VIP Diving Bonaire Review
Before going to Bonaire, I had done a bunch of boat diving in Belize and the Virgin Islands. So while I was comfortable with diving in general, I wasn't sure what I needed to know about shore diving which is the primary method in Bonaire. No problem! There were many dive shops willing to provide guides to help teach me the ropes. I settled on VIP Diving.
My decision was based on VIP Diving's flexibility in being able to provide multiple dives a day. They are also the only ones to offer a UV Night Dive which I found intriguing. And my choice was validated when, about a week before my trip, Bas Noij, the owner, contacted me that he was unable to dive due to congestion, but no worries he was working on securing backup guides just in case.
Day 1 diving was, unfortunately, too exciting. There was an equipment malfunction with my buddy and the air did not flow out of her tank while at 60 feet. Note the equipment was not provided by VIP Diving. Fortunately, my buddy had the good sense to swim to our guide for assistance and while there was some fumbling with the backup regulator and some saltwater consumption, the guide ensured air was delivered and surfacing was controlled. All in all a crappy first dive (Red Beryl was the name), but one that could've been a lot worse without a good guide. The second dive at The Lake was much better and not far from the first dive so not a lot of driving required.
Day 2 diving was much better. Bas was still under the weather, but he had a guide lined up again. My buddy and I requested relatively easy dives around 45 feet just to regain our comfort level from the previous day's excitement. Our guide delivered with some excellent south end dives — easy shore entries, appropriate depth, and plenty of marine life. The first was Angel City which lived up to its name, but also had a lot of other fish. The second was the Salt Pier (a guide is required for this one) which was cool if for no other reason than the way the light came through the pier supports. No additional excitement. Phew!
This day also included the UV Night Dive at Something Special. This was different than any other night dive I had done. In this case a special UV light combined with a filter placed over my mask made certain reef creatures light up like the night scenes in the Avatar movie. Everything else “disappeared” though including fish. It was quite an unique experience and I recommend people try it at least once.
Day 3 diving saw us try a more adventurous site (Karpata) on the northern end of the island. The second dive took us back to the southern end and was called The Rock. A cruise ship goer joined us on this day, but fortunately didn't fit any of the cruise ship stereotypes so no issues 🙂 In between dives our guide took us around the island and shared some of his knowledge.
In the evening, our guide took us back to the Something Special site for another night dive. This time around no UV lights so we saw the reef in “normal” lighting.
After 3 days with VIP Diving I was comfortable enough to go on without a guide. Thanks VIP!