THREE WEEKS IN BELIZE: Checking off Another Bucket List Item

When we started our Bucket List on New Years Eve 2012-2013, four of the top items were:

– Find our retirement home
– See the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney, Australia
– Take a cruise to Alaska
– Snorkel in Belize

In 2013, we moved into our retirement home in Santa Rosa, California; we spent New Years Eve 2014 in Sydney watching the fireworks; 2015 found us cruising in Alaska; and this week (January 2016) we snorkeled in Belize! Another item is parasailing, and we’re hoping to do that within the next week. Life is good!

Bob touching a ray

Bob touching a ray

Touching a nurse shark (with the help of our guide Noel)

Touching a nurse shark (with the help of our guide Noel)–skin feels like sandpaper

We are spending three weeks here, split between Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and Belize City.

Ambergris Caye: Paradise Found

Ambergris Caye is an island in northern Belize. To get here, we had to take a 90-minute ride on a water taxi, landing in San Pedro Town (It’s also possible to fly on a small local plane). From there, we took another boat 4-1/2 miles north to our accommodations. While San Pedro is small but busy and bustling, the north end is lush and sparsely populated. Land travel is primarily by bicycle or golf cart, and the mainly dirt roads are a series of potholes and rocks surrounded by palm trees.

Last week we stayed at Shell-Ease-by-the-Sea, a delightful B&B run by a couple from New Hampshire, USA; we are spending this week at Turtle Cove in a cottage about 100 feet from the sea, built by John MacAffee, the millionaire software developer—it is presently owned and operated by a couple from Saskatchewan, Canada. Both accommodations are walking distance from each other, and feet from the Caribbean Sea.

The water is shallow, pristine and crystal clear; and the beach is dotted with palm trees and long docks, many with palapas at the end–picture a movie scene on a South Pacific island. It’s quiet and peaceful, the only sounds being the waves crashing against the reef less than a mile away, water splashing against the shore (no waves here), people talking as they walk by, the occasional distant sound of a passing power boats and a dog barking.

Walking down the beach

Walking down the beach

hammock_small

Relaxing in a hammock at our B&B

We snorkeled twice in the last week along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef—once at Mexico Rocks Reserve, which is less than a mile offshore, and the other at Ho-Chan Reserve and Shark Ray Alley a bit further offshore. Both were amazing!

We rented a golf cart to explore the area and go to town as it was too far (for us) to bicycle comfortably in the intense sun and humidity. We ventured a couple miles north on dirt and stone roads until we thought our teeth were going to fall off from all the rattling. Then went off in the direction of Secret Beach, which was such a well-kept secret that we never found it–just got jostled some more. The drive to town, though longer, is much more manageable and there are lots of picturesque stops along the way, so any further exploration we do will be heading that way.

Underwater pictures taken with our camera, by our hostess at Shell-Ease-by-the-Sea

Underwater pictures of us and this turtle taken with our camera, by our hostess at Shell-Ease-by-the-Sea; others by yours truly

Up next: San Pedro Town

Nurse shark--not Jaws-like but, rather, toothless bottom feeders

Nurse shark–not Jaws-like but, rather, toothless bottom feeders

Damsel fish--black w/blue dots that shine; tiny, territorial fish that pick a rock and chase all others away

Damsel fish–black w/blue dots that shine in center of pic; tiny, territorial fish that pick a rock and chase all others away

Feeding Frenzy: sharks, rays, and dozens of fish flock to boat when good is thrown overboard for them

Feeding Frenzy: sharks, rays, and dozens of fish flock to boat when food is thrown overboard for them

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