We ushered in the New Year with a full day of island activities. The highlight was a day long snorkeling excursion to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is part of the world’s second largest barrier reef.
The trip was included with our G Adventures tour and was booked through Ragamuffin Tours. Our 30 foot sailboat took us into the Caribbean for about an hour through a windy rainstorm. The good news is that the rain and the water itself is very warm. Once we arrived at our first snorkel location, Stingray and Shark Alley, we jumped in the water and swam with the big rays and nurse sharks. The tour operators feed them, so it’s a bit contrived, but it was still cool to get that close to what are said to be harmless creatures.
Our second stop was a large conch shell reef that was home to hundreds of colorful fish. Following that stop we were served lunch on the boat while the sun peeked through the clouds. The weather was not ideal, but that didn’t really matter. After lunch we moved to the Hol Chan channel which was a sea route for the ancient Mayans. It’s a break in the reef where we saw sea turtles, green moray eels, sharks, rays, and hundreds of varieties of fish. Made us want to get a saltwater aquarium.
The return trip was under sail while we enjoyed rum punch and shrimp ceviche. What a great way to finish the day! We didn’t get any underwater shots but there are a few photos of our sail back. Captain Vito was awesome!
After a nice nap and shower our group went out for dinner and then moved to The Split for the New Years celebration. The Split is the north end of the island, where the Lazy Lizard bar serves up music, drink, and last night, a big fireworks display. It seemed everyone on the island was there, either on the dock, in the water, on a boat, or on the dance floor. It wasn’t Copacabana big, like we experienced in Rio, but it’s the Belizean equivalent. Even CNN says so: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/12/2 9/new.years.around.world/
Of course we were back in our room by 12:30, but the rest of our group partied until the wee hours. We’ve got just two days left on this adventure. More to come!