Trip report – 2/18/04 to 3/8/04 First week at Blackbird Caye Resort.
Arrived on Wednesday, first day of our week at Blackbird Caye Resort. Mr. Moreno met us at airport and took us to the Marine Terminal to get the boat to the resort. Marine Terminal is also a tourist place to shop and eat for the big boats that moor quite a bit away from Belize City. Hung around, ate something, and we finally left for the island. Sherry was on board, she is one of the managers along with her husband Dave. Very cheery and welcoming. We also had two other couples and some resort workers on board. Trip was fun, pretty and uneventful even though it got a little rough out past the reef but all calmed down when we reached the Turneffe atoll. Went through lots of mangroves. Reached the resort before dinner, had rum punches all around with a briefing from Dave. Note: all the hot water for showers you will ever want. Shower whenever, as often and for as long as it pleases you. Wow, so different from spending weeks on a sailboat. There are cabanas with verandahs, and three rooms and two rooms attached to a single porch. We stayed in the middle of the three rooms. The cabanas are larger with more amenities, but we were very comfortable. The dining room where we would all gather for snacks, meetings, snorkel and diving briefings and meals was a huge palappa, dark woods, about 20 tables, a bar, small sitting area/library and comfortable and friendly lending itself to everyone getting together and being convivial.
Three meals a day, breakfast and lunch are buffets with more than plenty to eat, lots and lots of fresh fruit, home-made breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, doughnuts. Dinner had two choices, one fish or seafood, one meat. As someone allergic to shellfish, I had the meat, chicken or pork mostly. Pal Margaret had fish, shrimp, anything offered from the ocean. Homemade desserts every night. Pies, cakes, ice creams. So, the report is that the food was delicious and plentiful. Breakfast at 7 to 8, lunch 1pm to 2, dinner 7pm until…? First dive usually 8:30am. Second dive at 11am, third dive 2 p.m. There was one night dive. Margaret, who is a brand new diver, or should I say WAS, went on a refresher with Sherry and then out on a one on one dive with Dave and from then on, went on another 5 dives including the Blue Hole. The dives were to a different place almost every time and when the wind was kicking up one place the divemasters, there were at least two, went to a different place. Now, I’m not a diver, due to asthma, so the snorkeling was my big interest. There were a few other people who weren’t divers and some of the divers went snorkeling some of the time. But, except for the Blue Hole, where we all went, the divers and snorkelers went to different places on separate boats. Our snorkeling guide, Chris, was absolutely wonderful. One day there were just two of us snorkeling with Chris and it’s wonderful to get that kind of special attention. He seemed to be able to hold his breath forever, so would swim down and find all kinds of things for us to see. Sometimes he would swim to me, grab my camera, swim down and get the most amazing photos. When my mask developed a crack, he took his off and put it on my face and managed to go without one. I love him. So, the snorkeling was every day at 9:30am and 2:30 pm and we would be out for a couple of hours each time. Once again if the wind, and there was an abundance of it, was blowing hard in one place, there was always another place to go. Sometimes we were snorkeling in coral gardens that were right to the surface and we could swim through them, sometimes we could swim two to three feet over them. We saw angelfish, I finally saw the Queen Angelfish and I don’t think there is anything more beautiful. We swam with rays, spotted eagle rays, saw reef sharks, nurse sharks, a couple dozen squid doing their usual coordinated swimming, lobsters, shrimp, octopus, and all the usual blue tang, batfish, damselfish, parrotfish, etc, and lovely, healthy, coral in wonderful colors. Saw some interesting blue coral. The boats carried big tubs of fresh water and that’s where we left our snorkel gear every night to be cleaned and cared for. Chris would clean my mask, and make sure everything was working perfectly for us. Now, we all know we can do those things for ourselves, but hey, being waited on isn’t half bad. Our last day at the resort, a Tuesday, we all, divers and snorkelers alike, went on the big boat to the Blue Hole. Margaret now has bragging rights to diving the Blue Hole, and I have snorkeling bragging rights. Us snorkelers got out first cuz it takes so dang long to get all those divers out and going. So we all swan out into the deep blue, with our hearts sort of in our mouths. It looks DEEP, and dark and I was glad to get back to the coral.
Following the Blue Hole, we went to Half Moon Caye for lunch on the beach, more diving and snorkeling and then to see the red-footed Boobies. Another great adventure. Our last dive/snorkel was at Long Caye, another deep hole, where the snorkelers get off the boat over the deep hole and swim to the coral reef. Another big gulp.
So, what did we do when we weren’t in the water? We took naps, we read books, we visited with new-found friends, we ate, we took walks to the Dolphin Research facility at the end of the island. Every day around 5 pm, the resort staff and any guest who wanted played a rousing game of volleyball. After dinner, we walked down the dock, said hello to the resident alligator named Jack, about 14 feet long who came to hang round the dock every night (no night swimming), shown our flashlights in the water to see the tarpons, barracuda and big groupers, looked at the stars and then to bed.
Wednesday morning, back to the mainland with all our hugs and good-byes made. Would I go there again? In a heart-beat. Was it worth the price? More than. The managers, the kitchen and housekeeping staff and, most especially, the snorkel guides and divemasters were absolutely wonderful. And the safely measures taken were the best.
Well, will write about our second week, spent in San Ignacio next time.