2. Go scuba diving (or snorkeling, if that’s the only option).
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post called Ten Adventures to Try in 2012. As I attempt each adventure throughout the year, I’ll blog about them to let you know how it went.
I really wanted to try scuba diving. Someday I will. But it turned out that scuba diving was not an option on our cruise–at least that we could find. And since I’m not going near the ocean for the rest of 2012, I went ahead and snorkeled with some sting rays while I was on vacation with my family. We went on a Disney Cruise (lots of fun), which stopped one day at Castaway Cay, the Disney-owned island. On the island we visited Castaway Rays Stingray Adventure (click link to learn more).
You might think swimming with stingrays is dangerous. I suppose it could be–anywhere else. But this was Disney. And they had trimmed the barbs from all their stingrays. So the only real danger was that we might step on a stingray and freak each other out. To keep this from happening, Disney taught us the stingray shuffle. This is different from the Cupid Shuffle. For the stingray shuffle, you walk without lifting your feet–kind of sliding them along the sandy ocean floor. That way, you scare the stingray away before accidentally stepping on her.
Her–that’s right. All the stingrays on Castaway Cay were female–save one. One male with a whole lot of females. I’m sure he isn’t too sad about that.
These were Southern Stingrays. Most of them were between 2 1/2 to 4 feet in diameter. We got to feed them these slimy, clumpy sticks that looked like seaweed Jello. I put one between my fingers, standing up like a little tree, laid my palm flat on this floating feeding station, and the stingray swam over my hand and sucked it out. It felt like a tiny, super-powered vacuum. The picture makes it look like she’s eating my hand. Kissy kissy kissy!
If you’ve never tried snorkeling, the experience might be strange or even scary at first, especially if you’re not a great swimmer. My kids felt this way. You just have to remember to only breathe through your mouth. Once you’re doing it, your breathing sounds funny, like you’re Darth Vader, or something. And I always end up tasting the ocean when I’m done. (Can’t quite figure out where I’m going wrong there…) But it’s so much fun to be able to clearly see under water. I felt like a shark.
There wasn’t a lot to see in this Disney lagoon besides the stingrays and the occasional white fish. I snorkeled once before in Maui, and that was amazing because it was a coral reef with all kinds of tropical fish. The contrast in color from Castaway Rays whites and pale blues and Maui’s bright, tropical colors was massive. But this experience was something I will always remember, though I don’t think I’d do it again just because of the cost.
How about you? Have you ever tried snorkeling? What’s your best snorkeling story, or where do you think is one of the best places to snorkel? Leave a comment and let me know.