9 Days in Belize and Tikal, Guatemala

A Travelogue by John Niebler

Pictures by John Niebler and John Zastrow

Getting to Belize Diving Trip Explore Caye Caulker Tikal - day 1 Tikal - day 2 Down to Punta Gorda - Kayak Trip Explore the cave Snorkeling and Fishing Going home
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Dive Trip
Caye Caulker
Tikal - Day 1
Tikal - Day 2
PG and Kayak
Cave Trip
Snorkeling and Fishing
Going Home

Saturday April 5th

Dona was trying to reach Aprill all morning to find out about our fishing and snorkeling trip. We finally went to town with Gale to figure it out. Roberto was waiting for us since 8am. It was 9:30. Communications were very sporadic in Belize and a Type A person requiring precise timing and detailed plans would not survive long. Dona later mentioned what must be a truth about many developing countries, “If you come to Belize without patience, you will learn it. If you come with patience, you will lose it.” We made a quick stop at the market to get some oranges, sweet plantains, and tamales wrapped in large leaves to eat. We went to the boat and met George.
George is a very nice guy and the president of the tour guide association for that region. He is a troll and fly-fishing guide, takes people out snorkeling, and makes furniture. Everyone that does the guiding also has another job. He took us to the Snake Cayes to snorkel, about an hour boat ride from the coast. The Snake Cayes were four small islands in the middle of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve.
We slathered on the SPF30, which wasn’t enough, and jumped in the water (Do they make SPF450?) We snorkeled around West Snake Caye, which has a pure white sand beach. We saw a few barracuda, a few large starfish, a lot of clown fish, angelfish, and one large fish that I think was a type of grouper. If our underwater cameras had been better, you’d be able to see all of these. Needless to say, the pictures don’t do this area justice and once again we found ourselves in a place free of any indication of human presence. It was pretty wavy for snorkeling over corral, about 1 foot swells, and so we wrapped up the snorkeling and started fishing. George was trying hard to get the barracuda that we had seen to bite, but it was too early in the afternoon and the tides were too high. I did get something on my line right after George handed me the pole, but it wasn’t large and it got away. All told fishing was not the most successful part of our trip. The only thing I caught was a 12 inch suncuda which was not big enough to keep. Z didn’t catch anything except a lure that was torn to shreds by the one barracuda that bit that day.
We stopped at the ranger station on Abalone Caye. This is where they monitor the marine reserve. They have a little nature trail setup on the mangrove island with different trees and plants marked and wildlife described. The trail is lined with conch shells. We got to climb the tower, which overlooks the ocean. I got my best photograph of the water from here. There is an island not far away that is completely protected. No boats can go near it and no one is allowed on it.
We left as soon as the tide started to go out. The theory being that the fish would bite more. They didn’t. We fished all the way back toward PG. Nothing. We did however have dolphins playing around our boat. Three of them started swimming along side. George slowed down and they started cutting right in front of the boat. Two of them were swimming synchronized and another was just playing around. They stayed with us for about 10 minutes. Again, if there were any Kodak people reading this, your new design of the underwater disposables sucks. Not one good picture out of two cameras. Another event of note-- We were trolling the mangroves when a small 5-inch high translucent blob flew out of the ocean. It flew about 10 feet and splut! Back under the waves. George claims it was a squid. It was spinning as it flew and it had tentacles flying out. It looked more like an octopus to me. Anyway, I asked him if they did that often, and he said no.
We ate with Dona and Gale that night. Packed up and got ready to go. (sniff.)


Snorkeling and Fishing
George and the boat
George in the tower at the ranger's station

West Snake Caye

Underwater Sealife
At the ranger's station on Ablone Caye.
Nature trail on Ablone caye. There are conch shells lining the trail.
Three dolphins came and played around our boat.