Day 2: SCUBA diving, and daytrip to the island of Nevis
Woke up a bit before seven after more than nine hours of glorious sleep, despite the fact the room was slightly on the warm side – it never got much below 71/72 in the room despite the air being on full blast. Just cool enough to be sleepable, but barely. Headed straight out the hotel and down the main road to grab coffee and breakfast at Rituals Coffee Shop right when they opened at 7am. Rituals is a caribbean chain, and sort of like the starbucks of the Caribbean. Nothing fantastic, but a good reliable source of caffeine, which is just what I needed. They had no trouble making a triple shot over ice, and also got a ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on the bagel.
Walked the half mile or so back to the hotel, and packed up the dive gear, since the dive shop was picking me up at 8am sharp for a morning of diving. While waiting in the lobby I spotted another person with diving gear, and we started chatting, and turned out he was there with the family and lived just a few miles away in Virginia. Small world indeed – and lucky for me because he helped me remember I’d forgotten my dive computer in the room so I ran up and grabbed it quickly.
We were picked up just a few minutes late by Dive St Kitts, which operates complimentary transfers for their divers between hotel and the the dive shop. Nice added bonus! They do a two-tank boat dive every morning, and I’d signed up for just one day to start since I figured I might want to use the second day to play tourist. The ride to the shop was maybe 15 minutes, and when we got there we sorted out paperwork while the crew prepared the boat. This was a full service operation, with them doing all the work for you. They hooked up BCDs, regs, and tanks, and all you had to worry about was diving – quite nice!
We did a very thorough dive briefing in the shop before heading out – and it was definitely the most comprehensive briefing I’ve had anywhere. Details about the dive sites we’d be doing, details on the boat including entry and exit to the water, etc. Although the shop is basically a older one-room seaside building, the quality of the crew was definitely amazing to see. Our divemaster for the day was also fantastic, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their infamous boat captain, known as Captain Crabby. We got him to crack several smiles, however, so I’m pretty sure there’s a softy under that sarcastic exterior!
One more note…Jeff, the guy I’d met earlier in the lobby, turned out to be a fantastic photographer. I’d decided to dive without a camera since it had been nearly 18 months since I’d been diving, and I really just wanted to focus on enjoying it as opposed to fussing about pictures all the time. Turned out to be the right call, because Jeff was an amazing photographer and more than willing to share photos…so thanks to Jeff, I got these great shots from the first day of diving:
Wreck of the MV Corinthian:
Turtle just hanging out:
Marine life on the wreck:
Staring contest with the world’s laziest turtle:
Stingray just hanging out in the sand:
Me on the right, swimming towards the wreck of the MV River Taw on the second dive:
Couple more turtle shots:
A whole pod of lobsters, just hanging out:
By the time we got back to shore, it was around 11:30. Dried off packed up the gear, and decided I’d come back the next day since I’d had so much fun and the diving was really top notch. Of course, we couldn’t head back to the hotel, because every dive with Dive St Kitts is followed by a complimentary rum or fruit punch by the pool! Can’t beat that…plus it’s a chance to chat with Captain Crabby!
By the time I got back to the hotel, I thought if I rushed I could still catch the 2pm ferry from Basseterre over to Nevis, giving me a chance to get at least a very quick glimpse of the other island. Hurried and cleaned up, threw on some clothes, and got in a taxi from the Marriott to the Basseterre ferry port. No need to rush, because I still got there with nearly 40 minutes to spare. Plus, I was starving. At the port I had my choice of the fine establishments below “Up All Night,” “Fashion Mart,” and “Queen of Peace” among others. They seemed to be more drinking places, although there was a guy just beginning to grill up whole chickens as well…but no way they’d be ready in time.
This left one option: KFC. However, one small problem. The line was 50+ people deep and was moving about as fast as a sloth. I waited 10 minutes before giving up, and resigning myself to being starving when I got to Nevis. It didn’t bode well that this car was parked in the ferry terminal parking lot:
Boarding my ferry, the “Sea Hustler,” to Nevis:
Relaxing on the deck of the ferry:
Approaching Nevis after approximately 50 minutes:
Found a taxi at the port – apparently the only taxi, and negotiated with him. I’d found out a friend was currently on Nevis, so I was going to meet him at Sunshines Restaurant for a lunch and then a 45-60 minute drive around the island. We agreed on a fair price, and were off.
We’d picked Sunshines because it was right next to his hotel, and because the Marriott Beach Bar bartender told me the one thing I had to do on Nevis was go to Sunshines for a “Killer Bee” which is their signature drink. I have to say it was really nothing special, basically just passionfruit juice and local strong rum. That didn’t stop me from trying a second, however, just to be sure! Finally got some food with a lobster roll, which was pretty tasty.
After lunch I drove around the island for about 45 minute and got a decent little taste of it. It would be the perfect island for a nice relaxing vacation if you just wanted to get away from it all.
Based on timings, the ferry that would work best for my return trip over to St Kitts was the “Sea Bridge.” It’s a much shorter ride of only about 20-25 minutes, but goes to the far eastern tip of St Kitts, which is a much longer drive back to the Marriott. I’d been warned by the hotel I’d never get a taxi there, so I had arranged with the driver who dropped me off to pick me up when it arrived.
The Sea Bridge:
Got a seat on the upper deck, and was ready to go about 5 minutes before departure time:
However, we ended up leaving nearly 30 minutes late. This was kind of lucky, however, because it meant some great sunset views:
We arrived about 30 mnutes late and I felt bad making my driver wait, but he was just pulling up as we arrived. “I knew it would be late – it always is. Everyone knows it is, so they don’t show up on time.” Ah island time!
Got back to the hotel, and I was incredibly thirsty from being out on the water and in the sun all day, so it was time for a sundowner. There’s a common local grapefruit soda called “Ting” and a local drink called “Ting with a Sting” is this soda with a shot of rum in it. It was quite tasty:
It was already getting late, so I went with Trip Advisor and took a short walk to Bombay Blues restaurant. Yes, Indian food in the Caribbean – why not? Was greeted by the owners, and when they found out I’d actually visited India multiple times they were thrilled. Yes, they could do spicy, and yes, they would just take away the problem of ordering and bring me what they recommend. After “How hungry are you?” “Very” “How spicy do you like it?” “Very” we were set.
To start, samosas:
This was followed by a delicious chicken tikka appetizer:
Followed by some garlic naan and a delicious mutton curry:
Finished off with some galub jamun and local berry ice cream. Yum!
By this point I was absolutely stuffed, but it was easily one of the best Indian meals I’ve ever had. What a great surprise find!
Back to the hotel, and crashed by 9pm again. All the sun and go go go had worn me out!