Although I was feeling pretty lazy and didn’t want to do too much on our trip, I had booked the Eco-tour with Adventure Antigua, which promised a nearly full day on the water. We made our way off the Seabourn Quest, down the pier and across the wooden dock to where the 52 foot power catamaran was waiting. The walk took about 3 minutes and was very easy to find.
I will admit that I had wanted to take their Classic Yacht tour, but our timing in port did not allow for it. However, we were not
disappointed by the Eco Tour. As we boarded the boat, I noticed a couple of things. 1. It was not crowded. Perhaps they were waiting for more people? Nope, it turns out there were only 17 passengers aboard. 2. The crew were friendly and helpful. Although there was a slight mis-communication about how much we owed for the trip, it was quickly sorted out.
Several of the other passengers were quite friendly, which made the trip even more enjoyable. We started off on a tour of the island, with several stops to learn about the environment, the turtles and more. Who knew that turtles, regardless of how far they travel in their lives, always come back to where they were born to nest? Good stuff.
We made our way to Hell’s Gate, where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean and forms a natural jacuzzi at the base of a rather large rock formation. We had a choice between snorkeling, swimming, simply hanging out in the water or taking a hike up to the top of the rock formation and across. The lazy part of me wanted to just sit in the swirling, bubbling water and watch those other fools climb rocks. Then I did a quick tally of the number of almond croissants I had already eaten, and the number I would probably eat on the second half of the cruise, and hiking up the rocks I went.
I am not good at rock climbing. Well, maybe I am good at it. Who knows? It is not something I find remotely enjoyable. I tend not to enjoy the activities where it seems that imminent death is a strong possibility. But I did it. And I can even admit that it was totally worthwhile. The guides on our boat were patient and encouraging (or was that the nagging sense that I should try to work off at least a bite of croissant?) Nonetheless, everyone that went made it to the top of Hell’s Gate and back with no incident. One guy had a bloody cut on his leg, but as I didn’t see any sharks, I wasn’t too concerned.
Finally, we came to the point in the trip where we snorkeled. I am going to go on record here and say: I just don’t like snorkeling. I think it is one of those activities that everyone is supposed to like, but I just don’t. Here’s why: we anchored somewhere off the reef and one of the guides took the “advanced” snorkel group on a really long swim. (The “advanced” people had their own gear, including the kind of snorkel with the little flap on top to avoid a lung full of sea water. We did not go in that group.) The water was really choppy, and naturally I was last in the water. I was in not thirty seconds when the guy from the boat starts yelling to me to adjust the strap on my mask. WHAT? I could
barely see through that thing as I was bobbing up and down in the water. Fortunately FKGuy came along to fix the mask. In the process, my face was firmly under water, I had a mouth full of sea water and generally felt like I might drown at any moment (and the mask-adjusting was not helping my cause). The next thirty seconds were a blur, but at the end of them I was back safely on the boat, with that giant hunk of plastic removed from my face, and the big rubbery things removed my feet.
The snorkeling was a nightmare. I look forward to many, many years of NOT snorkeling. Would I try it again? Maybe. If the water were really, really calm. And warm. And I had the snorkel with the little flap on top. And if nobody touches my mask while it is attached to my face. Ever. Even then it is a doubtful maybe.
Overall, the Eco tour was fabulous. Despite the snorkeling, the tour was so good, I would do it again (although I might bring a book for the snorkel part). I almost forgot: lunch was served on the boat, and while usually not something to even mention on this type of day trip, the food was quite good. Salad, pasta salad, chicken and more were all made fresh. It added to an already wonderful day. If you are in Antigua for a day or a week, you should give it a try.