Shell Island

Every year, my family takes a vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida. I have gone every year since I was 2 and therefore, can’t imagine a summer without going. We stay for a week and do your typical family things: eating out, swimming, beach days, blah, blah, blah. Well, for the past three or four years we have been doing something that was new to me and still continues to be exciting.

Now, every year my family will rent a boat and we will take it out to Shell Island to go snorkeling for the day. We see dauphins, jellyfish, stingrays, crabs, sea urchins, blowfish, and so much more every time we go. It really changes the way you think about the ocean. There is just something about actually swimming with these incredible creatures and seeing how they thrive in the wild that gives you a new appreciation for it.

After snorkeling for several hours, we will take the boat to the island and get off. We walk about a quarter mile to the other side of the island. The island is covered with tall grass that blows in the breeze and is only broken by one trail that leads to the other side. The sand is pure white and so hot you have to practically jog across. It always leads to a fun race between the adults and children.

Once to the other side we all just stop running. We stop running, talking, laughing and we just look. I’ve been several years now and I still find the beach mesmerizing. It is almost always empty when we go. Maybe once or twice has there been another small family, but they are usually so far away that they are reduced to just little figures dancing in the sun.

The ocean is cool and refreshing after the walk across the island. Its pale green waves welcome us in and seem to call us. The large waves carry us up and down and the curious fish come to see us. We spend the rest of our day here and enjoy having the ocean to ourselves. It almost feels like we have the entire ocean to ourselves.

Then we take the boat back and watch as the dauphins chase us. The sun sets and we finish off the day with a movie, singing, dancing, and laughing.

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Mexico

For spring break my senior year of high school, my aunt and uncle decided to take my cousin, Reece, and I on a cruise to Mexico. It was the best vacation that I have ever been on. We went to Cozumel and Progresso.

The people there were absolutely incredible. Everyone was so nice. We decided to take a trip to Merida and go snorkeling. It was an hour and a half bus ride to the village where we were going to swim.

The tour guide led us down into a cave where we would be snorkeling. A huge hole in the top (ceiling?) was the only light. We swam and the people there showed us this mud that we could use as a mud scrub (like a sugar scrub) and it worked so well.

Then we went to another cave and snorkeled there as well. This cave was my favorite because it had more room to swim and there were lots of people there to talk to. There were people from all over the world.

After we swam, we walked back to the village and the locals made us chicken tacos and lemonade from scratch. It was one of my favorite meals of the entire trip.

I loved everything about Mexico and I hope that I get to go back one day.