Sand Dollar Condominiums – Our Review
When couples, families or small groups are looking for cost-friendly, oceanfront accommodations on Bonaire, one place should be high on their list. Sand Dollar Condominiums, conveniently located in the heart of “hotel row” just north of Kralendijk, offers comfortable condos with all the amenities you’ll need for a great vacation on Bonaire.
Many resorts use the terms ‘spacious’ and ‘relaxing’ to describe their accommodations and surroundings. Trust us — at Sand Dollar, the words are not hype. We recently visited Sand Dollar on Bonaire (having stayed here many times over the years) to get the latest updates on what a vacation here has to offer.
There’s a reason why Sand Dollar is popular with groups. The abundance of two- and three-bedroom condos, complete with multiple bathrooms, means that couples or families traveling together have ample space to spread out and relax. Studios and one-bedroom units offer plenty of room for solo travelers or a couple.
It’s been a long process, but most all of the rental condos at Sand Dollar have received needed updating (many with major renovations), particularly kitchens and bathrooms. All condos come with full equipped kitchens that are well stocked with expected implements (even blenders) and suitable for preparing most anything within a vacationer’s culinary ambition. Bedrooms in every condo have individual air conditioning and most condos now have AC in the open-concept living/dining/kitchen areas, meaning you’ll always enjoy total climate control wherever you choose to relax. There’s no longer any surcharge for additional AC use.
”…we are telling all our family and friends – if you are looking for a clean, well organized, and quiet location to indulge in snorkeling or diving – you can do no better than Sand Dollar – Thanks again!” ~ TripAdvisor
Long time visitors of Sand Dollar might be surprised to discover that “the 80’s called and got their bathrooms back” … and now all the vacation rentals have fully renovated bathrooms, with larger walk-in showers replacing the dated bathtub-shower combo. Totally awesome. The same is true with kitchens — they have all gotten an update.
Sand Dollar upgraded their guest internet with individual routers for each condo, and the free wifi is faster and more reliable than what you find at many island hotels. They have Bonaire’s most convenient parking set up (just outside the door of each condo) — a noteworthy plus when you are hauling baggage, groceries, sports gear and the like. We made good use of the furnished, screened balcony and patios of our condos, sipping coffee and sunset cocktails while admiring unobstructed views of the Caribbean Sea and Klein Bonaire.
Guests love Sand Dollar’s large digital safes found in each condo – big enough to store multiple laptops, valuables and phones, all at the same time. Housekeeping services are provided mid-week during your stay, and additional cleanings can be arranged if needed. There is security service at the resort during evening and overnight hours.
It’s interesting to note that many of the condo’s owners do not participate in the rental program for vacationers. This is actually one of the secrets to Sand Dollar’s relaxing tranquility. Because many of the condos are unoccupied most of the year, the resort is never crowded. Less people + more space = more serenity for the guests that are here.
Oceanfront Diving, Snorkeling and Relaxing at Sand Dollar
What’s not to love about a Bonaire accommodation that also offers on-site diving services! Dive Friends Bonaire operates the dive shop and pier shared with next door neighbor, Den Laman Condominiums. They offer divers the convenience of tanks 24/7 for shore diving anywhere on the island and their recently renovated pier (reserved exclusively for guests) make both shore diving and boat trips almost effortless. Dive Friends offers two-tank morning boat dives each day from this location, with one-tank afternoon boat dives available (with a minimum of 4 divers),
Divers can rent most any gear needed at their onsite shop, and their large, secure gear storage lets you hang and dry gear (it’s ventilated) without lugging to your condo. Pull carts are also provided for guests to take equipment and belongings wherever they need. And you can grab or exchange tanks at any of the other six Dive Friends locations around the island. Rinse tanks can be found on the pier and by the dive shop and tank pickup area, adjacent to the parking lot. Super convenient.
It also doesn’t hurt that Bari Reef, one of the most popular dive sites on the island, happens to be Sand Dollar’s “house” reef. It’s considered one of the most prolific stretches of reef for marine life diversity in the Caribbean, and one of Bonaire’s best shore dives. Snorkeling under the pier, along the reef or just down the beach at the “Aquarium” is not to be missed.
When we weren’t diving or snorkeling, we lounged on the property’s small, yet wonderfully secluded sand beach, tucked below Bonaire’s natural limestone oceanfront. Sand Dollar has the island’s longest seaside promenade for guests, complete with sun decks with lounge chairs, sturdy staircase ladder for ocean access, seaside showers for quick rinse off and even a communal charcoal grill.
“if you want absolute peace and quiet, this place is it. Several buildings are spread across a large strip of land along a rocky beach. Each unit is ocean front/view. You are steps away from one of the best beach dive spots, where you can grab a tank any time of day or night and jump in the water.” TripAdvisor
Fun Stuff and Nice People
While Sand Dollar has a reputation as a quiet place to relax, dive and snorkel, there are plenty of things to do if you’re craving more activity. Condominium guests have use of the swimming pool and tennis courts next to Eddy’s Restaurant and Bar, right on the Sand Dollar property. If you’re seeking adventures further afield, the friendly front office staff can assist with arranging a variety of excursions for you, from kayaking in the mangroves to kitesurfing lessons to sport fishing and anything in between.
If there’s an activity you want to try on Bonaire, or an issue requiring assistance, the ladies in the Sand Dollar check in office can assist you. You’ll find them Monday through Friday during business hours, ready to help with any needs or questions you might have. They’ll even arrange to have your laundry done and returned. Fresh beach towels and bathroom towels can be exchanged here anytime during office hours.
Dining at Sand Dollar
If you don’t feel like whipping up a meal in your own fully-equipped kitchen (we didn’t; it’s a vacation thing!), there are a number of dining options within walking distance of Sand Dollar. Eddy’s Restaurant serves lunch during high season from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM and dinner (mostly year-round) from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.
Adjacent to Sand Dollar is Breeze N’ Bites, a seaside bistro located next door at Den Laman and perched just above the dive pier. Breeze N’ Bites offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed, open-air ambiance. Chef Dick, the owner, prepares simple, freshly-made island fare. We stopped in for the Friday night Fish & Steak Special and weren’t disappointed. While enjoying the fresh catch of the day and free bottle of wine included in the meal, the cooling sea breezes and great sunset views made for a memorable, relaxed meal.
“Great location..easy access to everything. Restaurants nearby and shopping across street. Dive Friends is adjacent and very convenient, including dock. Comfortable beach. I don’t think you can do better for the money for a condo in Bonaire.” ~ TripAdvisor
If you’re craving ice cream or need to pick up a few Bonaire knick-knacks, walk over to the nearby Sand Dollar Mini-Mall, where you’ll find a few shops and cafes.
There’s a bank with a convenient walk-up/drive-up ATM machine next to Sand Dollar. Across the street, you’ll find DA, a popular Dutch drug store chain, along with other restaurants, a hair salon and gift store. Bon Bida Gym & Spa just across the street, offers Sand Dollar guests a 10% discount on all spa treatments and up to 25% off gym packages.
By car you’re never very far from all the points of interest on the island. Kralendijk is less than two miles down the street and northern dive sites are an easy drive away, as is Rincon, the oldest village on Bonaire.
Why We Love This Resort
This is our go-to place when we’re looking for comfortable oceanfront accommodations for a reasonable price. When we’re traveling with family and friends, Sand Dollar makes it easy to be together yet enjoy space and privacy, too.
Since we started sending guests to Sand Dollar (over 30 years ago), their management and team have never been more dedicated to guest enjoyment and comfort. That commitment shows in the amount of improvements the property and condos have witnessed in recent years as well as their Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.
Spacious. Relaxing. Convenient. Affordable. Uncrowded. Nice people with great diving and snorkeling. That sums up many of Bonaire’s best attributes as a vacation destination. Which makes Sand Dollar Condominiums a perfect reflection of why we love Bonaire.