After my family vacation turned mope-fest in May and our epic 4 towns in 8 days Colorado adventures in August, I knew we needed something a little more low key than the week-long diving trip we wanted to take in Roatan.  Bonaire was an experience like no other, and I’m looking forward to diving all day every day again soon, but after this crazy year, I needed something without morning alarms and commitments and all that.  Also, a little less expensive was ideal.

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Enter: Key Largo.  All the ocean fun with a much cheaper plane fare and snorkeling access whenever we wanted on the private beach and lagoon.  We even went down without a diving trip booked.  8 days, no plans.  It was exactly what I needed.

Thursday was an annoyingly long travel day.  I feel like we lost it almost altogether.  We were out the door at 9 to drop off the pets for a 11:40 flight.  We lost an hour care of the change from central to eastern time zones, we waited an hour for our luggage, we waited another hour for the car, and a 2 hour drive ended up being 4 with traffic. To top it off, our confirmation was lost, and we got denied entrance to our condo at 9pm, wondering if we’d have a place to stay for the night.

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However, it’s hard to complain about being in traffic in a Mercedez Benz, and once we got there and got our first margarita on the water (as we contacted the owners and they got it fixed lickety split), everything faded away and vacation really started!

Friday was a pretty iffy weather day.  We got a little snorkeling in, but the seas were rough and the day was more about EATING fish than seeing fish.

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We lunched at Hobo’s Cafe on mahi quesadillas and a lobster po boy, and fortified for the week and got groceries.  The crappy snorkeling convinced us that YES we wanted to dive and YES ASAP so we booked a trip for the next morning.

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We wanted to bike there, but the rain kept spitting at us, so we took the Benz (yep, going to keep saying it…) and visited the fish market to get shrimp and more mahi for tacos for dinner.  Most delicious grilled corn completed the meal.

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Saturday morning we headed out to Molasses Reef on a boat.  It was amazing.  I’m going to do an additional Creatures Seen in the Water post next, so I’ll save all those tales since this recap is long enough.  However, I will say that we both agreed we could dive Molasses Reef for a week straight and not get bored.

We had burgers for lunch at the little bar by the pier, and then I figured I’d spend a moment watching Kona since it was on NBC before going back out to the water.  Instead, I fell asleep on the couch.  I guess I needed the nap more than anything.

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The rain continued steadily so we put a dent into some of our liquor stash and read books on the patio all afternoon.  While more water time would have been ideal, it was glorious in it’s own right.

Sunday, the weather was finally Florida-tastic!  We had a lazy morning and then got on with the #ridingbikes to #goplayoutside!

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First was lunch at JJ’s diner, and after fish for days, a chicken gyro was a nice diversion.  Then, we headed to the dive shop to book another dive trip for the next afternoon because we didn’t get enough bubble time.  Then, we hit up the big dive store for some upgrades – I got myself a neoprene strap and holder for my snorkel (I was so sick of getting my hair caught in it… worth every penny of the ten bucks combined).  We also got new dive shoes to replace our boots.  All of it got stashed in my awesome blue backpack and we biked home.

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It was pretty close to low tide when we got to the water, and I groused about it at first.  “This is worthless,” I said, but I got in the water anyway.  Then it was amazing.  From then on, I got in the water whenever we got a chance.

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For dinner, we grilled our leftovers from the fish market with some butter garlic rice, grilled broccolini, and caesar salad.  I’m still dreaming about this meal.

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Monday, we got up in time to get some morning snorkeling in, and then ate another Publix sub and got out for our afternoon diving trip.

Diving days really are the best days even when they’re not.  The first dive was fucking phenomenal, but the jellyish were out.  I got hit by sea lice on the first dive (jellyfish particulate) and then again on the second.  But, I got to see all sorts of nifty creatures… which I’ll talk about in the next post.  Spoiler: I think dive #1 is in my top 5 of all time.  So, it was totally worth it.

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Then, we consoled ourselves with our stingy skin with fried food and blendy drinks and watching sunset from the tiki bar at Skipper’s Dockside.  It worked out just fine.

Tuesday, the seas were calmer and I was bound and determined to spend every moment I could in the water.  We snorkeled our normal spot in the morning and then we decided to walk to the jetty and Zliten jumped in there.  He spent some time looking around and then shouted, “THROW ME MY CAMERA!”.  What did we see?  Stay tuned for the next post….

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Walking back, I started poking Zliten’s shoulder and hyperventilating.  Apparnetly, in my language, that means MANATEES!!!  There, right in the harbor, were two of them (center bottom pane above) hanging out.  We watched them for a while and they were awesome.   It was the best morning.

Then, in the evening, we snorkeled until after sunset and we got to see the full moon over the beach.

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After getting showered and changed, we went to Tower of Pizza to refuel.  Their salad and bread was amazing, and the simple garlic butter linguini was sublime.  The pizza was pretty stellar as well (and we had leftovers for lunch).

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Wednesday was our last full day, so we started it off with a quick little run to the jetty (considering it had been over a week, I wanted to make sure I remembered how), and then it was pretty much eat, drink, snorkel, repeat.  For breakfast, I had the last of my yogurt and cereal, coffee with spiked eggnog, and then a morning snorkel.

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Then for lunch, we had the leftover pizza and I had some fruit to use up, so I made a smoothie.  I also had some tequila left, so I made my smoothie alcoholic. 🙂

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In the late afternoon, I dragged Zliten out for one more snorkel.  He was a little salty about it (he was enjoying the patio and reading and beers), but after we saw SO MANY COOL THINGS, he agreed it was worth getting back out there.

I was already making the sad face when we got out of the water (no more snorrrrrrkles, wahhhhh) but we still had our seafood feast at The Fish House planned.  We saved it for the last day and after four hours in the water, we totally earned it.

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Then, we had one more evening on the patio, using up the rest of the rum, and staying up way too late.  We didn’t want to let vacation go just yet.

Thursday morning came a little too soon, but I knew I’d feel better sacrificing a little sleep for another quickie run to the jetty and a dip in the lagoon.  I got a fond farewell from queen tarpin, the parrotfish, and the trunkfish.

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Then, we started the long trek home.  A few hours drive to the airport (with our last publix sub on the way), and an uneventful sunset flight home.

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I was pretty salty about coming home at first, but it’s been nice.  I feel refreshed and happy.  It helps I still have another two weeks of vacation, but it was a great kick off to my winter break.

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