I Shot a Permit Fish In Cayman Islands

I shot a Permit fish in Cayman Island and did so with my under water camera. It was an awesome experience to swim right next to a school of permit out in the ocean and then add the hundreds of Blue Tang fish that let me join their feast on the corals. Let me just say the Cayman Islands are one of those places where I have been and where I always want to go back to. It is such a small place but has so much to offer. I just wish I had the money some people in this world have in the banks of this tiny beautiful island. The Cayman Islands was the last stop in our voyage, and as always we left happy and accomplished. We had decided to sleep in late as the excursion we chose was basically at noon. We saw the excursion information and fell for it at just $70:

  • All Inclusive food and drink. Check!
  • Beach umbrellas and snorkel equipment are available for rent. We had our own, Check!
  • Return air-conditioned transportation to the wonderful Tiki Beach Club located on Seven Mile Beach. Check!
  • Beach has natural reef areas close to shore and therefore may be rocky; extra caution should be taken. Check!

We boarded the tender boat, we cruised right by the Holland America cruise ship, landed soon enough and on to our air conditioned ride to 7 Mile Beach.

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The beach as always was a nice white sand and soft to the touch. Some areas had rocks and plenty shells but there was plenty space to choose from.Cayman Islands044

One thing for sure was that if you venture pass the through and encountered rocks there would be plenty chances to step on a sea urchin. So when you go, just be very careful as there might be plenty sea urchins out there.

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If you snorkel, make sure to peak under the rocks and you might find some snappers or schools of grunts lurking in.

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Bermuda Chubs are regulars through out the Caribbean and they sure were here in large numbers.Cayman Islands008

The beach offered plenty rocks and scattered corals to be appreciated.Cayman Islands009

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Cayman Islands011If you look well enough you will be able to see Sting Rays and some other animal life that are good at camouflaging themselves.Cayman Islands006

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Brain Coral was scattered around and some had nice tones, some were just almost a plain beige, but still awesome to look at.

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A lonely Blue Tang was just posing for a picture but did not allow me to get any closer.Cayman Islands024

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A shy Squirrel fish also posed for me and vanished as soon as I took the picture.Cayman Islands027

This I guess is a Butterfly Fish that ran way from me but not before I had a chance to snap a picture of it.Cayman Islands028

A school of grunts was hiding perfectly under the rocks.Cayman Islands029

Then came my big surprise as I just passed the first set of rocks I looked under as hundreds of blue tangs and other fish schooled together to feed on the corals. It was amazing as they only took a couple of bites from one and went to the next as if they were schools of bees jumping from flower to flower. I followed them and as I spent more time with them they let me get closer.

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As the Tangs guided me through the reef yet another surprise came about. A small school of 4 to 5 permit were feeding on the crustaceans in the sand and rocks. I followed them and I got closer and closer without making sudden movements and it was within minutes that they were swimming around me.Cayman Islands035

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Cayman Islands039I found it curious that they would come from under me over and over, I hadn’t noticed that I flipped a Sea Urchin from under me while I tried to turn around and see what they were doing. I am always careful as to not touch the corals or even the live rocks as I do not want to crush any potential reef growth. The sea urchin must have been trying to move as it was swept by the current of my fins. The permits took advantage and had eaten it in seconds. I tried switching to video and captured a bit part of it then switched right back to picture mode.Cayman Islands040The fish were beautiful and had their fun with me, they swam faster and left under the fins of unsuspected snorkelers that were near by. My guess is they are now familiar with people flipping Sea Urchins for them to eat.Cayman Islands041

Cayman Islands042Once again, a Needle Fish said good by to me as I was leaving the water. It was time to get some Rum Punch and some food, yum yum.Cayman Islands043

ayman Islands Beach Panoramic

Our all inclusive included Rum Punch and a BBQ lunch which we enjoyed to the fullest extent. They had good choices of meats, but we picked the usual BBQ chicken we would normally eat.

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The Rum Punch was good enough to get you to smile for a while.Cayman Islands049Once again our vacation almost felt as if it was over, we boarded the Tender Boats and on to the ship we went.Boat TenderIt was yet another amazing vacation. Can’t wait to see what our 30th anniversary will take us in 2016.Herbert Hans and Lilly

Thanks for reading and or looking at the pictures. Until next time!

Isla Roatan, Honduras Snorkel & Free Diving Adventure

This was stop three of our 2015 annual Anniversary cruise vacation. We arrived at Mahony bay which is the port at Isla Roatan, Honduras. We had been here before and enjoyed the beach and surrounding areas. This was a very relaxing way to enjoy this port of call. After looking at brouchures  we decided that this time we would plan a nice snorkel and free diving adventure.  After talking with the clerk at the excursion desk we reserved our tickets to go to Tabyana Beach. It was advertised that pristine corals could be seen just a short distance from the beach. The clerk confirmed it as the do get to enjoy the attractions at the port of calls and most of them have actually been at the sites advertised. I must say, I fell in love with coral life. It was an awesome choice.

We arrived at Mahogany Bay, the area specifically made for the ship’s arrival. A few nice shops and restaurants to make you feel comfortable and entice you to open your wallet and have some fun. They really work at making you forget your busy life and enjoy your true vacation.

Isla Roatan Reef & Island034We went straight to take a mini bus that took us to the beach Upon arrival we were some of the first to get there. that was great. I was able to prepare and get to the free diving part.Isla Roatan Reef & Island001I spoke to one of the workers and asked what were the boundaries and what area was safe out of the currents. After a few suggestions I went in the water and started to snorkel my way to about 20 feet were I dove down to get some pictures of the corals.

     Isla Roatan Reef & Island002   Isla Roatan Reef & Island005

The area was well taken care of, they even had signs in different languages to basically guide you away from the shallow areas so you would not touch the corals.Isla Roatan Reef & Island015I was in just 2 feet of water when this Palometa fish pass by saying HI!Isla Roatan Reef & Island004The corals were pristine, the area was well taken care of. It was an awesome sight and delightful free dive and snorkeling. From the beach it was not even 10 feet of water and the corals were there already.

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Isla Roatan Reef & Island007After an hour or so I went back to the beach to join my wife for a local beer and some patties.

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Once we took a break we went back in the water to continue enjoying the sights of the reef and the colorful fish. Once again I encountered more signs, this one in Spanish.Isla Roatan Reef & Island018From the water you can appreciate the natural contour of the Island.Isla Roatan Reef & Island016And then back under water we continued to appreciate what nature has to offer.Isla Roatan Reef & Island011Shcools of Blue, Brown, mixed in with Parrot fish and other species were the constant sights all over the reef.Isla Roatan Reef & Island017

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Isla Roatan Reef & Island013      Isla Roatan Reef & Island012

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Isla Roatan Reef & Island023It took us quiet few hour to explore and enjoy the reef. It was getting late so we decided to go back in relax and get on our way back to the ship. Below are the restaurant and shop areas of Tabyana beach.

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Below is an interesting stop to get the sand of your body.Isla Roatan Reef & Island027

Isla Roatan Reef & Island026On our way to the boat we were.Isla Roatan Reef & Island028I snapped some picture from inside the bus. I always like to remember how things were when I visited a destination.

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 Isla Roatan Reef & Island033  One last taste of the local brew and on to the ship we were.Isla Roatan Reef & Island035

Mahogany Bay Shops

Carnival Conquest

Thansk for stopping by, our next stop would be Cayman Islands!

Lauderdale By The Sea Reef – Snorkeling/Freediving 6-21-14

After a night of fishing at Anglins Pier in Lauderdale By The Seas, we headed to the beach for some snorkeling on the reef South of the pier. Fishing that night ended with a released mutton snappers, a puffer fish, 3 goggle eyes and a hookup to a sawfish that cut my line off, plus someone caught and released a nice size lemon shark. I fished at Anglins pier for many years and had not gone to explore the reef in the area. This time we made plans to snorkel the reef after a night of fishing. On the pier I asked my friend Tom what were the buoys that light up at night over the reef. He explained these were solar panels for a coral growth project (Bio Rock Project) and under it there is a wire mesh structure with coral growing on it. I wanted to see it my self so in the morning we headed to the beach and as we entered the water we were greeted by schools of sardines and then after a few short minutes we were on top of the reef. I was delighted to see the growth of coral and sea life. I had better luck on this snorkeling trip than I had in some of the Caribbean Islands these past few years.

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It took me longer to unravel my float line than getting to the reef, as soon as we we were on top of the reef we saw a diver exploring the sea floor and my son passed right by his trail of bubbles.

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Below are pictures of the reef. We were in water deeper than 15 feet where camera filters are necessary to appreciate the true colors of the reef. I apologize ahead of time as I do not have these filters,  but I can assure you that in person the reef is very colorful and can be highly appreciated.

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Here is a picture of the Bio Rock structure.  LauderdaleByTheSeaReef21

Close to the buoy, but not too close.LauderdaleByTheSeaReef22

A picture of Anglins pier from the reef area.LauderdaleByTheSeaReef23

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Here is my nephew’s son. He grabbed on to my float and used it as a flotation device to help him see the reef.

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At the  edge of the reef on my way out this little fellow decided to model for the camera.LauderdaleByTheSeaReef28

A tarpon waved good bye as we were on our way back to the beach.  LauderdaleByTheSeaReef29

I don’t know why but I just love taking pictures of the sand underwater.LauderdaleByTheSeaReef30

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At the end of the day we sat down and ate breakfast at the Pier’s restaurant. LauderdaleByTheSeaReef34

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   Here is one last picture of the relaxing day. In the background you can see the buoys marking the Bio Rock Project. LauderdaleByTheSeaReef35

Fishing was not productive but the snorkeling was very rewarding. I left with a satisfied soul and will be glad to comeback and do it over again. If you decide to go snorkeling or diving on this reef, it is located at the end of Commercial Boulevard, when you see the pier just walk towards the South and you can start snorkeling after the buoy marker that signals you are too close to the pier. Remember there are people with fishing lines in the water so stay as far away as possible from the pier.

Here is a short video I took.

I did some searches on the Bio Rock Project and found some videos with information:

 

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park- Snorkeling the Reef and Erojacks June 2014

My son and I were thinking of a fishing trip for Father’s Day and as we were planning it evolved into a spearfishing trip. We had the plan, now we had to prepare our gear and shop for whatever we needed. We visited a local diving shop and looked for some free diving gear, we got our fins and boots and some other accessories we though needed. I had taken 2 of my spear guns, one to do the maintenance on it, the other just to get the bands for it. Well, on the first one I was told I should put it on a wall since it was over 20 years old, bummer! Oh well at least I got the bands for one of the spear guns. We went home and as I installed the bands I realized that the wishbone (metal part of the rubber bands) was just too wide for the shaft (the spear). Again another 45 minute drive to the dive shop and when I tell them I need a set with a thinner wishbone the guy tells me, “oh man how old is that gun?” Well I turned around and told him it was older than my son and smiled. The store helper just told me “sorry dude, you should put that on a wall somewhere, you will not find a set that old” Dang it, bummer again. Oh well so we said OK we are just going to go to the beach and snorkel at John U Lloyd State Park. After all we could at least explore the area . I told my son about the reef being near to shore and about the submerged erojacks the government placed in the area. These areconcrete Jacks to help avoid erosion and some call them Eurojacks. Myself I just call them Jax. The erojacks help to guide you to the reef but sometimes it is easier to find the reef than the erojacks. As we were driving to get my son his fishing license (he needs one now because he is no longer an active military service member) we were thinking of other places to go and just stuck with going to John U Lloyd beach. Since we were not going to go spear fishing anymore we decided it would be cool to invite the family and ask if they would join us, we were glad they did. All the kids had fun while some of us went snorkeling.

Here are some pictures for those that haven’t seen the area and the reef or the erojacks at John U. Lloyd State Park. We parked at the very first parking lot after the paying booth.

A view from the parking lot and a view form the bridge to the parking lot.

ENTRANCE TO THE FOOT BRIDGEENTRANCE TO THE FOOT BRIDGE   FROM THE ENTRANCE TO THE FOOT BRIDGE TOWARDS THE PARKING LOTFrom the entrance to the foot bridge towards the parking lot

This is one of many trails through the park. It can be accessed right from the parking lot.A WALKING TRAIL TO OTHER AREAS IN THE PARKA walking trail to other areas in the park

In this parking lot you will have to walk through a bridge to the beach.

FOOTBRIDGEFootbridge

A look from the bridge towards the North.

FROM THE FOOTBRIDGEFrom the footbridge   RIVER THAT SEPARATES PARKING FROM BEACHRiver that separates parking from beach

   A close up of the view.RIVER THAT SEPARATES PARKING FROM BEACH LOOKING TOWARDS THENORTHRiver that separates parking from beach looking towards theNorth

A close up of the view to the South.RIVER THAT SEPARATES PARKING FROM BEACH LOOKING TOWARDS THE SOUTHRiver that separates parking from beach looking towards the south

A look at the beach entrance from the bridge.   BEACH ENTRANCEBeach entrance

The pictures below are of the beach and reef directly across from the parking lot.

Leaving the beach my wife and grandson wave bye to me and my son.

John U. Lloyd State Park   John U. Lloyd State Park

On the reef at first it looks like just rocks but when you start to get deeper you will start to see life. I Stopped at the first ledge which is about 10 feet deep in low tide and goes to about 15 feet deep during low tide.

 

On the picture below a trigger fish runs away from me.

   

  

  

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An angelfish hides under the coral.

  

Images below are of the view from on top of the reef.

  

  Getting out after exploring the reef.Herbert Hans

 

After the reef we walked to the erojacks marker. On the beach walking toward the South on the beach (on the Dunes line top of the beach) you will see a marker with the  number 2, then one with the number 1,  and the one that shows where the erojacks are submerged. Ths marker has  “Jax –>” written on it.

John U. Lloyd erojacks

  

    

    

    

   

  

     

  

  

 Marine life was present on the reef and on the erojacks (eurojacks as some write it) the water visibility became dull as afternoon storms started approaching. If you want to enjoy the reef and see more marine life you will need to snorkel into the deeper areas of the reef and erojacks early in the morning or a day in which there are no storms. Most of the summer we have a beautiful day in the mornings, a very hot mid day, and the storms are present most days during the afternoons. Hope this post is of some help for someone looking to have a nice snorkeling day at this park. By the way there are restroom facilities, vending machines, and showers between the bridge and the beach.

 Here is a final pic of the family that came to enjoy the beach.

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 John U. Lloyd State Park is located at 6503 N Ocean Dr, Dania Beach, FL 33004. From the Florida State Park website:

http://www.floridastateparks.org/lloydBeach/default.cfm

“Perfect for a day at the beach or a family picnic, this park provides an abundance of recreational activities. Surf fishing, canoeing, swimming, nature study, boating, and picnicking will keep the whole family busy. For those interested in South Florida’s underwater beauty, Lloyd Beach has one of the easiest and most interesting shore dives in the area. The park has two boat ramps with easy access to the ocean through the Port Everglades Inlet, which will please those who prefer to fish in open water. The mangrove-lined waterway is a scenic place to canoe, observe bird life, and take photographs. Located off A1A in the City of Hollywood.”

 

Cozumel Snorkeling Adventure February 15th 2014

One of our stops on the 4 day Cruise was Cozumel. We had no idea on what to do here. I had been there before but had gone to the mainland to Playas Del Carmen and then we went to visit Tolum. On this trip we were 25 people including my grandson, yes I have a Welcome Centergrandson 🙂 So we decided to wait till we got there and figure out on what to do. To go to Playas Del Carmen it would have been $45.99 per person just to get on the ferry and get dropped off at Playas Del Carmen for some shopping, history, and then go to a resort’s pool and beach access were we could also snorkel for an additional cost. I had read before that Cozumel was a great place to snorkel and I remember small man made beaches where we could go and adventure by our selves but when we got there these little beaches by the Cruise Ship docks were gone. Well, I had to do what us males hate to do, I had to ask for directions to the nearest public beach. The minute we got to the docks I asked some of the local tour guides waiting on their customers. They were very helpful and told me that a Taxi cab to the nearest beach would be about $5 per person and showed me the way to go get them. As we approached the exit out to the Welcome Center of Cozumel we saw drivers dressed in white and with ID tags hanging on their necks. They were from a Taxi company, it seemed to be the only one in the Welcome Center area. We were offered a fare of $25 per person and this included $7.5 to go to a resort, $7.5 to get back, and access to the resort and it’s amenities. When we got there we had access to the pool which looked nice, chairs, beach chairs, hammocks, ladder access to the water, and surprisingly a free Tequila tour in which you are basically obligated by your taste buds to purchase a bottle. We haggled the price to $20/person 🙂 and off we went in two packed fairly new vans.

First things first, got a local beer. Victoria, very refreshing semi dark beer.

Victoria Beer

Below is a panoramic view of the resort.

Cozumel Resort Panoramic 2

The Tequila thought might make you see a second image 🙂

Cozumel Resort Panoramic

From inside the restaurant (they charged in Dollars not Pesos) and the pool.

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The beach area.

Beach in Cozumel

Getting ready to snorkel and in the water we went. By the way we were told that snorkeling was included but they did not tell us we had to rent the equipment. Luckily I brought a few sets of my own for everyone to share.

snorkeling in Cozumel Mexico   Cozumel Mexico

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The water was amazingly clear so we were able to enjoy it to the max.

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The corals were healthy but not much variety in this area.

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reef in Cozumel Mexico   snorkeling in Cozumel

There were a lot of artificial reefs being populated by corals, seafans, invertebrates, and of course fish 🙂

Cozumel Mexico Sargent Majors and snappers

I just went back to these rocks, had to do a second pass.

Sargent Major Fish in Cozumel Mexico

Can you see the ballyhoo in the pic below? Great camouflage. Click on the picture to make it larger.

Hidden fish

A beer bottle rock?

Sargent Major fish in Cozumel Mexico

After the beach we had no time to pass by Maragritaville, very disappointing on  that but we had a big group so I did not dare to ask the driver for a quick stop and so we went shopping instead. Word of advise, the shops right in front (flea market like) give you free tequila shots when you shop but the prices are a bit high. Just walk a few blocks down and you will get great discounted prices but no free tequila shots. If you are on a budget take my advice if not take the tequila shots, they are included in the price.

shop in Cozumel

All good things must come to an end and so back to the Carnival Victory ship we went. We missed our dinner at the main dinning room but we were surprised with a midnight Mexican buffet (USA Restaurant Style). It was good and the fruit carvings were nice to see.

watermelon Mayan  Watermelon sculpture

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The next morning it was brunch instead of breakfast and for dessert a nice piece of banana cake.

steak and eggs

banana cake

I never had the chocolate melting cake so I ate a piece and it was great. So I brought the recipe with me 🙂

                                        Chocolate Melting Cake

Here is the whole family.

Group Picture 1

I did say you force  yourself to buy the tequila from the “free” Tequila History and Taste Tour. 🙂  And when you go they do sell some $5 a bottle of tequila in the shops by the Welcome Center. Inside the shops they also had some good ones at 2 for $16.50. But “Doña Jose Licor De Membrillo” Tequila Liquor was a winner to my taste buds and the family almost unanimously agreed and bought their own bottles of it. This is not a drink to mix, just a drink to savor each day 1/2 ounce at a time after dinner so we can remember Cozumel Mexico with great taste in our mind.

Doña Jose tequila

St. Maarten “Tiki Hut Relax & Snorkel” 01-2014

St Maarten ViewWhat a beautiful view we were greeted by in the morning we arrived. We had purchased a “Tiki Hut Relax & Snorkel”, adventure from the ship. It was set to leave at noon but since the ship got there at 7 am we decided to explore the shops and walked around. We saw the bicycles at the roundabout but no one was there to answer questions on renting the bicycles. We asked and we asked and were pointed in all directions but did not find a single person that could answer our questions and so we just walked and took pictures here and there. We got a bit bore so we got a map of the island sat down and waited for the first Tiki Excursion to arrive, hmm, no one was passing by with a sign that said Tiki Hut & Snorkel so we went back to our cabin got a few more things and got ready for the 11’ o’ clock excursion. We went down aand were told they wouldn’t leave until 12pm, but we decided to wait anyways. As we were waiting a lady came by and strapped the sign to a pole and told us she would be back at 12 p.m. and at around 10:45 a.m she comes back and we realized that at the dock they were all working on island time! Oh wow! Well, atleast we did not have to wait for another hour. Off we went to the Water Taxi that was to take us to the Tiki and to our surprise we had to wait on another group from another ship. This was now a recurring theme of bad luck in Sint Maarten. Finally!!!! We were on the way as the captain told us a few safety things about the craft and told us we were going to take 8 minutes to the Tiki and not the 20 minutes we were told. Seas were a bit rough and wind was about 25 knots, the water looked very sandy in color not a good thing to look at when all you want to do is snorkeling. The lady said it was about 12 foot visibility and they normally get 30 feet visibility at the Tiki. We arrived! First impressions were not so great, the place looked on the small side and a bit crowded, but as we boarded others left of the water taxi making lots of room for us. We were given a small safety course about the sea urching and the fire coral on the ropes and rocks, a small explanation of the area was given letting us know where the sunken sailboat, sunken helicopter, and sunken cannons where.

St Maarten View

St Maarten    St Maarten

Below we are at the snorkeling location, location, location, just great views

Tiki Hut Relax and Snorkle St Maarten view   Tiki Hut Relax and Snorkle St Maarten view

 I started snorkeling and was plagued with bad luck because visibly was only about three feet and so if I wanted to see anything I had to free dive to it and so I did. I then went closer to the cliff and the snorkeled around the rocks, there was some visible sea life and saw dozens of black sea urchins. As the included rum punch and the hours went by I went back in and this time visibility was better, I could actually see the sunken sailboat from our chair. My wife got me a piece of bread and another rum punch as I prepared to go back in. The bread attracted dozens of black and yellow Sargent majors, a few yellow tail snappers one of which seemed to have escaped the hook of a fisherman and it had a huge gash that did not allow it to swim upright, but it did not stop it from getting some free bread. I took a small video of it, hope you all can see it when the video is ready. I then took the bread to a rock that was submerged about 2 feet from the top of the water and went down to about 15 feet. I scattered the bread to bring some of the sea life to the camera and then free dove to the bottom with the bread scattering it towards the top bringing in some more yellow tail snappers and this time some bar jacks with it. There was not much sea life but was glad to see some brain coral, some horned corals, perhaps some black coral, and other types growing on the rocks it seemed like a new beginning in sea life around the rocks a good sign of health in the ocean.

Brain Coral in St Maarten   Sea Urchin in St Maarten

wrasses in St Maarten   wrasses in St Maarten

  snorkeling St Maarten   snorkeling selfie

Below are the sunken sailboat, cannon, and helicopter. There are more sunken items but were not visible to to water clarity.

sunken sailboat St Maarteen   sunken cannon St Maarten   sunken helicopter St Maarten

 After a while I decide to just lounge on a chair and eat a nice grouper sandwich with my wife and of course some more of the included rum punch that had many people happy and jumping off the platform doing belly flops and cannon balls into the ocean. I just had to do it too and my wife joined as well, then a lady a former Diving Team of some place showed off her skills with a triple vault that left every jaw on the platform and no one dared to jump again or maybe their bellies were just hurting.

Tiki Hut relax & snorkel St Maarten   seatrek and tiki hut side by side St Maarten

Time to go! We washed off the salt with the fresh water wash-down they had and changed in the bathroom. Up the water taxi came and off we went. We asked him to take us to downtown, but he said it was too late since he had to go back every half hour to the docks. Oh well another piece of luck that runs out for us. We got to the dock and decided to walk to downtown ourselves; it only took us 10 minutes by foot. We got there and got a few refreshments, walked around a bit and checked out the beach which was nice and had sailboats and other boats anchored within 20 or 30 feet from it. We took some snap shots of Petersburg ate a roti and went back very tired to the ship. As we got to the ship we took a shower changed our clothes and woke up the next day in St. Thomas. OOPS!

sun on the underwater rocks of St Maarten