Reef Snorkeling

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This morning, the skies were slightly overcast, but there were pretty significant breakthroughs of sun. We decided to hit the pool, since we hadn't been able to until now. We relaxed, read, swam, and soaked in some sun rays (we wore sunscreen--don't worry!).

By late morning, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel room to gather our things and make the walk (again, alllll the way down Duval) to meet up with our boat for the snorkel trip we registered for. Check-in was at 12:30, and we waited around by the dock for a while before the crew came to get us (and the rest of the crowd) for boarding the boat.

The entire trip lasted about three hours, with time built in at the beginning and end for boarding, leaving the dock, and coming back. The ride out to the reef was probably at least 40 minutes or so. We were able to snag nice seats in the sun, so we sat back and enjoyed the scenery.

Before we knew it, it was time to get a quick safety lecture and short snorkeling lesson (in case people were newbies, of course), get our gear, and jump into the middle of the ocean.

We were snorkeling right on top of the reef, so our guides assured us we were sure to see a lot of colorful fish. At first, right off the boat, the water was pretty deep so we weren't seeing much of anything. So we took a few pics of each other instead. :)

Our attempt at an underwater belly pic. We can show the Little Bugger that he/she went snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico before he/she was even born!

As we swam out further, we did start to see some pretty cool-looking fish.

I loved this fish (center of frame). I stalked him (her?) for a while.

At one point, I heard Michael make a sound through his snorkel. I immediately started looking all around me, because I wasn't sure if it was a "OMG THERE'S A SHARK!" or a "WOW, LOOK, HOW COOL!" sound. Thankfully, though, it was the latter. He had spotted this school of big, dark blue fish swimming past us.

We swam around out there for about an hour before we were pretty tired and swam back in to the boat. As it turned out, shortly after we got back up on deck, they started calling all of the stragglers in anyway, as it was time to go.

The ride back to shore was equally as relaxing as the ride out, especially if you were able to DRINK! Man, the crew on our boat was determined to get people drunk. Michael wouldn't even be finished with his beer before a crew member was right there, filling it back up again. They had spiked punch, too. I stuck with water, but they had soda available, too.

We snapped a self-portrait as we were nearing the shore.

Everyone was still enjoying themselves as our crew prepared to dock the boat.

A cool photo of a pelican I took as we were pulling into shore.

Shortly thereafter, we got off the boat, but not before the crew poured everyone one last beer for the walks back to their hotels.

For anyone who is curious, we did the snorkel tour with Fury. While the snorkeling was not nearly as awesome as what we experienced in Hawaii (I mean, we swam mere feet away from a sea turtle, C'MON!), we didn't really expect it to be. The crew was great--all really nice guys with great senses of humor. Also, as I mentioned, they certainly were not cheap about the drinks. They served plenty of beer and spiked punch for the money, that's for sure. My only complaints were:

1) The gear was kind of crappy. We rented gear from dive shops during our time in Maui and Kauai, and I never felt grossed out by the gear. Although I felt confident that everything from Fury had been sanitized, there were bite marks in my snorkel and the masks just seemed... cheap. Although there was nothing that was literally disgusting about the gear (like I said, it was clean), it just didn't feel very good to use.

2) Our concierge told us that there would be chips and salsa, and may have mentioned "snacks." As a result, I didn't worry about eating anything too significant before leaving for the tour, because I thought I would be held over by whatever they served on the boat. It turned out that the chips and salsa were non-existant, and the "snack" was a bag of Mrs. Vicker's potato chips, passed out within the last half hour of the trip. This wasn't Fury's fault, it's just that my expectations had been set higher by the concierge. If I did it over, I'd definitely eat before the trip, as I was starving.

All in all, though, a good excursion.

After it was over, we made our way back down Duval. Michael immediately headed off to "Beer School," offered by our hotel. I would've loved to do it with him, but ya know how it goes! Anyway, "Beer School" is a fun activity they offer two days a week where you get to learn about and taste four different brews.

While Michael was taste testing, I went back to the room to shower, gobble some food, and take it easy. An hour later, Michael was back, with his "diploma" from Beer School. :)

I'm so proud.

After Michael showered and cleaned up nicely, we walked down to have dinner at Sloppy Joe's. A few Heather Drive readers had suggested this place to us, and we had passed by it numerous times on our walks up and down Duval.

Ever since we arrived in Key West, I've been looking for virgin frozen drinks. I've wanted a strawberry daquiri SO BADLY, it's ridiculous. Unfortunately, most of the places we've been pre-mix the drinks and put them in these big frozen drink machines, so you can't really order a virgin version. Well, Sloppy Joe's came to the rescue. Not only could they make a virgin daquiri, but they also had it LISTED PLAINLY ON THE MENU. Ahhh, hassle free. *LOVE*

Forget the crappy O'Douls from the other night... this is the way to go. I was quite happy!

For dinner, I had a pulled pork sandwich with Sloppy Joe's signature BBQ sauce. Michael had the sloppy joe, of course. Although the pulled pork was excellent, if I had to do it over again, I'd order the sloppy joe, too, because it was an AMAZING sloppy joe, people. Also, a tip if you ever eat here--order ONE side order of fries or onion rings or whatever. The sides don't come with the meal, you order and pay for them separately, and well, at least you get your money's worth. When they brought out a BASKET of onion rings and a BASKET of fries for me, I didn't know if we'd be able to fit everything on our table! Crazy amounts of food. One side for two people would be sufficient.

After we were both stuffed full of sandwiches and fries/onion rings, we wandered back down Duval, chilled out in our hotel room for a bit (long day!), and then, once again, ended the night lying in a hammock. Now, we're off to crash in the big, comfy bed.

I love vacation!


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