Welcome to the world of Chicken Buses. Old American school buses with minimal space and three rows of seats stacked to the roof high with our rucksacks. Belize City was our next stop, destination: Caye Caulker. It was pretty surreal to enter an English speaking country in Central America and we saw our first sight of Mennonites, who are similar to Amish but are more lenient with the use of technology. We learnt that they’re originally from Germany but have taken residence in Belize and as hardworkers they are welcomed and accepted by Belize.
We took a boat ride to Caye Caulker and checked into a really cute little hotel called Tropical Paradise which was located right on the beach. We put the patio to good use the couple of nights we were there, enjoying the drinks and the Caribbean lifestyle- Go Slow. Caye Caulker is a really beautiful island which you can easily walk or take a little taxi golf buggy. The main “road” is lined with bikes, little beach huts selling food/tours and restaurants with a real Caribbean feel- the music, the people walking bare foot and the friendliness.
An obvious tourist hotspot, but I didn’t realise it was such a popular place for English tourists! The island was full of them, it was really surreal. So much so that an American couple I met asked me why there are so many Brits here and if it was a really popular destination? News to me!
I went on a Ragamuffin full day snorkelling tour and it was such an amazing day and worth every penny! A nice little sail boat and a decent crew determined to give us all more Rum Punch to see us dancing on board. We sailed to 3 destinations, including Shark Ray Alley, where we saw so many nursing sharks and rays I couldn’t even keep count!
The first stop was to a reef and we were all enjoying the coral when all of a sudden the guide gave us a shout and told us to turn around and come and have a look… there, minding its own business, was a MANATEE!
I couldn’t believe it, snorkelling in the sea with a Manatee! It was so peaceful, and so curious that it didn’t just turn away at the sight of us, but instead came to check us out. An absolutely amazing experience and I can’t believe I swam with a Manatee in the wild. Incredible!
The last stop was to another reef, with sea grass leading up to the coral wall surrounded by turtles. I still love and will never get tired of seeing turtles, and we even saw a little baby turtle which hadn’t been tagged yet and one without a fin! This reef is a popular scuba diving destination and we saw a spotted eagle ray and dived down into the deep tunnels, putting our lungs to the test. The waters were beautiful and so clear- all round incredible day snorkelling with beautiful fish, rays, sharks, an eagle ray, a manatee and topped off with cerviche and rum punch.
The day before was just incredible and really hard to beat, but the day Michelle and I went to the Blue Hole was unforgettable! We left our hotel at 5am to be treated to breakfast, ready for the 2 hour boat ride to the world famous diving destination. The boat was incredible with fresh water showers, navigation systems and it was all so new and amazing! 40m down into the Blue Hole are the formations in the limestone in which you can explore… according to the diving computers we had 6 minutes at this depth and I saw a bull shark which was incredible! Throughout the dive there were a number of reef sharks too… although there was little life/coral down there, the hole itself was just so impressive and surreal. I dove in the Blue Hole! Amazing!
Afterwards, we went to a reef, and it was the best reef dive I have ever experienced. The water was just so blue, a rich blue, in comparison to the turquoise waters of Cancun! It was pretty much like a scene from Finding Nemo, the deep blue was just incredible, bright royal blue. We stopped off at a bird reservation with the plan of having lunch on the bird island, but it started to rain so we enjoyed the chicken, mashed potatoes and salad on board with the tables and chairs- amazing boat! The third dive of the day was great too and we saw more sharks, more spotted eagle rays and turtles! Awesome! To top off the day we spotted dolphins on the way back! They started to play with the boat and I have never seen them do belly flips like they were doing, it was incredible. They were jumping and twisting and it was amazing. The perfect day.
Dinner at Wet Wishes was just full of every meat you could imagine, fish, lobster, pork, beef, chicken, and it was buffet style brought to our table with potatoes, rice and of course, Rum Punch. We finished off the night at the one nightclub on the island with Karaoke. Of course I got far too into it and blasted out some classics but couldn’t survive on the dancefloor, so hot and sweaty! Caye Caulker was brilliant and it was a great couple of days!
Next stop in Belize was San Ignacio, on the way to Flores, Guatemala, and we stayed in an eco-lodge called The Trek Stop. Back to basics, a toilet drop with wood shavings, a ton of mosquitos and cute little huts. The Crystal Cave is an “experts only” cave, and we only found this out on Trip Advisor the next day! Pretty challenging to say the least. The hike to the cave was tough in itself, with steep climbs and slippery rocks/roots. By the time we reached the cave entrance, we saw the steep drop and the guide dropping a rope down to the bottom for us to climb down. Pretty daunting. Overall we spent 6 hours down in the caves and it was amazing. We went further than most groups go, exploring a place they call Wonderland, which was pretty spectacular with all of the sparkling formations.
The caving wasn’t easy and you can see in the pictures the narrow spaces we had to guide our bodies through, and the vertical walls we had to somehow find foot holes for… really tricky, especially in some places where the clay was slippery. Two of the girls, after following the guides instructions “Stay low, stay low” managed to rip holes in their trousers, which gradually grew throughout our time to expose their entire bum. Nice. Haha, such a funny 6 hours underground with Felicity shouting “Help, I’m stuck” and I would fully recommend it if you want something a bit different and challenging instead of the tourist favourite the ATM tour.
Overall, it was a great week and Belize is an amazing country with so much to offer especially underwater!