Since I was new to cruising, I decided to take all excursions through Holland America so hubby and I had signed up for a kayaking/hiking tour at our first stop which was Grand Turks. In retrospect, if I ever cruise again, I’m going to really research the stops to see what is offered locally or whether I even want to do a tour at all. I have come to the conclusion I’m not a real “tour” type person because I never was totally happy with any excursion although they all had great moments. During the tours I found myself wanting to slow down to examine items or on this particular tour to speed up the education part. To read more about the ship itself, read my prior blog here.
Grand Turks was just beautiful as you can see in the pictures. It’s very flat as you can see in the picture below this paragraph. The lagoon in the middle used to be where they collected salt back when salt was an important commodity for preserving food. The beach was all along right by where we docked, so if I ever get to go back, I will spend my time around Margaritaville and the beach and maybe rent some equipment and relax. I was so nervous about getting off the ship on our tour and just nervous about the whole newness of it all, we didn’t get in as much sightseeing as we should have. On this excursion I did not bring my camera since it is not waterproof which was probably a good decision since we did get wet, but I really regretted it, especially when they pulled out the conch!
Anyway, off we went to the kayak spot (they drive on the left side of the road!) where the tour leader very thoroughly and orderly got us in the kayaks with glass bottoms and explained how to stop etc. We all headed out across the inlet and met over by the mangroves. Holding on to each others’ boats, we listened to him explain all about various mangroves. Hubby enjoyed that, but I thought it got a bit long and tuned out by looking for fish through the plastic bottom. Off in the distance of this inlet you could see the waves crashing the beach, and the area was just beautiful. We paddled around and saw jelly fish over in a section that was thick with them. You could even hold one if you wanted. (The guide was great at explaining it was okay with this species) Eventually we beached the kayaks on a nice beach and went for a hike just a short ways up a slight hill, and again the tour guide went into too much detail for me about what we were looking at and about various shipwrecks etc. I thought we were going to hike to the top, but instead we just turned around and went back to the beach so I would have liked a longer hike although it was hot!!! He stopped and explained what some of the different plants were and had pictures of birds we might see, so unlike the other tours to follow, I did learn things and appreciate that he gave some education.
My favorite part of the entire excursion was next and I wish I had pictures!! We walked back down to the beach and waded out into the water where brightly colored fish swam around our legs. Prior to us arriving on the beach, they had a ring of rocks in the water marking out a small area where they had collected sea creatures to show. I held a sea cucumber for the first time, and they had sea urchins etc. Then they brought a conch shell out and showed us how they crack a hole in the shell and get the urchin out inside it. The guy then proceeded to clean it, dip it in the ocean to rinse it off, and cut it into small pieces for us to eat! How cool is that?! I fell in love with it and had a couple more pieces.
Wishing I could go swimming on this beach, alas we were directed back to our kayaks and paddled back to the base. We were so sweaty and hot that we did not feel like walking around much and just headed back onto the ship. Our next stop was San Juan, and since I missed so many pictures, I took my camera with me there! So goodbye Grand Turk. Hope I make it back some day!