Tag Archives: snorkel

Things To Do in Barbados, Part Two

Barbados is a small slice of paradise situated in the Carribbean. While many people come here for the sand and sun, there’s so much to do for those who are looking for something a little more active. My previous post, “Things To Do in Barbados”, outlines some of the things you can do, including seeing a show, visiting a local fish fry, touring a rum distillery, and stepping on board the Concorde. Let’s continue with some my other favorite activities in Barbados:

Barbados Wildlife Reserve 

The major thing that drew me here was getting to see and feed the green monkeys. Up until this point, I’d only seen monkeys in cages at the zoo, so this was a really unique opportunity. Many of the animals (excluding reptiles and certain birds) have free reign to roam around the reserve. If you go at 2pm, which we did, you can feed the monkeys. The employee instructed me to hold out my hands with the food he provided, and reminded us not to pet them. I was surprised by how many monkeys there were, maybe 10 or so. They were all very sweet, and took the food right out of my hands. I even got to see a mommy and baby monkey. Some of the other animals at the reserve included tortoises,  cats, deer, iguanas, and peacocks. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but what else could you expect if you want to walk around with them?

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The reserve itself is so beautiful, and reminded me of a secret garden. It’s very green, lush, and overgrown, which in my opinion adds to its beauty.

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Harrison’s Cave

You should definitely make a stop at Harrison’s Cave if you are interested in geology or haven’t visited a cave before. The most unique feature of this particular cave is that you can ride through it on a tram. I’ve never seen that before, so that added to the experience. There are also opportunities to stop and walk around if you wish. Before boarding the tram, you enter a building where you get to learn a bit about the formation of the island (which was not formed by volcanic activity but rather by colliding plates) and the cave’s history.

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Catamaran Snorkeling Tour

Of course, what would a trip to the Caribbean be without enjoying the turquoise waters? On the advice of our hotel’s concierge, my Dad and I booked a catamaran tour. The company, called Cool Runnings, picked us up at the hotel and drove us down to Bridgetown, where we boarded the catamaran. We swam with the turtles, snorkeled at a shipwreck, and had some free time at a secluded beach (NOTE: all beaches in Barbados are public, but no one was there due to it’s accessibility). Overall, vibe of the tour was a lot of fun: the music was awesome and the other people on the cruise were friendly and easygoing.

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The first stop on our day cruise was swimming with sea turtles. I was nervous around them at first because there were so many, but a few of the crew members jumped in the water to make us feel more comfortable. They even fed the turtles, which kept them close. Unlike in Hawaii, it’s okay to touch the sea turtles, which I had a chance to do.  You can see how close they are in my pictures; it would have been difficult to avoid touching them completely anyway.

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Snorkeling around the shipwreck was also very interesting. Shipwrecks are a bit creepy to me because they are sometimes underwater graves, but I doubt this was the case here since it was only a few hundred yards from the beach. As a bit of a history buff, I do wish they had more information about what caused it and when, but either way it was cool to see up close.

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In addition to the swimming and time on the beach, we had an excellent buffet lunch. They gave us mahi mahi, jerk chicken, rice and beans,  pasta, salad, and unlimited drinks.

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I’d definitely recommend doing a catamaran tour if you have the chance. Also, avoid ending up like me and be sure to bring your sunscreen since you will be sitting outside for several hours. I didn’t bring any with me because it was cloudy that day…what a mistake! I burned terribly and could barely move the next day. Save yourself the trauma!

Outdoor Adventures in Maui: Snorkeling

I’m one of the last people who wants to go on vacation and just sit on the beach. That’s why I was admittedly apprehensive when we decided to spend a week and a half in Maui. While I’d imagine many people would welcome that much time to sit and sunbathe, it sent me into a bit of a panic. I personally see vacation as a time for exploration and active pursuits that you just can’t do back home.

I was surprised to find how much Maui had to offer for people like me. While this list won’t be comprehensive, I’d like to share some of my experiences with you in the hopes that all beach destinations aren’t written off by active travelers.

Snorkeling

There are unlimited opportunities for water activities in Maui. You can go swimming, scuba diving, jet skiing, or surfing to your heart’s content. But I’m highlighting snorkeling because you can do it anywhere and the cost can vary from extraordinarily cheap (renting a snorkel on the beach) to very expensive (full day, inclusive tour).

We went snorkeling twice while in Maui. The first time, we opted for a 5 hour boat tour to Molokini Crater. The second time was at the beach near our hotel.

The boat tour: The boat leaves from the dock early in the morning and arrives to Molokini crater’s snorkeling area. The tour provides everyone with wet suits, snorkels, fins, etc. They also feed you afterwards, with a nice lunch and your choice of drinks. This is a fun group trip and an opportunity to sail away from the island. The views of Maui while coming back to shore are just stunning. As far as drawbacks, some people would prefer to snorkel on their own time. The time spent snorkeling may be too short for some, and too long for others. If you want to either take your time or just try out snorkeling independently, this may not be your best option. As far as sea life, we were able to see turtles, butterfly fish, trigger fish, sea urchins, tangs, and coral.

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On the beach: The cheaper option for snorkeling is to rent (or bring) a snorkeling set and walk down to the beach. We were staying at Kaanapali beach and chose to rent some snorkels down there. This is a much cheaper and faster option than the boat tour. While there was mostly sand below us rather than coral, we saw some of the same wildlife, including turtles and tangs. We also spotted additional fish species, including the unicornfish and the Hawaiian state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (pronounced “hoomoo-hoomoo-nookoo-nookoo-ah-poo-a-a”). The only major downside about snorkeling on the beach is that the number of people around can be a bit overwhelming and intrusive. I was bothered by the various people who kept harassing the sea turtles and trying to grab them, pet them, etc. Please be aware: TOUCHING SEA TURTLES IS ILLEGAL in Hawaii. I know it’s tempting, but it’s not worth disturbing them. It’s just as exciting to say that you swam with them.

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I have to say that the variety of fish species found near the beach was just as good as on the boat tour, so don’t feel like you are missing out if you can’t afford it. Mostly you are paying for the expertise of the crew, the experience of riding on the boat itself, and the buffet lunch provided to you.

Lastly, don’t forget your underwater camera. Disposable underwater cameras work well if you only need it for a day; otherwise, it may be worth renting a high quality digital underwater camera for the time that you need it. Many dive shops and stores around Maui offer cameras for rent.