Our family has always loved the ocean. Previous to our Aruban vacation, we had participated in dozens of private snorkel boat charters throughout many different islands in the Caribbean. After all the years of trolling the ocean, I was pretty sure our whole family could qualify as seasoned sea going professionals.
So, when I came across the Driftwood Fishing Charter, I fell in love with the ocean-to-table experience. You go out with the boat in the morning to catch your own fish and then swing by the namesake-dining establishment called the Driftwood Restaurant that very same night to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I couldn't think of a better way to introduce deep sea fishing to the children.
I went right to work to get the activity on the itinerary. I was told the 8am time slot was generally the best for catching the most fish. Reluctantly, I secured the spot as suggested. I am not traditionally a morning person but I decided this was going to be worth it. I could find it within myself to rally.
Fishing Charter: The Beginning
We stuck to a healthy breakfast of store bought fruit and yogurt from Tei Wing Supermarket, then jumped in to a $12 (US) taxi from the Marriott Stellaris to take us to the Renaissance Marina where the fishing boat was docked.
As my family of four energetically boarded the rustic fishing boat, we were greeted with a bit of a stare down. Captain Jairo took one look at us with our Starbucks coffee cups, my Lululemon leisure wear, and the Ritz Carlton South Beach baseball caps and immediately called it: This is going to be too rough for the lot of you.
The Captain had three things to discuss before we departed.
- Deep-sea fishing was like Vegas. It was a crapshoot with really low odds of coming back a winner.
- The seas are rough and we should anticipate getting seasick.
- We will not spend the whole 4 hours we paid for on the water.
The price tag was a bit steep at $400 to finish early and come back empty handed. I mean...I did promise my children fish for dinner. To make matters worse, that early morning wakeup call threw me a bit off my game. I accidentally left the Dramamine at the hotel.
But...these kids had been sailing the seas since birth. They had stomachs of steel I reminded myself. My husband and I were convinced the experience alone was worthwhile fish or no fish.
With that, crew introductions were made. They weren’t super personable but these were fisherman gosh darn it. They don’t have the reputation of being all that chatty. “Authentic” was how I described their one word answers to the children.
Lifejackets and non-alcoholic drinks were introduced.
We asked the crew to explain how and why they were doing what they were doing to entice the fish. This helped loosen them up a bit and our children listened. I was pleased they were absorbing the details behind the art of catching what you eat.
We sailed past the Oil Drilling Platforms and tanker ships. We edged closer and closer to the coast of Venezuela, deeper and deeper into the swells of the sea.
Kid Allergy, my husband and youngest son reeled in a couple of beautiful black fin tuna. My husband then nabbed a Barracuda with great big teeth and a fighting spirit.
But...about an hour and a half in, I started to have trouble with the fumes from the exhaust. From where we were instructed to sit it was consistently blowing in our faces. Plus, the waves were starting to break over the sides of the boat and I was getting wetter and wetter.
I got up to search for some fresher air from within the cabin. This was the point at which I really started to wish I had that Dramamine. I plopped on to the pleather brown sofa indoors, closed my eyes for a moment, and tried to regroup.
But, I shot up to the sound of my four-year-old screaming. I rushed out and scooped him up in my arms.
While on my lap, he vomited.
Fishing Charter: The Ending
Ok..the Captain wins. Time to turn back I told my husband.
Fifteen minutes later, Kid Allergy comes inside and parks himself on the couch because he was not feeling well.
I politely ask for a trash receptacle in case someone gets sick. One of the crewmembers, the Captain’s son, handed me a trash bin with no liner. He tried to engage in some lighthearted conversation telling me of how miserable he felt on the ocean when he first began this as a career. I thanked him. I then calmly asked him to grab my husband.
I was sweating profusely. I was struggling to keep down my apple and deeply regretted drinking that Latte.
Upon my husband’s entry, I realized I could keep it together no longer. I looked at Kid Allergy. He was trying so very hard to keep his breakfast down. His eyes closed. His fists clinched.
Then...the chain reaction began.
Have you ever seen that scene in the movie Stand By Me? The one with the pie-eating contest? That is exactly what is was like. I started a never-ending chain of seasickness that did not stop for my two sons until they landed their feet on shore.
Shockingly, for me, on the way back to the Marina I was able to pull it together long enough to snag two vibrant and feisty rainbow colored Mahi-Mahi. I was determined to catch something on that boat seeing how I vowed to never go deep sea fishing again. I needed at least one souvenir to happily check it off my bucket list for good.
As we pulled in to the dock, I can assure you my two sons and I had never been happier to get off the ocean waters. We felt like we had been beaten by the sea and couldn’t imagine eating anything at all, let alone the fish we caught. But, we confirmed a 6:30pm dinner reservation anyway. We had one more phase left to complete our ocean-to-table experience.
Read about it here: Part 2: Eat What You Catch @ Driftwood Restaurant
So, it turns out, we are not the seafaring family I thought we were before this Aruban Deep Sea Fishing experience.
But…I urge you to seriously consider the effect of the waves before booking this charter with kids. If you or your family has a propensity to get seasick, give it careful consideration before pulling the trigger.
Do not forget your Dramamine. Even if you have never been seasick before, do not leave the dock without it.
And, yes, the Captain tried to warn us but I still wish he had considered the small age of the children anyway and made different, more conservative choices to steer us not so far out and in to less rough waters.
Catching fish was what we paid him for (I get it). And, yes, he did accomplish that. But…I would have been satisfied with like only 2 fish instead of 10 for a lot less vomiting.