I'm really not a big snorkel-tour person. Usually they take you out on large boats, are super crowded and require you to wear life-jackets in the water at all times (Um, how am I supposed to swim down and look at the fishies up-close-and-personal if I'm wearing a life-jacket?). Not so with Mini Boat Adventures. As soon as I read the phrase "pilot your own mini boat", we may as well have just booked our reservation that moment. The tour takes you out in a convoy of 6-8 13 foot inflatable hard-bottom mini boats, each with a capacity of 4 people. But, if there are only two in your party (like us), then you get YOUR OWN BOAT! Nobody cramping your style here. After you arrive and check in, they give everyone a brief 20 minute overview of the islands you will be visiting and how to operate your boat.
Now, I've driven a boat before. I mean, I was driving our boat when I was 5 years old. Piece of cake, right? Well, apparently when your boat is only 13 feet long and the waves are 4 feet high out in the middle of the ocean, there is a bit of a difference. The idea of the tour is that one of the guide boats is in the front and the other boats follow inside each others' wake to break the waves a bit. Well, heading out of the marina Todd and I were in last position and the few boats in front of us were taking a while to get the hang of it. So the rear guide boat waved us around to go catch up with the first few boats who, by this time were little orange dots in the distance... no wake to ride in. We were hitting waves head on, splashing water all over. Not to mention the fact that we had all the weight in the back of the boat, so every wave we hit sent us soaring straight up into the air. This thing handled like a jet ski! Finally, we figured out that if Todd sat in the front we would level out better in the air. The first few minutes were pretty hairy, and I think at one point Todd firmly believed we were going to die in a freak mini-boat accident. But we got the hang of it, and by the end of the trip Todd was driving at full speed across the sea back to the marina. (I was so proud.)
The snorkeling (Oh yeah, this was a snorkeling trip, wasn't it?) was fantastic. The islands they took us to were just beautiful and they gave us time at each one to go ashore and explore a little bit. We stayed in deep-ish waters, probably 15-25 feet, and the visibility was excellent. (Bonus: No life jackets necessary, except when driving the boats of course.) And I finally got the chance to try out my birthday present that my dad got me last year - the Olympus Stylus Tough 6000. This puppy took GREAT pictures, in and out of the water. I'm usually a Canon/Sony kind of girl, but I was totally impressed by this camera. And we had the best time swimming down for a few action shots. And it can even take videos under the water. (Even if we weren't taking it under water, this was the perfect camera for a boat. There was no stress about keeping the camera dry. I can vividly recall my mom saying "Don't splash me! I'm holding the camera!" and "Don't push me in the pool! I'm holding the camera!")
I have to say, I was so proud of Todd on this trip. He took to the water like a fish. Between swimming down to the bottom to look for lobsters hiding in the coral and captaining a boat for the first time in his life, I'd say this experience was quite the milestone. And my heart was all aflutter when he said those four little words... "Let's get a boat."