We are adventurous, and a little bit cheap. Our Monday started with a walk over to the Beach hut where Ritz guests can get snorkel masks and fins for no charge. We wanted to explore Boca Catalina today so getting our gear was a priority. Next we decided to walk and take the bus as we enjoy experiencing local culture and areas that can’t be explored through a taxi or tour bus window. Our next destination after picking up our snorkel equipment was the bus stop out in front of the Marriott – just beyond the round a bout off to the right of the hotel entrance. We had looked up the bus schedule and knew that the public bus would be arriving about 8:40am. A modern bus pulled up right on time and we boarded. The fare was $2.60 per person – and the driver was able to give us change.
The driver followed the frontage road through the high rise and in to the low rise area. When we came to the stop for SuperFoods he told us and we departed the bus. He told us to walk up the adjoining street past some condos and as we walked we noticed a sign with an arrow for SuperFoods that that pointed down a stone path. We looked around a bit and we could see that there was a fence ahead and no where to cross the four lane road that runs next to the grocery store. We took the path around and ended up at the stop light with a crossing lane for pedestrians.
The store was open (they open at 8am) and we had not had breakfast yet – thinking we would buy something to have there. When we walked in we noticed that there was a small cafeteria type restaurant called Jack’s Café (It resembled and IKEA type restaurant if you have ever been there). We were ready for some coffee and saw that there were omelets on the menu so we got in line and ordered. The veggie omelets were delicious, the side of bacon for each of us was huge (we could have gotten by with sharing) and the coffee was perfect. Our total for this meal was $16! We came back later in the week and shared one breakfast ($8) as it was plenty for both of us.
My heritage is Dutch – but have only experienced the culture through Grandparents and parents. I had asked our bartender at Que Pasa earlier in the week about Dutch bakeries on island. I wanted to try some of the goodies I had tasted growing up. He said Super Foods was a great place to see all the traditional Dutch foods and they had the best bakery on island.
We shopped around Superfoods buying some traditional Dutch pastry called Banket, some packages of Ollie Bollen (another Dutch treat) and boxes of Kinder Eggs which were a big hit with the kiddos when we got home – evidently these are hard to find in the US. The meat and cheese counter is absolutely amazing offering a wonderful variety. We bought the most expensive bottle of Tito’s Vodka we have ever bought ($34) in an earlier post I had mentioned it but I’ll say it again, buy it at the duty free when you arrive where it is just $22. Some people have posted that wine is a good deal and it seemed to be well priced. We did not go upstairs but it looked like there was furniture and other “department” store items up there. There is also a separate section near the front that has Sunscreen, make-up and vitamins. I inquired about the availability of Retin A at this shop – but the salesperson directed me outside and to the right for a visit to the pharmacy. We stopped at the pharmacy and were able to buy prescription strength Retin A for $15 a tube. Since we had a couple heavy bags we grabbed a waiting cab from the stand outside of SuperFoods and headed back to our hotel. That ride cost us $8.
We put our goodies in our room, changed in to our swimsuits and shorts, grabbed our snorkel gear and headed out to grab a cab for the short ride to Boca Catalina. It was a short 15 minute ride north of our hotel, passing wind surfers and deserted beaches on the way. The driver stopped near a sandy spot between some rocky areas where it was easy to drop our bag and towels and head in to the water.
We noticed 6 boats with snorkelers and swam in the direction of the bobbing heads. The first thing we noticed was lots of fish, and the water was a bit murky but the reef was mainly white. We are used to seeing vibrant colors and fan coral and that made this reef very different from our St. John snorkels. It made us a little sad to see some of the huge brain corals cracked off a their base or other coral cracked in half. It may be boats or people causing the damage, but seeing it and realizing it is not something that will repair itself is sad. We snorkeled along the entire beach and then floated back to where our things were on the beach – taking about 90 minutes in the water to just enjoy the variety of fish and the layout of the reef. As we got out of the water we could see that there was a storm approaching – so we started to look for where there might be some cover. There are palapa on the beach – but no restaurants or bars – so we walked up to the parking area near the road. The rain started and grew stronger. We noticed that there was a bus stop sign and saw another family headed that way so we walked over and found a bit of cover under a tree. About 5 minutes later the bus stopped. Our little group had grown to about 10 people so we all boarded and paid and were on our way. The bus filled up in 2 more stops and ours was the 3rd stop. We jumped off, made our way to the hotel and since it had stopped raining our walk back allowed us to dry off a bit.
By the time we got back to our room the sun had come back out so we did a quick rinse, changed clothes and headed to the pool for another hour. We ended the night by taking a short walk through the Marriott properties and over to Moomba Beach Bar where we enjoyed dinner, drinks and some live music. Little did we know that the hostess who sat us would be part of our crew the next day we head back to Oranjestad for our sailing adventure with the crew of Tranquilo – can’t wait!