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Dive Review of VIP Diving/Bruce Bowker's Carib Inn in
Bonaire/west, east, Klein Bonaire

June, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Michael Schoenbaum, MD, US
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 5563
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Belize, Florida, Bahamas
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
70   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
We were free to dive our own profile. I note that I was often diving with
my daughter, who is a junior & limited to 40 feet; however, that's not
actually very limiting in Bonaire...  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
We did not dive with cameras...
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
5 stars   
5 stars    
My daughter and I spent a week in Bonaire. It was the first time there for
both of us. She's a junior, and recently certified. We chose Bonaire for
its great shore diving - but shore diving is normally unguided, and we did
not want to dive on our own. So I searched for guided shore diving, and
found VIP. 

We stayed at Bruce Bowker's Carib Inn, and rented a truck (4-door Toyota
pickup, which seems to be the modal vehicle on the island). VIP is two
blocks from Carib - one block north towards town, and then one block east
away from the water. The shop is attached to the Blue Divers hotel, but
they operate independently. VIP has tanks (AL80s and 63s) and air (no
nitrox, although they said they were looking into getting that); they also
have rental gear, which we didn't use. 

I corresponded with one of the owners, Bas Noij, by e-mail before our trip
to make initial arrangements. Since I was new to Bonaire, and looking for
something a little different because of my daughter, this was a big help
for me. As I understand it, Bas previously worked as a private dive guide
on Bonaire, and recently established VIP with a partner, Willem Kalkwiek.
In the event, we dove with Willem and another guide, Derk Bevers, as Bas
was otherwise engaged. All three were very friendly, responsive, and

What you get from VIP is a private guide - you meet at the shop, set up
gear, load into vehicle, drive to site, and dive. (They have 2 vehicles,
but in practice we always used our own.) You can choose the site, or - as
we did - rely on their expertise. I believe VIP will take clients to any
shore site in Bonaire. We dove mainly on the west coast - north, south
& middle. I also joined Willem and two clients on one east coast dive,
where currents are stronger, & was rewarded by countless huge tarpon
and three large turtles, among other things. And I did something new, that
VIP specializes in:  an ultraviolet night dive. They use UV lights
( and a special yellow filter that goes over
your mask. Very cool - lots of coral, invertebrates, and fish (scorpion
& lizard, among others) light up brightly under UV light, in glowing
oranges, yellows, greens, and even deep red. I've seen this in aquaria, and
now that I've seen it in real life I'm kind of amazed it isn't offered more
widely by dive shops. I recommend this experience very highly for anybody
visiting Bonaire.

Many others have reviewed the Carib Inn in Undercurrent, and I found the
reviews to be accurate:  the place is cozy, the rooms are clean, and they
are set up specifically for divers & and are as flexible and
accommodating for divers as anybody could want. Like VIP, they have AL80
and 63 tanks, and air but not nitrox. They have a dive boat leaving from
their dock every day at 8:30 and 1:30; the folks on the boat decide where
to go, and everyone is completely free to dive their own profiles. I went
out with them four mornings; each time, I was the last person back in the
boat, and there was never any kind of negativity about that (or anything

One related note, from the perspective of diving with a junior. In
practice, my daughter didn't join me on these boat dives, preferring to
stay in bed. Anyway, I'd been concerned that if we did dive with a larger
group, others wouldn't want to be limited by her 40-foot limit - in which
case boat diving might not work for us. That was definitely not an issue on
any of the dives I went on, because the shape of the reef makes it easy to
choose various depths on almost any dive (the one exception I'm aware of is
the wreck of the Hilma Hooker), and again, everybody was free to dive their
own profiles. And in terms of not wanting to dive alone, on the four dives
I did with them, the guide and most of the group stayed between 40 & 50
feet anyway. 

Finally, for people who are new to Bonaire, as we were:  aside from Klein
Bonaire, which is only accessible by boat, I think the main reason people
use dive boats in Bonaire is because it's an easier way to transport 5 or
more divers plus gear to the dive site - one ends up diving at the same
sites as the shore divers. 
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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