Over the past dozen years, I got the opportunity to see this undersea world a few times for myself on cruise vacations to the Caribbean. It was truly amazing. I brought my mask and snorkel with me when I left for the Peace Corps. However, I'm located on the Atlantic side, and I haven't really seen very many interesting sights during my snorkeling attempts at our local beach. Most of the fish I spied were just plain silver and the bottom was just sand for the most part, plus the waves churn things up, thus limiting visibility. Despite these limitations, it was cool to see what is under the surface—I just don't do it very often anymore. I did take my snorkel to Cabrits National Park once, and enjoyed the calmer waters and coral reef there on the Caribbean side, but until recently I had not done nearly as much snorkeling as I had planned.
Last weekend, I got to spend a couple of days with two wonderful Peace Corps Volunteers on this island who are getting ready to go home after their two year stint. They often go snorkeling together, and I got to tag along to two of their favorite spots. This experience has me excited to do more snorkeling while I am here, because observing the sealife under the waters is incredible.
The first day we went to Rodney's Rock, which is north of the capital city of Roseau. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of this rocky, short peninsula that juts into the Caribbean from an otherwise straight coastline, but I did take the following picture from atop Rodney's Rock, looking towards the southern end of the island.
“There is a rocky point along the west coast north of Jimmit that is composed of fractured volcanic lava ejected from the Trois Pitons volcano... The British named it Rodney's Rock following Admiral George Rodney's victory at the Battle of the Saintes in April 1782 (this battle is described on the sign photo in one of my recent blog posts). There is a local legend that the French, who occupied the island at the time, had placed lights upon the rock so as to disguise it as a ship anchored in the dark. This was done in an effort to delay Rodney as he sailed up the west coast in pursuit of the French fleet. The story goes that Rodney was indeed diverted by this trick and hung around all night pounding the supposed ship with cannon shot, only to find at dawn that it was merely a rock. As good as this story sounds, there is absolutely no proof that it actually happened and in any case at dawn Rodney was off of the Cabrits angling for an engagement with the French fleet.”After a great time on Friday snorkeling at Rodney's Rock, we went to Champagne Reef (south of Roseau) on Saturday. Champagne Reef is very unique, because it has underwater geothermal springs which vent small gas bubbles, making it seem as if you are swimming through champagne in some areas. You can also feel the temperature differences as you swim through patches of heated water. In addition to the unusual view of the tiny bubbles, the sealife here is phenomenal. It is considered one of the top snorkeling sites in all of the Caribbean. Here is a picture of the sign at the entrance (look close and you will see some of the bubble streams).
One of my favorites was the French Angelfish. The yellow-green neon stripes were so bright against the stark black background they seemed to glow.
Oh, and there is one other interesting thing I did at Rodney's Rock. Many people jump off the end of Rodney's Rock, because it is a vertical cliff into deep water. These two guys had done it before and wanted me to do it with them. One of them went around to a point off the side so that he could take our pictures as we jumped.
I carefully assessed the situation. It didn't seem all that high, and you didn't need to jump out a certain distance to hit the water—the water seemed to be directly below you, and it was indeed deep. I've done a lot of whitewater rafting over the years, and on several rivers there are large, steep rocks above a deep pool in the river. The rafting guides will often pull over and give folks the opportunity to take the plunge off of “Jump Rock” (as it is called on the New River in Fayette County, West Virginia).
It was an incredible experience that I will long treasure!