We reached out via e-mail about a month in advance to secure a date--I'm glad we didn't wait much longer because of the 4 days we were available, they only had 1 date and the 9am slot available, so we took it! Stuart was very responsive in our e-mail exchanges and you could tell this was going to be a good excursion based off of the responsiveness and friendly e-mails. He actually offered to pick us up at our hotel for an additional $20 r/t (Which is a BARGIN considering a cab could run you $70 r/t). The place is a good 30 minutes away from the High Rise hotels but in the end we opted to rent a car for the day (for about $50) and utilized it to enjoy the rest of the day on that side of the island.
We met up at a place called Club Arias which is a cute Bed & Breakfast (Stuart provided excellent driving directions beforehand). We spotted Stuart (thanks again to him providing a picture of himself in one of various e-mails we had going on) and it was there we met up with another couple we’d be snorkeling with. We loved how small our group was, only the 5 of us in total. He provided us with all our snorkeling gear (life vest, booties, flippers and mask) then loaded us up into his minivan and off to a short 5 min drive to the beach. Once there he took pictures of us before we got in the water, while we were in the water and throughout the entire adventure, capturing shots you would not get with a disposable! Don’t even bother buying one-in fact he will even advise you not to bother! He has an awesome camera and will e-mail you your pictures that same day!! (WHO DOES THAT?!! Stuart does and he is awesome)
Let me tell you how awesome he is. We get in the water, he explains how we use the scooters (easy) and we single file line follow him out to the reef. It was pretty choppy that morning and well, I somehow had a terrible experience with my mask where I kept getting water in it (I doubt the mask was faulty it likely just didn’t fit me right). I kept stopping to get water out of my mask but because of the choppy waters I was having a hard time catching my breath, taking in water, so I kept stopping, coughing up water and trying to deal. Each and every single time Stuart stopped, noticed I was in trouble, was very alert and made sure to check with me, holding me sometimes. At one point I tried standing but unbeknownst to me was standing on coral, Stuart being alert to my situation grabbed me and swam me to a safer area where I could try to catch my breath. Between my husband and Stuart checking in on me and my stubbornness not to accept any help, I continued on. I simply didn’t want the other couple to be affected by my issue, I figured I’d deal. This must have gone one for a good 20 mins, I was not having fun, I simply had taken on too much water and didn’t want to admit it. I was determined to continue cause I knew this was to be a good adventure and maybe if I just can get my mask to cooperate I’ll be ok! Finally I decided to I blow up my life vest because I couldn’t take it much longer, I had reached exhaustion. Stuart knew I was in serious trouble by this point and offered to exchange his mask with mine. Once he did that, I was fine the rest of the tour! THANK GOD! I felt so horrible that I had caused such a commotion but Stuart insisted and assured me it was ok. I still felt bad. He genuinely was a life saver. So the point of this “story” is you are safe and you will be fine, you are in good hands! Stuart is always checking behind to see how the group is doing. He is awesome. Just check your mask very thoroughly before you head off (duh). I’ve snorkeled plenty of times in my life and this was just an unfortunate experience for me-that’s all. I’d snorkel again for sure!
So now that I am all happy clam with my cooperating mask, we saw really beautiful fish, schools of them, tons of coral and an awesome drop off. We saw a ship wreck that everyone except me went down to (honestly I didn’t want to mess with my cooperating mask). And all along Stuart is snapping away pictures of us. You don’t really use your scooter much, it’s mainly to help you get out and get back or catch up if you are far behind but it’s pretty fun to use! Zoom Zoom :)
When it all over, Stuart takes a picture of you again and off we go back to the Oasis of the Bed & Breakfast. Oh--Be sure to bring a towel, cause for some idiotic reason we failed to bring towels. I guess I just wasn’t having a very smart day that day.
Stuart was also awesome in telling us about a REALLY GOOD LOCAL affordable place to grab lunch and giving us directions to other places we had planned to travel to that day. Have I mentioned how awesome Stuart is?
Thank you Stuart!
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