Beautiful Bonaire

By Ann McLaughlin
A friend of J E Harper & Co Blog

This small southern island was once part of the Netherlands Antilles, it is near Aruba and close to the equator. It is outside of the hurricane belt, and is sunny and breezy. 19000 people live here. It is 110 square kms.

Sunwing does a direct weekly flight every Sunday. This began in December 2017. It takes 4h30m and costs $800. Seats are very narrow with no legroom. You should upgrade to elite plus so you can choose your seat, have priority check in and boarding, and extra baggage weight to 30kg. The cost is an extra $100 each way per person, but $25 of that is the checked baggage fee. Order your meals online in advance. There was a very easy check in process with Sunwing, no need to check in online from Bonaire.

If you stay close to the centre of the main town, Kralendijk, you can walk along the Oceanside paved walkway into town. Renting a bicycle would give you access to many places. We walked into town in about 30 minutes, stopping to see the pelicans and boats. There are taxis to take you from the airport, and to the grocery store. Your hotel or apartment office will arrange for any excursions and taxis. It was $15 from the airport and $28 return to the modern Dutch grocery store, Van Den Tweels. We did excursions to snorkel and kayak in the mangroves, and also to take a sailboat trip, and the tour operators picked us up at our apartment.

We rented a small apartment in Bonaire Seaside Apartments, with a courtyard view. It is an easy walk into town, and reasonably priced, $2300 USD for two weeks. We could snorkel there since it is close to the sea wall. During our trip we got upgraded to Den Laman Condominiums. These are 1 km North on the edge of town. The Den Laman spot would cost double the Seaside, but it is truly oceanfront, and there is a little beach and three snorkel spots within 500m. A small grocery store is just north of it, and there are 5 restaurants and some lunch spots and beach bars, ice cream, etc, a very short walk away. Den Laman is next to Eden Beach and Coco Beach, which are popular with tourists and locals. Taxi from the airport to Den Laman was $15.

Our condo had everything anyone could want. Both Seaside and Den Laman sent a form so we could have some groceries waiting for us in our apartment. This was about $50 in total, they gave us milk, cheese, yogurt, fruit, and bread so we didn’t have to scrounge for breakfast the first day.

I would recommend bringing insulated water bottles, a couple of reusable grocery bags, and an ice pack as well as two small backpacks.

We went on a Woodwind sailing trip to snorkel Klein Bonaire, I would recommend it. It included a meal, unlimited drinks, and all for a total cost of $52. We enjoyed this so much we did it twice. We also did a kayak and snorkel trip with the Mangrove learning centre. It costed $48, but be aware that you need to be a strong swimmer to snorkel against the tide there.

The condo office can book all excursions and rental cars. Excursion operators picked us up and returned us to the condo. The rental car also picked us up, when we returned the car we then took a taxi to the airport. I would recommend using AB Car Rental, they have best rates. Be sure to get comprehensive insurance, as the roads are full of potholes. We almost rented bicycles. They have electric assist bikes for $21 a day. Bring your own helmets, as we saw many close calls with scooters, but no one wearing helmets. Not sure the bike rental places would have enough to fit one on you.

Many places had a happy hour. The Breeze n Bites at Den Laman had rum punch, 2 for $7.50 from 5-6pm daily. It was lovely. Near Den Laman, at the roundabout, was Between 2 Buns. It’s an excellent breakfast and lunch spot, with many desserts and fresh smoothies. It costs about $12 for the daily specials. It’s closed on Sundays. There are quite a few good restaurants in Kralendijk, It Rains Fishes was wonderful, we watched the sunset while dining there. You can buy fresh fish there to cook at your rental apartment too.

On the last Saturday of the month there is a cultural market in the town of Rincon, which is a great spot to get some island history, music and local food. We enjoyed it. We rented a car and toured the whole island that day, seeing flamingos in 4 places!

There is a Sunday beach scene at Jibe Beach that we will go to next year. It offers windsurfing, fresh fish, good mix of locals and tourists. We were told people would barbecue fish for you there.

From our experience there, we would say that Bonaire is certainly a good vacation spot.





It’s All About The Fabric

Travelers expect a lot from their wardrobe on the road.  It needs to be many things; compact, light weight, offer UPF protection, wrinkle resistant, quick drying and even water resistant or water proof.  Below are 4 FAB fabrics that travelers can depend on.

MODAL (R) is made from sustainably forested beech trees this fabric is extremely soft  as well as durable.  It keeps its colour and shape overtime as well as keeps it’s strength even when wet.  It wicks away moisture from the skin 50% better than cotton.

SUPPLEX (R) is a product by INVISTA it offers the feel of cotton and durable nature of Nylon with more flexibility and less weight. It has all the great qualities of cotton without the wrinkles,  shrinkage and colour fading.  Other important features of this fabric are; anti-abrasion,  breathable, holds it shape, anti-tear, waterproof, dries fast and can be UV protective.

SOL COOL uses something called Icefil(R) Technology, This fabulous fabric is found in ExOfficio wear and can actually cool the skin up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is made with Xylitol which is found in birch trees.  They weave this stuff into the fabric so it cools your skin like a piece of mint gum would cool your mouth.  It keeps moisture wicked away therefore no bacteria and no smell!

SORONA (R) made by Dupont TM is a renewable resourced fabric made by plant based fibre.  The benefits include softness, colour fastness, stretch, keep their shape, fast drying and is very strong. It blends well with other fabrics and can be dyed at a cooler temperature to help lower the environmental impact of manufacturing.

It’s not like the old days of Polyester and Nylon.  These new fabrics not only deliver superior comfort and desirable features they also are environmentally friendly.  If you are looking to stay cool, be comfortable and look great while trekking through the globe remember it’s all in the fabric!

It’s Your Lucky March!

We celebrate the luck of the Irish this month with a prize with every purchase!  Pick from our lucky prize bowl and receive 10, 20, 30 40 or 50% off your purchase, or we will pay your tax or choose something from our prize basket.

Our online customers can play by calling or emailing in orders to 289.876.8787 or

We don’t need to wish you luck as you already have won just by purchasing something you need for your next adventure!

Voted Fort Erie’s Finest Clothing Store!

Thank you to all who voted J. E. Harper & Co. Travel Shop Fort Erie’s Finest Clothing Store!

As a travel inspired shopping experience we truly focus on quality in all of our products from trekking poles and rain gear to travel wear for men and women.  Canadian made brands are important to us like; Tilley Endurables and FIG Clothing Montreal.  We also love our Royal Robbins out of Modesto California that has been around since the 1960s.  Not to mention every woman’s favourite swimsuit, Christina America.  Since we stand by everything we sell it is imperative that we carry lines that we all can depend on.

Although our clothing lines are ideal for travel many of our customers enjoy the fit and style for day to day life.  We truly enjoy our little shop in downtown Ridgeway as we have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and get to hear about all the exciting places around the globe they are headed.

Our goal is to ensure you travel the world feeling comfortable, confident and ready for every life changing experience!

Thanks again to all our loyal customers and to The Fort Erie Times who inspire excellence in service throughout our business community!

Shari L Harper


Tilley Trunk Show November 24th!

We are excited to have our representative, Dustin Morrison of Redpoint Ventures here at J. E. Harper & Co. November 24th with a trunk full of iconic Tilley HATS, CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES.


Trunk Shows are generally a closed event to showcase a line of goods to employees and selected customers.  Our Trunk Show is an open invitation to all Tilley and/or travel enthusiasts who value versatile, high quality hats and clothing.  The hours are from 10am to 7pm with our Tilley expert, Dustin, on hand from 3pm-7pm.  Come by any time you like during this day to experience some of the best quality items Canada designs and manufactures for the world!

If you register ahead to let us know you are stopping in you will be entered in all draws for the day; including a Tilley Hat, J. E. Harper & Co. Gift Certificates and more!


Pelee Island Musings

June 26-28, 2016-The adventure begins in the tomato capital of Canada, Leamington, Ontario.  A night’s stay at the Seacliffe Inn in preparation for the morning ferry ride to the southern most point in all of Canada, Point Pelee.  The MV Pelee Islander Ferry ride was easy and uneventful one and a half hours with very few bells and whistles for the traveler.  We opted for a walk off ticket as we rented bicycles on the Island as our only mode of transportation.

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It was a quick walk to Comfortech, Pelee’s bicycle rental shop (owned and operated by the current Mayor of Pelee and his family).  To say our bikes were comfortable would be an understatement…full on luxury cycling with large baskets to hold beach towels and wine bottles! (Don’t judge until you try it all of you hip mountain bikers :))

Our decision to cycle the Island was an easy choice, even though some of the roads are unpaved, as it is only 12.5 km long and 6 km wide.  We carried  a knapsack each with our clothing and personal items, as well as linens and towels as needed for the cottage we rented. A soft sided cooler with a few edibles is a good idea as there is not an abundance of grocery items once on the Island.

Lake Muse B & B and Cottage Rental was an excellent choice for us.  Lynn and Ron Tiessen are the owners of this fine establishment.  Lynn shared that she is a proud life long resident and taught at the only school which was Kindergarten to grade 8 and only 2 rooms for 20 years. There are under 300 permanent residents, with a swell up to 1500 during the summer months.

For over 70 years there is a traditional free flying pheasant hunt each October, hence the signage…I surmised. 🙂


Pelee Island Winery is much like the rest of the Island; relaxed, welcoming and beautiful.  We enjoyed a full tour of the winery by Derek, a 22 year old university student from Leamington.   I would highly recommend taking the tour as it was very informative and ended in a world class tasting! Owned by Austrians, Pelee island Winery is the largest estate winery in Canada.  There is nothing better than chillin’ with a bottle of good red wine, a hunk of tastey cheese and a fresh baguette listening to a live band.  The value for dollar at the winery would blow anyone who enjoys hanging out at Niagara wineries mind. Plus there are several public BBQs available for anyone to bring their own items to grill or purchase from the Deli Hut right at the Pavilion at the winery.


The coolest part about this place is the fact that it felt to us like time stood still somewhere in the mid seventies.  There is a relaxed, no fuss, friendly vibe that immediately allows you to be you and be in the moment.  The fact that the southern most point in all of Canada is on a deserted beach with no signs, fanfare or anything to mark it as a ‘tourist’ area proves my point.

Until next time Pelee Island

Shari L Harper









Wow…It has been a year already!

July 1st, 2015 was the first day that J. E. Harper & Co. opened it’s doors.  

When celebrating a birthday it is always a good thing to contemplate the past year.  When we look back we recall fun festivals, getting reacquainted with the community and plenty of good old fashioned hard work.

We have to thank most of all…THE CUSTOMERS.  Shopping local is definitely important to our wonderful community and we have enjoyed vicariously all the fabulous adventures everyone has gone in the past 12 months.  We were amazed at how many Western and Upstate New Yorkers as well as fellow Niagara residents have found our little gem of a community here in Ridgeway and Crystal Beach Ontario!

A big thank you to all; customers from near and far, friends and family, fellow businesses…without all of you this first year would not be turning into many more!

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Anonymous

Gord and Ellie is wet suits



Women Who Want to Travel

Calling all ladies who want to travel!  Merle Fishman, Senior Travel Consultant for TravelBest Wagonlit is the brainchild of Women On the Go.Ca.  A travel group focused on fabulous travel destinations with safe and exciting itineraries.

On the go right now:  IRISH ELEGANCE  August 24-September 4, 2016   A breathtaking romp through the Irish countryside, including a night’s stay in a beautiful castle.  Merle tests out each trip prior to offering it as an option to her ladies and she also accompanies her groups on the adventure!

Come solo or with a friend to our meet-ups here at J. E. Harper & Co.  314 Ridge Road Ridgeway ON.  Call or email for details  to either Merle or Shari.

Merle Fishman  1.800.808.2822 X 225   905.994.8653

Shari Harper  289.876.8787DOT_Scenery_06_Ireland_02CARLSON WAGONLIT LOGOIATATico-Logo-final-140x104


Travel Community

What is a travel community‘?  It is a way to share travel tips and information as well as bring like minded travelers together.  At  J E. Harper & Co. we are passionate about travel and are just beginning to foster a travel community.


We would love your tips, favourite spots abroad and places to stay to share with both our in store and online community!

The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands
Sir Richard Burton