Snorkelling with Manatees and Diving with sharks!

Trip Start May 27, 2009
Trip End Dec 22, 2009

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Where I stayed
Happy Lobster

Flag of Belize  , Belize Cayes,
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mon July 15

After the big storm last night I was relieved to see that it was not raining this morning. Packed up and walked down to the road to wait for the bus. The first one to Dangriga was nice with good seats and AC. Switched in Dangriga to a chicken bus (aka old school bus that sits up to 6 + people along each row) to Belize city via Belmopan. Along the way we passed through jungle, mountains and many small villages with thatched roofs and little kids standing in the door ways and playing in the yards.

Belize city (from what I could see on the way to the bus station) doesn't look like the nicest town. off the bus we were whisked away by a colectivo taxi to the ferry terminal where our bags were grabbed and put on the boat while we were sent to go buy tickets. You would of thought we had arranged something ahead with how smoothly (and cheaply) everything went. Grabbed a ham and cheese biscuit for an overdue breakfast/lunch and a bag of water.

Once on the island of Caye Caulker, a very relaxed, sandy street, house on stilts kind of place, we got our rooms sorted (and got a free tester of some fresh lobster) and then set out to organize some diving. We lucked out with a place to stay and got a place on the back of the beach that had huge rooms, shared bathrooms and only $32 BZN a night for the two of us (about $15 US). If you're heading there go to Happy Lobster and ask for the cabins by the beach!

After a couple dive shops we found one that we liked (ie. offered us the best deal) and sorted out a full day of snorkeling for tomorrow and a trip to dive the Blue Hole and 2 other sites the next day.

Belizean BBQ on the beach for dinner, red snapper shish kebabs with island rice and coleslaw. Walked around for a bit getting to know the place and trying not to get soaked by the on and off rain. Bought my first souvenir and a couple little presents for home. Time to send a parcel in the morning (I've been dying to offload my diving text books!) Today was the first day of lobster season so the whole island smelt of BBQ lobster... I think I have to have one before I leave! Just a relaxing night in.

Tue June 16

Started the morning with a pastry roll with a hot dog and jalapeno cheese inside, breakfast of champions! Walked around for a bit waiting for the post office to open, hoping the sky would clear up. Had to go to the grocery and try to get a box, then got everything mailed. With that taken care, went to the office for our snorkeling trip.

At the first stop, the sun was almost out of the clouds. We got in the water and withing two minutes saw a manatee! It came over to us, swam between us, circled back and went underneath us. Awesome!!

Our next stop was a bonus freebie stop where a local fisherman was throwing back the remains of last nights lobster and conch shells. We saw a turtle there, but more impressive was the dozen or so giant sting rays right below the boat!  it was cool, but some of them were so big that I got a bit nervous when they swam underneath me. It was so shallow and they were so big that all I could think was that if one was mad it{s tail could go right through me and out of the water! Pretty sure it doesn't actually happen like that, but at the time I couldn't help but think it!

Next stop was the Hol Chan Channel were there was a cave we could dive through. I didn't think I could hold my breath long enough, but it was cool watching the two guys (our guide and one other) who could! Saw 2 more turtles there.

A ham and cheese sandwich in the rain for lunch back on the boat and then we were at Shark and Ray Alley. Saw 3 nurse sharks, 2 of which were fighting for food for a while! Also saw a bunch of rays and coral.

The last stop was coral gardens and it started pelting down rain again while we were there. Saw a lot of nice coral though, some fish and even another nurse shark and 2 more sting rays. Back on the boat we had two rum punches (not enough to warm up today!) and then started the ride (with rain pounding into our skin) back to Caye Caulker.

Back at our cabana, had a shower to warm up and then went to meet everyone else at the lazy lizard for some drinks. Had a beer until happy hour started and then had a few of the 2 for 1 rum punch specials, can't go wrong with that! Had to pull out the fake wedding ring (it just makes life easier some nights), but overall it was a great time. One local who was making hats for paying tourists was getting me try them all on first and made me a little one to keep, making sure to tell me that he had "much respect for me and my husband". Me and Kalin went with 2 couples for dinner, I had to try the conch so it was fried conch with stewed rice and beans for me. Came back by about 9:30 and went straight for bed to be ready for our early diving trip tomorrow!

Wed June 17

An early start to be at the dock by 6:30am. A very rough and wet ride through the rain for more than an hour to get to the Blue Hole.

Got to the Blue Hole and got ready for our first dive. After hearing the what could go wrong and how to fix everything underwater speech, we got in the water and headed down. First was a sandy bit, then we went below it to 130ft and swam through what used to be the roof of the cave with stalactites that were about 3-7ft long and looked like they were about 2 or 3 feet thick! Since we were so deep, the bottom time was only about 8 minutes or so. Once we reached about 110ft you could really feel the difference in the water temperature. It was almost like being in a lake back in Alberta, not the Caribbean Ocean! On the way back up the wall we could see sharks circling the hole and once we were back to by the sandy bottom some even swam around us! They told us after it was great Caribbean reef sharks and black tip sharks. Amazing dive! One even swam underneath me only about 3 or 4 feet below me!

The second dive was a wall dive where we saw a sting ray in the sand and loads of coral (way more colorful and plentiful with fish than anything we had dived in Honduras) and fish. A stop on Half Moon Caye for chicken rice and pasta salad lunch, along with a walk up to see the red footed boobie birds. Back on the boat and heading for dive 3 within about an hour.

It was another wall dive on Lighthouse reef at a site called the Aquarium. I have never seen so many fish and such colorful coral before! These dives keep getting better and better. It was awesome! There were schools of fish swimming all around us.

Back on the boat the Capitan asked if we had gotten sea sick and said we could sit up top if did. We hadn't but we had gotten drenched because the part of the boat covered by upstairs was full, so we went upstairs. Didn't realize we were the only ones who got this invitation and it was just us and the crew. Bonus for us was once they served a round of rum punch, with fruit soaking in it, on the main deck, they brought up the entire giant tub and put it next to us... Turned out to be a much better ride back than the one out in the morning!

Back on Caye Caulker we got ready and headed to Jolly Rogers, a big guy who bbqs lobster on the beach, for grilled lobster. YUM, and I don't even like lobster that much at home. A quick stop at I and I reggae bar and then headed home. I was beat!

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