We began our first morning aboard National Geographic Sea Lion admiring the sunrise above the Caribbean Sea. Breakfast served, introductions made, and time to head out to explore West Snake Caye. Belize is part of the Mesoamerican Great Barrier Reef, the second largest and arguably the healthiest in the world. Today we experienced this thriving coral reef by snorkeling. Light wind and waves did not stop us from admiring the variety of reef fish, sea sponges, hidden lobsters, and wandering rays. When asked if they would like to return to the ship, one guest replied, “never!” Fortunately, we will have more snorkeling opportunities in the days to come!
As an expedition company, we never hesitate to explore areas we have yet to see. With the help of our local guides and fearless expedition leader, we did such a venture this afternoon at Paynes Creek National Park. The ride to the park’s ranger station brought us all a smile and sense of thrill as we swerved through red mangrove waterways by Zodiac. Once we arrived, we had a moment to experience the unique Pine Savanna ecosystem. Guests enjoyed an up-close look at native birds, amphibians, and even termite nests established in the trees.
Belize is known for the multiple ecosystems we explored today, but also for its diverse community. Belizean guide Luz concluded our evening with a talk on the history and cultures that make up the country. In natural Lindblad fashion, our crafty bartender Kasey paired the evening’s lecture with a tasting of local rums. On that high note, we concluded the evening to rest up for the adventures to come.