Central America | Belize – Snorkelling in the Rain
The bed bites have gotten really bad. My bites have bites. Ugh! I was tipped off to buy Itch-Away, made of 100% hemp, though not for recreational purposes, according to the label. It did stop the itching.
We were supposed to meet at Anwar’s at 10 am for a snorkel itinerary of Hol Chan Marine Park, Shark & Ray Alley, lunch in San Pedro and Coral Gardens. However it was raining. I took a long breakfast at Tropical. Great place to sit semi-outside and watch the storm without getting too wet. I decided I wouldn’t go snorkelling. Then the weather lifted a bit so I figured I’d see if I could get to Anwar’s before everyone left. As I was hoofing it up there, Steve (a Belize native who I’d met the previous night at Oceanside) and a friend passed by in a golf cart. I generally don’t take rides from strangers (stop laughing), but a) this is Caye Caulker, b) this is a golf cart, and c) as Steve put it ‘we can’t have you running through mud puddles’ so I got a ride to Anwar’s. Bunches of people were there for snorkel trips since most companies had cancelled theirs. Anwar was willing to do an abbreviated version of the trip (deleting San Pedro and shortening the stops a bit) at noon if the weather was better. (Note: noon means 1:30 in Belize time). We did go out later for that itinerary.
The boat ride to Hol Chan was 25 minutes and incredibly bumpy. I had to move to the back for a smoother ride. Me. Flipper. Before embarking I wondered if, like the Caracol debacle, if this trip was taking off in the name of profit. Harry, our wonderful guide for the day, assured me he had no intention of hurting his $28K boat. What I’ve learned is that Belize is simply a very maverick country in this regard. By which I mean their idea of safety protocols is much more lax than other places. Sail on!
Hol Chan was actually my least favorite stop of the day. I wonder why it’s so famous. We had to snorkel in a group since it’s a national park. Reh. Bumping into people, flipper backwash galore. You can tell it’s a marine park because there’s a little boat that collects a cover charge. Hee!
Shark and Ray Alley. There are two of these near Caye Caulker. At first I had no interest in this stop because I’d been to a manmade Ray Alley near Cable Beach (Bahamas) and they fed the rays dog food. Most of them had their stingers removed for the sake of the tourists. Then Harry explained to me how the two Caye Caulker [nurse] shark and ray alleys were formed. These were two spots where fishermen used to dump their chum so nurse sharks and sting rays got accustomed to hanging out here to get an easy meal. When tourists started visiting, and Belizeans realized it was an attraction, snorkel boats carrying chum would bring tourists out. So technically, this is manmade. However, there’s no confines and all the swimmies have all their parts. I’d never seen nurse sharks before and the rays were gigantic. I jumped in the water in spite of myself, snorkel and mask only (no fins or PFD, my fave way to go). What a blast!
We ate fruit on the boat. We threw the pineapple core (not peel!) over the side and it was immediately devoured by something.
Coral Gardens: Huge and impressive snorkel site. Near where we night snorkelled. It has shallow areas (another favorite of mine) and a huge variety of fish. Today I saw schools of fish huger and more tightly packed than ever.
Our final dinner was at Rasta Pasta. I recommend the jerk chicken burger. You can get panty rippers or rasta rippers (made with ginger beer and rum).
I stayed in Jane’s room to avoid the bitey things.