Sundown beers, sitting on the deck of our wooden cabin which was on stilts over the crystal blue waters and as we watch the orange sun melt into the horizon an eagle ray swims right under our deck, only about a foot deep. Paradise found in Glovers reef, Belize. The locals dive spot of choice where it is still possible to find a deserted island (strictly an atoll) in the middle of the ocean.
The diving is everything diving should be. It was easy – little current, impeccable visibility with plenty of coral and sealife to keep you amused. Colourful coral formations, plenty of fish and the odd turtle, shark and ray. The dive sites were close by, and reasonably shallow so you can go 2-3 times a day with ease. Best of all, you have it to yourselves.
It gets better – go around full moon and you get chance to swim with a Whale shark. If you are patient. We drove out to Gladdens Spit jumped in and swam for 40 minutes to see nothing but deep blue. It had to happen on dive #2 – surely everything goes right in paradise? It did. We caught a glimpse of our first whale shark swimming below us, in awe of how big it was even so far away. Then, another whale shark came up out of the deep to get air on the surface. Swimming right by us in the process. Breathe. The diver across from us suddenly looked no more than a speck, as the graceful, enormous, creature claimed the ocean. This atoll was worth that moment alone.
Life above water was more low key. The atoll is home to four islands catering for all budgets (Becky’s, a WCS research centre, Slick Rock and for the uber rich even one for sale). We chose the budget option, wooden shacks over the sea which added to the remoteness of it all. You can be as responsible for food as you like, and the cabins come equipped with stoves and a few pots and pans. I would recommend getting an ice box, filling it with ice, beer and a few provisions for lunch and breakfast while taking advantage of getting the fresh catch of the day for dinner. Fresh bread is available twice a week too. Make sure you bring your mozzie warning kit too as mossies are rife on land. Something had to give.
If you gave up camping with the boy scouts then there is still plenty of excellent diving in Belize closer to civilization. Caye Caulker is a personal favorite. Its a curious little island – a mile wide and split into two halves after a hurricane passed through. The lazy Lizard bar marks the split and there are a lot worse places to enjoy a cold beer gazing into the ocean. There are plenty of great eating options too. Our favorite was grilled lobster on the beach – you can come close to eating too much lobster on Caye Caulker. The local diving was great and our dive school, Belize Diving Services comes highly recommended. We used their recommendation for a tour company to the Blue Hole who were similarly very professional. The Blue Hole lived up to its promise – free falling to 140ft, surrounded by stalactites and curling around them to climb back to the surface. All while 6 sharks swam above. Unforgettable . Lastly if you have an ‘off’ day – take the Manatees trip sleepy things which completely won us over. Avoid Shark Alley at all costs.