German boat wreck

Snorkeling on Palm Beach, Aruba

By Guest Blogger Paul Parulis

One of my most anticipated activities when I visit a tropical island is snorkeling. This is something that almost every tourist can do and that does not either break the bank or require special physical prowess.  If you are lucky enough, there may be reefs, breakwaters or other man-made structures near your beach. With just a mask and snorkel you can spend countless hours looking at the beautiful tropical fish that you otherwise only see in aquariums.  Most of the time, I find that the better snorkeling locations are just a short boat trip away on one of the island snorkeling cruises.  Many of these are fairly inexpensive and they include all the snorkeling gear.

My wife and I recently visited Aruba, a Dutch colony, located just 20 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Very soon after setting up our lounge chairs on the beach and settling in to soak up the sun I grabbed my mask and snorkel and headed to the nearest reef, just a couple hundred  yards or so from our beach.  I spent an hour floating around looking at the tropical fish. This was a small reef so the quantity and size of fish was somewhat limited.  Later that day we looked into some of the snorkeling adventures that were available near our hotel. We chose a trip on a large catamaran that stopped at three different snorkeling spots.

In the past, whenever I snorkeled, I often thought it would be nice to take pictures underwater to document the beautiful sites that I had seen. I’ve tried the cheap disposable cameras but their pictures never satisfied me. I’ve considered buying a waterproof case for my digital camera, but that seemed very expensive for the few times I use it. However, this past year I had purchased a Nikon COOLPIX AW100 point and shoot camera that was called “waterproof to 10 meters”.  This camera was originally purchased for hiking trips. I’ve wrecked more than one camera while hiking, either when it has gotten wet from falling in a stream or snow.  I had some doubts about its claim to be waterproof until I took it in the water and started to snap away.  To my delight, this camera took good pictures, zoomed in and out, and went from wet to dry picture taking without having to do anything to the camera. And it survived the repeated trips in and out of the water.

One of the reasons why I picked this snorkeling trip was because they were planning to stop at the wreck of an old German boat that sank at the beginning of World War 2. I’ve snorkeled at many coral reefs but had never had the opportunity to snorkel around a sunken ship. This truly made the snorkeling adventure special.

The other two snorkeling stops were at the more typical locations near or on reefs where many different varieties of tropical fish congregate. During these stops I was fortunate to see not only the usual small fish-tank type varieties and the schools of parrot fish and grunts, but also an 18” trumpet fish, star-fish and a small school of cephalopods (squid).

Next time you visit a tropical island, spend some time exploring the beautiful and vibrant underwater sites that are as close as a mask and snorkel away.


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