Day Trip Barbados
It's a quarter to 10 in the morning when I join the stream of fellow pasty-white, dry-throated tourists boarding the Excellence Too, a 70-foot catamaran. The plan of attack, as I understand it, is straightforward: Ply us with tasty local rum and set sail for some cool snorkel spots. By combining two of my favorite things, these guys have created the ideal day trip. If you can't bring the snorkeling to the bar, bring the bar to the snorkeling, right?
Our captain motors the big cat clear of Bridgetown Harbour and then orders the sails unfurled, letting the wind carry us north along Barbados' Platinum Coast. Small cups of rum and Coke go down surprisingly easily for this early in the morning, and the sunny scene soon takes on a happy haze. After about 30 minutes, we stop and tie up to a mooring ball in Folkestone Marine Park. Several other day boats have already scattered their flipper-clad human cargo across the reef, but there's still plenty of room to spread out, and our snorkel guide assures us there's no shortage of marine life.
We spill into the water and follow him like a flock of dyslexic baby ducks I think perhaps the rum might have something to do with the zig-zagging, inordinate splashing and rampant misidentification of fish. The guide leads us to an old barge, sunk as an artificial reef 30 feet down. Colorful schools swarm past our masks, while a lone fish which various members of our group classify as a salmon, a sturgeon and a "Nemo" darts in and out of the wreck, watching us floundering above him with what I'd swear is a bemused look on his face. Fun for all.
Back on Excellence Too, we cruise up to Cobbler's Cove. Thar be giant sea creatures here! the captain exclaims or something like that; I can't quite hear him because I'm in line with everyone else getting refills at the bar.
Suddenly, though, someone notices that sea turtles are popping up all around the boat. We quickly drain our drinks and flop around getting our snorkel gear on. The divemaster jumps in with a bag of reptile chow and is immediately mobbed by hawksbill and green sea turtles up to five feet long. Once we join him in the water he begins to hand-feed them, and we all get a close-up look at the gentle critters.
At our next anchorage, off Gibbs Beach, the crew sets out a buffet. I pile my plate high with chicken, fish, rice and peas, and plantains. The hearty meal, several swims and rounds of rum have me near-comatose, and as we sail back to Bridgetown, I nod off blissfully in the sun. Mission accomplished.
Tiami Catamarans sail seven days a week. Fare ($75 per person; half-price for children 4-12; kids under 3 free) includes snorkel gear, lunch and drinks. Contact: 242-430-0900; www.tallshipscruises.com
Reproduced with permission from Bonnier Corporation. All rights reserved.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication