I recently spent two weeks in Belize and I had the most incredible experience. My favourite part was going on a 3-day island adventure where I explored Glovers Reef Atoll by kayak and stand up paddleboard, snorkeled amazing patch reefs, went deep sea fishing, and enjoyed the best beach “camping” experience in Belize.
For some context, Glovers Reef Atoll is an amazing and beautiful atoll that is comprised of 5 Cayes – Long Caye, Northeast Caye, Middle Caye, Southwest Caye and Manta island – and is 36 miles off the coast of Southern Belize. Most Belizeans have never been there – I may be making a general assumption based on the group of friends I have but since Belize is small and I’m super popular (Kanye West’s tone of voice), my thesis is not without merit. See, the one friend of mine that has been to Glovers Reef, went there because his father was once the Minister of Fisheries and they visited Middle Caye, which has a Government fisheries base and a research centre owned by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Three days at Glovers Reef Atoll with Island Expeditions
Getting to Glovers Reef Atoll is an adventure, however, my adventure started before catching the early morning boat charter. The night before the trip I was in San Ignacio hanging out with friends I had not seen for 2 years. They easily convinced me to stay up all night partying with them, which to my detriment, made me only get an hour sleep before heading to Dangriga. I left at 4:30 AM, making a quick stop for breakfast in Belmopan and then jetting off along the meandering Humming Bird Highway. A quick note on the Humming Bird Highway, I highly recommend driving it, it has so many beautiful scenes.
An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets.
I arrived in Dangriga at 7:30 AM, which means the trip from San Ignacio to Dangriga was 3 hours, however, since it was early morning, there wasn’t much traffic and it may have taken a lot longer if it was done later during the day. Once I arrived in Dangriga, the instructions were to meet at Island Expeditions’ office before being directed to our boat charter. When I got to the office, I met other travelers and our tour guide, and they drove us to the boat pick up location and we were off to the Glovers Reef basecamp at Southwest Caye.
Glovers Reef Atoll is 36 miles from Dangriga and the water taxi took approximately two hours. I got a bit anxious during the last half hour of the ride so arriving at Southwest Caye at Glovers Reef was a huge relief. When we got there we were showed to our “tents” and were told to reconvene at the dock in about 10 minutes so that our guide could give us a tour of the area. I called dibs on one of the tents that had a clear view of the barrier reef, however, all of the tents were well situated.
Immediately after our tour of the area, our guide told us we would be meeting at 10:30 AM for our intro to kayaking lesson. We got a safety briefing and after learning some of the basics on sea kayaking – such as, several methods on how to enter the kayak, paddling techniques, and how to use the kayak rudder – we did our first kayaking trip to patch reefs that were 30 minutes from the beach. When we got to the patch reef we anchored our kayaks and went snorkeling.
Everyone was surprised at how incredible the snorkeling was, especially since it was just minutes away from the beach. However, we were reminded by our guide that Glovers Reef Atoll is a Marine Reserve so we shouldn’t be surprised at how beautiful it is. After our morning snorkel, we had lunch at the communal lunch hall and our afternoon included an intro to stand up paddle boarding and a quick SUP trip around the island. Our day ended with happy hour, which included ice cold Belizean beers and ceviche, and dinner was served at 7 PM.
Day two included waking up early to a beautiful sunrise. Our guide suggested we could do yoga but I was more interested in having a hearty breakfast. During breakfast I discussed with other travelers how heavenly our first night had been. The darkness on the island made the stars incredibly luminous and the hammock on the dock was perfectly suited for stargazing. Another highlight was falling asleep to the crashing waves and gentle sea breeze.
Someone mentioned that they read a negative review online about how the waves crashing against the barrier reef was a bit loud and laughing, he said that he would rather fall asleep to that than sirens and trains like he is used to. Activities for that day included kayak sailing (so much fun!), more snorkeling and deep sea fishing. The fishing was probably my favourite activity for that day, since we caught barracudas and had them for dinner in a delicious coconut stew!
For our last morning, we choose to go stand up paddle boarding again, however, this time we attached sails to them and drifted back lazily to the island. I had no idea one could stand up paddle board sail! Actually, we sat on the paddle boards, so maybe it should be called sitting paddle board sailing. Arriving back at the island I decided to squeeze in one last kayaking trip before our boat picked us up at noon. I headed to the open channel to experience a few big waves since I no longer considered myself an amateur kayaker. With our guide beside me, I felt I could take on anything.
I have to say, I am extremely grateful for our tour guide, he was very experienced and is very knowledgeable and entertaining! I have purposely omitted talking about him too much because I plan to write a follow up post that will be only about how amazing of a guide he was! So stay tuned for more and feel free to ask me any questions via the comment section below.