What can I say? How do you describe a day that was better than perfect? I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to accurately convey the feeling of a day on the Ally Cat. Words keep running through my mind like…Thrilling, Exhilarating, Hilarious, Entertaining, Awe-Inspiring, Euphoric, Adventurous, Relaxing and Tranquil….I don’t know which one to pick because they ALL describe a day on the Ally Cat
Located very conveniently on the main road, in the heart of Sayulita, Mexico is the Ally Cat’s office. This is where we were all to meet up to catch the bus to the dock where our catamaran was waiting. We had chosen to take one of their day trips to the Marietas Islands, a wildlife sanctuary and marine reserve off the coast of Nayarit, Mexico. With excitement and, in need of more coffee, we all boarded the bus to start our adventure.
Once at the dock, we boarded the catamaran that was to be our home for the day. We were a pretty good size group since we were also traveling with our extended family. So we all headed to the front and got cozy in the comfy bean bag chairs and pillows spread out on the boat. Once we were settled in, we went inside the cabin to find the much-needed cup of coffee, juice, plentiful fresh fruit, and coffee cake (not gluten free! so be careful of cross contamination with the fruit).
After our delicious breakfast, we were much revived and ready to get on the way. It wasn’t too long into our journey when we came across some of the local wildlife…..
It wasn’t too long before we finally arrived at the Marietas Islands, a UNESCO site, and the hidden beach (or Playa del Amor)….
It was time to get ready to snorkel to the hidden beach. We all were given our snorkel gear, as well as life jackets we were required to wear for safety. The crew suggested we wear them around our waists so we would be safe and they wouldn’t be so annoying. It was either that, or the crew just thought it was pretty hilarious to see us all awkwardly waddling around the boat looking like this…..
Once geared up, we slid into the warm waters and began the swim through the tunnel to the hidden beach. Situated in an open sun-drenched crater, this beach is artificial, and was created by an explosion of a bomb that landed accidentally in this location during military trials in the past century. Normally, I wouldn’t think bombs created anything beautiful, but this beach is an exception.
Since you do have to swim through a tunnel to get to this incredible beach, you may want to carefully consider the swimming abilities of your kids before jumping in the ocean. Our oldest was fine with the swim. I was more nervous than her about how she would do. However, our 7 year old was a little more hesitant and decided to stay on the boat. The crew on the Ally Cat is so fantastic! They very generously offered to watch her while we swam to the beach. Believe me, she had no regrets about staying on the boat. She was pampered by the crew while we were away, with endless lemonade while she chilled in the hammock on the boat (rough life for a seven year old). That being said, our very adventurous, ocean-loving niece, who was only 1 at the time, couldn’t jump in the ocean fast enough. She was bundled up in a life vest and leisurely floated along with her parents to the beach. So really, that just goes to show, all kids are different, and it really just depends on what they can handle. In the end, it just matters that everyone has fun.
One major lesson I have learned in traveling with my kids these past 12 years is never force them do anything they don’t want to do. It will save everyone from a lot of grief and headaches. You want to be making fun memories with your family, not looking back and only remembering the giant tantrum that ruined the day. We have to remember as grown-ups that we have preferences of things we want to do on trips, and so do our kids. Take it all into consideration.
Enough about that. That’s another discussion entirely. So let’s go back to our Mexican adventure, shall we?
Once on the beach we were able to explore caves on each side of the beach. One of which is where pirates are said to have stored their stolen treasures. Kind of an exciting thought! The crew gave us a good amount of time to explore before it was time to head back to the boat for lunch….leisurely and at our own pace. My husband went straight back to the boat since we still had one daughter hanging out there. My oldest daughter and I did a bit more snorkeling on the way back. We saw lots of fish and jellyfish on our way back to the boat. By the time we were back at the boat, we had worked up a good appetite and were ready to eat! The chef cooked up an amazing lunch for us. I had emailed them before we left, as I always do, to find out about the food and if they had any gluten free options. They were more than happy to help us and as it turned out everything at lunch is naturally gluten free and incredibly delicious. They serve fajitas with corn tortillas and with all the yummy goodness that comes with that. There was more than we could possibly eat. At lunchtime, they also opened the full open bar so we were able to have a margarita and the kids were happy to have a smoothie, which was perfect, because by this time, it was getting pretty toast hot. That was easily fixed by jumping in the ocean and playing on their paddle boards, kayaks, or the lily pad that my girls loved….
It was also a perfect time to soak up the sun…..
And when we got too hot the crew was there with a five-gallon bucket of cool water to cool us off, as well as those icy cool drinks.
There was no rush back to shore. In fact, it was the time to turn up the music and dance with the very fun crew….
And they slowed the boat way down so we could all drag behind it and jump off the front of it…..
After that we began our slow and relaxed pace back to the marina. At that moment, the sun was glorious, the music was inspiring , the air was alive, our family was happy and content. Then, just to send the whole day over the top, a pod of dolphins showed up to escort us back to shore. They were swimming and leaping directly under and around the boat. They seemed to be swimming with the music, as we sped along the ocean with them. I have no pictures of this because it was just a moment to be caught up in…..Not a moment to worry about catching it on camera. It was the perfect send off as we headed back to shore.
This was one of our best days on this trip and not only was it because of the people we were with and the beauty and adventure that surrounded us, it was because of the remarkable people that work on the Ally Cat. This is a small family business, which we love to support. And those that aren’t family are treated as family. You can really tell they all have a close bond with each other, and genuinely want to share their joy with everybody on board. You can’t help but be caught up in their happiness. So if you’re ever in this part of the world, this is MUST for a family adventure!!!