When I left off two days ago, I had covered our arrival and first lazy day in Belize. While two lazy days in a row sounded slightly appealing, we couldn’t pass up the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean, and on the second day we went snokeling! The Turtle Inn has its own full service dive shop, so we hopped on a boat with two other couples and headed 11 miles offshore to Laughingbird Caye. This island is a national park, and probably the smallest national park I’ve ever seen — it measures about 40 feet wide by a few hundred feet long.
After hopping off the boat at the shoreline, we dropped our bags on a few picnic tables and headed into the water. I had never technically been snokeling before, but I’ve used a mask and fins in pools so it didn’t take long to get the hang of things. The water was warm, calm, and as clear as I’ve ever seen — we could see 30-40 feet easily, and the guides told us that at its best, visibility gets up to around 100 feet. Craziness! We swam from the beach across an underwater field of seagrass, and quickly arrived at the coral reefs surrounding the island. The largest coral reef in the western hemisphere is off the coast of Belize, so we were exploring part of that.
I don’t have any photos since the inn was out of the cheap Kodak underwater cameras, but we saw tons of cool fish and underwater creates. The coral itself was really neat to look at — lots of different kinds. Some looked like giant leafy plants, while others looked like tubes or antlers. And the fish! They were everywhere! And in all colors! There were zebra striped fish called “sargeant majors” and angel fish and snapper (TONS of snapper) and flounder and these cool black fish with neon blue spots. There were also lots of conch shells on the bottom, many of which probably still had conch inside since the national park status prohibited fishing and freediving for food. Inside some of the large coral and rock formations, we also saw Caribbean lobsters which look totally different from the lobster I’m used too — they’re long and spindly and not all red.
After about an hour of snorkeling, we swam back to shore for a picnic lunch on the beach. It was quite tasty. After eating, we explored the small island just a bit, but soon retreated to the safety of the picnic shelter to slather ourselves with another coat of sunscreen. (Sunburn prevention was a primary reason for all the extra clothing we’ve got on in the picture above! Our efforts were mostly successful, but I managed to sunburn two strips of my butt right where my bathing suit ended.) We went snorkeling for another hour after lunch, this time on the opposite side of the island and saw a similar array of awesome and colorful sea creatures. Overall, it was a very fun day and I was still smiling when we got back on the boat to leave.
One of the nice things about snorkeling (and scuba diving) was that we got back to the Inn every day between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon, which left plenty of time for lounging. After the day of snorkeling, we went back into Placencia around sunset to buy a few souvenirs (a painting and a couple wood carvings). We called a taxi this time, and while we waited we enjoyed the lovely entrance to the Inn. There was a pond with a bridge, and there were turtles swimming around. It was the Turtle Inn, after all.
After our awesome day of snorkeling we were ready to tackle the one thing we knew all along that we wanted to do in Belize — scuba diving! We arranged with the inn to go on a “Discover Scuba” dive the next day, where they spend a half hour or so teaching the very basic skills and then take you down with a guide. Those plans were postponed, however, when we were abruptly woken at 2:30 a.m. by…
To be continued in a day or two… 😉