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Dive Review of Bruce Bowker's Carib Inn/Carib Inn in

Bruce Bowker's Carib Inn/Carib Inn: "First diving in the post-Covid world", Nov, 2021,

by Will Dew, MI, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 11802 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments TIME TO DIVE: With nearly two years of accumulated surface interval, it was time to get back on the reef. Bonaire has been an alternating destination and this was the 16th year according to my marine park tag collection. In the November issue of Scuba Dive magazine, Bonaire was again recognized as a world-class destination with 12 awards, 7 of those in first place and most significantly, Best Health of Marine Environment. Bonaire is today what it is due to decades of dedicated preservation efforts. This started with the establishment of the national park in the late 1960’s, the marine park in the 1970’s, and has been carried forward by courageous and often cantankerous conservationists who understood how easy it is for a small island to lose its native natural character.

COVID: With PCR test in hand, I was routed to the left line upon arrival as Bonaire required a 5-day PCR test be performed for those with more than week-long stays. The screening staff at the airport set one’s appointment instantly. The 5-day test was a well-organized and properly staffed drive through at the Bonaire Heath Dept. and once underway at 3PM took less than 15 minutes to navigate. The test was free of charge other than your time. Mid-way through my stay, Bonaire suspended the 5-day test apparently due to the high vaccination rate of US visitors and the low subsequent positive results seen in the 5-day test regime. For departure and test requirements on re-entry to the US, I immediately scheduled my PCR test for the Friday afternoon before my Saturday flight and well within the 24 hour no dive to fly period. No sense in sacrificing dive time. Bon Bida handled the reservation and payment on-line. Again, a very efficient testing process than took less than 10 minutes. They guarantee results in 4 hours and I received mine in two. Latest updated information on Bonaire's Covid situation can be seen at:

CARIBINN: There was a nice report recently filed that detailed the status of the Carib Inn so I will not be redundant here. Other than of course to express similar gratitude that Lynne (Bruce’s niece) and her partner Eric have stepped forward to take stewardship of the business and along with the best staff in the industry, carry forward the family traditions of one of the most comfortable, peaceful, and well run dive lodges anywhere.

DIVING: To experience the true diversity of Bonaire’s reefs and repeatedly visit your favorite sites over the course of a few weeks, making the classic white dive truck part of your dive kit is essential. Boats to Klein or one of the “boat only” sites to the north can alternatively be reserved with ease. The weather was splendid for the latter October-early November trip. Winds, particularly in the second week were “below average” and currents were nil to mild. From my perspective, the reefs were fantastic and not just because I hadn't seen one for months and months. Fish life was diverse and prolific as usual. Massive schools were common over corals that were gorgeous and perhaps looking even better given a year plus reprieve. The fans, sponges, and hard corals on the far south sites were incredible. Hawksbill turtles were consistent (as in practically every dive) in the south and I had green turtles sporadically join on my dives in the north. Green morays were logged on nine dives, four of them on a fast swim and late for meetings. Goldentail and sharptail eels were also very common. I missed seeing any spotted eagle rays that are typical on Karpata and Nukove dives in the north and occasional off the south end. Multiple foraging stingrays and one snoozing nurse shark were observed near Drift City. Kite boarders (not a fish species) were present in the south and doing their part to revitalize the economy. On a particularly early Sunday morning, I noticed their camp abandoned and logged two dives on Atlantis. Probably the least dove site given their enduring presence there and it was gorgeous. Diving on adjacent sites while they were active presented no issues. One just needs to exercise additional caution surfacing and keep an eye and ear open for students who run amok and end up in the shallows to be rescued by their chaser skiff. Interestingly, it was here that I saw half of the eight plump lionfish spotted during the trip. The other four split between an 80’ sighting at Red Beryl North and a beach sighting at Fish Hut where all but the fillets (headed to someone’s grill) were scattered about the beach. I’m still “old school” and carry my hard copy P Humann’s fish/reef/and critter ID books. Sightings of 30-40 species in each dive is common. The additional beauty of shore diving means that you put more emphasis on your bottom time than the number of dives. The mild currents allowed one to just meander and truly observe the reef.

FOOD: If you starve in Bonaire it’s your fault as the plethora of entrepreneurial characters provide an endless diversity. Many restaurants had adopted take-away only protocols and this fit my desires fine. Having provisioned at the local market for breakfast and lunch that were easily prepared in the full kitchen of the suite, I took 100% of my dinners as take-away. Everything here comes second to diving so I like to maintain my freedom. The first rule for the first meal on the island is of course Bobbejan’s BBQ, which is only open F-S-S and puts out the best ribs, fries and slaw on the island. Jasmin’s was another favorite and within walking distance of the Inn. No matter what you think of Chinese food, if it is being cooked in eyeshot as you enjoy an Amstel Brite at the bar and the chef is over 60, you know it’s likely to be good. Cactus Blue was operating their Lionfish burger mobile trailer near the beach and appeared to be getting consistent business. My favorite Peruvian restaurant that serves the best sautéed LF was not currently open and I did not have the chance to sample this year’s vintage. Great info on culinary offerings is available at

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Contrary to recent consternation, the roads on Bonaire are fine. Of course, other than a couple dozen apocalyptic potholes that have the ability to total a scooter or forcibly remove the undercarriage of a normal car. Any significant improvements would allow the current 87.3% who tailgate and speed to increase their deviances. After 2 days, swerving to miss the largest potholes becomes a subconscious impulse. There are over 770 donkeys in the well run sanctuary which I visited in in the 24 hour no dive to fly period. The common morning roadside kill and herds of emaciated and diseased donkeys of years past are by in large history. Now, a feral goat crisis has developed, as to the tune of 30,000, so a goat farming initiative has been launched. A nice improvement since the 2018 visit was an outdoor seating lounge situated on the runway side of the Flamingo airport that provided a partially shaded area with open air, glass walls, seating for nearly 100 heads, and even a civilized smoking area.

INTROSPECTION: While Bonaire’s GDP plunged near 40% during the Covid lock-downs (now recovering faster than most all in the Latin America/Caribbean regions), one side benefit of stepping back from business as usual appears to be a purposeful examination of redefining tourism and the balance necessary to maintain Bonaire’s environmental future. The loss of Bonaire legend Bruce Bowker in 2020 and the re-opening of his lodge brought forward a number of heartfelt articles in the local press recounting his passionate and relentless contributions to conservation efforts. One of the diamonds on his BCD had to be his lead on getting the island of Klein Bonaire set-aside as a park and thus preventing the absolutely certain development with all manner of horrid condos, timeshare townhouses, and other multi-story debris. The Bonaire Reporter ran a timely article on the planting of 500 Bonaire palms (the endemic species of Sabal palms) which was underway on Klein. Led by former STINAPA director Elsmarie Beukenboom and assisted by the Dutch Army (digging the holes) and several local volunteer groups (adding irrigation and caretaking in the early stages), this will help with reforestation of the island, preservation of the palm itself which is endangered, and the birds and other shade seeking critters will be happy. Each sunset, gazing across the Klein, thanks was given that people like Bruce and Elsmarie have done so much for the long-term environmental interests of Bonaire. There is a natural friction between preservation and development and as I said earlier, it appears the Covid pause has re-energized both sides. Bonaire, while justifiably proud of if wastewater treatment infrastructure established since 2014, is reminded that only one-tenth of the islands homes and businesses are connected. The wind turbine and solar power alternatives are generating about one-third of the island’s needs. The endless debate over cruise ships, and yes they were back during my stay but fortunately in singles and typically for a short day, is fueling a larger and healthy debate on “mass tourism”. Construction of both commercial and residential properties is unrelenting. At some point, the decision to rein in development for development sake and eliminate the “more is better” mentality will determine whether Bonaire’s reefs flourish into the next 40 years. Its a daily battle for balance. All of what is going on topside affects what is going on bottom side. Keep up to speed on local happenings at

COSTS: First diving in nearly two years so don’t worry about what it cost. Two weeks lodging in seaside suite, dive truck rental and fuel, unlimited shore diving air refills, groceries and meals, unlimited beer and gin, covid testing, tour of the donkey sanctuary and contribution, unlimited meditation, night star watching, ocean swims, and incidentals: $3,600. Airfare was courtesy of molding SkyMiles. By the way, Delta did a great job on the connection via Atlanta and both inbound and outbound crews were great. Also, plenty of gin and tonic in the galley.

SUMMARY: Bonaire has done an outstanding job of providing the infrastructure and procedures to migrate the Covid currents. All staff were pleasant and highly professional. I took precautions to avoid indoor eating, hit the markets at low volume periods, and avoided other entertainment venues and gatherings at my own discretion. Bonaire is leading in the Latin America and Caribbean regions in the recovery of its tourist industry with 4Q21 bookings 27% above this time a year ago. so, GO DIVING. You owe it to your mental health and the fish miss you. Let’s help these predominantly small businesses and their staff get back to a new normal. Let’s do our part to keep our sport well respected and a lite fin print on the ecosystem.

Websites Bruce Bowker's Carib Inn   Carib Inn

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving mexico/belize/honduras/nicaragua/florida keys/vieques/turks & caicos/bonaire/curacao/grenada
Closest Airport Flamingo International Getting There Delta Air Lines via Atlanta connection.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 83-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 500 psi
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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