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Friday
Mar192010

Extreme Shallow Snorkeling on Pinel Island

Location: Pinel Island, St. Martin

Rating:

Yesterday we had a fantastic day on Pinel Island with our friends Jenn (aka Madam J) and Mark.

Pinel Island is a tiny island about a quarter mile or so off the coast of St. Martin, just near Orient Beach. As Mark joked, it's good to have a little island to go to in order to "escape" the big island of St. Martin.

To get to Pinel, you take a "ferry" for $7 roundtrip that takes about 10 minutes each way. I put "Ferry" in quotes because it appears to be a recycled landing craft from Normandy, which they use to pile in as many cattle, I mean people, as possible, to the point where the boat is barely floating, and can only go about 2 knots. I was tempted to jump out and swim at several points along the way, to prove that I could have gotten there faster, and more comfortably. Our foursome was the cause of some ire as we were the last to arrive, and the captain insisted on squeezing us in, to which some idiot American tourist protested "but it's hot, it must be 80 degrees! you can't pack us in here like this." Geez. For a 10 minute boat trip, really? I mean, there were several causes for concern, the most important being whether the boat was going to sink with so many people, but that it's too hot? Seriously? But I digress.

Pinel itself is a beautiful place, with pristine, quiet beaches, shallow calm waters, and fantastic snorkeling. We were lucky to be there with our Extreme Shallow Snorkeling friends as they showed us just how much fun it can be to brazenly snorkel in the ultra shallow waters, wondering whether your belly is going to be able to clear that next clump of grass and coral (the trick is to inhale, to make yourself float higher in the water). There were tons of fish, even fairly large ones, very close to shore. I even saw some crazy-looking needle-nosed fish. Apparently these unassuming little guys are the predators that cause all the fish jumping that we see at night from the shore of Grand Case bay. I also joined a school of thousands of little green fish for a while; I just floated there until they considered me part of the landscape and swarmed all around. Of course, once I started to move again, they scattered like the wind. Sadly, I hadn't brought my underwater camera casing, so no pics :(.

After our lovely snorkel, we retired to the Yellow Beach restaurant for lunch. They seated us in a private straw hut on stilts, overlooking the beach and sea, which made for the perfect atmosphere for a lengthy, wine- and rum-filled lunch. The food wasn't remarkable, though the frites and escargots w/ roquefort cheese were stand-outs. The crisp, cold French Rose went down very easily, as did the three varieties of rum digestif that they conveniently left on our table, and pretty soon we were drowsing on the beach.

Unfortunately Pinel closes at around 5pm. It would be a great place to hang out into the evening, but we decided better to catch the last ferry than accidentally camp out. We will definitely be going back.

Speaking of which, we're down to our last 10 days here in St. Martin before we head to Maryland for a few days of family, and eventually return to Berkeley on April 1st (is that a joke? don't know yet...). It's ridiculous that after having been here for 33 days, and still having a "normal" vacation length of time yet to go, I'm getting nostalgic that we have to leave so soon. I'm having to stop myself from making mental lists of all the things we have to cross off before we go. As Steve keeps reminding me, that's just silly, because we will be coming back here soon. 

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Where there is life, there is hope.-scarves online

August 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterscarves online

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