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Dive Review of Larry's Wild Side Diving/Carib Inn in
Bonaire

Larry's Wild Side Diving/Carib Inn, Dec, 2002,

by Jerry Kaelin, IL, USA . Report 428.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Florida, Turks & Caicos, Belize, Thailand
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 70 to 120 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions recreational dive limits
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Something NEW in (sometimes boring) Bonaire:

We love Bonaire, been there 9 times. You know why: shallow, beautiful reefs; lots of fish, even though few pelagics; no current, below the hurricane belt, desert island, favorable flamingo to people ratio; continuously improving restaurants and grocery stores; even getting there is easier now, via Air Jamaica (which doesnt leave Bonaire til 3pm, allowing diving the day before you leave).

We love Carib Inn (www.caribinn.com), been there 8 times and going again twice in 2003. Bruce Bowker continues to provide impeccable attention to his guests and his nine-room inn. Improvements to the already pristine grounds, dive shop, and facilities are obvious at every one of our annual trips. The staff is always stellar: helpful, friendly and dedicated to reef-saving ecodiving. One dive master, Linda Baker, regularly does REEF fish surveys ([reef.org link]). So skilled is she at hunting critters, that shes acknowledged in the 2nd edition of the two CD Fishes of the Caribbean and Adjacent Waters

The rap on Bonaire is that it is boring for a thrill-seeking diver with any experience. Nothing challenging, one might say, Wheres the big stuff? Arguably true, until now. Larrys Wild Side Diving goes to the eastern, windward side where no one else regularly dives. And on days its just too rough over there for even the hardy, hell take you to the far north or the far south, areas accessible but long trips in resort boats or jeeps.

Larry Baille has twenty-eight years in the diving business, over 8000 dives, and is a gregarious raconteur. His 25 ft Grady White has two 150hp Yamahas which make for a fast, smooth, and powerful ride, comfortable seating, a custom built ladder for easy exit, iced water, drinks and lunch. Our meal included fabulous smoked fish sandwiches from Will & Sue at Harbor Lights Cafe, one of the hottest restaurants in town. The boat holds a maximum of seven, and frankly, Larry confides he wants to keep the trips even smaller than that so he can continue to provide maximum flexibility and top quality attention.

Safety always comes first for this former Royal Canadian Seal. He has that difficult-to-replicate quality of making every level of diver feel safe, so hes an ideal sort to challenge the occasionally rough wind and seas on the other side. His plans for the future include adding a military type rigid-hull inflatable. All of us could imagine ourselves readily taking orders from a barrel-chested guy who still maintains his buzz cut.

Once, in our nine years of diving Bonaire, we were taken to the east side. On one dive we saw a gently waving forest of sea fans, two squadrons of spotted eagle rays, three turtles, a couple of distant and cautious sharks and reefs even more pristine than the west. Unfortunately for us, the east was too rough for our day with Larry, so after our pick-up at the Sand Dollar dock, we headed north. As we discovered, no great loss even if you cant dive the wild side. Larrys commitment is to the sites less frequented by most of the dive operations, be it the far northern or southern sites. Traveling to those sites is usually out of the question as the slower, less powerful boats chew up too much time and gas getting there.

Once we passed the refinery, the trip along the Washington Park shoreline was absolutely breathtaking, a view of Bonaire weve never seen. We encountered dolphins, a few small fishing boats but no other divers. Yes, the shallows up north (particularly at Nukove) were devastated by the wave action of Hurricane Lenny; but below 40 ft was a very healthy reef.

As an accompaniment to the typical, couldnt-be-easier diving for which Bonaire (and Bruce Bowkers Carib Inn) is famous, Larrys Wild Side Diving certainly adds adventure, the possibility of big stuff, and the personalized service that a high-end charter affords.

Walks (or dives) on the wild side do not come cheap, though. Our two-tank day with Larry was $100/person, but were certainly adding a day with Larry to our next Bonaire trip.

011-599-790-9156, cell
717-5246 business and fax
larry@larryswildsidediving.com
www.larryswildsidediving.com
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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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