12 March 2015
Today eight of us plus Hugo are going on a snorkelling tour with Mario’s Tours. For BZD130 we get a day tour with 5 stops. We meet at 9.30 to get kitted out with our mask, snorkel and flippers. We are aiming to get going before all the other groups that start around 10.30. We have a motor boat with a canopy and our driver/guide Joe.
The reef is part of the second largest barrier reef in the world (first is the Australian Great Barrier Reef) that stretches 900km from the tip of the Yucatan peninsular right through to Honduras. The Belize part of the reef system has 7 marine reserves, 450 cayes (islands) and 3 atolls and is a World Heritage site. It is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world with large numbers of species of corals, fish and various invertebrates.
First stop is to see Loggerhead turtles that have come in to feed beside a fishing boat. There are rays and masses of fish too. Joe is great with Gill (who is not a strong swimmer) and tows her along behind him using a lifebuoy. At one point he ties ‘her’ behind the fishing boat and the turtles come up right beneath her.
Next stop is Hol Chan Marine Reserve and we see Green turtles as we get out of the boat. Joe takes us on an hour’s guided tour pointing out the various coral and fish etc on the way, including an eel (called Alistair), reef sharks, squid and trumpet fish. Joe dives down to indicate the various things of interest while still holding onto the lifebuoy rope so I half expect to see Gill being taken down there with him – she isn’t. Underwater photos are courtesy of Jane Armit.
We have a snack of watermelon back on board and then head to an area called Shark Ray Alley where Joe tosses the watermelon rinds overboard and attracts masses of brown nurse sharks and various rays. They assure us that they are ‘vegetarian’ (which they are not – but they aren’t interested in humans) so extremely hesitantly we go overboard to join them. It was certainly an experience to have sharks (some up to 6ft long) brushing against you in a feeding frenzy! I’m glad I did it but I have no desire to swim with sharks ever again!
After than experience we have a feeding frenzy of our own, demolishing the fish burgers (ironic?) that are provided for lunch. We then head on to the Coral Garden where we have an hour or so to explore by ourselves before coming back on board for fortification with rum punch and then heading for home. On the way we stop to see Tarpon – large game fish that grow to about 4-8ft long and are swimming in large numbers in the shallows. The key word on the homeward journey is apparently ‘refill’ but 2 rum punches is more than enough for me – I’m ready for an afternoon nap.
After an afternoon nap we meet Hugo on the roof of the hotel to watch the sunset. He also has more rum punch for us, which is a lovely idea but unfortunately it backfires a bit because some of the others have sat by the pool for the afternoon having more rum punch. They are in a pretty messy state (as well as very sunburned) by evening. Gill, Lily and I sneak off to have dinner and lime juice at Rose’s Grill and Bar – famous for its fresh seafood that you can choose outside before you go in (and for the conch cerviche we had on the cruise the night before). We decide to have cerviche again and have a table by the street. A while later some of the others turn up and are promptly shown to the back of the restaurant.
For this and other similar trips see:
Peregrine Adventures Travel Destinations (Comfort and independent tours)
Geckos Adventures Deals for South & Central America (for 18 to 30s)
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