When our Holland America cruise stopped in Saint Martin, we had a snorkel adventure scheduled through the ship’s shore excursions. We met up with the group gathering for the trip on the dock near the Westerdam. On an excursion titled Golden Eagle Catamaran Sail and Snorkel, everyone followed a guide to a nearby dock where a sailboat called Too Rhum Punch waited. We had to remove our shoes before boarding. I knew I would have no trouble finding mine later as my hot pink sandals stood out in a basket of mostly brown and black shoes. They made a good show of getting a group of people to raise the sail, but once we got underway that sail seemed to have an awful lot of engine noise…… I don’t know of anyone who minded though. We all went on that trip for the snorkeling, the sailboat was just transportation. People who actually wanted to sail probably chose the Americas cup sailing race excursion instead. The boat never would have made it to Tintamarre and back in the time allowed if it sailed the whole way.
I sat up front on the net draped between the pontoons on the
catamaran. Once we really got going, whenever the boat hit a wave water splashed up through the net and I got soaked. So did the girl at the front of the net on the other side. The rest of the people sitting on the net didn’t get quite so wet. I had a good time taking pictures with my new underwater camera until I remembered I still had my watch on. Oops, it’s not waterproof. So I crawled up the net back to the hatch that goes inside and found my beach bag to put the watch in.
The boat crew served juice and pointed out vacation homes of famous people on the shore. When we reached Tintamarre, they dropped anchor. All the guests donned snorkel gear and jumped overboard. Well actually we used the steps on the back of the boat, but jumping off sounds so much more dramatic. The best thing about snorkeling off a boat rather than a beach is no sand in the flippers. At first I headed toward the beautiful sandy beach on the island, but found nothing to see but sand there. So I changed direction toward the rocky point and found a coral reef with lots of colorful fish. Also some spiny black sea urchins. I had lots of time to play with the new camera. Taking pictures of fish is not as easy as it sounds. Floating along, the current does not necessarily go the same direction as the fish. Just when the camera gets focused, the ground drops or rises and everything becomes a blur. And the bigger the fish, the faster it swims out of the screen. The coral didn’t all grow at the same height either, but at least it stayed still. Self portraits are pretty fun to take while snorkeling too. Can’t see what is in the picture while taking it, but take enough and some turn out.
After awhile, I realized I had no clue where John went and could not
find him anywhere. Until the inflatable dingy showed up nearby. He has more fun taking pictures of other people having fun than he does actually doing something fun. So he went back to the boat and got one of the crew to take him out in the dingy with his big fancy (probably not waterproof) camera. I like pocket-sized cameras, he practically lugs around a suitcase of camera gear.
Eventually I swam to the beach. Quite a few people from the boat went there. The strength of the surf caught me off guard a bit on the approach to the beach where it had a sudden drop off of a foot or better, but I got to the higher level and on to the beach. Of course then going back I got sand in the flippers. Walking in them until the water is deep enough for swimming presents a bit of a challenge too.
Our time at Tintamarre ended and the crew called us back to the boat. This time they put up two sails and actually did sail for real for a stretch before turning the engines back on. They served sandwiches and drinks on the way back. I had more juice, but a lot of people enjoyed the rum punch and other alcoholic beverages that were not offered on the way there.
I sat back out on the net again for awhile, but closer to the back than the front where much less water splashed through. We had quite a fun time on our sailing and snorkeling excursion. Another option for something unique and interesting to do when visiting Saint Martin is a visit to the beach where airplanes fly just overhead.