This is the second post of a series of four detailing a recent trip to Belize.
Early Saturday morning, my husband and I woke up and had breakfast at the Maya Beach Bistro. Breakfast service starts at 7 am and our excursion to the Silk Cayes was scheduled to leave at 8 am.
Honestly, we did not do very much research before the trip but knew that snorkeling was a must while visiting Belize. We did not know what areas were ideal for snorkeling, so we trusted our hotel to assist us in the decision and scheduling. It turned out that we were fortunate to spend the day at the Silk Cayes, due to other travelers from the hotel wishing to go scuba diving in the same area.
The dive shop experience was more than I expected. We signed our waivers and then the snorkel guide helped each one of us find a mask and fins that correctly fit our face and feet. I’ve been on previous snorkel trips where they just toss you a mask and some adjustable fins and hope for the best. Next, the guide introduced the boat captain, the dive instructor/guide and explained our journey would be about 45 minutes to the Silk Cayes.
The Silk Cayes is located about 19 miles offshore from Placencia, Belize. The country has designated the area a protected marine reserve, so fisherman are not allowed to disrupt the area and all tourists are instructed to not touch any of the fish or coral. All visitors are expected to leave the islands exactly as they found them- do not remove any seashells and be sure to pick up any trash. Belize’s Barrier Reef is located all around the Silk Cayes, making it an ideal location for snorkeling or diving.
After arriving at the island, we put on our snorkel and fins and our guide took us on a tour circling the island. We swam as a group and saw different types of coral in colors ranging from bright orange to purplish blue. The guide pointed out several different types of fish (I wish I remembered all the names!) and also a group of iridescent squid. As we swam, small harmless jellyfish floated beside us- I even gently held one in my hand. We were fortunate to see a couple of Caribbean lobsters along the way. Right now, I would say this was the best snorkeling excursion I have experienced. About an hour later, we returned to the island for lunch prepared by the dive shop.
Following lunch, we had the option to go out snorkeling again to a different area that was a bit father away. Most of the group was exhausted, but my husband and I were enjoying the adventure and were eager to continue. Along the way, we briefly swam over an area that was very deep to where we could no longer see the ocean floor. I’ll admit that it scared me a bit, but I trusted our guide. Once we arrived at the more shallow area, we observed different types of coral than earlier. It was my first time seeing brain coral in person- which I thought was especially neat. Schools of fish swam around us as we continued to explore. At one point, our guide dived down and picked up something from the sea floor. He brought it to the surface and explained that it was a furry sea cucumber and was soft like a stuffed animal. Then he asked if I wanted to hold it and it definitely was super soft like a little stuffed animal. If only I could take it home! (just kidding)
After about 45 minutes, we returned to shore. What an experience! My biggest regret was not bringing an underway camera to capture all of the beautiful creatures we were so fortunate to see.
The group of divers quickly returned and we all boarded the boat to visit a separate area for another unique experience. Just a couple minutes away, we stopped at an area where nurse sharks and sting rays gathered. We were able to snorkel around them, while they swam just a few feet away! It was a bit of a rush floating near the surface of the water as large sting rays swam underneath me. Twenty minutes later, we were instructed that our trip was coming to an end. We boarded the boat once more and headed back to the dock in Placencia.
After returning to the hotel, my husband and I were worn out from the trip so we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the Bistro or enjoying a cocktail on the pier. I have already started to make plans to return to Maya Beach and take the same snorkeling trip again. I would love for my daughter to experience the beauty of all the unique marine life (and I will bring an underwater camera to capture it!).
Days 3 and 4 will be posted soon. Happy travels!
Check out Belize: Day One here.