Photos of us using booties for EVERY sport we do in Belize
Booties, how much do I need thee?

We have an excellent Belize packing list for our island and jungle trips. I have been doing this a long time, and I would say that the thing people are most confused by is buying booties. I spend a crazy amount of time talking about shoes.

It seems people don’t really know much about water shoes and how to protect their feet. Foot injuries are our most common injury on the island. And I would venture to say that 95% of the problems come from bringing improper or just plain lousy footwear.

Photos of both Belize island and jungle sports where safety relies on good booties.
Let me count the ways….

Think about it: on our island trips we do ten water sports, and if you are going with us to the jungle also you can add four more to that list. All but two of our sports take place in the water. That means you need one pair of shoes to handle twelve different sports. That’s a tall order! And they will never dry out during the whole trip. Some shoes are too bulky (they won’t fit on kayak pedals or into a snorkel fin), some shoes are sandals and so don’t protect you walking around in the ocean where there are sea urchins and sting rays. And still some are too stiff, or don’t have any traction, or don’t protect your whole foot because the whole top is simply a thin mesh.

Twelve sports in Belize, one shoe. That's a tall order.
Inland and island, you need good shoes!

The answer to this problem is simple: get some neoprene booties.

Belize packing list

This subject came to me yesterday when I remembered I need to get myself a new pair of booties. I had worn out my 4th pair last spring and when I got home I suddenly realized when packing for a river trip I had left my last pair in Belize to finish off next season. I had to buy a pair locally and I really don’t like them, they are overkill. They are extremely sturdy, with a huge zipper going way up the calf. They are too stiff. I like a smaller, more flexible pair. Cully was doing an order from Northwest River Supply and I thought he would get me a pair there. But upon looking at their site all of their options had the same over-the-top features of the pair I just bought. So I went to Amazon and put in “dive booties” and found a very good looking pair with all the features I like for much less money than my river booties had always been. I wish they went a little bit higher up the ankle, but that’s the way it goes. They look flexible, and with a good thick sole, and they pull on – no zipper. And they are only $23.

[Photos, top to bottom and left to right: Robert Dunlop, Jerry Wylie, Elena Potter, Rich Mitchell, Kimi Gosney, Rick Pratt]

Belize Kite Squatching

One of the great things about having an island full of sport toys for 10 different sports is no matter what the weather, there’s always something to do. However, if it’s very windy for a long time, the limited options CAN get a bit old. You know the drill, you are stuck on the best island in Belize and you can’t snorkel the 700 patch reefs. Whine.

This is what happened on a recent trip in February where it was windy for days. So, what do you do on a moderately windy norther day for the more adventurous folks who are tired of snorkeling “The Outside”? (In high winds we snorkel the leeward side of the island so that you are in a wind shadow.) Plus it was COLD! (Sixty-five is frigid in Belize.)

So over early coffee in the dining room, we discussed the dilemma. Guests are bored, guides are bored too. Too many boys, so many toys!

Then, it hit us, time to play with SUPsquatch, our Big SUP 18′ long board which is designed to paddle with 4 – 8 people! The original idea was to paddle it out SUP-style, then ride the small rollers back in. This soon morphed into getting towed out to the Horseshoe patchreef, and use one of our kayak parasail kites to bring us back in under wind power. The logistics were discussed, as well as safety and paddler training. The captain was elected – Kyle. The boat driver was suckered in – Charlie. The rope master and anchor master was conned into the play – Carlos. The participants dressed for heavy weather (62-degree wind chill!) It worked! We towed out to the second horseshoe at Angelfish where there is a large, shallow sandy spot to anchor and set up (see our snorkel map to get an idea of the lay of the “land” http://www.slickrock.com/belizesnorkeling.html). They blew back almost as fast as Charlie drove back! But that wasn’t good enough, the hardy group had another, better idea. So Laura, the kitesurf instructor, was coerced out of her woolly stocking hat into water clothes as the power unit for the second run, with a 4-meter trainer kitesurf kite. NOW they were riding the bat… SUP!

The drag out was fine, it took a while to do a kite launch from the water, and they were off with a good wake. Jerry Wylie and Charlie were in the motor boat, Jerry was the paparazzi photographer. He got a lot of good pictures. They made it home in good time, not quite to where they intended, it seems that both Laura and Kyle thought they were steering, but in reality they were fighting each other. So much for crew communication. So, yet another NEW Slickrock sport was born: kite-squatching, course.

[All photos by Jerry Wylie, click on each thumbnail to see the full image.]

Big SUP Belize

We are always wondering what is next in the never ending development of new water sport equipment. Well, once again we are surprised and excited to find the latest: a giant paddleboard big enough to hold 6 people! Several companies have already come out with these 18’ long inflatable boards, which can be used for flatwater paddling and even surfing. We are planning to get one for next season, it should be great on our wave.

Because we don’t have one yet, we don’t have a video of this new board on our wave, but here’s a fantastic video of a group Big SUP surfing on the Atlantic coast of France in the Bay of Biscay. This video is quite hilarious. This is us next year!

Big SUP video

Belize paddleboard cruising

Slickrock has added 3 new ‘cruiser’ paddleboards to our collection of SUP’s this season. This style of paddleboard is designed for longer distance paddling tours, and the boards have a more defined keel for better tracking and a pointed bow to cut through chop. This allows the board to cover more distance efficiently, and is the design used in racing and long distance paddling.

We will start a new Belize paddleboarding activity with these boards, paddling downwind to the neighboring islands of Glovers Reef which are 3 and 6 miles away. These tours will then be picked up by our motor skiff for the ride back to Long Caye. The tours will follow the ring reef of the atoll and trips can be made outside the reef in open sea conditions for more advanced paddlers, or inside the reef where no swells exist. And, we will paddle in calm conditions or when the wind is blowing downwind only.

Check out the cruiser board in the photo with its high-volume bow and keel as an example of the difference between it and a regular paddleboard.

Belize paddleboarding
Paddleboarding at our Belize island

Susan Beveridge wants to join one of our Belize trips. She is super excited about our island in Belize and she hasn’t even been there yet! I just love that, she is going to go crazy when she gets there.

Susan recently sent me a link to a blog by a new paddleboarder named Aaron Teasdale and I wanted everyone to see it. Aaron is a writer/adventurer/photographer.

He is just learning to paddleboard. You can tell it’s become an obsession with him. There are some great photos on this post, they will make you want to start paddleboarding NOW. http://aaronteasdale.blogspot.com/2011/08/walking-on-water-discovering-standup.html

For those of you who will be joining us this year, or hope to, check this out. Paddleboarding is a huge sport on our island now, and we didn’t even offer it until four years ago, that’s how new it is. Classes are springing up all over the country. If you can get a class before you get to the island, go for it. The more experience you have before you come, the more likely you will be able to get out in the waves when you are there!