While in Grenada, we spent time touring the islands beautiful spice plantations. We experienced SCUBA diving in the incredible underwater museum. Monkeys even jumped on us. Everywhere we went, the scenery was breathtaking and invigorating. We had booked our time at the Rex Grenadian, outside of St. Georges. Resort life is a rare luxury for us and as relaxing and beautiful as our time on the beach was, we grew antsy and needed a change of scenery. We spoke to the hotel tour operator and grew excited at the chance of swimming with Turtles in the Tobago Cays.
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Island Hopping from Grenada
We hadn’t planned on getting another stamp in our passports while in Grenada. But swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays with Sunsation Tours, wasn’t something we could pass up. With the tour, we would hop on a puddle jumper and head to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, board a sailboat and head out to the Tobago Cays National Marine Park. Before catching a cab to the airport, we put on our swimsuits and packed the diaper bag. We boarded a small, 9-seater plane for the trip. The loud hum of the engine had C in dreamland less than a minute into the flight!
The flight to Union Island is only a 25-minute jaunt. On a clear day, it offers stunning views of the tiny islands that dot this Caribbean chain. Any one of them looked like the ideal island to be shipwrecked on with nothing but a chest of cold drinks and a great book.
Pro-Tip: The flight is part of the tour package. There’s no need to book a separate trip.
Sailing the blue seas aboard the Scaramouche
The plane landed on Union Island where a shuttle took us to the local marina. We boarded a skiff and made our way out through the luxury yachts toward our boat for the day, the Scaramouche. C’s eyes lit up when he first saw it and all he could say was “Pirate Ship!” over and over again. And what a pirate ship it was! The 80 ft wooden boat had actually appeared in the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, although dressed up much differently than it is today.
The trip out to the Tobago Cays was incredible. The weather gods blessed us with hot sun and cool breeze as we zipped across the top of the waves. C could barely contain his excitement at being aboard a ‘real’ pirate ship and spent his time exploring every nook and cranny. Before long we came upon a group of islands. There was no question, based on the sheer number of boats anchored, that we had arrived at our destination.
Pro-Tip: The tour comes with lunch and drinks to keep you energized for the trip.
About the Tobago Cays
The Tobago Cays Marine Park is part of a small chain of islands halfway between the islands of Grenada and St. Vincent. The islands can only be accessed via boat. The Tobago Cays are part of a horseshoe reef and are often filled with private and charter yachts as well as small cruise ships. The closest airports are on Union Island and Canouan Island. But the rest of the journey must be made by boat. The Tobago Cays consists of five uninhabited islands that offer the picture-perfect Caribbean experience. Pure white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and shady palm trees.
The crew anchored the Scaramouche and shuttled us to the pristine beach on Petit Rameau Island. This is where the marine park was set up to protect the local sea turtle population from boat traffic. To our surprise, the island’s beach was basically empty. Most of the boaters opted to remain on board their luxury yachts rather than explore the stunning islands. We, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to try our hand at swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays!
Swimming with Turtles in the Tobago Cays
On Petit Rameau, C wasted no time plopping down into the sand and digging for shells. The sunshine made the water sparkle. It didn’t take long for us to dip into the crystal clear turquoise water. Christina and I took turns snorkeling. While the water wasn’t teeming with turtles, we caught a glimpse of a few beneath the waves.
After some coaxing, C finally agreed to ride the Daddy boat out to the deeper water. C was thrilled at the idea of seeing some turtles for himself. He held on to me for dear life, and just as he was convincing me to turn back, we were graced with a turtle popping its head above the waves just a few meters from us. The view was almost enough for him to forget how deep the water was around him. But he remembered soon enough, so we headed back to the beach.
A final stop on Palm Island
We re-boarded the Scaramouche and left the stunning Tobago Cays behind us as we set sail towards Palm Island. Palm Island is a private island resort at the southern tip of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The stop gave us some more beach time. C took his time building castles in the shade of the palms while Christina and I wandered the beautiful beach near the marina.
Because Palm Island is private, as visitors we only had access to a small section of the beach immediately adjacent to the dock. I did get a chance to visit the infirmary briefly after stepping on one of the many sea urchins hanging around the seafloor near the dock. The nurse was very nice.
ProTip: Beware of spiny sea urchins in the waters of Palm Island. These urchins aren’t poisonous. Stepping on them just hurts.
We boarded the Scaramouche for our final leg back to Union Island. C, in true pirate style, passed out on the deck of the boat. Christina and I relaxed for the rest of the ride, spending our time taking in the darkening Caribbean waters. We had truly found paradise in the Caribbean while swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays
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