Easy to dock, hard to leave
After a 40-minute boat ride from Hopkins, a cluster of bright green palm trees starts to materialize over the horizon, followed by small wooden cabanas and a dock that welcomes us lucky ones. “It’s like a post-card,” Max, leaning over the side of the boat, remarks in German. The palm-tree studded island – just over four acres long – indeed resembles something straight from a revolving stand at the gift shops. Everyone crowds the bow of the boat, too entranced before immediately grabbing their cameras to try to take a snapshot that will do South Water Caye justice.
South Water Caye
As the boat docks, pelicans soar overhead before landing with a splash beside us, bobbing against the sea. “I can’t believe how clear the water is!” Aly says, before joining everyone else as they disembark and excitedly head down the dock. Except for a couple of guests, this side of the island is completely ours. A perk of visiting in the ‘rainy season.’ We follow the guides across the other side of the island (about a minute walk) as he talks us through the snorkeling briefing. “The reef is quite close,” the guide tells us and explains how to properly swim around them so we don’t damage the corals, a rule that is enforced not only on the reef but amongst marine life, too. Donning our masks and fins, we set out into the clear waters. Multiple little bubbles translated as squeals of excitement when we spot an eel or a lobster.
After about half an hour, we make our way back to the post-card island, ready for some grub. Scrumptious rice & beans await us and the views during lunch are unparalleled. In the distance, Juan paddle boards atop the glass water, the only disturbance being pelicans diving into the water now and then to gobble up some fish (it is lunchtime, after all.) Some of us venture off to explore the island while others snuggle into one of the hammocks that line the shore line.
…But wait, there’s more
“Time to go!” the guide says, and the disappointed faces quickly light up when he tells us we have another snorkeling stop nearby. Bidding goodbye to South Water Caye, we arrive 5 minutes later to a different spot that is known for its beautiful corals. Jumping in, we follow the guide’s black life vest as he points and resurfaces to tell us about the different types of corals and fish beneath. Colorful Parrot Fish nibble on corals, and tiny jellyfish float near our faces.
A masked head pops up, pointing vigorously to the water’s surface. Everyone’s heads goes under water to see a massive eagle ray drift idly by. The immensity of not only the creature, but of the moment, is not lost on anyone. We follow the eagle ray at a respectful distance, observing as it swims away from us.
An hour glides by and we are back on the boat not quite ready to leave. A snorkeling adventure to remember, for sure.