Sea Turtles, Parrotfish, and Coral...Oh My!

"Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation? Because they've spent time in and around the ocean, and they've personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet's blue heart."

Sylvia Earle

I'm absolutely addicted to being underwater. When I'm on dry land, I dream of being totally immersed in water, exploring a different world just under the surface. We were able to snorkel three of the days we were on St. John. Our first two days were at Cinnamon Bay, and the final was at Salt Pond Bay. The waters weren't extremely clear, but there was so much life to observe, I was constantly drawn out further from shore and deeper into the water. Since we didn't have money for SCUBA diving on this trip, we snorkeled and did a bunch of free dives where we just held our breath and dove to about 15-30 feet for as long as we could avoid oxygen. Our camera tracks our depth all along the way, so it was really fun to watch that and find out how far underwater our lungs could take us on one breath. Each day, I spent enough time in the water to make myself painfully sore at night, but it didn't matter, as long as I could go immerse myself in the blue-green jewel water again the next day.

We saw turtles, parrotfish (a favorite of mine, I like to follow them listening to them crunch on the coral, and incidentally, they also taste pretty good), spiny (poisonous) sea urchins, trumpetfish, angelfish, sea cucumbers, colorful tropical fish, and so much coral in so many varieties! I'd never seen a sea turtle in the wild before and I was so pumped to find them. But by the end of our third day of snorkeling, we'd seen none. We were turning around to return to the Salt Pond Bay Beach when I saw my first turtle. I followed it for what felt like forever. First, I took video, then I turned off the camera and just enjoyed the moment. I was elated and felt like the turtle had been a gift of sorts, and as I swam, choking on water from smiling with a snorkel in my mouth, I saw my second sea turtle ever. I followed her and was amazed at how graceful she was in the water. It was amazing. I lost track of time. When we got back to the beach, we had to hike 30 minutes to get to the eco resort, so we arrived just as night was falling on the Caribbean. And it was entirely worth risking hiking in the dark. Being fully immersed in salt water is somehow so exhilierating, only the threat of darkness can bring me out of the underwater world.

As a side note, with all that snorkeling and time spent in perfect sunburn conditions, we never scorched. If you're looking for quality sunscreen that reflects the sun rather than absorbing it near your skin, we use Solar Sense Sport sunscreen with zinc oxide that's made for water sports. It never comes off in the water and we never get burned. Being a redhead, that's a very valuable factor to find in any bottle of alleged sun protection.

Since snorkeling and diving are fairly silent experiences, I just want to leave some of the pictures and videos we took so you can feel immersed in the underwater world of St. John as well. It's not totally in chronological order, but more or less, you'll dive in with us in Cinnamon Bay and surface again at Salt Pond Bay. Dive into the Caribbean!

Cinnamon Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Cinnamon Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Sallt Pond Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Salt Pond Bay, US Virgin Islands, St. John

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