Clutching my ‘YAARRGH’ boarding pass, I jumped onto the real pirate ship and wondered exactly how long I had waited to be a pirate. The lucky folks at Jolly Pirates get to captain their own ship every day, and have a great time putting smiles on the faces of their sailors.
If you’re looking for a fun sailing activity to do while in Aruba, even if you have little kids, then Jolly Pirates and their Sail, Snorkel & Swim trip is the ideal treat. Including lunch and an open bar, the 9am – 1.30pm trip is a great way to experience Aruba’s exciting sea life up close and have fun doing so on a real pirate ship.
On board the pirate ship
Life’s a beach when you’re on the Jolly Pirates ship. The Pirate’s Poison punch flows freely, the sun beams down every single day, and snorkelling and swimming are the only tasks on the agenda. No swabbing the decks here!
This isn’t a pretend ship by the way, it’s a real (albeit a little bit smaller than average) ship with a wooden wheel and flags ahoy. You can sunbathe on the deck as it sails to each snorkel point, or sit in the shade under the canopy if the blazing sun becomes too much. There’s music to get you in the mood for partying too, which becomes suspiciously more exciting when it’s time for the rope swing to make an appearance…
Snorkel and swim
It’s exciting sailing along the Aruban coast in a hunk of a real pirate ship, but the snorkelling you get to do along the way is even more fun. With the Snorkel, Sail & Swim option, Jolly Pirates will take you to three main snorkel points on the island. The first stop is the Antilla Shipwreck, which is 55ft deep and requires you to wear a lifejacket. Jump into the cool water from the deck and you’ll be glad of it – the lack of clouds in Aruba can be overwhelming without a break from the heat. Look under the water and you’ll be able to see the wreck, as well as a few scuba divers taking the chance to explore.
You’ll see plenty of fish here too, slipping between your legs and making you jump if it’s your first time snorkelling. Then it’s back on the boat for more Pirate Punch and more dancing as you sail along to the next spot – the beautiful Boca Catalina. Much shallower than the previous spot, you’re not required to wear a lifejacket, but they do advise you use it as it’s very easy to become distracted by the sea life! Here is where you’ll swim with Yellow Striped Grunt and Sergeant Majors, and you might even get a look at some tiny squid! The water is a lot steadier here, so there are fewer jokes about turning up in Panama 4 days later – phew.
The final stop is Malmok, a shallower spot very close to the shoreline with much smaller (and cuter) fish. It’s not all about the snorkelling though; you can swim around the boat and practice being a mermaid with your flippers too. I’ll admit I spent a fair few minutes doing the latter, and I’m not embarrassed about it!
After all the water fun, it’s time for a BBQ lunch. Jolly Pirates order the food from caterers, so it arrives hot from the kitchen and is literally shipped to the boat from shore. It’s an easy chicken drumstick and BBQ ribs dish with rice and potato salad, but if you’re vegetarian they’re more than happy to provide an alternative if you let them know in advance. Suitably full from lunch, we all took a quick dip to cool off again and then it was time for what everyone had been waiting for – the rope swing.
This is where the music starts pumping a little louder, a queue forms, and everyone has a go at swinging themselves off the side of the bow. The crew will even get the girls lining up to try a tandem swing, where they essentially get a backflip piggy-back straight into the Caribbean sea!
After plenty more Pirate Punch and BBQ, there was only so much rope swinging people could take, so before long we were all back on the boat and sailing with huge smiles back to the Jolly Pirates pier.
Hints and tips
- Be last on the shuttle boat and you’ll be first on the ship to take your pick of sunbathing spots
- They’ll warn you aboard the ship too, but drink responsibly and don’t go ‘overboard’ with the Pirate Punch
- The water is shallow and smooth enough to take underwater photos of the fish you’ll swim with, so look into getting an underwater camera bag to keep photos of your experience
You can see more about Jolly Pirates, view images from past tours, and receive a discount by booking online on their website.
*This post originally appeared on TheTravelEditor.com and the trip was kindly arranged by them. Opinions are my own.
please note: some header images are from unsplash.com