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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hopkinson

Diving Parrot Tree Wall

The past couple of days we've been SCUBA diving Parrot Tree Wall! It was nice to get back in the water, without worrying about instruction or schedules, just pure fun diving. It's a bit colder than the normal eighty plus degrees, but 78 still feels just about right, nice and refreshing -- the water is just slightly more invigorating.

They say you never really know a place until you run it or bike it everyday. Otherwise it's impossible to feel the rhythm of the place. Same goes for diving. You can't know a site until you've done it repeatedly, the same time of day, you could have a thousand different conditions depending on the weather. Seems crazy that we haven't gone diving here yet, but sometimes you're always looking over the next horizon, at the next bay or island instead of taking a nice, good look around where you are. And Parrot Tree is beautiful, it's a gorgeous dream of a place, we just haven't had the time to actually just dive at Parrot Tree until now. We see the boats from Coco View out there all the time. They come inside second bight when the weather is too rough for their surface intervals.

We've been snorkeling outside the wall at PT many times. It's a gorgeous wall, but diving it is something else. Even on calm days where there was little wind, there was a substantial amount of current surging around the reef out there. There pretty much always is -- that's just the way the underwater topography brings the sea. We planned our dives accordingly, heading into the current both times at the beginning which made coming back a breeze, floating on the invisible sea flow back to our nicely moored dinghy.

Who needs to fly when you can soar underwater without ever really having to worry about gravity? Dropping down on the left side of the Parrot Tree entrance when you're facing out from the marina, a site known on the Roatan Dive Site Map maintained by the Roatan Marine Park as "Single Div" felt like becoming one with our home here on the big island of Roatan. It's a gorgeous wall, with lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.

We've been here for a year but we haven't really been able to call second bight home until we've been really intimate with Parrot Tree -- diving all her hidden places. Even after diving her for several days in a row, we can't say we've cracked the surface in what she has to offer. Sure, the currents are strong, there are more lionfish than I care to ever see, like this one. We never have our speargun when we need it!

There are loads of gorgeous noninvasive fish, the reef is looking sharp, in amazing shape for this time of year, exhibiting little of the effects of bleaching that were reported heavily last year.

It's fabulously fun to go diving by ourselves. It just is. A guy who owns one of the units at PT pulled up next to us as we were loading tanks into the trunk of our little car and asked us where we went diving and who we went diving with. Sometimes Andrea and I have different answers. Occasionally I utter my alternate suggestions. In this case, I probably would have been too rude, because, I'm not the best people person, as they say. Bait me and I'll tend to kick you in the nuts, because, well., why not? Andrea tends to be a little more social and explained how we weren't diving with anyone -- that we were licensed professional divers just exploring the reef in our off time. He seemed interested, like he wanted to talk more but unsecured SCUBA tanks have a way of talking that speak volumes.

After a substantial hour surface interval back on City Dogs, the second dive we did was on the right side of Parrot Tree if you're coming out from the marina. On the RMP maps it's called "Parrot Tree", and according to the book the mooring is set at 60 feet attached to a piece of a wreck near the wall that descends quickly down past recreational limits. We can confirm the mooring is attached to a big wreck and it's a gorgeous wall. Precarious, though. Nice drop if you know what you're doing, a bit steep for anyone who isn't pretty with it or sure of themselves and their abilities.

We saw a totally chill big spotted eagle ray on our first dive. Andrea didn't even see it until it was almost on her. Then she starts banging on her tank like I hadn't been watching it for the past thirty seconds. Still, she got some great footage of it. We were close enough to reach out and touch, only we kept our hands to ourselves and enjoyed the encounter immensely. For such large creatures, spotted eagle rays are incredibly graceful, agile swimmers. They look like they're floating until they feel the need for a speed burst and you see what they're really capable of doing.

On the second dive, we ran into a really inquisitive green moray eel, as well as a big grouper, which makes me suspect the local dive operations as being engaged in feeding lionfish to what are ostensibly apex predators. Regardless, both dives were amazing, full of the kind of encounters that make experiences worth sharing. We'll be posting more in the next couple of days depending on how the bandwidth is, but in the meantime check out more of the eel below just freeswimming around. Moments like these are really special, the kind that you hold onto and treasure.

So much fun. Such a variety of life to see existing at seventy, eighty, ninety, one hundred feet deep off the coast of the island. Especially in the current, it's like flying. Like watching an alien landscape slowly flow past you. It's religious, it's inspiring and otherwordly and intense. Out there, under the sea, with atmospheres stacked about you, it's impossible not to realize, no matter how at home you might feel, that you are the stranger, the interloper, the one who doesn't belong.

We always strive to leave no trace, especially when we snorkel or dive. It's also something we try to impress upon our guests, the need to exist in harmony with the environment as much as possible. It's the least we can do for the beautiful natural world that has given us so much. Leaving no trace is hard, especially when you want to get that good shot, but we take memories that are much more hi-def than anything GoPro is likely to put together.

Seeing the island from the underside, from the bottom of the reef up to the surface is something that lets you appreciate the vagaries of the current and the waves. When you've got five feet and a couple inches worth of keel underneath your home, when you come up from the second dive and you can see your marina back in the background, back through the jagged cut in the reef into second bight, when your mind can put together the underwater topography from the outer extremes of the reef through into the docks with detail, you know you're home. Hell, if we needed to, we could swim City Dogs in.

Next time we're gonna dive Port Royal, maybe Morat wall? Let us know what sites we have to hit up!

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