Explore The Outdoors / International Travel

Snorkeling in Bacalar Chico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Belize

I love to snorkel, and the journey it takes to get to and from a beautiful coral reef. While I was staying at Orchid Bay in northern Belize, I got to go on a fun-filled day of a boat ride, dolphins, snorkeling in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and eating fresh ceviche on a sandbar out in the middle of nowhere. The water was like glass as we left Orchid Bay about 7:00 a.m. We stopped on the other side of the bay to pick up a few other snorkelers.

About 30 minutes into the boat ride, Silver Fox captain Nate spotted dolphins in the distance. It must have been the music as the dolphins swam very close to boat. Nate slowed the boat down and we enjoyed the beautiful underwater dance of the dolphins. As the sunshine glistened on the water, it almost felt like they were leading us to a special underwater paradise. Seeing dolphins in the wild is wonderful in itself, but we saw a baby swimming with its momma, which made it extra special.

About 15 minutes later, we made our first stop at the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve Museum on the northwestern side of Ambergris Caye.  We learned about all of the known Mayan sites on the islands and took in the view from an observation tower.

I really loved the next part of our journey as we cruised along an ancient channel dug out by Mayan Indians.  They used the Bacalar Canal as a trade route.  I envisioned an ancient world as we navigated the narrow and shallow waterway.

Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Preserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We made two snorkeling stops along the coral reef – Rocky Point and Barracuda Patch.  Both places were filled with interesting coral and colorful fish.  My favorite moment was when I spotted a sting ray hiding in a sandy spot, then quickly noticed a second one.  Right after I noticed the second one, the first one swam away.  It was mesmerizing to watch it flap its wings and gracefully swim away. In Barracuda Patch, a saw a barracuda for a second then it darted away.  A few minutes later, I saw one that seemed to watch me as I was watching it, before it swam away.

After snorkeling we headed over to North Beach Island Resort for a cold drink.  There were military personnel stationed at the resort, but I found it odd there weren’t any tourists sitting around the bar.  I wanted a mojito, but they didn’t have the stuff to make one, so I settled for a beer, which tasted great after snorkeling. 

We relaxed in the bar palapa for about 30 minutes the headed off to our next stop, a sandbar.  It was so fun walking along the shell covered sandbar.  I picked up a few shells, including some I had to throw back because there were still creatures living in them.  While we were shell hunting, Nate and Roger, the boat captain and first mate of the Silver Fox, made us fresh ceviche.  As I stood on the sandbar devouring the ceviche and sipping a rum punch, I thought to myself, this is paradise.

I was sad for the snorkeling adventure to end as we rode back to Orchid Bay, but the mojitos and fish tacos were a perfect end to a great day in Belize.

Author Jennifer Broome has stayed at Orchid Bay several times and highly recommends the resort. For other excursions, check out post on New River Boat Tour or Walking Tour in Corozal.

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