Thursday, July 6, 2017

Belize Trip - Exploring the Blue Range

There is plenty of access to some fantastic snorkeling from Billy Hawk Caye. That place seemed to have it all. I keep thinking about bringing my family back there sometime.


Just to the northwest of BHC you will see a couple of white buoys. There is some great snorkeling right there, and you can tie off your kayaks to the buoys, which is much faster than swimming from the beach of BHC.


Anchorage for kayaks




Giant brain coral
We would go back to that area several times during our stay at BHC, as its so close by.


We also took a day to explore the islands and mangroves of the Blue Range Group. There looked to be some good snorkeling just off Hangman's Caye, so we wanted to check that out too.


Lots of islands to explore. Good snorkeling reef circled in blue
The leeside of the islands are always flat calm with good visibility. we drifted around looking for barracuda, bonefish, etc..


Lots of places among the mangroves to explore. There were a lot of young barracudas in this particular area

The islands all had a mixture of smaller resorts, private cottages and fishing shacks. Quite a contrast at times



video

We found a small beach to land our kayaks, and we swam out to where the reef was. Didn't see anything spectacular at the time, however, I did get assaulted by a remora. It kept trying to go up my shorts and attach to my inner thigh. No matter what I did, it wouldn't go away. I kept trying to kick it, grab it, etc.. and it would not go away, it was relentless! Its very funny now, but at the time I had no idea what happens when a remora attaches itself to you, or how hard it would be to get off. In the end, I had to book it for shore, while the guys kept it occupied. It followed them all the way back to the beach. Crazy!






Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Belize Trip - Day #4 Bread & Butter Caye


We planned to spend 3 nights at Billy Hawk Caye, going out for day trips to different areas looking for good snorkeling spots. What a fantastic spot to camp for a few days. Free rainwater for drinking and showering, lots of hammocks, picnic tables, even a volleyball court. You can get beer here for $2.50 each, but give them plenty of notice so they can put them on ice for you. On our first night Alex offered us some of the big pot of conche soup he had cooked. It was amazing, but be careful how much hot sauce you add, Alex likes the stuff that says 'BEWARE' on the side, haha.


Here are some pictures from around the campground:
Robbie finds a nice spot for our tent




Even a volleyball net
Can't beat this view

After breakfast, we headed out explore around Bread and Butter Caye, a short paddle south of Billy Hawk. We were told by Leif at IE that the best snorkeling on the inner reef was on the northern side of Bread and Butter, so we were excited to check it out.

Short day paddle












Night times were spent like this, sipping rum and swaying in our hammocks out over the water







Monday, May 29, 2017

Belize Trip - Day #3 Water Caye to Billy Hawk Caye


On Day # 3 our plan was to do some more snorkeling outside the reef early in the morning, then head over to Twin Cayes and do some exploring of the mangroves, hopefully see a caiman. After that, head across to the Blue Ground Range and possibly camp at Hangman's Caye.


Always start the day off with a good cup of coffee. Robbie's expresso maker was the most important piece of kit we had!



Some pics from our early morning snorkel:









Our route for the day
After our morning snorkel, we headed across to explore Twin Cayes. Lots of cool little mangrove 'tunnels' to sneak into. I love the places that you can get in a kayak. We heard there are caiman in this area, so we kept our eyes open, but didn't have any luck.

2km crossing to Twin Caye
Exploring the mangroves

Making our way around
A lot of little nooks and crannys to check out
We saw a big splash here, but couldn't find the creature that made it. Maybe a caiman?!
Next, a 4km crossing to Hangman's Caye. Saw some dolphins and a sea turtle along the way
It got really hot!
The 4km crossing got pretty hot, 38.4C. There was absolutely no wind also. I thought I was going to perish. Making crossings like this, in the mid day heat, with no breeze to cool you off can be a bad idea! By the time we got to Hangman's Caye, I was really overheated, had to unzip my pfd and keep dunking my hat in the water to cool off. The water was 28C, so that didn't help much either. When we finally landed, we all sat in the water up to our necks to get our core temps back down. I was pretty much done at this point, and wanted to camp on Hangman's, but I have to admit, it wasn't the best location for camping.

Landing at Hangman's Caye
Not the best place in the world to camp, but from what I understand, there are no camping fees
After a small lunch, and a chance to cool down, Rob convinced me to paddle another 4kms to Billy Hawk Caye. In hindsight, it was a very good decision, but I have to admit, I wasn't too fussy on moving at that point!

Lots of islands in the Blue Ground Range
How I kept the sun off my head. Next time, maybe a wide brimmed hat?
Very happy to finally see Billy Hawk Caye
What a welcome site.
Alex Sabal and his family own and run Billy Hawk Caye Campground. What a spot, and boy did we ever feel lucky to be there.

More on our stay at Billy Hawk on my next post.....

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


Barracuda

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!