Caribbean

Islands of Adventure

written by | Posted on September 1st, 2011

“Neither [snorkeling nor subbing] require any kind of special certification,” explains Pamela Christman, who handles U.S. reservations for Stuart Cove’s. “From age 10 or 12 up, they can do the subs.” The mini-subs are different from snuba, she explains. “It’s like a moped with a bubble around it. It’s like riding a motorcycle underwater. From your shoulders up you’re breathing air, but you’re underwater. We take them down to about 15 ft, and they do a little tour.”

That main mini-subbing site is “…like a big sand bowl,” Christman describes, with coral reef formations forming a ring around it. The mini-sub machines go inside and explore its edges, home to fish galore. And guides make the exploration even better. “If there’s a starfish or a conch, they’ll pick it up and let their people have interaction with it.”

Of course, true adrenaline junkies aren’t interested in mere starfish or conch. They want to come face-to-face with danger—or at least feel like they are. For them, Christman recommends Stuart Cove’s snorkeling tours to three different sites, including a known hangout for Caribbean reef sharks.

“We take the snorkel trip to two different locations that are legitimate snorkeling sites—10 ft. to 15 ft. of water, really good for snorkeling. Then the third stop is out where the sharks are, which is not especially a snorkel site; it’s deeper, in the same place where we run our diving tours. But it’s where the sharks are, so you can be sure you’re going to see them,” Christman explains. The boat attracts the sharks with a box of bait while snorkelers look on from above. “That way, everyone who wants to can get off the boat and have a really nice snorkel, and see the sharks close up without any aggressiveness,” she explains.

But what about kids who might chicken out at the last second—or their parents? Not to worry, Christman says. “The water is extremely clear. Anybody who doesn’t want to get into the water can stand on the boat and look over the side and see everything. That’s the great thing—you don’t even have to get into the water to have the experience.”

Stuart Cove’s works closely with plenty of nearby family-friendly resorts, too, including Comfort Suites Paradise Island (comfortsuites.com), “which is right next to Atlantis,” Christman points out. “It’s a cost-effective way for kids to be able to enjoy Atlantis, with all its water features. That’s very popular for the kids.” Rates at Comfort Suites start at $166 per room per night dbl; Stuart Cove’s snorkel excursions start at $65 pp.

a private family paradise The islands of The Bahamas have plenty of adventure in store for clients willing to go exploring, but at Musha Cay (mushacay.com), David Copperfield’s private island resort in the Exumas, families can find excitement right outside their doors.

Families or other groups who book the island have access to kid-friendly fun of all sorts. Take the onsite adventure tour The Treasure of Copperfield Bay. Led by a band of pirates, guests explore Musha Cay and other surrounding islands, visiting caves, cliffs and even a petrified lake, tracing the steps of the mythical “Unknown Pirate.” Travelers can also feed their competitive streak in competitions like the Musha Olympic Games, with events from volleyball and swimming to potato sack races and egg throws; the Musha 500 is less of an adventure—it’s a goldfish race, after all—but no less competitive. But for a truly unforgettable adventure, families can request a personalized treasure hunt, complete with clues tailor-made for special events like birthdays or anniversaries and actors playing pirates to lead the way.

All-inclusive rates for up to 12 guests at Musha Cay start at $37,500 per night with a 5-night minimum.