We found a local dive company with day trips to Tayrona National Park, so we hopped on a boat. (Well, I say found – there are at least three, and they all work out of the marina, so it was really easy to find them; we just picked one. They even had nitrox, exciting even at 27%.) It’s a much quicker trip up the coast when your engines have an “s” at the end and pack several hundred horses. A wet trip, but quicker. Also notable, they had us wear face masks despite what we’ll conservatively call “very good airflow”, so we go to start out our first boat dive trying to breathe through wet fabric. Eventually everyone just gave up.
So we got up to the first dive site, got a quick briefing from our nominated guide, and got in the water with our guide and our assigned groupmate, who had just finished her open water course.
We dropped down with our guide, and then proceeded to wait around for a while while the guides had some kind of fire drill. We spent the time marveling at mostly barren rocks and the massive hoards of sharpnose puffers. It’s apparently spawning season for these little beauties, so they were everywhere; you can find them photobombing most of the photos for the rest of this dive. We ended up getting swapped to a different guide; when she showed up, we were watching this baloonfish.
First stop as we descended: this creepy cherub statue. This is a memorial, but seriously, who wants to be memorialized like this?
You can already see in these photos that the visibility isn’t great, and there’s not a lot of live coral. That trend continued as we descended along a cliff face and along a shallow slope. We did see some things that were new to us, though. Probably the highlight of the dive was the corallimorphs, which came in a variety of shapes and bright colors.
Also neat, there were a lot of these big Atlantic thorny oysters, which hang on walls, and close and just look like big rocks when you get too close.
There were a number of impressively big fire worms, as well as these big comet stars.
From the fish department, we only saw one queen angel, and one young lionfish. (There were more french angels.)
We also saw a few different kinds of moray; spotted, goldentail, and chain.
Also neat, this really big branching anemone, and this big barrel sponge. But that’s kind of telling about the dive: in Bonaire, we would barely have noticed either of these. At one point the guide pointed out a dead lobster head, and that felt kind of symbolic.
Our newbie companion ran out of air early, and our guide left us hanging out by this giant brain as she escorted her to the surface.
She still wanted us to come up at about 55 minutes, which felt a bit short, considering the lengthy debacle in the beginning, and since Jazz still had well over half a tank. But we weren’t that upset, seeing as there wasn’t that much to see. When we got to the surface, we found that there were three other boats waiting for our dive ball and its next door neighbor. So for some reason this is a popular dive. Our guide was also enthusiastic about how good the visibility was, and how cool and rare it was that we saw a turtle. Maybe we’ve just become spoiled, but we were not impressed with the coral, the visibility, or diving with a group, and this didn’t give us any desire to come back to dive Tayrona again.