Although Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands, a lot of things on Bonaire are different. This also applies to money and payments. Not a very big deal but still useful to know before you go on your vacation to Bonaire.
The official currency on Bonaire is the US Dollar. This is, in contrast to the neighboring islands, the only accepted currency. Euros or Antillean Guilders are not accepted so there is no need to empty that jar with saved Euro coins or Guilders.
It is not really necessary to bring Dollars to Bonaire. There are countless ATMs on island. For example you will find one immediately at the airport. The most popular banks are the MCB and RBC. Both charge a small fee or a few dollars for withdrawing your money. Some attention is required, since skimming is still common here. So cover your fingers well when entering your PIN code.
Because of the special status in the Dutch Kingdom, many people forget that Bonaire is outside the European Union. Most banks block payments in the Caribbean. This is easy to solve by putting your ATM card on global coverage in your mobile banking app. This is often a matter of a few seconds to change this setting. No problem, therefore, unless you want to pay for your meal in a restaurant and you don't have internet access to adjust the coverage setting. Therefore this is something you should arrange before you start your vacation.
If you are only on global coverage, you can use your debit card in almost all shops and restaurants on Bonaire. No extra administration costs are charged by using your debit card, a big advantage compared to money withdrawal by ATM. In contrary to most shops and restaurants, some food trucks, ice cream parlor Gio’s and a number of local snéks might only accept cash. So we advise you to have some small cash in your pocket for the moments you feel the urge for eating a fresh fish burger, an ice cream or crabbing an ice cold beer.
Although debit cards are widely accepted on Bonaire, it is advised to bring your credit card. For example, for renting a car. Although some car rentals like AB Car Rental are accepting other payment methods like iDeal for prepaid bookings, it is still advised to bring your credit card.
Because Bonaire is a small island and many things need to be imported, the prices are somewhat higher than in the European Netherlands or the United States for example. This does not apply to all products, for example, gasoline is a bit cheaper compared to the Netherlands! So you can explore the island once more in your rental car and enjoy that Round trip South once more :-)