Day 4 – Caye Caulker Snorkeling Tour

Yesterday I woke up fairly early around 7:30. I had a few hours to kill until my snorkeling tour left at 10:30. I decided to explore the island with my spare time. I walked down the main strip (I say main strip but it’s really on the side of the island) and found a delicious breakfast place called Ice N’ Beans. They greeted you immediately with a shot of coffee as soon as you walk through the door. I think more American coffee houses should institute a similar policy. Anyway, they had a breakfast sandwich called The Monster that contained ham, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, and cream cheese on a bagel. It was one of the most delicious breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever head. I also got an iced coffee and let me tell you the coffee is extraordinary here. I will not be returning back to Folgers when I get home. Ever.

After strolling through the island, I washed my laundry in the sink for the first time. It’s so hot down here that the clothes dried in about an hour or two. While my clothes dried, I walked back down to a place called “The Split.” Its an actually split in the island caused by a hurricane in 1961. Many people died. However, The Split is now a really cool beach where people can go and sit in picnic tables in the water or jump off platforms. The water was so refreshing. I left the water after a few minutes because I needed to buy a day bag. I thought I left mine in Cancún at the time, so I bought a $30 backpack that looks super touristy with the name “Belize” spelled out on it. I went back to my hostel feeling angry and irresponsible for losing my first one. A few minutes later I found my first day bag. If this doesn’t describe how much a rookie backpacker I am then I don’t what would.

Right about this time the 10:30 mark was approaching. We got fitted for masks and fins and waited around for a while. This was fun because all of us going on the tour were able to get to know each other. Included in the group was the Swiss named Ramón, a Taiwan girl named Denise, and an American from Hawaii named Tyler. We didn’t know it yet but this was the perfect sized group for our tour. We headed out to the boat about an hour later.

Our first stop was a school of giant game fish. We fed the fish sardines out of our hands and were cautioned to do keep our fingers straight out. If you point your fingers down they can get chomped by the fish. I’m a little upset I accidentally deleted the video of this but it was surprisingly startling. There were so many fish it was hard to tell which one was going to jump at you. Mine came from underneath the boat so i jumped out of my shoes (like a true man). Next we stopped at a mangrove tree in the water and saw a few seahorses. They live most of their lives clinging to branches in the water because they are not strong swimmers. The particular species present at the island only grows to be about 1-5 inches so they were incredibly hard to spot.

Our third stop was a reef frequented by manatees. We were able to see two of them but were cautioned not to get too close. They have extremely strong tails and as our instructor said “if they hit you, you will be broken.” Our next stop took us to a lockheed sea turtle. This turtle surprised all of us when he started attacking our instructor. We apparently arrived at it’s typical feeding time so it thought our instructor was good. I have never seen someone swim so fast. He was genuinely scared and all of us snorkeled were just watching and hoping he would get away. Eventually he turned his body and the turtle gave up. Meanwhile, there were an abundance of rays and a nurse shark circling us, too.

We then proceeded to a place called Shark Ray Alley. To no surprise, it is know for its shark and guess what-spoiler alert- its rays. Fishermen commonly feed the nurse sharks so they were there was soon as we arrived. We jumped off the left side of the boat and circled around to the other side where our guide was chumming the water. As you can see in the video, it was complete chaos. There were probably 20-30 sharks swimming around and going for the same food. At this time we also noticed a ray camouflaged at the ocean floor by sand. We swam around with these sharks for probably a good half hour or so. We were not able to complete the whole tour of Shark Ray Alley because the current was overwhelming. If you say still without kicking for a few seconds you were pushed a far distance.

We stopped again to see a different species of sea turtle later. This one didn’t attack anyone. It took forever to swim to it because the current was so strong. We were alone with it for a while until another group arrived with a ton of people. I got some really good shots of this one so I was thrilled. We made one more stop at a place called Coral Garden. After this, we celebrated with the Rastas on the boat with several Caribbean rum and cokes. They put pineapple and watermelon in their drinks here. I would highly recommend this for anyone who has never tried that before.

After we got back from the tour, Tyler and I rode bikes around the entire island. We got to see some of the less touristy areas that left me feeling grateful for what I have. We went all around looking for different dive shops diving the Blue Hole tomorrow. Unfortunately, not only could we not find one, but also I couldn’t have gone anyways because I only have my Junior Open Water certification. The only thing stopping me is just the physical card itself which was issued to me in 2009. I am going to do a refresher course in Roatan so I can get dive again.

Tyler broke off shortly after to go grab some food. I hung out at the hostel for a bit and then went out for a buffet and drinks with about eight other people. The place was called something Willies and is a great option for dining on the island. The food was incredible and it was a great deal ($20 Belice = $10 USD). We sat at a huge picnic table that was already populated by a young Canadian couple. Myself, the guy across from me from Israel, and the Canadian couple all got talking about politics, culture, traveling, and other things. We all enjoyed the conversation so much that we stayed a talked for a bit longer after the rest of the group left.

On the way back to the hostel I bought a giant bottle of aloe. I am so unbelievably burnt that I don’t think I will sleep tonight. I proceeded to talk with a guy from Lake Wawassee, IN and a few Brits while lathering myself with aloe. I have already used almost half the bottle and still feeling miserable. My problems compounded when my bowel issues from Mexico continued for the third day straight. Luckily, an English girl who refers to herself as “Mother Charlotte” was well educated on the stomach perils of travelers and instructed me exactly what to do. I am hoping I don’t have to make any emergency runs in the middle of the night.

The people here are so friendly it will be very hard to leave this place. The only thing that sort of sucks is how expensive it is. It’s more expensive than Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. I’m also feeling slightly bummed because of the accretions violence in Nicaragua right now. We just got word today from other backpackers down there that roads are being blocked off and people are getting stuck. I will probably have to skip this country if things do not improve. I am also feeling slightly rushed because of my 6 week timeline. I don’t think I am able to experience the true culture of places by rushing through them. So, I am thinking about cutting out Nicaragua and El Salvador and spending a little more time in Belize, Guatemala, Roatan, and Costa Roca. I’m not quite sure yet, but we will see.

Lastly, I’m starting to get a feel for what friendships are like when backpacking. People are so beyond friendly and outgoing it’s insanely easy to make friends. However, since most people are traveling solo, everyone kind of has there own agendas planned out. Therefore, the friendships are very intense but short. This makes meeting people a little bittersweet. Regardless I am still having a fun time. Meeting new people and adventuring is exhilarating. I really feel like I can talk to anyone about anything at this point and it’s only been three days.

Countries I Have Met People From:

USA

Mexico

Germany

Belgium

Hungary

Costa Rica

England

Ireland

Switzerland

Belize

Israel

Czech Republic

Australia

South Africa

Guatemala

Nicaragua

Colombia

Taiwan

Japan

Italy

Canada