Snorkeling success!

Sunday morning started with a little bit of sleeping in. I think it was well needed, because we haven’t slept well since we got here. I feel more jet lagged than I can remember ever feeling before on a trip. I’m tired in the evening, but still have a hard time going to sleep. Then I wake up at four or five in the morning, and get a bit more of restless sleep until 7 am or so. Then I wake up tired, which isn’t nice. I still can’t complain too much, because I wake up to a beautiful sunny view every day.

We had breakfast on the balcony with the food we bought yesterday in the grocery store. It wasn’t fantastic taste wise, but it was nice to have our own breakfast. Then we got our gear together and headed out to do some snorkeling at the hotel beach. One of the main reasons we chose the Avila, was that we read that the snorkeling just outside would actually be really good.

When we got down to the beach, we discovered that the wind was really strong and there were white caps near the shore. We almost changed our minds about going snorkeling, and felt a little bit silly standing there with fins, GoPro camera, rash guards – all kitted out while people looked at us like we were crazy. But then Kelly could see where the water was calmer and we decided to start there. Avila beach has two sides, east and west, and both have man made structures, breakwaters, built to protect from the waves and creates two little coves with calmer water. We went in the east cove and started exploring the far side of it, where the visibility was better. It did not disappoint! We saw lots of fish there, such as a school of beautiful blue tangs. After a little while we were confident enough to go outside the breakwaters, and that’s when the real fun begun! We were swimming (or mainly floating on the current) along a reef and saw all kinds of interesting things. Here I’ve made a list and added a couple of professional images for reference. When Kelly has edited the GoPro footage I will post it on the blog as well!

Lionfish  

Trumpetfish

Filefish

Blue Tangs (school)

Spotted trunkfish

Bluehead Wrasse

Yellowfin Damselfish

Blue Chromis

Nassau grouper (?)

Black Durgon (?)

Foureye butterflyfish

Sergeant Major

Fairy basslet

Elkhorn Coral

Brain coral

After this first successful snorkeling experience, we had a nice, healthy lunch (smoked salmon salad, so no, I’m not being sarcastic) at the beach bar and then headed back to the room to look at the video from the GoPro camera. While just clicking around randomly, we found a scorpionfish that Kelly didn’t realize he had filmed! Excited by this discovery, we decided to go out snorkeling again, inside the breakwaters. This time we knew what we were looking for, so Kelly managed to find three scorpionfish, one of them really large! Scorpionfish have dorsal fins charged with a very potent and painful poison, so you really don’t want to touch them. At the same time, they have incredible camouflage that makes it easy to do so if you’re not careful not to touch anything. They lie completely still, waiting in disguise for prey to pass them by so they can suck them in to their mouth and swallow. This is what a scorpionfish looks like:

We had a nice evening on the beach after snorkeling. We relaxed and watched the sunset. Then we finished the day with a great dinner at the Blues Bar out on the pier. It was the best meal we’ve had on the island so far. There were some locals eating there too, clearly on “date night”, so it must be a pretty good restaurant even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

Iguana

An iguana hanging out on the neighboring hotel beach!

East side Avila

The other side of Avila beach (east)

I have tried to embed a cool animation of Kelly on the beach, but since WordPress keeps crashing I’ve given it up for now. Here’s a link instead!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3KIQ0awh56KVzhNMWFoXzduaWc/preview

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