What a great way to start a day – sailing to Hol Chan Marine Reserve on the Serina Azul. The boat was to set sail Sunday at 8:30 am so Aimee said she would pick me up at 8:00 am. We met Carolyn and Neil for 8:15 am check in at Blue Tang Inn. (feature image above, courtesy of Blue Tang)
I was hopeful for a bacon egg Johnnycake on the way but would have settled for ham and cheese. As we turned onto Front Street, Aimee and I were deep in conversation and we completely forgot about the Johnnycake plan. Thankfully a Blue Tang breakfast option came to the rescue. As everyone was checking in and boarding the boat once they had their gear, I was able to order freshly made waffles and a couple of hard-boiled eggs to go. (They do not have an official restaurant there but they do a nice covered open-air breakfast bar.)
We set Sail with Captain Carlos and crew Edwin and Arnold. Along the way, Aimee and I pointed out a few landmarks to Carolyn and Neil including Mata Rocks where they are staying and the roof of Aimee’s new house down south. I never get tired of traveling our coastline by boat, unless of course, it is choppy wet weather then it gets old fast. The day, however, was perfect – beautiful and calm.
First stop was Zone D; Shark Ray Alley – I am glad our boat captain picked there before the Hol Chan as we had the place to ourselves. The boys offered people life jackets to make the experience easier by floating and explained how things would work on this portion of our snorkel trip.
For the first time, someone made a bit of sense of the whole chumming concept for me. Long before this was a protected area fishermen used to clean their catch at shark ray alley and drop the fish trimmings in the water which would attract other marine life to come and feed. The same thing currently happens at the shore when the fishermen come in and you will often see birds hovering and rays gliding around looking for fish skins.
Now that there is no fishing in the area some boats will use chum (fish bits) to attract sharks and rays. Aimee also pointed out something interesting to me when I asked how she felt about chumming. She said all dogs were once wild till humans started feeding and domesticating them, to consider this in a similar manner and that it has been going on since the island was a small fishing village. ( I am still on the fence but glad to have learned what I did today)
At Shark-Ray Alley we saw nurse sharks, stingrays and a few blue tangs. It always amazes me to be able to swim so close to marine life and enjoy watching them in their natural habitat – within a 15-minute boat ride.
After Shark Ray Alley, we headed back to Zone A, the coral reef area of Hol Chan Maine Reserve. There were a few boats there, but it was still not overly crowded.
They asked if we were comfortable swimmers and we were split into two guided groups. People who wanted to stick close to the boat and the ones who wanted to go off on a 30 to 40-minute channel exploration. Aimee and I went with Arnold in the exploration group opting for some underwater exercise and adventure.
As soon as we got out of the boat we were lucky enough to watch a turtle feeding on sea-grass. It decided to give us a show and swam to the surface and back down – a couple of us were happy to catch that on video.
A short video I took of our underwater experience between the two places (Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley.) I got some great sea-life footage – enjoy.
Our adventure made us hungry so Aimee suggested we go for deep fried pickles. This was a tasty new treat I had not tried before. Aimee said they were cooked a few seconds too long, but that did not stop either of us from clearing our plates. I will definitely try them again – love the panko breading.