Last time we were here, we went to The Boatyard for the day. Their admission (I think it was $20) included your chairs, umbrella, a drink, and a boat ride out to swim with the turtles. It also included their water trampoline and a ride back to the port! Great deal and beautiful place!
But, this time I decided I wanted something different. Gotta experience everything right? After checking multiple places, I decided to head to Pirates Cove. It's right down the street from The Boatyard and closer to the port. It didn't include the snorkeling out to the turtles in the price, but you could add it on to the price.
There wasn't a entrance fee, but if you wanted a beach chair and umbrella, it was $8/pp. There was free wifi.
You could take a ride out to the turtles AND to some shipwreck as well for an additional $20.
They had a package for $30 for all the above and included a drink.
After looking at pictures online and following them on their social media site, I decided this would be our place! I had informed Kia (our cruising friend) of the place and she said her and the kids would be joining us. Yippee! She had previously tried out The Boatyard as well.
We ask for a cab to Pirates Cove and they put us in a mini van with several other people and off we went. They price was $5/pp and when I ask about the price for children, his reply was "It's still $5 for everyone because if I was to get in a wreck, it would only cover her if she paid the full price" SAY WHAT? First off, that's a load of crap. A child paying full price has nothing to do with you having an accident and insurance paying. Second of all...did you just mention the possibility of getting in an accident? While I know this is always a possibility, way to make one of your customers feel extra worried!!! Just do us all a favor and just say it's the same price for everyone and leave it at that. The only reason I ask was because kids were cheaper last time we were here.
We pulled out at 8:39am and we were winding around in town and they stopped to let some people off at The Boatyard. Wait, Pirates Cove is closer than the Boatyard! What's going on? Did the driver not hear me? I yelled up "hey, we are going to Pirates Cove" but didn't get a reply.
He drove some more and let everyone else off at Harbour Lights. I once again yelled up to let him know where we were going and he finally acknowledged and said "you're next". Well of course we are because we are the only one's left in the taxi.
We arrived at 8:50am. So even though it wasn't a long ride (11 minutes stopping 3 different places), it was still weird that we was the closest to the port and we were last to be dropped off. Maybe it has something to do with the way the roads are designed? Either way, I didn't mind. I was just worried he hadn't heard where we were going.
We had arrived and time to check this place out. There was a huge building and inside was a big restaurant and plenty of places to eat.
Then they had this neat pirate ship. My how Sakari has grown up. Remember a few years ago she wouldn't even go to "Pirate night" at the kids club on NCL because she was afraid she would be killed by pirates because she was a mermaid? Now she is hopping on Pirate ships like it's nothing.
We headed out the door and onto the beach. They had huts everywhere. Some bars, some dining and so on. Nicely set up outside I thought. There's a lot of room at this place. Plenty of seats for lounging and eating. Sun or shade. Whatever you wanted.
So far I'm liking this place. It's beautiful and they are a bit spread out. No chairs sitting on top of each other and plenty of room to walk between them.
I also like it when we get actual palapas instead of flimsy umbrellas.
We picked a spot in the front row of course. We tried to spread out some because we knew that Kia and the kids would be coming soon.
I loved the front row of the beach...a line of palm trees.
So a guy finally approached us after awhile and asked about what we'd like to do for the day. We told him the chair rental and snorkeling. He said it was $30 (which we already knew) and gave us what all it came with including the drink.
We also told him that we were waiting on 3 other people that was meeting us there. He started talking about the group goes out at 9am and there's a group at 1pm. He said he'd check back with us.
When he checked back with us, the story changed to the 1pm group was full and they were coming from the cruise port and being picked up there and it's a totally different group blah blah blah. We were still waiting on Kia and he said they'd make the trip a little later around 9:30am. Well, Kia didn't show by then either.
I was starting to freak out, not to mention get annoyed with this guy because his stories kept changing with times and bookings and then he could do a later, then he couldn't.
Finally we agreed that if they didn't show by 10am, then they probably wasn't coming and we'd go ahead and go. He made it a point to tell us to watch for them and make sure we grabbed them the minute they got there and not have them pay up at the building because it "cost more" that way. I found this weird since I had already researched this and knew that they charge $30 for what we were doing and it's even listed on their site. So what the heck was he talking about???
We ended up paying him at that point and he ran off to get us wrist bands and also these...
We were the only one's there that day that got these. I have no idea why but I was thinking that maybe he found out I was a celebrity on cruise critic. LMAO...since this is a running joke on here...I just had to throw that in the review.
I took a few more pictures of our surroundings since it was so beautiful.
The guy kept talking about how full the place was going to get and how many people would be doing the snorkeling tour and so on...but yet...there was hardly anyone here.
Well....it was a few minutes until 10 and he said he really couldn't wait any longer. We started to gather our things and then Kia appeared....WHEW! Here I thought she had stood me up. LOL
He went to go grab her and lure her away from a lady that had stopped her by the building. He rushed her over to us, like the celebrity that she is, and told us to grab what we needed and head to the boat (after collecting her money of course).
When we ask about our belongings, he told us to just leave them there and take what we thought was valuable. Um...weird. At least at The Boardyard they collect your things and put them up so that no one could get them.
We headed out to the boat. You had to go out in the water while they tried to stabilize it long enough for the wave to go out, come in, go out, INCOMING....move back and try to get on quickly before it goes back out. Whew wee wowzers. It was like a game of dodge ball only I think I was tagged out a few times. Sakari thought it was a lot of fun too and at this point she was already soaked. For such a busy tour that they couldn't wait, there really wasn't many. We made up 6 of the 10ish people or so.
Then off we went...after having us switch around our seating choices to level things out on a pontoon boat. Really? Who you calling overweight? I worked hard on this cruise body!
We seen a neat contraption with slides and trampolines on different angles. I'm sure I'd break something on it.
We arrived to our destination 5 minutes later and there were tons of boats already there.
Once we anchored they said ok, everyone off. Everyone kinda looked at each other like...um...equipment???? He kept saying "gear up, everyone should be ready". I finally said "how can everyone gear up and get ready if you haven't even gave any equipment out to anyone yet?" Others didn't have any, I had mine, Sakari was wearing her regular goggles, but hubby only had a mask without a snorkel and needed a snorkel to use. Kia and family had theirs, but others still needed some. I found the guy to be quite rude actually.
Sakari geared up in full mermaid form and at some point he threw her overboard.
There she goes...first one in of course. It was nice of him to ask if she could actually swim or need a life jacket...or anything (sarcasm because he didn't). I guess you just assume that mermaids are able to swim...in the ocean...that's wavy...and very deep.
I went in and it was pretty darn wavy to me and for some reason I was struggling a little. I remembered...oh, I don't have flippers on. I should probably get a snorkeling vest. I'm still tired from the day before.
I seriously HATE these things. You would think people would wise up and get the real life jackets and then you could wear them around your waist or noodles or something (I did see others from different tours with the noodles-they were on the smart tour) that doesn't pull and tug at your "parts" that you are constantly fighting with the straps.
I managed to get back to the boat, climb back up, then get a snorkel vest on. Then off me and the hubby went. Sakari was long gone in the sea of people by the turtles. I did not like this at all. Not knowing where she was at and I think this was the first time we ever snorkeled in the ocean, without her having a life vest on, and not being in my sight (all 3 things combined). I was honestly a little freaked out and was looking for her.
I looked down and immediately saw this...
Can you tell what it is? The water was pretty deep in the area we anchored in. Much deeper than the last time we were here. Of course all the other boats that were already here where over in the "circle" of boats in the better area where all the turtles were.
This might help a little...it's a zoomed picture. It's a terrible picture. I took some very crappy pictures that day. I have no idea what was going on with my camera. Maybe it was just too deep for me to get any good pictures. This is why I don't like to go snorkeling from a boat. Things are just too far down to obtain a decent and clear picture.
IT'S A FLYING GURNARD!! Another first for me!! I was so excited and hoped to see one of these one day. Every time I catch a glance of a lizard fish, I always think it might be a gurnard and never is.
So, about gurnards: They have fins that spread out like a wing. It helps scare off predators and they also use them to "walk" on the ocean floor and poke around the sand looking for food. It was so cool to watch.
I'm still moving right along, trying to get to where my daughter might be in the sea of arms and legs and I spotted a stingray.
Ok...but where's the turtles???
So, I finally spot Sakari in the sea of people...she was over close to Kia and the kids...thank goodness. I felt so much better that she wasn't out there alone.
So...what kind of pictures does a mermaid get? Well I'll show you her pictures of her gurnard. As a matter of fact, I should probably just let her take over my picture portion of the review after seeing my pictures versus her pictures that day.
Can you tell how much closer she is to it?
She was diving down to get closer and better pictures. Meanwhile...I'm stuck with a darn life jacket on the surface like a little kid.
Then all of a sudden I hear the guy from the boat yelling "Come on! Times up! Everyone back on the boat!"
Wait what?!? Are you serious? I just made it out here. I yelled back "Are you kidding me? I haven't even seen a turtle yet!" So the next smartarse comment that came from him was "Well maybe you should stop looking at the sky and look in the water where the turtles actually are". Oh W-O-W! He just hit my trigger button...from there on out he was on my shizzle list. How rude!
I absolutely refused to come here and not see a turtle! I did not pay to get out in the water, not see a turtle and him yell to come back in a smartarse way. No way, no how.
FINALLY I spotted a few.
So that was the extent of my turtle sightings. Hey, at least I got to see two of them.
Then I heard twice from him "Let's go. If you don't get back on the boat, we'll be leaving without you" and some other rude comments about we'd be left behind and on our own. Like seriously dude...you just did yourself in with that one. I dare you to leave me.
Here's the mermaid in action...
She might as well just become a free diver. Forget scuba diving. I think she enjoys this more. She just amazes me with how long she can hold her breath. She practices all the time.
I'm so happy that she got to experience the turtles like this because that's what it's really all about. It's providing her the thrill and experience of doing this and making memories. This is something she'll always remember and even though she's done it before, this experience was a little different I believe because she was free. She was a mermaid. She had no restrictions of life jackets or someone holding her back in a group. She had her fin and could dive down far just like the other guys did from the other excursion boats. She was able to swim alongside the turtles, fish and stingrays. She was part of their world.
So close to her! I tell ya, animals just trust her. I don't know what it is. She can get so close to them and they don't scare off. Pshh, they see me coming and run.
Now I'm going to share the most AMAZING CAPTURE OF THE DAY!!! And done by Sakari!!!!
I know I said it's all about her seeing things and experiencing it but.....I would have loved to have seen this and I'm VERY jealous that I didn't! There, I admitted it. I'm mad she got to see it and I didn't.
Remember how I said she was the first in the water? Well that's when she seen it going by. She got only one picture and she hadn't started diving down yet. She told me she seen it and I wrote it off like it was something else...until I got home and seen the picture! I should know by now not to doubt her...she knows her animals and the difference.
A SPOTTED EAGLE RAY!!! I have never seen one yet and she was able to before me!!! Go figure!
Now people may get these mixed up with a stingray. They are a little different.
They can weigh about 507 pounds and their "wings" can grow up to 8 feet and overall body with its tail as long as 16 feet. The spotted eagle ray is one of the largest eagle rays (with manta rays growing a little bigger). They have a snout (nose) and use it to look for food buried in the sand. They do have teeth in both their upper and lower jaws. They can also jump.
Unlike Stingrays, who usually bury themselves on the bottom in the sand, the eagle ray is usually swimming around in the open water.
So there you have it and I'm still salty about her getting to see one while I was fumbling with my equipment. Ugh! Maybe some day.
Here's a video of her coming up from the bottom. She thought I was taking a picture so she was being still. lol
It was somewhat of a struggle to get back to the boat. The water was flowing against us and you sometimes felt like you weren't even moving. The guy kept yelling "come on or we're going to leave you".
We all finally make it back to the boat and he was still making his rude comments and said "What were you doing? Bird watching? You need to stick your head down instead of up". Like seriously dude. I don't stick my head "up" and I'm not a beginner...more like a concerned mother looking for her child while still trying to see what's under the water and not missing anything. Like where were you when we were out there? Safely on a boat with not a care in the world!
We sat down, pulled away and within 2 minutes the boat stopped again. We were already at the shipwreck. Back in we went. This time I was prepared and not wasting time!
I'm going to share all of my pictures first and then Sakari's.
The minute you get in, there were tons of Ballyhoo fish everywhere. I don't think I have ever seen this many in one place before.
I looked up to see Sakari taking the plunge into the water.
The shipwreck. It was kinda creepy and scary looking from above. There were fish everywhere! (And even some divers).
Sakari caught up to me and was busy snapping pictures of course. I was so happy that she was having fun and getting pictures. Other than the 5 or so pictures she took in Martinique, she hadn't even used her camera this cruise. I was beginning to wonder if she would. She has her own phone now, so that was what she used most of the time on the ship.
There was a lot of coral all over the ship. We spotted a rather large trumpet fish.
As you can see from the pictures, part of the shipwreck was in fairly shallow water and then the other end was in a lot deeper water.
Ok, I completely freaked out when I caught a glimpse of 2 fish down in this area. I REALLY tried and tried to get good pictures of them, but this was in the deeper area and I was just too far away. I took A LOT of pictures of them from regular to zoom and they just did not turn out good at all. So...I tried to put them in PS and lighten them and adjust the colors just so you could see them.
Look right above my name stamp. Do you see the black and white polka dot fish? I believe it was a whitespotted filefish. However, they usually have some clear orange in them as well and most pictures I have seen they are not as dark black and bright white as this one. So maybe it was at a different stage in it's life or .....???? I don't know but it was beautiful!!!!
Just a little fyi, they can turn their spots off and on when needed. How cool is that?
Then right along with it was another. This one was also beautiful and the colors were an amazing bluish purple and dark brown. I believe it's called a female brown barred filefish. She is right in the middle of the picture and above the coral.
To the left is a red fish, which is a squirrel fish.
Trying to get another close up of the
whitespotted filefish, which is located right above my name.
Female brown barred filefish on the left. You can see her yellow fins and yellow eyes better in this one.
My favorite of her. It looks beautiful in this picture and you can actually see her markings.
VIDEO...trumpet fish and divers.
Another video of the trumpetfish. These fish are just so cool and look so weird. I swear they remind me of a horse head.
Now at this point, I see Sakari and daddy and they look like they are up to something. He's pointing at the ship. He's pointing at the hole. She's looking at him. She's looking at me. He's motioning her to go. I think I have this sign language figured out and I start panic mode. I start screaming under the water NO! NO! NO! DON'T YOU DARE!!!! She came up to the surface and I told hger don't you dare, under no circumstance was she going in that hole. She said "I'm not mommy. I won't do it". Daddy covering his tracks replied "I just told her to go down there and put the camera in the hole and take pictures." He better hope that's all he was implying with those motions because otherwise Sakari would be less a father. They are both extremist and I'm a worry-wart. The thought of her diving into the hole and something happening with no one around...especially since we had no guides with us because they were leisurely lounging on the boat, and none of us being able to get down there...and...just no!
I just really love this picture for some reason. Her tail was so bright and it almost looked like it was lit up and the ship so dark and dreary looking beneath her.
I was taking a picture of the trumpet fish and along came this absolutely gorgeous purple and orange fish. I have never seen anything colored like this before. It looked like the shape of a parrotfish, but the colors!!! Oh my the colors!!!
There were a lot of Ballyhoo too!
Here are the pictures Sakari was able to get with her camera.
Obviously Sakari managed to find that button that turns everything green too. lol See, I'm not the only one that has this problem.
Do you see what she's starring at? It's not the yellow fish, but what's below it. Someone lost their earring. She watches shows online about treasure hunters and all the goodies that can be found on the sea floor. So, she's always on the lookout for odd things that people have lost as well.
It seemed like they allowed us to stay out by the shipwreck a lot longer than they did the turtles. We actually had fun this time around and wasn't rushed to get back on the boat. We were gone for a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
When I went to get back onto the boat, I grabbed the handrail to stabilize myself from the water and boat movement and the guy starts giving me directions on how to come up a ladder. I had to laugh and said "I think I know how to climb a ladder" lol. Kia laughed at me.
We returned back to Pirates cove, jumped off the boat and trucked through the water and back to our "Reserved Spots" waiting on us.
The kids decided to play in the sand and build a dungeon and I would decide to walk around and take some more pictures.
Wandering around the property...
We all decided that we were getting a little hungry and it was time to order something. At this place, we never once seen anyone come out to take orders or ask if you needed anything (other than the guy that originally took our chair-snorkeling money, which was always around talking to us) and the hubs decided to go up to the restaurant and grab a menu.
Kia went up and placed an order for all of us and was gone for quite some time. When she returned, her arms were loaded with containers of food. I had no idea she was ordering and staying up there the entire time and having to carry all of that food back. I guess they really didn't bring you food and you have to do it all yourself. I just figured she'd place an order and they say about 20 minutes and she'd come back to wait and then we'd all go up to get the order. Whoops.
We decided to get the Pirates Burger, which had onions and caramelized pineapples on them. It was a sloppy mess to try to eat. With every bite, something slid out.
Even though we all ordered the same thing, they all didn't come with the same thing on it. It was weird. Kia ended up taking one of them back because I think it was missing the glazed onions or something.
The fries were a pretty big portion too. I couldn't even eat all of my food and Sakari even tried to help me.
While we were eating, Victor, which was the guy that was helping us from the beginning, came by to ask about our snorkel trip. We informed him of everything and he acted shocked, but then said that one of the guys was new and had to be shown everything. I felt like Victor was making excuses for everything we said, even though he tried to convince us that he was going to report this back to the manager so that things can be corrected.
I told him at the end, when we pulled up to the beach, the rude guy said "ok, come on, get off, get off" and we felt rushed the entire time. Once again, Victor tried to make excuses and told us "well since you got a late start waiting on the rest of your party, there was another group of 50 people waiting to go out". Now I watched these people "go out" and there wasn't more than 15 people! Also, remember how he had said that there was the 9:30am trip and then there was a 1pm trip? We were back on the beach by 11:30am, so we weren't holding anyone up.
Also, since he was the wizard of changing his story up, he also tried to tell us that "well, the other trip is a longer trip and that's why they were in a hurry to get out there". Longer??? It was not longer. It was the hour and half like ours. There's no longer trip. Verify it online! He also tried to tell us that had we not bought chairs from him it would have cost us $15/each. No it wouldn't! Verify that online as well. It's $8/pp.
We let him know that we did not get a drink with our "package" as promised and the only reply was "Really? They are supposed to give you a drink while you are out there". Kia even asked him "Well, are you going to give us our drink now?" and he totally blew us off. We never received our drink!
But hey, we did get reserved seats!
For anyone interested...
Pop is $2
Alcohol is $8
We sat around and chatted for hours. It was such a fun day just hanging out.
One thing that both Kia and I agreed on that day was that The Boatyard was definitely a lot better than Pirates Cove. It was a better experience and their "included/free boat ride out to the turtles" was definitely a better experience as well. The only difference was that you did not go to the shipwreck.
Kia and I starting talking about all of the sand dollars that I found when I was at the Boatyard last time. When she went, she could not find any. Maybe it's the time of the year? Maybe they move far away. Maybe her toes weren't meant for sand dollar hunting? Ok...let's go look! LOL
We decided to head down there and check things out.
CLICK HERE FOR MY SMALL BOATYARD REVIEW
Once we returned, we decided to gather our things to head back to the ship.
The kids were still playing in the sand, which had now turned into the biggest sink hole. (Notice it is now in the shape of a heart.
This was a very pretty and large place. I loved the way it looked, the feel of the sand and the entire set up. However, just the few things with the way Victor acted kinda made me feel a little "weird" then the instance when swimming with the turtles (the guys being a little rude about it) kinda turned me off.
But, I would recommend it to others for a beautiful day at the beach. This is personally a "been-there-done-that" beach for us and I wouldn't return again just because I've done it. Next time, we will go have a new experience at a different beach.