I am very glad this was only a half day trip, and it appeared at first it might turn into a disaster. Neither Will nor Eva had snorkeled before, and Eva is not a strong swimmer, a fact she is in denial about. Our guide Bernard was not helpful, more of a taxi driver, not offering much in the way of snorkeling guidance.
We were snorkeling off the boat, and the first place we dropped anchor had decent sized swells. Eva could not get the hang of clearing her snorkel, or keeping water from getting inside the mask (and of course she blamed the equipment). She also struggled to tread water in the chop, making it much harder for her to adjust her gear. I could not take my eyes off her because I was afraid she would drown, and of course Will just took the opportunity to critique her swimming. After the second time I had to drag her back to the boat I told her she could not get in the water without a life preserver.
Eva did not react well. She is stubborn and prideful, and the thought of having to wear a life preserver when her brother did not was far worse than any fear of drowning (8 years olds apparently being immortal). Fortunately we did not stay in that spot long, and went next to a small island for some shell collecting which Eva and Will loved.
Eva eventually accepted 'trying' the life preserver (she was concerned that she would not be able to get her mask in the water with it on). The life preserver worked well, and I could snorkel without worrying about Eva. We saw a ray, many angel fish, numerous varieties of coral, starfish etc. Both kids said snorkeling was a high point of the vacation. Of course Eva continued to complain that the life preserver prevented her from diving below the water (which was about 10 feet deep), but she was able to see just about everything from the surface, and she did not drown. We stayed in the water close to an hour, and everyone was exhausted afterwards.
Cath - I am SO GLAD I wasn't around for this. Lyra and I spent time wandering around Placencia and eating gelato at a place run by a real live Italian woman far from home. More on that with photos after I get home and can use my PC to look at the photos on my camera.