I’ve been living on Ambergris Caye for the past 8 years and a bit. And I see the reef every day. Depending on where you live on our 26 mile long island, the reef is either within walking distance (in the more remote north part of the island) or a few minute boat ride.
But as you travel farther south in Belize, the barrier reef pushes out, swirling around the over 200 cayes that dot the shores of Belize. Just last week, I headed down to the village of Hopkins, Belize, just 10 miles south of Dangriga, stayed in a fabulous resort/penthouse and went on my first snorkel trip from the area.
The reef is 14 miles out – about a 45 minute boat ride. And it is absolutely worth it.
I woke up early to see the sunrise and it was POURING rain. As I put my clothes on to walk over to the Adventure Desk, things were already breaking. And the guys were raking the beach. A good sign…
Confirmed. I returned to my suite, got ready and met everyone at the snorkel shed at 7:45am. It was already a beautiful day.
The trip is 1/2 day. 8am to about 12:30pm with two snorkel stops and a brief snack and look-around Southwater Caye.
After about 20 minutes, we passed a line of thin islands – the ones you can see from shore. There were fishermens’ sheds and broken down docks, scrubby pines and crumbling sea walls. Beautiful.
The water started to get clearer and clearer, as did the sky…
One dark cloud loomed to our north…but it was still absolutely beautiful.
In we went for gorgeous coral and tons of angel fish (my faves) and three of the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen.
- The Cow Fish
2. The Trunk Fish
3. And the winner, The Scroll File Fish. This photo from Wikipedia is the Miss Universe of Scroll File Fish.
We loaded back in and headed nearby to Southwater Caye. A small island with two (?) resorts…and apparently some well-to-do visitors.
We were warned a few times about falling coconuts. These trees ARE particularly high.
A beautiful fishermens’ dock.
And their deck. A beautiful spot.
It was out to our second stop and by that time, a few catamarans had joined us.
Off a tiny island owned by the Smithsonian Institute and used for research.
For both snorkel stops we drifted with the current and were picked up by the boat. This one was a bit less variety of fish but I saw a school of squid for the first time! And swam with about 25 toothy barriccuda about the size of my leg.
Awesome. There is South Water Caye. We could see Coco Plum and Thatch Caye and Tobacco Caye in the distance.
By lunch time (and I was STARVING), we pulled back into Hopkins. What a great way to spend the morning.
I was eating – FOR SURE – and then headed out to explore the village.
So you have this straight, Hopkins has snorkeling, diving, a charming and cultural village, and a whole list of amazing mainland tours. Hmmmm….I’m REALLY starting to like this place.