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COKI BEACH SCUBA DIVING

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We caught an open air bus and headed to Coki Beach. The cost to get there was $14/pp since there were 3 of us.

Norwegian Encore 2

Norwegian Encore 2

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We checked in with the dive center and met our instructor, Trisket, as in the crackers just add cheese (he said). That's one dive instructors name I will probably never forget now. Trisket was super nice and super funny. I loved his personality and he made everything a great experience.

Now Coki does things a little different than the other dive shops we've used in the past. They have you register with PADI and listen to video's and read instructions about diving. Then you take your test online and then submit your health questionnaire to them. Everything is ready to go when you arrive.

We headed down to the beach after getting fitted with our fins where he would quickly go over a few instructions (required no matter how many times we have done this course but it was super fast) and then we suited up.

The hubby asks me if I planned on trying to walk out into the water with my tank on and by golly yes I was! After proving to myself on our Grand Cayman vacation, not once but twice, that I could carry it into the water (although it was a ladder), I was definitely going to give it a shot this time around too.

Then it was time to head out to do our skills. Trisket had told us that the water had been rough and we would need to swim out a ways and then go down a rope to about 10' of water to do our skills. Now this made me nervous because our very first dive with them in 2016 there was a VERY strong current that day and it was SO hard to make it around the bend...to the point that the hubby actually gave up that day and was pulled back to the beach. Although I had made it that day (with Kendra, Kolin and family) I'm in a different situation with my leg now and wondered if it was going to be hard on me. Trisket assured me it would be fine and the current wasn't too bad. He was also taking another person along with him to help out until we started the actual dive. So off we went.

Thoughts swirled around in my head about what to do. Should I do the one skill? Should I be an overachiever like Sakari and do it all and get it over with? I figured I'd let her have the spotlight and do them one by one.

Then we were off...(you all know it's going to be a picture overload with my scuba pictures now right??)

We came across a Red Stripped Goatfish immediately.

Then some Christmas Tree worms. They are so pretty and come in multiple colors.

Some beautiful purple sponges

I love the baby blue sponges you'll see when diving. They are so pretty and rather large.

The water would be a little stirred up during this dive, so the pictures aren't as clear as some of my dive pictures in the past. But, I did what I could.

Then I came across a couple of Flamingo Tongue Snails sitting on a sea fan.

Aww, this parrot fish smiled at me as I went by. 😄

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A Four-Eyed Butterfly Fish off in the distance hiding out.

Another Parrot Fish going by.

A Blue Bell Tunicate (which are actually purple and there's usually a lot here at Coki, including the snorkeling area).

Now I don't really consider St Thomas some of the best scuba diving that I've done (I much rather go to Roatan, which has had some of the best I've ever seen each time) but it was bursting with color...even on this day that was off and on clouds and stirred up water. At least we were diving and I was happy with that and we could mark it on our books.

Hubby was equipped with the GoPro, me a camera and Sakari a camera.

A rather large orange colored sea sponge. There were a bunch of these and some were very very large.

At first I thought this yellow and white fluffy thing was a caterpillar (fire worm), but it wasn't. It was just flowing in the water back and forth.

We did come across just a few pieces of dead (or dying) coral along the way. I'm not sure if it just didn't make it after the dreadful two hurricanes that hit St Thomas back in 2017 or what.

We would come across a couple different Lizard Fish today. I would get the pictures from a distance and Sakari, being the excellent photographer and fish whisperer she is, would get the close up pictures. 😄

Lizard fish can grow up to 2 feet long and they resemble a lizard because of the shape of their head and pointed snout. They have a mouth full of sharp teeth and also a tongue. Most are found in shallow water and usually lie partly submerged in the sand to protect themselves from predators. They live around 7-9 years and there are around 57 species of lizardfish.

I took this picture as we started the trail to the waterfalls. It said waterfall #7. Hmmm, ok. I guess we weren't doing 12 of them after all, which was a little disappointing. Maybe more of them had dried up as time went on. Safety first.

Look at all these babies! I have no idea what they are. I can identify most fish, but babies=nope.

A dark purple Feather Duster Worm with more baby fish surrounding it and also a Feather Duster that had made its home inside of an orange sponge.

Sakari waved me down and pointed off in the distance:

There were a bunch of Tarpon swimming by. If you ever go to Coral World next door, there are TONS of these under the dock (which can be viewed if you go down into the observation tower there OR if you do the SeaTrek walk as well).

Trisket had found a goody for us and handed it to Sakari.

It was an Arrow Crab. They are so cute with their odd looking bodies, skinny legs and blue pincher claws.

Can you spot all the clear Gobies on the sand? They blend in and they are always hard to spot due to their color and size.

There are different stages of the Blue Headed Wrasse (just like the parrot fish). Normally we see the ones with the blue head and yellow body. However, we seen a few of these at this stage (initial phase).

Then I spotted a Smooth Trunkfish fluttering around in the water. They swim so cute. They will hover in the water with their little fins flapping and then will spin 180 degrees around super quick like it's nothing.

Off in the distance there was a Scrawled Cowfish. I had to zoom in on the picture, so it's a horrid picture for sure.

FIREWORM crawling on the branches. They have a terrible sting.

Now it's hard to see (in the following picture) because of the color of the fish and the background but...out of the corner of my eye I spotted 2 rather large(r) puffer fish swimming together. Now we see these Sharp Nose Puffer fish everywhere we snorkel in the Caribbean...however...they are usually very small. These had to be the biggest I had ever seen before. They were maybe around 9" long. Now I know that's not really "big", but for me, it's the biggest I've seen of them before. I was truly amazed and hung out for awhile taking pictures. Trisket said "Oh yea, they get really big". I don't know, maybe this puffer isn't actually a sharp nose puffer, but it sure looked like it.

Then I spotted a GROUPER! I love groupers and I didn't actually start seeing them until over the last couple of years. They fascinate me for some reason. This one would hide under the rocks and then come out.



Also, notice what was hanging out under the rocks with it...

I went in for a close up. Now I was all of a sudden more interested in the 2 shrimp on the rocks with the grouper. They were a pair of Banded Coral Shrimps.

At some point, I HEARD a "pop" when we were diving. I had no idea what it was but would later find out after the dive was over.

Now it is time for Sakari's pictures.

At least she managed to get one of me to prove that I was actually on this dive right? She also got the hubby in action.

Here's one of the sharp nosed puffers...the kind we normally see that is really small. The coloring is a little different so maybe the other bigger ones are just a different kind. I don't really know my variety of puffers unless it's a porcupine puffer....my absolute favorite for their personality.
 

Trisket over there watching us do our thing. He knew going in that we were loaded down with photography equipment and made the comment "Well, I see you have that covered so I won't even take our camera" LOL (They use the same Olympus Tough camera I use anyhow). He had told us to go nice and slow and enjoy everything...there was no need to rush. Little did he know, that's EXACTLY what we like to do and we are usually going much slower than the instructor because we are busy taking pictures of everything we discover. We enjoyed this go-at-your-own-pace dive.

Sakari loves her macro photography but I honestly didn't get much out of her this time around. There just wasn't as much to see as there normally is when we are diving a wall loaded with goodies.

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Now isn't that the saddest face you've ever seen?

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Just look at that burst of color! So beautiful. Also...Another one of those very small puffers and a Goby beneath it.

Like I said, she gets up close and personal with fish and that's exactly what she did with this Lizard Fish. Kinda scary knowing they have razor sharp teeth.

Arrow Crab: See the little blue pinchers? So cute!

The Rum and Coke tasted so bad that when our guy went out the door of the van to see if the food was ready yet, I immediately tossed mine out the door hoping that he wouldn't see the wet evidence on the leaves on the ground...or on the side step plate I managed to get on the van. Oops.

When he returned he said lunch was ready and we headed back to the restaurant and picked our table out by the buffet.

They had quite the variety of foods to try here and you held up your plate as they served you whatever you wanted.

There was a guy grilling pork at a station beside it and although I'm not a big meat eater...this stuff was GOOD! Like super good. So good that the hubby went up for seconds and by seconds it was an entire plate of just the meat!

As I said before, she spotted the Tarpon out in the deep blue...she managed to get somewhat decent pictures of them I guess. At least better than mine turned out. There's one thing I've learned about photography in the ocean...you point the camera out and you don't get good pictures. You point it down or are close up to the object, you can get some amazing and colorful pictures. You do what you gotta do in order to get a picture though. This is one of those cases.

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Fire worm:

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Then I noticed she must have seen another grouper that I didn't see and managed to get pretty close to it...along with a bunch of baby fish.

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As I was taking pictures, I noticed that Trisket had his "stick" out and had Sakari over by a rock. I swam over to see what was going on and what they might be looking at. He had her hold the stick and motioned for her to pull it out of the rock. She tried and tried and couldn't. Then he had the hubby pull on it. He didn't pull it out either. At this point I'm looking very puzzled as he handed me the stick and motioned for me to pull on it and gave me this water sign with his hand up to his chin and fingers pointed down and moving back and forth. I know a lot of the symbols for different fish, but for the life of me couldn't remember what that one was.

As I grabbed the stick and pulled, it felt stuck. I looked over at him and he motioned to pull again. I pulled again and it started to come out only to be forcefully pulled back in. Wait...what just happened. I tried again. It came out some and then was pulled back in again. What is this force??? What is in there? I gave it one last try and the stick came out. I was left scratching my head at that point. I would later find out that we were playing tug of war with a decent sized octopus. Sakari managed to see it and said the arms and suckers on them were pretty large.

In this picture, in the large hole, the brown area was one of it's arms. I'm going to crop and zoom in on this portion of the picture and hopefully you'll be able to tell the size of that arm...it's pretty big.

When we had first started our dive and got out to the reef part, Trisket had made that exact same hand signal (octopus) and pointed somewhere with his stick. Sakari went over and looked, but I did not get to see anything because at that point the hubby was in my way and I looked like I was doing somersaults in the water while trying not to get too close to any coral around me and I finally gave up trying to see what it was everyone was looking at. After the dive, he would tell me there was two different octopuses that they had seen. Darnit! I missed it.

But...I did get to play tug of war with one of them (even if I didn't have a clue what it was at that time) and I won the game by getting the stick out after my third try. If that doesn't count for something I don't know what does. 😄

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you ever want to try out Discover Scuba Diving, Coki Beach is a wonderful place to give it a try. The staff at Coki Dive is amazing and we have had great experiences with them each time we have went diving with them here. This will be our 3rd dive with them. We always see some amazing things and the coral and fish are just beautiful. Coki is a great place to snorkel as well and you can see a lot of what we did just snorkeling. You just won't be as close and personal to what you might see on the bottom unless you dive down. The scuba is easy and you go right along the wall by the beach and around the corner toward Coral World next door. So you are not very far from the beach at all and I have snorkeled this area as well.

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