OUR PRIVATE ISLAND FOR THE DAY
North of our anchorage at Morgan’s Bluff, about 2 miles, lay two small islands known as the Golden Keys. These magnificent and battered-looking islands graced our view for over a week before the winds had calmed enough to make the dinghy crossing to them. As the stretch of water between us and the keys was exposed to the open ocean waves, we waited for the calmest of days to go.
We set out about noon with fins, snorkels, masks, spear, and dive knife (we were told sharks may be present).
After a quick scenic pass around the cliffs on the west side of the larger key, and another around the entirety of the smaller key, we found our spot some 25 minutes after setting off. Upon arrival to the “beach” (which was more like a slick of shattered coral and sea shells of all kinds), we landed the dinghy. The kids hopped out with life jackets donned and snorkels in hand for an afternoon of adventure.
Orli took to the beach mesmerized by the shells and daydreaming about the collection she would be bringing back with us.
Zion popped on his snorkel and went straight in the water poking his head out every 30 seconds or so—sounding off about the abundance of sea life he was seeing.
Noah, like a miniature bulldozer, plowed through each wave as it came to shore and kept on steaming on like nothing had happened. In an ever present struggle to keep up with her older brother and sister, she has learned to fight the waves back and enjoy every minute of it.
After spending some time collecting sea shells, sea glass, coral and beautiful sea fans, Zion and I decided to set off to circumnavigate this tiny island’s shoreline. Immediately past the beach we encountered a sharp jagged shoreline with a vast multitude of urchins projecting from nearly every crevice. Just a short ways beyond urchin alley, on the west side of the island, I saw what seemed to be water shooting up vertically in a near perfect column churned white as Carrera marble. As we continued on for a closer inspection we found it to be a cave, which led through a system of tunnels, and shot out a small opening in the rock. This incredibly neat feature know as a “blow hole” sends the water, forced in by each approaching wave, shooting out under pressure creating this spectacle. The rest of the island was spotted with many tide pools (pools of standing water left by a falling tide), small cliff edges and surrounded with coral and sea fans.
Upon our return to the girls, it was time to head out to the reef just off the Keys’ shore and see if there were any fish to be speared. After a couple bouts chasing a trigger fish (with no success) I came back to shore for a break and lunch.
Bethany had packed a picnic lunch of PB & J wraps so we all sat down to eat while admiring the scenery.
After lunch I decided to go out for another attempt at spearfishing. Upon rounding the first coral head I noticed some strange stick-like tentacles protruding from one of the small holes. As I poked my spear into the hole I caught a glimpse of our soon to be dinner plans. A huge spiny lobster had stationed itself in the hole for some protection—though clearly not enough. As I prodded the crevice he came out just enough to get a good spear thrust and that was it—dinner. Done. Taking him back to shore was exciting. The kids had a blast studying this interesting new creature.
Bethany instantly caught the primal urge to likewise go on the hunt, grabbed the spear and took off on her second, but more kill-focused excursion around the island. Having been gone for some time she returned with a look of both excitement and frustration. Prying into the situation, I learned she had indeed speared a crab!
She had also stumbled upon a monster lobster. Having tried unsuccessfully to spear the lobster from a precarious ledge she returned with only a small crab and the story of the lobster-beast that narrowly escaped its doom. Like any good huntswoman, she marked the spot in order to revisit the situation after our debriefing. After discussing the situation, we then determined I should make an attempt. I returned to the area she had marked with an upright stick. I climbed down the ledge onto the large rock the lobster had evacuated to and dove all around the area without any glimpse of the creature.
As the day drew to a close I took one last snorkel to the outer reef. To describe this particular section of reef, I must first say that having visited the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I’ve encountered some amazing coral formations. The quaint reef, I call the Golden reef, had a staghorn coral the size of small oak tree (standing nearly 20 feet from bottom to surface of the water), brain coral, sea fans, fire coral, and anemones with fish swimming through them. Reef fish of all kinds came out to greet me as if it were a small town community that hadn’t had a visitor in quite some time. The Great Barrier Reef clearly takes the cake in size, but it wouldn't necessarily supersede the Golden Reef in beauty or concentration of formations. Words simply cannot adequately describe the Golden Reef—so, if you get a chance, you must visit it yourself!
Once back at shore we gathered the kids and all our treasures and began our ride back to the boat.
Upon arrival Bethany grilled up our catch, we all ate dinner and snuggled in for some shut eye after the full day of adventure.