House Hunting on Bonaire: Perched Above the Caribbean for $1.5 Million


This four-bedroom, Mediterranean-inspired villa sits just outside Kralendijk, the capital city of Bonaire, a Caribbean island in the Leeward Antilles known for its world-class scuba diving. The island, situated about 60 miles off the coast of Venezuela, is one of the ABC Islands (together with Aruba and Curacao) belonging to the Netherlands.

The 5,382-square-foot house is set on a hillside in the exclusive Sabadeco Terrace neighborhood, with views of Bonaire’s western coastline and the Caribbean Sea. Surrounded by palm, fruit, allspice and rubber trees, the property, on about two-thirds of an acre, includes a separate studio apartment, a greenhouse, a 270-square-foot swimming pool, and numerous patios and terraces.

Robert Cooper, a director with 7th Heaven Properties, which has the listing, called it “one of the finest homes for sale on Bonaire,” with warm Mediterranean-style design influences “on one of the most tranquil islands in the Caribbean.”

Credit…7th Heaven Properties
Credit…7th Heaven Properties

Built in 1997, the house has plastered concrete block walls painted white and terra cotta floor tiles. The front door opens to a spacious living area with high ceilings and a staircase leading up to the second floor. The kitchen is through an archway to the right. To the left, a wrought-iron gate opens to a hallway leading to the main bedroom and an office. French doors open to the large covered terrace and pool with curved wood deck overlooking the sea. Furniture is not included in the home’s asking price, but is negotiable.

The office is fully built out with mounted shelves and dual work stations. The main bedroom beyond has a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom with a tiled soaking tub, both with skylights. The staircase ascends to a bedroom that accesses a large roof terrace and has an en suite bath.

The kitchen has a skylight, marble countertops and a walk-in cooler with a Danish refrigeration unit useful for wine storage, said Robert Bartikoski, the broker-owner of Re/Max Paradise Homes Bonaire, a local partner of 7th Heaven Properties that also has the listing.

Beyond the kitchen are storage and laundry rooms, as well as a patio leading to the studio apartment. An addition to that wing of the house includes a two-car garage with a bedroom suite above. The villa has air-conditioning, security cameras and a water storage tank.

ImageA separate wing of the house includes a two-car garage with a bedroom suite above.
Credit…7th Heaven Properties

Sabadeco Terrace is about five miles north of Kralendijk, a small coastal city with a few thousand residents and a strip of shops, supermarkets, restaurants and other amenities, Mr. Bartikoski said. The 111-square-mile island of Bonaire is a magnet for scuba divers, but also attracts wind surfers to Lac Bay and kite surfers to Atlantis Beach. Pink Beach, on the island’s southwestern shore, and Washington-Slagbaai National Park, on its northern tip, are each less than 20 minutes away by car. Bonaire International Airport is a 15-minute drive.

The Dutch island of Bonaire, with about 21,000 residents, has long attracted outsiders with its arid climate, coral reefs and relatively low risk of hurricanes. In recent years, its largely tourism-based economy has generated a flourishing real estate market, and not unlike many other tropical locales, its allure seems to have grown during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The outbreak of the pandemic has only enhanced the island’s appeal,” Mr. Cooper said. “We’ve seen a steady rise in inquiries this year, including a huge surge the day after the U.S. election.”

According to Bonaire’s most recent official data, reported by Statistics Netherlands in 2018, the housing index showed prices for residential properties were on average 21.6 percent higher than they were the previous year. The number of housing transactions from 2017 to 2018 grew by 52.8 percent, from 214 to 327.

Official data for 2019 is not available, but real estate experts said the market has continued apace. “It’s been insane,” said Roderick Groenman, a notary with the office of Aniek H. Schouten. “For the past three or four years, things have been going really well.”

Mr. Groenman attributed the consistent growth to the island’s status as a special municipality of the Netherlands, which provides free, high-quality health care to residents. (Aruba and Curaçao, by contrast, are autonomous constituent countries of the Netherlands.) He also pointed to Bonaire’s stability on the U.S. dollar, which the island adopted as its currency in 2011. The economy has been expanding, with a 3.9 percent increase in the gross domestic product in 2018, and this year the Dutch government has provided subsidies to thwart an economic downturn.

Credit…7th Heaven Properties

“If you compare Bonaire to the islands around us, like Aruba or Curaçao, or even Trinidad and Tobago, we have a big plus on the surrounding islands because we’re part of Holland, and have a strong currency and room for economic growth,” Mr. Groenman said.

After closing to international travel in the spring, Bonaire resumed flights to and from Europe on July 1, followed by flights to and from Curacao on Oct. 26, according to the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao. (There has been no announcement about when direct flights to and from the U.S. will resume.) As of Nov. 6, Bonaire had reported 135 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The housing market “did slow down for a little while, but we continued to have Dutch visitors through the summer, and they were buying,” Mr. Bartikoski said. “And we have 3-D tours online, so we’ve had Americans buying over the internet. We really haven’t seen a dip in prices.”

While resale homes run about $111 to $139 a square foot, not including the land, new construction can run to $130 a square foot or more, he said. There are luxury villas on the island priced between $1 million and $10 million, he said, along with many more reasonably priced options.

“You can find a nice two-bedroom, two-bath oceanfront condo for between $400,000 and $550,000,” he said. “Non-oceanfront condos start around $250,000 and go up.”

Credit…7th Heaven Properties

According to Statistics Netherlands, about 60 percent of Bonaire’s residents were born on the former Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, and 80 percent are Dutch nationals.

Scuba divers, snorkelers and other watersport enthusiasts are drawn to Bonaire, which has a national marine park and dozens of easy-entry shore dive sites. Its free health care and stable economy tend to lure middle-aged home buyers heading into retirement, Mr. Bartikoski said.

“Our buyers on Bonaire are about 50 percent North American and 50 percent from Europe,” he said.

Mr. Groenman said that while buyers from the Netherlands, Canada and the U.S. predominate, the housing market is diverse and includes buyers from Germany, Russia, China and South America.

There are no restrictions on foreign home buyers in Bonaire, and no license or permit is required to purchase property, brokers said.

All transactions are handled by notaries, which basically serve as “an escrow company, a title insurance company and a lawyer combined,” Mr. Groenman said, adding that buyers pay a transfer tax of 5 percent on most homes, and 8 percent on new development.

There is an additional 2 to 3 percent for notary fees, land registry and other expenses, brokers said. For new development, those fees are often included in the home’s purchase price, Mr. Groenman said.

Mortgages are available to foreign home buyers with a typical minimum down payment of 40 percent, and interest rates that average between 5 to 6 percent currently, Mr. Bartikoski said.

Credit…7th Heaven Properties

Dutch; U.S. dollar

The annual property taxes on this home are about $12,600 for nonresidents and $4,800 for Bonaire residents, Mr. Bartikoski said.

Robert Cooper, 7th Heaven Properties, 1-855-364-8776,

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