $5 “late drop off fee” for dropping him off on Friday evening, totaling $185.  We always consider the cost of boarding him an expense associated with our vacations, so, it’s included here.)

So, for the entire 8 day adventure from PA to Bonaire, we spent $5483.40.  While this vacation cost us considerably more than any other vacation we have ever taken, we’ve got absolutely no regrets and would do it again, with no second thought.  We had such a great time that we’ve already made a tentative commitment to the 2020 Bonaire trip.  That is, if we haven’t already sailed away by then!

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