Bonaire becoming a “Biker’s Paradise”
(DiverWire) – Known for years as a “divers paradise”, the Caribbean island of Bonaire is experiencing an interesting new trend among visitors – the scuba diving destination is now also becoming a “bikers paradise”.
Scuba diving industry insiders have known for years that there is a natural “cross-over” between scuba diving and motorcycles, especially Harley Davidson models. Marketing studies have shown participants in the two activities share a “kindred spirit” and “taste for adventure”.
Looking to capitalize on this growing trend, Jack Chalk of Captain Don’s Habitat is working with Bonaire resident Anne-Marie Vermeer to introduce Bonaire Guided Motor Cycle Tours. The island of Bonaire is 24 miles long and has more than 100 square miles to explore. That’s plenty of space for adventurous motorcyclists and many are taking advantage.
Avid enthusiasts and bike owners themselves, Chalk and Vermeer watched the idea for the business unfold in the Habitat parking lot. Chalk said that guests at Captain Don’s Habitat would see the bikes in the Habitat parking lot and ask about going riding. After some informal market research and discussions with divers at trade shows and dive events, the pair decided to give the business a try. They started in 2010 and now have several models of Harleys available for guests to rent.
“We discovered that many of the scuba diving guests also liked to ride,” Vermeer says. “There are a lot of comparisons between being underwater and being on the road. After a great morning dive, a half-day bike tour is a great afternoon activity.”
Some guests choose full-day tours. “Instead of doing the traditional shopping and sightseeing on their last day, some visitors are sign up for motorcycle tours instead,” said Chalk.
Chalk observed the number of bikers on the island continues to grow. At one time, there were just a few bikes on the island, but now the number has swelled to almost 100 and there are several biker’s club on the island. The Harley Davidson club has nearly two dozen members.
The most popular option for divers is the half-day guided tour around the island. The tour covers the unspoiled nature of Bonaire, including the salt lakes in the south, the flamingo lake up north and stops at some of Bonaire’s popular eating establishments.
Chalk said there are many cross-marketing opportunities he is exploring with non-diving biking groups. “We’re offering local HOG chapters (Harley affinity clubs) the opportunity to come down and learn to dive and ride one of our bikes around the island. It’s a great combination.”
He adds some divers are pleasantly surprised when they learn about the biking option after arriving on the island. The experience is open to anyone who has a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license.
While the number of bikers on the island is growing, Chalk is fairly certain that Bonaire will remain a “divers paradise” for the foreseeable future.