Lighthouse Reef, Belize
Six nights on Half Moon Caye, a postage stamp sized island 55 miles out to sea and off the coast of Belize. Twenty four adventurers, twelve staff and guides. Hermit crabs, boobie birds, frigate birds and island rats! Besides the thirty six of us, these were the only other creatures we would encounter on the island.
When our friends, John and Sandy enlisted us to join them on this adventure, we jumped without hesitation. Camping on a white sand remote tropical island was exactly what we were looking for.
After a fifty five mile boat ride over two reefs and through the deep water in between, we arrived, fully provisioned, on tiny Half Moon Caye. A quick orientation to the layout of the island was followed by assignments to our homes for the next six nights.
Guests on the island stay in white canvas tents outfitted with large screened windows, wooden deck board flooring, queen size bed, side tables and covered 5 gallon pickle buckets to stow any edibles in.
During orientation we were advised that all morsels of food in our tents should be kept in the sealed buckets so as not to tempt the island’s curious population of rats! We made the mistake our first night of leaving a crumb of something out, only to be woken to the sound of four tiny feet scurrying across our tent’s wood floor. The sight of me, standing on our bed with a headlamp lit on my forehead, broom in hand, yelling at a scared rat is one that has stayed with Nina ever since! We learned our lesson(s) that night and we were not visited by the resident rodents again.
As soon as we got settled in our tents, the entire group was summoned to the beach for kayak training. Each of us had to demonstrate the ability to perform a wet escape from a capsized kayak and the ability to get back into that kayak in water over our heads.
We booked our adventure with a Canadian outfitters, Island Expeditions. Their kitchen crew provided us with three delicious meals each day. Most nights, our guides would present a lecture on their particular areas of expertise from astronomy to ornithology to reef science.
Each of our guides had a different area of expertise. We were led by knowledgeable guides on snorkeling trips throughout the reef. Here, a guide dives to the bottom of the reef with a pointer, searching for underwater life to point out to snorkelers above.
We identified dozens of aquatic species on our many dives throughout the week.
Lighthouse Reef, pictured above, is an atoll in the Caribbean Sea, the easternmost part of the Belize Barrier Reef. Water depth on the reef is no more than 25 feet, surrounded by the several thousand feet deep waters of the Sea.
The image above shows the reef and its only two islands, Half Moon Caye and Long Caye.
One of the highlights of our adventure was a snorkeling trip to the nearby, 1,000 feet deep, Great Blue Hole. It was a harrowing experience to snorkel the entire perimeter of the hole looking down into the abyss while encountering numerous species of fish, including an occasional shark!
A morning on the water, line casting for fish, resulted in a catch that provided more than enough bounty for two meals prepared by staff.
As our guides cleaned our catch, a school of nurse sharks appeared, ready to chow on entrails!
Kayaking with a sail attached made for some pretty easy paddling as we visited neighboring Long Caye, seven miles from Half Moon Caye.
For more information on booking your un-Belize-able adventure, go to http://www.islandexpeditions.com.