Story by John Schneller
Photo by Keith Fialcowitz
Belize was called British Honduras when I went to school, and in 1981 it became an independent Central American country. You can find it on a map just below Mexico, east of Guatemala, and along the warm western Caribbean. Belize City, the capital, isn't spectacular, but the Maya temples located inland, and the trips available from there are spectacular! This year I visited Altun Ha, a Mayan site rich in history and culture. On a previous visit to Belize I toured Lamanai and Xunantunich and other Mayan ruins in Belize. I have also paddled rivers in Belize, among them the Caves Branch River (cave tubing anyone?) and the Mopan River. There are enough things to do in Belize to fill four vacations. English is thankfully the official language of the country.
My focus this trip was on an off shore island, 40 miles from the mainland, and 60 miles from Belize City. Cully Erdman, along with his partners and staff, runs a resort on a private island unlike any I have visited. The first time I read about Slickrock was in Outside magazine. You can find information and photos about stays in paradise at www.slickrock.com. I encourage you to visit this great Belize adventure travel website.
Slickrock's resort is on a 13-acre private island named Long Caye. The island resort is complete with all the water toys, comforts, and natural beauty one could hope for, including a junk food bunny appropriately named Lucky. Seems he gets to live in paradise while everyone else just visits. A very lucky rabbit indeed!
My week of fun, sun sea, and surf passed too quickly. I spent my time sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, surf kayaking, and hammock surfing. Meals are super, the guides friendly and knowledgeable, and the accommodations unbelievably fine with thatched palapas strung out along the beach under the palms. Long Caye is in a marine reserve on the edge of a huge reef. The snorkeling and diving is superb, schools of fish numerous, eagle rays, nurse sharks, sea turtles, and spiny lobsters all within my grasp as I spent each day paddling, diving, and floating in and around the reef. The island was first visited by the Mayans and then pirates, now Cully has 'developed' it on the edge of Glover's Atoll Reef. Long Caye has an awesome 2,000 foot deep drop-off on one side of the island made famous by Jacques Cousteau - the scuba diving here is phenomenal! The sun sets and rises over turquoise waters, while all the best water toys take away the winter blues. The climate is warm, sunny, and very pleasant - the palm trees constantly sway in the ocean breeze. Everywhere you look beauty and warm water abounds. Now all you need are cool sunglasses and a kickback attitude! Check it out sometime!