Wow – I didn’t realize how long it has been since we’ve posted on the blog. I got a reminder from GoDaddy, our hosting service, that they automatically renewed our hosting and realized, oh right! We have a blog!
We’ve been doing not much of anything really. Just being retired. We’ve been in the ocean of course, and been out to restaurants, and had some fun evenings in one of the casinos here. But really, we’ve just been enjoying being in nice warm weather and not worrying about rain and snow and cold.
I’ve been doing a lot of golfing here on the Blue Bay golf course. It’s a challenging 18 hole course. The trade winds really make club selection so important. One hundred and twenty yards into the wind is a 6 iron, but 120 yards with the wind is an 9 iron. There are some great holes. This picture is approaching the green on the 14th hole.
We went out to Playa Piskado (or Playa Grande as it is sometimes called) with a nice couple we met from Delaware, and had a fun swim with the turtles. It’s always a great way to show off the ocean around Curacao. There were tons of turtles of course, but we saw a couple of Queen triggerfish! All the years we’ve come here, we’ve never seen a single queen triggerfish – we see them in Bonaire and Aruba a lot. So it was neat to finally see one here.
Will try to get more regular about posting. Bailey is doing great, btw!
Roatan is a lush island, covered in tropical rain forest, with flowers blooming everywhere. The ocean water is very warm, which surprised us. Kinda thought it would be a little cooler The outside air temperature is a little milder than the south Caribbean, but still a nice 80-85 ish. Definitely lovely weather.
Our deck is so nice! It’s got a great set of comfy chairs and a cafe table to sit at, have our coffee, browse the internet and watch the ocean.
We got in our pool – a VERY big pool – and there were only two couples in it. BOTH from Canada! One couple from Ontario and one from Kelowna.
We decided to head to West Bay on the far west side of the island. We went with the couple from Kelowna and they knew their way around the joint. We had a nice snorkel and saw some great fish, several of which we’ve rarely seen.
Pam saw only her second ocean triggerfish, a large-ish fish that is quite majestic in the water. He was swimming with a school of tangs and surgeonfish, and we didn’t even spot him right away! We also saw a hogfish that we’ve never seen before.
Driving around the island is lots of fun. Lots of sights and smells and action. People walk on the road, as do animals and pets. Dogs and children play in the streets, too. Lots of people have bbqs going and you can stop for a quick, inexpensive bite to eat.
Here is a movie of a couple of big beautiful grey angelfish. They came around us, and just drifted majestically.
Mangel Halto is the best shore snorkel in Aruba, bar none. The coral is more plentiful, and healthy and alive and just plain wonderful. The drawback is that it can be quite rough, with strong current. We only go there when the weather is very calm. We’ve been trying to get out there a couple of times, but today (Monday) was the first great day for it.
For those people coming to the blog looking for directions to Mangel Halto, here is a quick and easy guide. Head south, following the signs to the airport and/or San Nicolas. Go past the airport, and look for a stop light. There is a sign that mentions Depalm Tours/Depalm Island. Turn right there at the lights. Go down to the T-Junction. Take a left and follow the road until you come to the bridge across the lagoon. The next right after the bridge is signed for Marina Pirata, a restaurant.
Take that right and you’re on the beach road that leads to Mangel Halto. Follow that road for about a kilometer or so, and you’ll see the stone sign for Mangel Halto. Park there, walk down the wooden steps and through the mangrove. Enter the water via the mangrove and head out toward the yellow buoy. That is the channel leading to the coral reef. That channel can be quite quick, but once you’re through, it’s absolutely wonderful!
Today (December 23) we were lucky and the weather was very nice. Super calm and the water had very little wave action. It was a terrific snorkel. We even saw an ocean triggerfish, a very shy fish, that normally is out near the drop off. Here she was right in the center of the reef. We also saw a tons of brightly colored parrotfish, a turtle, barracuda, lots of blue chromis and plenty of eels. It was tough to get out of the water, but even with the calm water, my stamina is not great. Still, a wonderful day at Mangel Halto.
Here is a cool movie of an octopus. You don’t often see an octopus using his jets like this… normally we just see him crawling along the bottom, or hiding on the rocks.
Smith’s Reef is in the Turtle Cove, and it totally lived up to its billing today!
The reef was filled with turtles, all kinds of turtles, from greens, to hawksbills, to maybe even a leatherback! I say maybe on the leatherback, because this turtle was the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Check out the movie, and you’ll see the hawksbill to start with, then I get sidetracked by the big guy…
The first thing we noticed on entering the water today, was a big barracuda. He was about four, maybe five feet? Quite a way to start the swim! When I swam out to the green buoy and saw the two turtles, there was an even bigger barracuda. He was just enjoying the sun, like the rest of us!
One thing we’ve really noticed, is how the clear the water has been. What a boon that has been! I’d have to say that only the Cayman Islands has come close to being as clear as these waters. Even when the current was strong, visibility was extremely good. One of the “problems” with the great visibility though, is that you can get easily distracted by something twenty or fifty feet away!
One ultra cool thing we saw today was a pair of ocean triggerfish. These trigger’s are large, about three or four feet tall, and although we’ve seen them in the past, they’ve usually swam away before we’ve gotten a decent picture. Well, not today! I saw a big one, digging in the sand, but he took off. I swam over to Pam and told her I’d just seen one right over there, and pointed. We swam a little ways, and he was back! I’ve got a movie of him digging in the sand. It’s a tad jerky to start, but watch through the early problems and you’ll be rewarded with a good closeup of this terrific looking fish. Kinda funny to see him spitting out the sand!
But turtles were the story of the day. We saw at least eight, probably more! Two of them even met up for a meeting at the bottom! It was unreal. One young couple were out swimming with their five or six year old, and we pointed out the turtles. Well the little guy was in a tizzy to see the turtles! He got to see the two of them meeting, and it was a lot of fun to see his exuberance. Afterwards, we met them on shore, and they couldn’t stop thanking us for showing them the turtles!
For our last dinner here in Provo we decided to check out the resort’s restaurant called the Mango Reef. It’s right on the ocean, completely open air. The stars were twinkling, and the waves were gently washing into shore. It was a very romantic setting. There was a duet playing, all romantic songs. It was a terrific setting. And the meal itself lived up to the billing. We started with some coconut crusted butterflied shrimp, served with three sauces, ($14). They were delicious, but one sauce would have been fine!
For an entree Pam had one of the daily specials, tiger prawns served with an asparagus risotto ($34) She pronounced it very good, but I thought the risotto was a little thick. I had the Mee Goreng ($24) a very good mixture of julienne vegetables, angel hair pasta with chicken and shrimp. It was very tasty, but might have had a little too much pasta (although I did eat the whole thing!)
Dessert was tiramisu for Pam, and chocolate coconut pie for me. (Both $8) The pie was more cake than pie, but tasty nonetheless. Pam enjoyed the tiramisu, but I thought it was a little small, being served in a small martini glass. Total bill with drinks was $109, without tip. It seems a little high, but still, we both thought it was well worth it. The music, the setting, the service – all impeccable.
When we woke up this morning, the ocean was very calm, so we thought we should head back the Coral Gardens. We’d talked about how we wanted to see this place with calm waters, so off we went. It’s just a short drive to the Coral Gardens from our resort. The roads are really very good compared to most other Caribbean islands we’ve been on. It’s getting to be fun driving on the left side, although Pam keeps thinking we’re going to go in the ditch!
The Gardens certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw a bunch of fish we’ve never seen before. Starting with one that Pam has wanted to see called the unicorn fish. They are a fair sized fish, and sort of look like small whales. They have a long “thing” that protrudes from their head, but can be laid down their spine. There was a little group of four that never really moved no matter how close we dove to them.
Another first was a grey angelfish. We’ve seen tons of angelfish on Aruba, but they are usually the French angel. This is the first grey we’ve seen and they act pretty much like a French Angel, just a slightly different color. They have bright yellow fins too.
We saw three or four lionfish. Not that we want to! They are voracious predators and not native to the Caribbean. It’s speculated that they originated from Florida private aquariums, and they are classified as a disaster to the Caribbean reef system. They look terrific, but they devour the smaller reef fish.
We saw a gorgeous Queen Triggerfish, my personal fave fish. She was a beauty, hanging around and not taking off like they usually do. That’s one thing we’ve really noticed here – the fish seem to just not give a hoot that people are around. They just go about their fishly business and ignore us.
We took a drive down south to Sapodila Bay. It’s a lovely beach, virtually deserted. It’s extremely calm, and has a beautiful sandy bottom. It’s perfect for swimming. It’s very shallow and you have to walk out a long way before it even gets over your waist. One thing about the water here, is that it is much colder than other places we’ve been. It’s been a bit of a challenge getting in, but once you’re in, it’s nice. Sapodila Bay wasn’t much for snorkeling but a guy told us that over on the far point, there was a wreck, with lots of fish. Pam wasn’t up for the swim so I decided I’d go take a quick look. Well…. if you’ve ever had the hankering to swim with lots and lots of barracuda, do I have a place for you! There were so many there, dozens and dozens of them (and I’m not kidding – there were probably 40 or 50), ranging in size from two feet up to six feet, that I figured I’d just get out!
Here’s a sunset picture, taken off of our balcony. It’s been a great way to spend the end of a day… sitting on the deck and watching the sun go down. There are virtually no bugs, so no need for mosquito spray. Just sit back with a nice drink and watch the show! Hope you enjoy Joy!
I’m adding a movie to this post – it shows all the highlighted fish. The Queen triggerfish, the grey Angelfish, the unicorn filefish, and the yellowtail snapper. The yellowtail is kind of like the Sgt Major in Aruba – every time you turn around, there are a bunch of yellowtails trailing you around! They’re your posse!
Merry Christmas everyone! Santa seems to have missed us here in the Caribbean! haha Luckily he left the cold and snow in the north! Our thoughts are with you guys, and the people we lost this year. Hope you all had a wonderful day.
We spent Christmas morning swimming in the ocean, and a great swim it was! The ocean was very clear today, and we saw piles of cool fish. We saw a HUGE triggerfish, the biggest we’ve ever seen – at least 3 or 4 feet! She was pretty shy and swam away from us, and try as we might to chase her down, we got only blurry shots of her.
We’ve kind of settled into a little routine, swimming in the ocean in the morning, then spending time in the swimming pool and hot tub in the afternoon, while catching a few rays. There have been some brief rain storms, but mostly it’s been sunny. The locals have complained bitterly about the amount of rain in November and December and they are hoping for an improvement. It’s been pretty good by our standards, but not as nice as some years we’ve been here.
Here is a picture of Pam in front of our rental car, an Atos Prime. She is pointing at the license plate because it is V-1925 – her father Vern was born in 1925! How cool is that?
I should point out that I don’t reference all the pictures we’ve taken in the blog posts. There are other pics available by clicking on the Galleries link in the menu bar. So if you aren’t sick of seeing fish pics you might want to take a look.
I’m adding a brief movie to the end here of a Queen Triggerfish. This was taken in fairly shallow water, which is kind of unusual since this fish prefers to be in slightly deeper water.
We talked with some people who have been in Aruba since the beginning of November and they said the weather has not been very good – still warm, but overcast a lot, and rainy. Well, it’s been great since we got here! Today was sunny and clear and warm. I have to admit the ocean is a little cooler than we usually expect, but it’s still pretty easy getting in.
We returned to Boca Catalina today, since the waves at Arashi seemed to be too rough. It was another fun day of snorkeling, that’s for sure. There were, of course, lots of fish to see. First thing we saw upon getting in was a big barracuda. He quickly scooted off as soon we pointed a camera at him… for a big guy, he sure was shy!
We saw a couple of large schools of squid – always fun to follow them and watch them change color and contort themselves into strange shapes. We saw quite a few Queen Triggerfish, which is one my all time favorite fish.
We saw a small moray, but moving lightning quick across the ocean floor. And wow, did we see a large flounder, the biggest we’ve ever seen. We saw a couple of lobsters too! One was quite large, and we thought it would just perfect for dinner! Too bad we were too chicken to grab him!
Dinner was courtesy of Cafe Maurice once again, so no restaurant review today! Our suite has a nice kitchen, with non-stick pans, so it’s been great. We did breakfast, lunch and dinner all at home here. The one complaint I have about Aruba – the beer – the bottles are these little tiny things, about 5 or 6 ounces. And it’s quite pricey – it’s much cheaper to drink rum!
Here is a little movie we took outside the Aruban Parliament Buildings, showing their Christmas Display.