Dive Your Own Way with Bonaire’s Carib Inn
Experience true diver freedom — whether you roll up to a dive site in a rented truck or take a giant stride off a boat
As soon as you step off the plane onto the island of Bonaire, you’ll find the signs that the island is tailor-made for divers: red-and-white flags fluttering over dive shops; yellow stones along the roadside marking dive sites; license plates inscribed with the words “Divers Paradise.” At the cozy seaside dive resort Carib Inn, co-owners Bruce and Liz Bowker have created an experience that maximizes the diving freedom Bonaire is beloved for — and even if you’re not staying at the resort, you can choose a reasonably priced dive package. And the packages are as flexible as the diving is — Carib Inn offers shore diving, boat diving, or a combination of both, with or without a guide.
Bruce Bowker is among the pioneers who first established Bonaire’s diving infrastructure, some 40 years ago. He was the first dive instructor to offer scuba certifications on the island. He explored many of the island’s dive sites and was instrumental in establishing mooring buoys. He was a key partner in keeping Klein Bonaire from being developed. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Bowker and others, Bonaire has been a leader in establishing ocean-conservation standards that have been copied in the Caribbean and around the world. The island has maintained these standards while giving divers the freedom to explore it underwater the way they prefer.
Today, all dive guides at the PADI Five-Star Carib Inn are PADI-certified instructors and divemasters. They are committed to professional instruction and are experts on the island’s dive sites. They are also knowledgeable about scuba gear. Whether you are a brand-new diver or an advanced one, the dive staff at Carib Inn will cater to your needs. They can put you on the resort’s house reef, direct you to the best shore sites, guide you on a boat dive, or take you on a Klein Bonaire excursion. The staff also offers dive instruction for all experience levels.
The resort’s dock is the entry point to a lovely house reef. If you’re staying at the resort, this is where you’ll make your orientation dive and get your national marine-park tag, a requirement that all divers must meet regardless of how many times they’ve been to Bonaire. You’ll find coral heads and tropical fish, all while dialing in your buoyancy and making sure your gear is in good working order. If you discover an issue with your equipment, the pros in the dive shop can handle repairs and guide you in purchasing replacement gear.
Bonaire’s brand of easy shore diving is what makes the island the world’s premier shore-diving getaway. The island’s reefs are host to an incredible number of species — hundreds of kinds of fish populate the reefs, and the macro critters are a photographer’s delight, including frogfish, blennies, flamingo tongues, sea slugs and more. These treasures are easily found merely by gearing up on beaches all along the west coast, especially south of Kralendijk. You can rent a vehicle, load it with tanks, and park at one of the more than 60 sites marked by bright-yellow stones on the side of the road. Choose this option with Carib Inn, and you’ll enjoy a dive vacation where you determine the schedule and how many dives you make. The freedom to dive the way you want means you have tons of options, and Carib Inn is committed to creating a customized package based on your needs and desires.
One of the island’s best boat dives was first explored as a daring shore dive that Bruce Bowker was instrumental in discovering. Along with mountaineer and diver Stan Gdowksi, Bowker rappelled down a 65-foot sheer rock on Bonaire’s northwestern coast and into the water below. This unique entry gave the dive site Rappel its name; today, it is best accessed by boat. Rappel is one of many northwestern sites made as boat dives, as well as the sites off the satellite island of Klein Bonaire. Carib Inn’s boat trips depart every morning and afternoon, headed to either Klein Bonaire or one of Bonaire’s mainland dive sites.