This morning, we awoke as the ship cruised to Laughing Bird Caye. This national park is named for the laughing gulls that make themselves heard from just about anywhere onshore. In the morning, we motored ashore the small 1.8-acre white sand paradise where we relaxed, kayaked and snorkeled. Laughing Bird Caye is unique not only for its national park protections but also for its active coral restoration zone. After a thorough exploration of the reef, we got back on the ship to reposition to the Silk Cayes. These “islands” are mostly beautiful reefs with a pile of protected sand in the middle, with hardly a palm tree supported. Local lobster fisherman were cleaning their catch in the shallow sandy bottom, and we were treated to a feeding frenzy of rays, turtles and sharks, all eager to pick up scraps discarded by the fisherman. After snorkeling, we swam ashore to bask in the sun and drink cocktails. It was the perfect end to an ocean-filled day.
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.