Thursday, September 14, 2017

Belize Trip - Last Day on the Cayes

Our shuttle boat was scheduled to pick us up around 1pm, so we had one last morning to do some exploring. It was still a bit breezy out, but we had the shelter of Tobacco Range protecting us from the easterly winds. First we paddled up the eastern side of Coco Plum Range, which is dotted with resorts. Paddling past these really made me miss my family, as it looked like the perfect place for a family holiday.

Malcolms Caye
These small resorts looked very inviting
Some had nice sandy beaches, with SUP and kayaks

In between Coco Plum Caye and Tobacco Range is Manowar Caye, aka Bird Caye, which is a nesting area for frigate birds, so we made the short hop across into the wind to check it out. You can start to smell it from a distance, due to all the bird crap. Its also pretty loud.

Manowar Caye
The males have large red pouch that inflates like a balloon during mating season. They make these crazy noises too.

After leaving Manowar Caye, we paddled across to Tobacco Range. We had heard that manatees like to hang out around the southern end of the islands, so we headed there to check it out.

Looks like we are in the right place
We paddled around but had no luck. A catamaran came by, and they spotted one, so I paddled over and was just able to catch the top of one as he went down, although all I could see was a brown blob.

They had a much better vantage point from that height compared to us
After a while we gave up and it was time to head back to Malcolms Caye to wait for our pick up from Captain Balls.

All ready for pick up
While waiting, we were watching a group of men in boats digging up sand from the bottom and putting it into boats, and bringing it to resort nearby. After a while, a boat from the fisheries department showed up and they didn't look too happy. They ordered the men into their boat and left with them. I guess they weren't allowed to do that!

This didn't look like a fun job!
Our captain was right on time and dropped us off back on the main land at Island Expeditions. Our first order of business was to head to Riverside Café for a nice cooked meal and cold beer.

This couldn't have tasted any better after 8 days of dehydrated meals.
The next morning, we headed across the border into Guatemala to see the ruins of Tikal. More to follow on that later..

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Belize Trip - Windy Days

We had to stick around Billy Hawk Caye for an additional day due to the winds. I must admit, there are worse places to spend a day land bound. Throughout the day we spent some time snorkeling on the lee side of the island, relaxing in the hammocks, eating, drinking and even playing a bit of volleyball.

Blow Ye Winds! This hammock served as our wind gauge for the day
The winds made quite the mess of the eastern side of the island
The following morning the small craft warning was lifted, so we decided to pack up and go for it. It was our second last day and our ride was going to meet us at Malcolm's Caye, about 10kms away. It was a sad good-bye to this Caye, what a special place. I really hope to come back someday with my family.

The longest open water crossing is only 'this big'

The crossing from Hangman's Caye to Malcolms has a few cayes along the way, which was great to stop and get out of the wind for a few minutes and take a break.

Rob taking a break at Ragged Caye
Another breezy day
Campsite at Malcolm's Caye
This fishing shack was right next to our campsite. Made for a great spot for cooking
We did some snorkeling around the sandbar next to the island that afternoon, saw some stingrays, and a lobster. It was our last full day on the cayes :(

More to come!

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

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.....