Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Belize Trip - Day #2 Afternoon Visit to Carrie Bow Caye

After spending the morning snorkeling outside the reef, we headed back to Ricks place to grab lunch. It would have been nice and easy to flake out on a hammock for the rest of the day, but you have to take advantage of every minute when you are on a trip like this. We hopped in our boats and made the short hop south to Carrie Bow Caye.

Short hop, 1.66 kms each way
Carrie Bow Caye is in the middle of the picture, off in the distance
 On Carrie Bow Caye sits one of the worlds foremost marine research stations, owned by the Smithsonian Institute. We were told that if no scientists are present, we may be able to visit and get a tour, so we decided to check it out.
As we got closer, a couple who are caretakers of the site approached us by boat to tell us that we couldn't visit the island, but Rob talked them into giving us a little tour, as no scientists were present at the time.

2 families that were anchored nearby on a sailboat were also invited for the tour
The wet lab. The entire building was built to be hurricane proof

Not a bad spot to do some research
The outhouse. What a view when taking care of business! Apparently outhouses like this are no longer allowed to be built on the cayes. When this one is wiped out by a storm, or collapses, they are not allowed to replace it.
Trees are so important here, whenever they see a coconut tree sprouting, the put shells around it to protect it.
After the tour, we headed back to Water Caye, with a stop along the way for some snorkeling

My plan to protect my toes this time, duct tape!
While snorkeling, we had a visit from this huge remora. I didn't know they got that big. This guy was about 3 ft long, and had a hook hanging from his mouth. Looked like somekind of demon fish to me!
Some nice little reefs with lots of fish in between water caye and Carrie Bow Caye, but the current is strong there, so its easy to get drifted off the reef and onto eel grass.
Amazing colours. The pictures just don't do it justice of course

That concludes Day #2 on the cayes. More to come tomorrow hopefully.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Belize Trip - Day #2 Snorkeling at Water Caye

On day 2, we got up at sunrise to head outside the reef and do some snorkeling. We were told that early morning is the best time, so we followed that advice. After about 10 mins of paddling we were outside the reef and dumped over the sides of our boats. We used a technique call 'drift snorkeling', where you tow your boat behind you by the bowline. Two things to watch out for: getting tangled in your bowline, or someone else's. Also watch for getting too close to the reef and getting pummeled onto the reef by waves.

So much life everywhere you look

Lots of beautiful Coral

Brain Coral

Spotted Eagle Ray


Be careful when walking on the beaches. Lots of stingrays around
My flippers tore the crap out of my toes. Make sure your flippers fit nice and snug, or this could happen to you!

That was how we spent the morning, and that's all I have time to post right now. Lots more to come!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Belize Trip - Day #1 Tobacco Caye to Water Caye

We were eager to get going on our way, so as soon as we had our boats packed, we hit the water to head west to Tobacco Range to do some exploring.

A scan of the area from British Admiralty Charte #1797

Our route for day #1
Tobacco Caye Paradise. You can camp here for $10 per person/per night
Or you can rent one of these for $35 per person/per night. Not bad!
Heading to Tobacco Range
You can see a stand of palm trees on Tobacco Range, which is the only place to camp on this island. You could camp here for free from what I understand, but it didn't look like the nicest place in the world to camp. Also, there are lots of mangroves in this area, meaning lots of bugs, which could make for an unpleasant night if there is no wind.

Landing to check out the island
Me trying to break open a coconut. The entire trip Rob was determined to get a good coconut, which proved to be easier said than done!
Heading south on the western side of the range
Fishing shacks on Tobacco Range
After exploring Tobacco Range we decided to head towards Water Caye to camp for the night. instead of just heading straight for it, we paddled back over to the reef and followed along side it the whole way south. You can hear the constant roar of waves breaking against the reef, it is amazing the shelter that it provides. Don't be tempted to get out of your boat and walk on the reef, that is strictly forbidden and carries a pretty hefty fine if you are caught.

The Belize Barrier Reef
Water Caye
On Water Caye, we camped at Rick's place, which I believe is called Bamboo Camp. Rick is from New Jersey originally, but his mother was from Belize. He left the chaos of the US to live on and island in the Caribbean. Not a bad idea! Rick and his family were very friendly and helpful. Camping there is $20 per person/per night.

The beach at Rick's place. We arrived just as the sun was going down
Rick's house. You can see the cisterns used for storing rainwater, and the shower setup on the right
Ricks 'Living Room', and his dog

Our campground
Not bad!
Sunset on day #1. We spent the evening on the dock sipping rum and planning the next days snorkeling.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Trip to Belize

In February, myself and two friends, Rob Scott and Rob Bertolo spent 11 days in Belize. 8 of those days we spent kayaking and snorkeling around the cayes off the coast of Dangriga, just south of Belize City. I've been meaning to post a trip report ever since we got back, but with so many pictures and things to say, its been a daunting task that I have been putting off. I think I will break it up into several posts, or I'll never get it done!

With WestJet offering a direct flight from Toronto to Belize City twice a week, it makes getting there from Canada cheaper and faster. From Belize City, we needed to get to Dangriga. We had the option of a 4 hour bus ride or a 15 minute flight with TropicAir, so we opted for the flight. Once we arrived in Dangriga, we checked in at Pal's Guesthouse and headed over to Island Expeditions (IE) to sort out our kayak rentals and find out where the market was. Leif at IE was super helpful with everything. Can't say enough good about the people at IE.

Pal's Guesthouse. The office in in the house across the street from it. Nice beachfront location!

We headed out to get some food and drink at Island Bar. Traditional Belizean fare, rice &beans with stewed chicken, covered in Marie Sharps hot sauce, washed down with a couple Belikan.
Belizean Food. It was delicious!

The two Robs

There is a shop close by called The Price Is Right, and they have pretty much everything you could need, including booze. I highly recommend you buy double the amount of rum you think you will need, we ran out of our supply a little too early.

Dangriga is a working town of about 10,000. There is almost no tourist infrastructure, which was kind of interesting to see. There are no franchises, except a bank. You couldn't find so much as a refrigerator magnet in any of the shops, which are mostly located on the main drag of the town, near the bridge. The shops are usually open until 8pm, which is nice if you arrive late. The good folks at IE can pick up fruits and veggies for you ahead of time from the market, which usually closes at 4pm. Pineapple and cantaloupe keep best in this climate. Limes are also nice in your rum.

Some other useful notes, the drinking water is potable in Dangriga. We drank straight from the tap in the bathroom at Pals. IE will provide all the water you will need in dromedary bags. Be sure to check for leaks, as the covers of these can often leak. IE also provided white gas and MSR fuel bottles, which was good because airlines don't like fuel bottles, even when they are empty.

The next morning we met at IE just before 9am to get geared up and shuttled out to the cayes. Didn't take long to get squared away. Leif gave us a good briefing of the area, where to camp, where the best snorkeling places are, etc...

Island Expeditions Office and our boat charter
The Information board at IE

Ready to hit the water
Tobacco Caye
Always fun packing 8 days of food and water into your boat

All ready to start the adventure, stay tuned!

That's all the time I have for now. Another post to follow tomorrow hopefully!