Our first day in Belize started with a bang as we awoke anchored just off Half Moon Caye, serenaded by the guttural sounds of hundreds of frigatebirds eager to find a mate. Once ashore, half our group departed on a short hike to a bird colony where guests can enjoy front row viewing of frigatebirds and red-footed boobies. The parental boobies were warming eggs on their nests and nurturing small chicks while trying to ignore the cacophony of frigatebirds circling overhead. Not an easy feat! After the hike, we went snorkeling in the warm, shallow sea that surrounds the island. We were treated to up close sightings of barracudas and countless reef fish. In the afternoon, we jumped on a speedboat and motored over to one of Belize’s most popular attractions, The Great Blue Hole. Here we snorkeled the interior rim, and those who were brave enough swam to the center to look down into the abyss. Sharks and rays frequent the blue hole, and many snorkelers were treated to sightings of both. Weary after a long day in the sunshine, we all returned to our shipboard home for our first recap of the trip and cocktail hour. Just another day of paradise here in Belize!
National Geographic Sea Lion
Shortly after National Geographic Sea Lion dropped her anchor, we awoke to very calm seas with overcast skies and a light southwest wind coming off the land. Our guests prepared for early morning adventures and headed out in Zodiacs and local skiffs to explore the meandering lower reaches of Monkey River, the largest estuary of southern Belize. Great blue herons and great egrets stood knee deep on the sandbars near the shore while yellow-crowned night herons and black vultures hunkered down in the drizzle that accompanied us. Guides and guests gazed up at the treetops, hoping to see green iguanas with the males in their bright orange breeding colors and perhaps a troop of Yucatan black howler monkeys. We walked the trails through the gallery forest a few miles upstream. Our luck was shining brightly, and several monkeys were sighted high above. We returned to the ship to savor the delicious brunch prepared by the amazing hotel department. Ranguana Caye was our base for the snorkeling and island activities this afternoon. Guests had a wonderful experience swimming among the bright and beautiful fish and the other tiny critters that live in the hard and soft corals of the fringing reefs. Parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and sergeant majors were some of the familiar friends seen. As the trip wound down to the final stages, contact information was exchanged among new friends, experiences were shared, and future trips were discussed. Guests bid farewell to the crew and staff. Glasses were raised, and a guest slide show put smiles on our faces.