Hands up, who would like to see pictures of Manatees, Dolphins, Stingrays and Turtles? Yay me too, but as I didn’t have an underwater camera I didn’t think anyone would believe about our up close snorkeling adventure with a huge Manatee in the open water. However our friendly Canadian boating companions did have such a camera and emailed some great photos to add to the blog post about our wet boating day trip!
Caye Caulker is located 20 miles north of the capital, Belize City. This tiny island was naturally created by a build up of limestone silt and crushed white coral over mangroves. The Belizean Cayes are sheltered by the 2nd longest barrier reef in the world. This carefully protected reef is still growing and is home to some wonderful sealife.
Tourists visit the Belizean Cayes to snorkel and take part in open water scuba diving all along the Barrier Reef or visit The Blue Hole where you can dive with Nurse Sharks .
We opted for a snorkeling day trip with Tsunami Adventures. Now the name of the company didn’t fill me with a huge amount of confidence, the last thing you want on a boat would be to see a tsunami heading your way…but we had a great day with Captain Rene and his brother Miguel.
The morning consisted of snorkeling on the reef, I absolutely loved it and was beyond happy being a mermaid kicking away in my flippers. With the sun shining down through the water, it was crystal clear and just like putting your head in one of those lovely fishtanks you see at Chinese restaurants! The sea was only about 15ft deep, deliciously warm and chock a block full of colourful fish. Rene would helpfully point out different coral and fish to me.
This link shows you the kind of beautiful fish hanging out on the coral reef. My favourites were the Spot Fin Butterfly and Angel Fish with their gorgeous blue and yellow colours.
Rene then expertly steered the boat over to the marine reserve at Swallow Caye to look for Manatees, along the way Miguel spotted Dolphins, Stingrays and Turtles for us along with Manatees popping their noses up for air. These gentle ‘sea cows’ graze on seagrass and can stay lolling about underwater for up to 5 minutes at a time.
Unfortunately the storm clouds started rolling in later in the day, the weather took a turn for the worse and it absolutely chucked it down. Miguel rigged up a tarpaulin and we ate our lunch huddled underneath. We shared the boat trip with two teachers Chris and Terrence from Vancouver Island. So being used to lots of rain back home, both Brits and Canadians had a good laugh about the irony of being soaking wet and eating our picnic lunch in the rain. It was that kind of rain that came into the boat at all angles. So what else were we going to do in a boat moored up in the pouring rain – drink rum punch of course!
Captain Rene then took us to a secret place to swim with Manatee. With stormy skies Miguel struggled to find them as the water was so cloudy. But we got lucky and had to get into the water quickly to get a chance to see the manatee. Chris managed to dive down quite deep and got a fabulous photo of the manatee just cruising along before she could swim away from us paparazzi.
Brothers Miguel and Rene had a great sense of humour as we shivered in our wet towels, providing us with fresh pineapple snacks and more rum punch to keep us smiling. They would speak in Creole to each other, which was great to listen to as you would pick up the odd English word and they really looked after us with lots of expert knowledge about about the Cayes. Rene also helped me find some huge Conch shells, you’ll be glad to know – nobody was home. Even with the rain, the boat day trip was the highlight of the week on Caye Caulker for us.
Now if we were back in the UK this Easter weekend, we would be at my sister’s house in the New Forest with my Mum and Dad. Asbury family tradition is to go out for a picnic and we’ve had plenty of picnics in the cold and wet. So this blog post should surely give them a good giggle thinking of us eating our sandwiches in the cold rain, in a boat on the Carribean Sea!
Can you Belize it!?
Photo credits and thanks to Terrence and Chris, Canada