We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Bonaire for 5 days. This hotel was absolutely perfect for us. The employees at this Courtyard Marriott were extremely friendly and helpful, and even gave us a free room upgrade!
The service at the restaurant was excellent and kept us coming back every night for dinner and drinks.
The onsite dive shop combined with the location just being minutes from town and the grocery store made this a perfect all-around hotel for both visitors and divers.
Where to stay in Bonaire
Bonaire is known for shore diving, so there is no shortage of dive resorts. Most accommodation is on the west side of the island within a 10-15 minute drive of the main town Kralendijk. The west side is also where most of the dive sites are located.
The east side of the island, or the “wild side” is mostly barren with cliffs leading to the ocean. There are a few advanced sites here, but those generally require a boat to get to, and advanced diving skills.
The two biggest dive operators on the island are Dive Friends and Buddy Dive. While Buddy dive offers its own self named dive resort, Dive Friends pairs with various hotels on the islands to offer a sort of dive resort experience.
For example at our Courtyard Marriott, the onsite dive shop was operated by Dive Friends.
How We Booked Courtyard Marriott Bonaire with Points
We opted to use our Marriott points for this stay as we ended up getting a great value. As a Category 2 hotel, the cost was 12.5K points a night. Marriott gives members the 5th night free on award stays, bringing the total to 50K points for the entire stay, or 10K points per night.
The room goes for ~$130/night, for a value of 1.3 cents/point. Our upgraded room, the island view suite, is ~$300/night, for a value of 3 cents/point. Not bad for the declining value of Marriott points.
Location & Getting to the Courtyard
The hotel is located at Kaya International 2, Kralendijk, Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean.
The hotel is literally right next to the airport. It took about 2 minutes to leave the terminal and then drive the short road to the Courtyard Bonaire. Luckily the rooms are sound sealed and most of the planes were small prop planes, so we didn’t have any problems with airport noise during the stay.
The hotel also offers complimentary transport to and from the airport. Since we weren’t picking up our rental car until the next day, this was a nice bonus.
The Check Experience
While everyone was friendly from the very start, we did have an issue with check in. The Marriott merger was just one week earlier, and there was issues with our platinum status not showing properly. The evening staff didn’t have the authority to upgrade us without my status showing. We discussed the situation for a few minutes, but it was so late we just wanted to get some sleep, so we ended up giving up.
However on the walk to our room we met a very friendly employee, Shai. She usually works at the front desk and said she would be able to upgrade our room to an Island View Suite the next morning. While it may not sound like much, her kindness and the suite made a huge impact on our vacation.
The pictures at night didn’t come out very well, so here’s what the lobby and hotel look like during the day. The beautiful multicolored homes are commonly seen on the ABC islands.
Island View King Courtyard Bonaire
Our room for the first night is the base room at the Courtyard Bonaire, the Island View King. It was standard, but nice enough. There wasn’t much room though which would have been a problem for two people with all our dive gear.
Island View Suite Courtyard Bonaire
The next day we stopped by the front desk and as promised, we were handed a key to an Island View Suite room.
The Courtyard Bonaire doesn’t publish room sizes on its website, but the suite was at least twice as large as the standard room complete with a kitchenette, dining table and living area.
Upon entering the suite, there is a small half bathroom to the right.
Entering the first room is the kitchenette and dining area. Since we were shore diving every day, we packed lunches. It was extremely helpful to have this are to prepare food for the next day and keep it fresh overnight.
Courtyard Marriott Bonaire SuiteDining Room Courtyard BonaireDining Room Courtyard BonaireThere was a microwave, a coffee machine, mini fridge and silverware. We took advantage of the wine glasses as well.
Also in this first room was the living area, a small desk and a patio with two chairs and a table overlooking the water. This patio ended up being the perfect area to spend each evening relaxing, enjoying a glass of wine and watching the sunset.
The master bedroom was also quite large and had a sliding glass door to the same porch area as the living room area. It would have been pretty warm since the sun set on this side of the resort, however the A/C was excellent so no problems there.
While not as luxurious as a Ritz or Waldorf, the bathroom was nicely done with modern tile and neutral colors. It was much larger than the bathroom in the original room.
The shower was very large as well, and ended up being perfect to wash all of our dive gear at the end of our trip.
The amenities were from Paul Mitchell. Courtyard tends to change their amenity brands, so you never know what you’re going to get.
Restaurant & Pool
We dined at BLT Burger almost every evening. Our bartender/server Jordan was the Best!! It was a pleasure to get to know him and hear his awesome stories. We especially enjoyed the one about him spearfishing a mile offshore, while a hammerhead tried to take his catch. Most of us would have tossed the catch, but not him. Talk about dedication!
There is a pool attached to the restaurant, so you can enjoy the food and drink at the bar, a table, or lounging by the pool.
The infinity pool was one of the most beautiful and relaxing spots on the resort. Finished diving for the day? Why not order a cocktail?
Dive Shop Onsite
We came to Bonaire for the diving, so naturally we wanted to stay at a resort with a dive center. Dive Friends pairs up with multiple different resorts around the island making a sort of dive resort experience.
The staff was super friendly and helped us with advice to plan our days and dive locations. Additionally, the convenience of having a dive shop at your hotel on Bonaire can’t be overlooked. It was so easy every morning to pack up our supplies and throw a few tanks in the truck. Then at the end of the way we could wash off all our gear and store it in our personal lockers.
The fitness center was pretty decent with various cardio machines, treadmills, ellipticals and a spin bicycle. There was a rack of free weights going up to 50 lbs. We were so tired after our 3-4 dives each day that we never used the gym, but it’s nice that they have one.
It’s a necessity to stock up on sandwiches and snacks when doing shore dives on Bonaire, so it was nice there were several grocery stores nearby. The newest one that we recommend is Van Den Tweel. Not that you judge a grocery store based solely on it’s appearance, but it was modern and clean. The produce was fresh and had everything you could need from meats, cheeses and bread to snacks, wine and liquor.
The downtown area is about a 5 minute drive from the hotel and we highly recommend Gio’s Gelateria. We stopped by every day after diving.
This hotel was perfect for us. We felt like we were at home with our upgraded room with a kitchen and living area. The hotel was clean, and all of the staff was very friendly and accommodating despite a mix-up with our platinum status at check in (something that was not the hotel’s fault).
For divers, this location is perfect with the onsite dive shop. It was convenient to load up tanks in the morning then clean and store our gear each evening. Easy to clean, and store dive gear in a locker overnight so you don’t have to lug your gear around. There are many good accommodations on Bonaire, but this one is definitely one of the best for it’s reasonable price, convenience and on site dive shop.