Snorkeling in Aruba

After a very short night I woke up at 7:45, went to the Renaissance Beach hotel and waited there to be picked up by De Palm Tours. I went in to ask where the van was going to wait and they told me that I should just wait outside. At the given time I saw no van, and twenty minutes later I still didn't see any van.

Aruba has beautiful oceans surrounding the island!

Aruba has beautiful oceans surrounding the island!

I went back inside the hotel to ask if the van perhaps forgot to pick me up. This time, the woman of De Palm Tours was present at her desk and so I went straight to her.

When I told her I already sat there for half an hour she said that the bus had already left.
In my opinion, something went wrong… I already didn’t have a very good experience with De Palm Tours, but this was really starting to become ridiculous. I am sure they just forgot to pick me up.

I told her I was there on time, and that I had asked the two other women sitting at the neighbouring desk where to wait. The two women nodded and leaned forward, because they perhaps smelled a juicy gossip story coming up. Still, the representative of De Palm Tours did not believe me.

“The van was there. I’ve seen it this morning! All the way on the side of the building.” She said, a little too aggressive for my taste.

Because of the short night I had, I felt even more annoyed.
Breathe in, breathe out… I tried not to burst out and I think I managed quite well.

Let’s be honest, isn’t it ridiculous? The bus driver received instructions yesterday that there would be someone waiting at this particular hotel. If it took me so long to find the van, why didn’t he just come and take a look? Isn’t it obvious that your guests would be waiting inside, or outside, the hotel? Also… Yesterday, the incredibly unfriendly b-word from the office told me I had to wait at the reception of the hotel. Which I did…

I explained all of this to Claudia, the representative, but she said she couldn’t help my anyway because the bus was already gone.
“Luckily…” She started. “The tour only starts at 09:00! And the beach is only a couple of miles away. So you can easily take a taxi to get there!”

I think my eyes started rolling around spontaneously because she definitely felt I was ‘starting’ to get a little upset.

I refused, of course. I explained her I already paid for the pickup, which wasn’t a proper pick-up since I still needed to walk a mile or so, and now I had to pay extra for a taxi to bring me to the exact location?
For a tour of $89 you expect quality. What I got so far was absolute rubbish… And I didn’t want to pay an extra $15 for a taxi…

I waited patiently and remained calm while picturing the whole De Palm Tours team being strangled.
The woman called her supervisor and first spoke in English, before going on in Spanish.

When she spoke in Spanish, she started telling things which were untrue, false and just not right. T

Arrr! Feeling a little bit like a pirate in Aruba!

Arrr! Feeling a little bit like a pirate in Aruba!

I was incredibly annoyed but remained very polite. She called her supervisor who spoke first in English, and eventually in Spanish.
When she spoke she began telling incorrect facts in Spanish. The woman, after all, thought I did not understand Spanish, but my stay in the Dominican Republic made me learn quite some Spanish.

Over the phone she told her supervisor I was way too late, that I refused to change the tour date and that I didn’t want to pay for a taxi. 1/3. And all the rest are lieeeeessss!!!

I didn’t say anything about her childish behaviour, because she told me I would get a free taxi to the place where the boat would depart.

It seems that people in Aruba like to take their time, because only fifteen minutes the taxi arrived.
The woman gave instructions to the taxi driver where to drop me off and added -again in Spanish- that I had missed my bus.
Right before she closed the door of the taxi, I said: “To make everything clear. I did not mis the bus, the bus missed me.”
The woman clearly was surprised that I could speak some Spanish and wished me a pleasant tour while looking quite startled still.

Fortunately, I came right on time and I didn’t have to pay anything for the taxi.

 

Finally! Snorkelling!

On the catamaran there were about 65 people. Most of them Americans.
All of us would visit three spots where we could do some snorkelling.

When we were at the first place, I jumped in the water and instantly froze. The water was SUPER cold! You would think that the Caribbean waters are very warm everywhere, but that’s just not true. To heat my body back up, I started to swim while making huge movements, to get my blood flowing a little more.

I saw a lot of colorful fish and corals. A little further I could see giant schools of sardines. Above them, a couple of hungry pelicans were circling around waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

When I got back on the boat from the icy water, it was clear that a lot of people had became drunk. Some Americans started to giggle like little children and some didn’t even bother walking straight anymore. Yayks! So much drunk people at 9 AM!

Snorkelling around the SS Antila.

Snorkelling around the SS Antila.

The second stop was the main reason why I considered this tour. A snorkel session aorund the SS Antila. A gigantic ship that was sunk deliberately to create a new place for fish and corals to grow.

The water was very choppy and the visibility was sometimes a bit poor, but nonetheless it was an amazing sight. The boat was much bigger than I expected! The front part in particular was very clear to see, and also the closest to the surface.
I gulped in a few big breaths of air before I swam down as far as I could. The closer I got to the boat, the better the visibility was and the greater the boat seemed to be. Large schools of fish swam around the boat, and in many places the beautiful corals swished along with the movement of the water.

The water was very chilly here too, and half an hour later I could not stand it anymore. So I decided to climb back on the catamaran. Five minutes later we left for the last snorkel spot.
I hesitated a long time to jump one last time, but decided not to. Just when I wanted to get in, some people came out of the water. I overheard them taling and they said that there were almost no fish and that it was the least interesting location that we had visited.

Pfew!

On our return to the mainland, we were presented with a fairly nice lunch. I took chicken, rice and an Ariba Aruba. A cocktail with -so it was noted on the menu- ‘too many ingredients to mention’.

All in all I found this tour really too much money ($ 89). If you are in Aruba and want to do a ‘Snorkel Adventure’ trip, I recommend you to plan it yourself.
All snorkeling spots (Antilla Shipwreck, Arashi Reef and Boca Catalina) are very close to the coast. So you can just put on your snorkel gear from the beach, and then swim to those spots.

Besides, the staff of De Palm Tours was so rude and worthless I wouldn’t recommend this company to anyone…

The rest of the day I spent largely in my hostel. At least the water in the pool was hotter than the sea!

Selfie with the SS Antila ship!

Selfie with the SS Antila ship!

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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