Gales Point seeks more tourists
It's a village that sits on a thin
ribbon of land in the middle of a
shimmering lagoon. The serene
waters are home to an
abundance of game fish, not to
mention the amazing manatee.
But despite its beauty, few
Belizeans know it. Hopefully,
that situation will change.
Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Gales Point is described as the natural place to be.
Life is quiet in this Creole village and there is hardly
any traffic on the single road, which runs through the
middle of the peninsula, which juts out like a narrow
finger into the placid waters of southern lagoon.
Located about twenty-five miles south of Belize City,
Gales Point is surrounded by exotic wildlife,
vegetation and other attractions. However, despite all
the area has to offer, the village has grown little
throughout the years. Many villagers have either
migrated to the United States or taken jobs in the city
or more popular tourist destinations. Those who have
remained in the village either farm or fish to make a
Randolph Andrewin, Resident
"I could see where business can pick up here, but it's
just a matter to organize and get it started. Once it
gets started, I think that will show as a way that
things can pick up."
The villagers agree that there is a lot of work to do
before Gales Point will develop. They say they want to
see tourism grow in the area and have been involved
in a number of activities to try and attract people to
the area. In 1999, Randolph Andrewin opened Sugar
"Actually the reason why we did it was because of the
cruise ships that were coming in to Belize last year.
We were trying to get some people to come here at
least from off the cruise ships, but it didn't work out."
However, some tourists have been stopping by Methos
Coconut Campgrounds. The site is owned by Andrewin
and his family, who also operate a Maroon Creole
Drum School, where classes are given to anyone
interested in learning how to beat drums.
John Kaditis is a paramedic, who has spent much of
his time travelling the world. Six weeks ago he landed
in Belize and has been staying at Methos Camping
John Kaditis, Tourist
"I needed sometime for me, some adventure, some
beauty, some culture and all of those things. I kind of
look at the maps and Belize sounded good, no
itinerary, no pre-plans."
The villagers do try to make visitors to Gales Point
feel very welcome. The Talla Walla Band plays
rhythms of the village including the Sambai. Emmeth
Young, a drummer and singer, says he wants to see
his village grow into a perfect tourist destination.
Emmeth Young, Resident
"Right here at Methos Camp Ground, you can do
camping, we have a farming tour that you can go to
the farm and learn to plant traditional food, you can
take drum classes, you can do drum making
workshops. If you want to go on a boat tour, they
have people in the village that give you boat tours,
you can go to the caves, you can go and see the
manatees, you can do bird watching, you can go to
the jungle and do jungle hikes, they have river rafting,
Wayne Garnett paints to make money. Although
Garnett says business has not been bad for him,
generally things are slow in Gales Point. Garnett
believes this is because the place has not been
Wayne Garnett, Resident
"I think publicity is one of the main factors and the
people they have to work together a little bit more.
For example this is one of the oldest village and it's
one of the most underdeveloped, so I think the people
they should get together and start doing something."
One person who is trying to bring income to Gales
Point is Charles Usher. Although not a resident of the
village, Usher spent a lot of his younger days there.
Six months ago he purchased a forty-three foot vessel
and recently started a weekly water taxi service to
Charles Usher, Captain, Big Dipper
"I’ve been looking at the tourism industry for a long
time, now attending a lot of their meetings and I
believe the tourism industry is growing."
The boat ride is about an hour and takes you along
the Caribbean coastline and then into the Bar River,
which connects the sea to the lagoon. The river is
famous for sport fishing and the world's top anglers
can be found casting for snook and tarpon. Usher
agrees that Gales Point is an attractive location where
both locals and foreign tourists can have fun.
"I spotted a need to join Belize City to the south, an
alternative route to the buses, and Gales Point being
close to the point to take a chance on such a close
run and it could be, in my opinion, a good destination
and also a hub for the south."
The Big Dipper departs from the Radisson Pier every
Friday at 9:30 in the morning and returns from Gales
Point at 3:30 in the evening. The vessel docks at the
only one major hotel on the peninsula, the Manatee
Lodge. However other small accommodations are
available in Gales Point. Gentle's Cool Spot is a family
owned business that includes a restaurant and has
sleeping quarters for only twenty dollars a night. We
also came upon some villagers busy constructing a
hotel, which is scheduled to open in January. In the
meantime, the good people of Gales Point invite you
to come by and spend sometime.
Gales Point is also accessible by skiff through a
system of canals and lagoons, as well as by land via
the coastal road.