Cruising in Barbados on the Ocean Mist Catamaran
Exploring Barbados by boat
A holiday on the island of Barbados as it languishes in the warm Caribbean sea already sounds idyllic enough but, just occasionally, lying on a sunny beach all day building up a permatan can be a little boring for some of us of a more restless nature.
This is when it's time to do something really different.This is when it's time to take a cruise and swim with the turtles.
First, choose your cruise.
Perversely, although I am a good swimmer I can be a somewhat nervous sailor so I had specifically decided on a larger vessel and at 60 foot, the Ocean Mist power catamaran, seemed to tick all necessary boxes. I soon felt totally secure and at ease due to both the stability of the boat and her friendly, and reassuringly professional, crew.
We chose a lunch time cruise although we were also tempted by the thought of one at sunset. Cocktails at sea as we watched the sunset versus a couple of extra hours cruising. It was a tough call but eventually, the lure of extra time won.
We had also considered the night time party cruise as seeing the lights twinkling along the coast as we danced and sailed appealed to my more romantic streak. Eventually we decided that maybe we were a little too old for the additional attraction of entry to a nightclub somewhere en route so we would stick with the daylight.
Barbados: The Platinum Coast
We set off at ten a.m. to cruise along the Platinum Coast on the western side of the island and it was impossible not to be impressed by the many beautiful beaches on this stretch of coastline.
The sea here is warm, shallow and ideal for snorkelling and swimming, and yes, it certainly is azure. It may be an overused word but it really does describe the water here perfectly.
This coast also appears to be the domain of the super wealthy as huge mansions and spectacular hotels perch just above the beaches and you just have to wonder which celebrity might live there. It is well-known that Cliff Richard, Rhianna and even Simon Cowell have a home tucked away somewhere on this gorgeous island.
Swimming with turtles.
It wasn't long before we stopped near an old wreck to snorkel and see if the turtles would come to meet us.
Hawksbill and leatherback turtles are protected here and because they are sociable creatures who like to stick to a regular routine we felt we had a good chance of meeting some. We had even brought them some special turtle food though the crew told us they liked our food best. Evidently cold ham is their version of junk food.
This was the first time I had tried snorkelling but as all the equipment was supplied by the cruise company it seemed wasteful to wimp out and I am so glad I didn't. The experience was truly mesmerising and the time just flew by as we drifted with the warm sun on our backs, just watching the vivid colours of the fish as they went about their lives, in and out of the wreck.
Suddenly large shapes loomed up out of the distance and a couple of turtles arrived, flying through the sea with leisurely strokes of their flippers. The contrast between their lumbering movement on land and their grace and manoeuvrability in the sea was startlingly obvious as they swooped and circled around us waiting for something to eat.
By the time we had finished swimming with the turtles they were fed and we had worked up an appetite so we hauled ourselves back on board for lunch.
Lunchtime with flying fish.
Lunch was a buffet of wonderful flavours and the table was laden with barbequed chicken, a wide variety of salads, garlic potatoes, a melting macaroni pie and even marlin and flying fish. It was truly authentic Bajan food freshly made and stowed aboard just before setting sail.
This was extremely important to a foodie like myself, especially as everything was all included in a ridiculously low price to start with. (I'm ashamed to say this was the irrepressibly-thrifty Yorkshire woman side of me coming to the forefront).
By the time I had eaten enough to sink a battleship and washed it down with a couple of Green Monkey cocktails and a Rum Punch, I was ready for a siesta on the foredeck. Notice how I had become quite proficient with nautical terms after the Green Monkeys.
So I slapped on a load of factor 100 (I joke but really, you do need a good sunscreen here), topped it all off with a sunhat and stretched out on deck to let my lunch settle. It all felt very decadent and film starfish ... once I forgot about my cellulite.
I noted especially that, although we were moored in a beautiful bay, few of our fellow passengers ventured to swim to ashore to lounge on the glorious beach which lay close by.
To me this was perfectly understandable. Why get sand between your toes when you could lounge onboard a glamorous boat and feel the envy of the beach goers coming in waves across the waves?
Such snobbery is hardly edifying but hey, luxuriating on a large, white ocean-going catamaran was hardly something I was going to do everyday so I felt I owed it to myself to make the most of it.
The end of a perfect day.
It seemed I had hardly dozed off before there was only time left for one last dip in the sea to cool off before we had to start on the journey back to port. Five hours had flown by and left me with indelible memories of swimming with an amazing wild creature in a place of outstanding beauty. However there was one final thrill to come.
Barbados is well-known as one of the places where the wealthy owners of large sea-going pleasure yachts invariably stop and it's not unusual to see Bill Gates' yacht or one of Roman Abramovich's yachts moored here.
But as we headed back into port the super yacht Katara, flying the Qatari flag, glided past. The kids all waved like mad and a very smart guard on board felt he should acknowledge their friendliness in some way … preferably without getting himself into trouble.
So he saluted us as we all stood gawping at this huge and magnificent ship. Could this have been the Qatari Royal Family out for a little spin, one wonders? Well, that's the rumour hereabouts ...
Whoever it was, we just knew we would never forget this day ever or at least until we had saved up enough money to do it again. The Sunset cruise next time, I think, with Sunset Delight cocktails. Bliss!
- Ocean Mist Catamaran Cruises Tours - Barbados
Ocean Mist Catamaran Cruises Tours Barbados - snorkel, swim with sea turtles, lunch, sunset, dinner party cruise charter