The Americas travel blog

Alabama Jacks

Today we have to register at John Pennenkamp National Park as we have a 41/2 hour snorkelling tour out to the reef. We have brought our goggles and snorkel from home( Phil has his goggles now with a prescription lens, so he can see too) and we just need to collect some fins. Our boat is the Dolphin (holds 40) and we are going out through the mangroves to 3 different reef locations.

The first reef we stop at we were the only boat. The water is 85 degrees, so nice and warm and the coral is amazing. It covers the ocean floor with a big range of colours and shapes and sizes and of course there are loads of fish.

We return to the boat and move to the next location which is a shipwreck of the Hannah M Bell which sank in 1911. The shipwreck covers the ocean floor and you can clearly the skeleton of it and of course it attracts lots of fish. It's the first shipwreck I have ever seen whilst snorkelling as they are usually in deeper water. It's quite exciting to see it and amazing to snorkel over its entire length.

The next location is popular with quite a few boats. They are all here to see the statute Christ of the Abyss that was donated to the Park 50 years ago to commemorate those lost at sea. The staute is 2.6m high and depicts Christ with outstretched arms. Obviously it's very poignant because of its location. Coral is now growing on the statue so it looks right at home on the ocean floor.

We get back in at 1.30 so back to the hotel to wash the salt off. There's no time to fit in anything else today so we head to Starbucks for a 'real' coffee and use the internet as the Bayside Inn has been having problems with their wifi.

For dinner we head up the overseas highway to Alabama Jacks. It's a character laden bar/restaurant overlooking the mangroves and their speciality is conch. The collapse of the conch fishing industry in the 1970's because of over fishing has meant that conch is now imported from the Bahamas. Alabama Jacks is famous for their conch cakes. Whilst waiting for our conch, crab cakes and dolphin( which is not really dolphin, thank goodness, but dolphinfish commonly called mahi mahi) we get eaten alive by the mozzies. Some insect repellent from the barman solves that problem and we eat our dinner on paper plates and drink from plastic cups. The cheaper cafes and bars serve everything on disposable plates, cups, cutlery. Not so good for the environment!

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