This morning, we meet up on the rooftop patio at the hotel for some fantastic views of the island and then it’s off to breakfast at Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks. It’s one of the most popular breakfast spots on the island – just a small shack with a few stools to sit on. A fry jack is a deep fried dough pocket with all kinds of yummy stuff inside such as ham, eggs, cheese, beans, and chicken. They are awesome and very filling.
We then head over to Mario’s tours to pick up our fins and snorkel gear, and then onto our small powerboat for a day of sun and swim and snorkel.
We will be exploring the area of Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is part of the Belize Barrier Reef. A UNESCO world heritage site, this area is protected against over-fishing and over-development. Fun Fact: this is the world’s largest living coral reef! On the way to the reserve, we get the inside scoop that a manatee is nearby! So what is a manatee? Also known as a sea cow, it is a highly endangered mammal that is fully aquatic. I’d say they look a bit like round fat seals? Haha. We jump into the water to check it out. This manatee spends a lot of time just chilling on the ocean floor…but it does come up for air a couple of times so that’s pretty cool. At one point I am probably within 10 feet of it but I have to try to NOT float into it!
Once we get to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, there is plenty of time to swim and explore….we see tons of brightly colored fish, and manta rays relaxing on the ocean floor. The water is clear blue and this area is not very deep so it allows for some of the best snorkeling in Belize. Joe–our guide for the day-leads us around the reserve; he has some food for the fish so they follow him. We climb back on the boat and head to Shark Alley….ummmmm yeah. We get there and all of these nurse sharks circle the boat(they are expecting food, but Joe does not feed them so they don’t stick around for too long). Joe wants us to jump into the water with them….uh yeah, I’ll try to find a place where I can slide in AWAY from the sharks, thanks. I get close to some of them, and thankfully they are not dangerous to humans….although they will bite if bothered or threatened. The last stop on the snorkel tour is an old sunken barge…which is a great place for little fishies to live. Some of them even swim next to me, like my little buddies! Close to the barge is a large coral garden which is super neat….I swim over some of the plants…just barely clearing them. You don’t realize how big they really are! A few even looked like giant corndogs..haha. A really cool experience. Now it’s back onto the boat for lunch…Joe and his sidekick Bob have made chicken, pasta and rice but I don’t eat too much because I have the tendency to get seasick and I figure I should go easy. But I do have some rum punch of course!
The last stop on the boat tour is the seahorse sanctuary….we hop onto the dock to see some seahorses in this protected area.
I can only see a couple of tiny ones. And then pelicans…. lots of pelicans swarm the boat. At one point we have 4 on the boat with us. NO food for you today, kids!
We go a little further to where the tarpon fish hang out..they are huge! Joe dangles a piece of seaweed to get one to jump up out of the water. It is pretty impressive.
And now we are back on the island; we grab our belongings from the covered “dry area” in the boat. Except there is a leak – so my stuff is NOT dry. This mostly affects my purse and wallet…it takes days for the wallet and money to fully dry…..correction…my wallet is still damp 10 days later. UGH.
There is some leftover rum punch so we take it back to the hotel pool and hang out for a couple of hours. My incredible sunburn is starting to show, so sitting in the pool feels glorious. I did have sunscreen on but I didn’t reapply enough after coming out of the water. Thank god Pedro made me wear my t-shirt in the water or it would have been much worse! But we still need to be careful when on the island…the reflected sunlight off of the white coral sand is also deadly. I skip dinner with the group for some alone time and there is a place I want to check out for tonight’s meal called Wish Willy. Except when I get there, the place is closed! The busy season is just starting so a lot of places are not open yet. Bummer. As I head back to find another place I get caught in a torrential downpour. It is insane! I find a small bike shelter nearby and I try to wait out the rain. I decide I can’t stay here forever so I brave the rain and make it to a shop along the main road. This is where I meet this crazy Belizean dude who sees that I’m soaked and takes off his shirt so I can dry off with it. Haha what?? I insist that he can keep his shirt but he isn’t having it. It is a nice gesture for sure but then he’s rambling on about reading my palm and just generally making no sense. I’m guessing he is probably high. I manage to sneak away from shirtless dude and end up at a place called Belizean Flavas. Time for a dinner/drinks special…I go for the conch ceviche with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies, with 2 rum punches.
I meet Erica, who mans the grill outside of the restaurant. She’s pretty cool, and chats with me since I’m alone. That’s one thing you must do when visiting the island…chat alot with the locals…they are lovely and welcoming! At this point everything from the day is catching up with me…the rum punch, the bug bites from last night, the sunburn…I’m starting to get the shivers. So this means it’s time to hit the sack early so I can have some fun tomorrow!