Sea Trek, De Palm Island

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Sea Trek, De Palm Island

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Review of "Sea Trek, De Palm Island"

published 26/01/2017 | Pointress
Member since : 19/03/2014
Reviews : 235
Members who trust : 51
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Thanks to all those for review and rate!
Good
Pro Good fun, something different, plenty to eat and drink
Cons On the pricey sude
exceptional
Prices
Is it worth visiting?
Transport links
Family Friendly

"We got no troubles, Life is the bubbles Under the Sea"

Down here all the fish is happy

Down here all the fish is happy

~~~ So where is Aruba? ~~~
Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – known as the ABC Islands -are part of the Netherlands. However, they are a long way from Holland – they are pretty close to the north coast of Venezuela and are islands in the Caribbean sea. In terms of land mass, Aruba is the largest of the three and the furthest east. It’s still pretty small however at just under 75 square miles, 21 miles in length and 6 miles in width. It’s also a pretty flat island that does have extensive stretches of palm-fringed white sandy beaches. The official languages are Dutch and Papiamento and the currency used is the Aruban florin but for the visitor the US dollar is widely accepted.

Anyway enough of the geography lesson and on the review. When we found ourselves on this little Caribbean island recently, we fancied doing something a little different. We were curious about the Sea Trek on offer at De Palm Island and booked.

~~~ De Palm Island ~~~
De Palm island, not to be confused with Palm Beach with its long stretch of sandy beach and upscale resorts, describes itself as “Aruba's only all-inclusive destination at an affordable all-inclusive price”. And there is certainly a lot on offer on this tiny little island. You need to buy a day pass for which you get an all you can eat breakfast and lunch buffet, a snack corner, open bar and a whole range of activities, many of which are included although the more interesting ones such as the Sea Trek are extra. To be fair (and I’m trying hard to be), the inclusive activities include a zip line (although it’s tiny and not every exciting), air jumpers, a great looking water park for the kids, snorkelling & snorkelling equipment and a tiny beach on which day visitors are packed like sardines!

‘Upgrades' to the usual day ticket (for adults USD $99.00 per person, for children (4-12) USD $69 per person) will get you options to try out Snuba (not quite scuba but a step up from snorkelling), Power Snorkelling (snorkelling with a James Bond type motorized machine) and Sea Trek, of which much more later. At an additional cost spa treatments (couple's and single's massage), hair braiding and temporary tattoos are also all available.
~~~ Getting there ~~~
De Palm is a small island off a short boat ride away from the main island. Included in the price is the ferry-ride across to the island. Most of the organised trips to De Palm include transportation to the ferry terminal but we got a taxi there and for those with their own car there is ample parking. The transfer took no more than 10 minutes in an open boat and when it came for our return trip (which incidentally was in a tropical downpour), there was no waiting for a boat and the captain was happy to take just our little party back to Aruba.
~~~ $$$ and booking ~~~
As set out above, a day on De Palm is not cheap. On top of the $99 for the day ticket we each paid an additional $49.00. Had we had children with us, they would have paid an additional $36.

We booked on line and in hindsight I could have saved myself a few dollars by opting for a half day rather than a full day on the island but we might then have felt quite rushed. I also thought I had booked an 11 am Sea Trek. The first confirmation email confirmed that but I then got a rescheduling email which put our Sea Trek much later. I was worried about this as the new time would have been too late for us. We phoned when we arrived on Aruba to confirm timings and were told not to worry – this was just done for their internal admin and we could turn up at any time and do the Sea Trek??

~~~ Sea Trek ~~~
Sea Trek is an underwater helmet guided walking tour “designed for non-swimmers and guests ages 8 to 80+”. Sea Trek is now in over 50 locations globally and as well as several locations in the Caribbean (including St Lucia, Guadeloupe, St Maarten, USVI) is also available at Sea Life in Manchester!

Participants wear specially designed diving helmets and in De Palm make their way along a 375-custom walkway 20 feet below the surface. The whole experience lasts about an hour including briefing, set up and the underwater tour itself.

As you might expect, there are a number of restrictions. Participants must be
• At least 8 years of age or older
• In good health or cleared by a physician to participate (you are required to complete and sign a brief Participant Record & Liability Release Form)
• Be comfortable in the water
• Sea Trek is subject to the following medical restrictions: pregnancy, recent surgery, high blood pressure, epilepsy, seizures & asthma

We arrived at De Palm early, got our bearings and went for a coffee. There was plenty of breakfast available but we stuck with the coffee and then looked for somewhere to sit on the tiny beach. Most of the loungers were already taken by 10.30 so I decided to queue for tiny zipline as something to do. Sod’s law, as I had just been buckled into my harness, there was a drop of rain and so the line was closed! However it killed half an hour and it was then pretty much time to check in for the SeaTrek.

Orientation & Safety Briefing:
There were probably about 40 of us booked on to tour. A roll call was taken and we then walked round to the SeaTrek base for a a 10-minute orientation and safety briefing. Air is pumped into the helmet in a continuous supply of air so while underwater your entire head remains dry and your breath completely normally. You can even wear glasses or prescription contacts.

We were briefed on hand signals for communicating underwater and the guide explained ear equalization techniques. The helmet is designed to allow you to reach your hand up inside the helmet, pinch your nose and gently blow to easily equalize your ears.

Under the sea!
We were divided up into 4 groups of 10 and given set times to return for our tour. When our time came, I think we had all become a little nervous but there was no need. It was great fun.

We lined up on a staging platform and walked down a little ladder in single file. One by one we were helped on with the helmets which seem pretty heavy until you get under water and then we were guided down into the water and made a slow descent. Having done a fair bit of scuba diving, we were wondering whether we might find the experience a bit ‘naff’ but actually it was just good fun. Very orchestrated, our every step was videoed and photographed (we were not allowed to take our own underwater cameras). The underwater guides though were excellent – shepherding us through the short walk which included a photo opportunity sitting in an old sunken jeep and then examining sea creatures in front of old bus. The guides had plenty of fish feed to encourage the fish and there were a lot of fish!

The 25 minutes just by and we were soon back on the surface and ready to go and sample the free cocktails and lunch! By this time we had worked up quite and thirst as well as appetite. Rather than going back to the main café, we perched on a high table in the beach bar area. There was a full bar - unlimited cocktails, shorts, beer and wine all on offer. There was also a snack bar serving surprisingly delicious burgers and chips.

~~~ Overall ~~~
The Sea Trek was great fun and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The staff were friendly, helpful and competent – importantly, we all felt very safe with them. We of course had to buy our photos – all the video and stills captured on a USB stick for $40 so all in all we spent quite a lot of money. Because of the price, I’d give it 4 stars.

As for the rest of De Palm, we felt we were at a tropical Butlins. Nothing wrong with that of course but it was not what we had imagined when we booked. Perhaps not helped by the wettest day Aruba had seen all year, the place was very crowded and definitely didn’t offer the best Caribbean beach experience! We could have gone to a much nicer public beach on the main island for free. However, I imagine that for those with small children De Palm has much more to offer. The water park with its slides and chutes looked like a little one’s paradise. For De Palm itself, 2 stars.

So would I recommend? I’m undecided. The Sea Trek was fun and we were all glad we did it. However, added to the price entrance to the island it was expensive. Averaging the scores out, 3 sounds about fair. My advice, think carefully about your budget and whether you want to do any of the upgrade activities before deciding.


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Comments on this review

  • raspberry_ripple published 14/02/2017
    E!
  • siberian-queen published 02/02/2017
    fab review this is one of the things i regret not doing when we were in mexico
  • Violet1278 published 30/01/2017
    A superb review which was so interesting to read.
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Product Information : Sea Trek, De Palm Island

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Listed on Ciao since: 16/01/2017