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Snorkelling Bell Island’s Sea Caves With Ocean Quest

Have you ever wondered what lies beyond the dark mouth of a sea cave? Are you curious about the mysterious creatures that live within? Ocean Quest Adventure Resort has added a new offering to their Close Encounter Tours: 2 guides, 3 hours, 4 boats, 8 lights, 12 people, and 24 fins – it’s time to go swimming in the dark!

I arrived at Ocean Quest in beautiful Conception Bay South on a sunny Sunday in September. What makes this tour so special is that it happens during the fall months – Ocean Quest firmly believes that there is adventure to be had in Newfoundland all year round and I couldn’t agree more! I got fitted for a wet suit, snorkel and fins and jumped aboard the zodiac for the ride of a lifetime! We soared over the waves, the wind cold on my face, the ocean spray salty on my lips. The group laughed and cheered as we skipped across the ocean like a beach rock until we came to our destination – the beautiful coast of Bell Island.

We hopped in our kayaks and began exploring. I felt like I was on another planet. The coast was rocky and almost red in colour. My guide joked that the rocks looked like Jenga pieces that could be pulled out and rearranged – I had never seen anything like it. As we paddled we looked up just in time to catch an eagle flying in circles above our heads – no doubt looking for it’s lunch. We kayaked all the way to “the bell” – a rock formation from which Bell Island gets it’s name. Captain Rick tagged along in the zodiac, regaling us with tales of the region and even a story about Bell Island’s nude beach (you’ll have to take the tour to hear the rest of that one). Finally we hopped back in the boat, eager to explore beneath the waves – it was time to snorkel!

Our first stop was a naturally formed archway we had passed in our kayaks. Captain Rick cut the engine and invited us to jump in – he didn’t have to ask twice – the group jumped, dived and even cannonballed into the ocean! The archway was long and narrow, but once inside the waves made exploring easy as they picked you up and pulled you towards the opposite end. As I swam I peered into the deep and marvelled at the wildlife. There were hundreds and hundreds of starfish living in the archway! All different sizes and colours. It was incredible. Afterwards we swam a little further and explored a reef that was teeming with crab and mussels – I even saw a lobster! Eventually we were called back to the boat – it was time for the grand finale, we were off to snorkel inside a sea cave!

The zodiac stopped in front of “the clapper” – if the conditions are just right, the waves inside the cave make a great clapping noise – and also, every “bell” needs a clapper, Captain Rick informed us. We grabbed our flashlights and jumped in. The entrance to the cave was dark and looming. I had paddled inside sea caves before but this was different. I took a deep breath, turned on my light and looked down. My flashlight revealed a world unlike anything I had ever seen. The starfish were huge and colourful – I saw deep shades of red and blue and purple. There were small, white fish that almost looked like a jellyfish but they were phosphorescent, emitting beautiful sparks of light as they swam around me. We swam deeper and deeper into the cave until we could go no further.  ”Close Encounter” is an understatement. Here I was, running my hands along slick, black walls formed over thousands of years by the waves of the Atlantic. It just doesn’t get any closer than that.

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