Belize surf kayaking
Surf kayaking at our island in Belize

On our island out at Glover’s Reef in Belize, we offer 10 sports: sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayak surfing, sport fishing, kayak fishing, paddleboarding, and board surfing. It is great having so many sports, because if it’s too windy to sea kayak, it might be perfect for one of the surfing sports. It the surf is flat because there is no swell coming from the greater Caribbean, then snorkeling and sea kayaking are unbelievably good. It’s rare that we can’t do anything because we have so many options.

Our most popular sport is probably surf kayaking. Very few people come to our island for surf kayaking because it’s not a well-known sport. Regular board surfing or paddleboard surfing are much sexier, so we do get a lot of advance interest in those. But when our guests get to the caye and realize how easy and how much of a blast surf kayaking is, you can’t get them out of the water. You can start surf kayaking instantly, which is not true of the other surf sports, they take a great deal of practice. We have this wonderful wave that is usually medium-sized. It’s sometimes huge, but not often. It is like it was made for surf kayaks.

Our favorite surf kayak, hands down, is the Kaos by Wilderness Systems. But guess what, and I bet you already know what I am going to say; they don’t make them anymore. We have a fleet of about 12 surf kayaks, and often all 12 of them are on the water. We drive all of our gear down from Utah, and so we take very good care of our boats on the island because it’s a huge hassle to replace anything. We have all the equipment to fix all of our gear, and we are constantly fixing our boats and boards. But nothing lasts forever, and a few of our Kaos kayaks are starting to die. Cully has been looking for more of them for years. Recently he did a search and found a kayak store in California that had THREE brand new Kaos surf kayaks left. Cully was so excited he paid retail for them, something we never do. Our kitesurf instructor Jasmine went and got them for us, and they are now stored at Jasmine’s parent’s house. My best friend from high school is going to drive them out to us in September. This is how much we want these boats!

Our surf kayaks are always stored out of the sun, along with our windsurf gear
Our surf kayaks are always stored out of the sun, along with our windsurf gear

So just a week or two after we found these miraculous boats, presumably the last Kaos kayaks left in the country, we got an email from a past guest, Dave Petty. Dave joined us on the island over two years ago. Apparently he is still thinking about how much fun he had surf kayaking with us, because he is now looking for his own boat, and he was writing to ask us where to get Kaos kayaks, because he couldn’t find any. Funny you should ask! We told him of our saga and he said, well what is an alternative? Cully really knows river and surf boats, and he replied that he didn’t know of an alternative, as we have tried numerous other boats and none compare to the Kaos. Cully’s only recommendation was to call surf shops in Santa Cruz, CA which is more or less the headquarters for surf kayaking in the US, and just go with their recommendation.

So it turns out Dave does not give up! He takes Cully’s advice, and somehow ends up speaking with a National Champion surf kayaker named Dave Johnson from Santa Cruz. Dave Johnson recommended a boat made in New Zealand, but with a US distributor, called the Cobra Strike. Dave Petty sent us the link to this boat to get Cully’s opinion. Cully was extremely excited, he didn’t know about the Strike, and said that it looks like an awesome surf kayak, probably even a better design than the Kaos. He plans to start buying this boat once our remaining Kaos boats start wearing out. He was very appreciative to Dave for finding it, as he didn’t know there was such a good alternative out there.

Let’s hear it for people like Dave Petty who never give up in their search for better toys!

[Photos, top to bottom, Bryony Swan, Cully Erdman]

If you are wondering where to find Belize surfing, look no further! Our super-popular surf sports on the island often take center stage with our guests, after they find out that you don’t need to be an expert to experience the thrills of rising the breaking weaves right in front of our island. Long Caye enjoys the only viable surf break in the country since our wave does not break on live coral and the configuration of the shoals create a long running break.

belize surfing

Most days find the surf break at a nice, easy 3-4’ height, and we take people out on our surf kayaks and paddleboards every day. However, some days we wake up to truly large surf pounding on the reef outside the island, which has been created by exceptionally strong winds far out to sea. Since we are sitting at 2’ above sea level, these 10-12’ waves are higher than the island and it is always exciting to actually look up at these waves as they break on the outside reef. We still surf the remnants of this swell as it breaks on the surf shoal area, but these type of waves are considerably more powerful than normal.

surf

Today I stumbled across an interesting discussion thread on Fodor’s, the website belonging to the great travel guide publisher, in which a Phoenix, AZ couple, “sofun1” and her husband, were seeking advise on planning a Caribbean vacation that included snorkeling and diving (for her) and surfing (for him). “We like returning to St. John, Jost Van Dyke, V. Gorda, Cancun, Mazatlan,” she wrote. Places they’d been to that did not make the “returning to” list: Turks Caicos, Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Nassau. “We actually surfed on Tortolla and St. John. He loves Oahu for that but we are not in to that color of ocean. Carib turquoise is for us.”

So-o-o-o understandable. We too have a thing for that “Carib turquoise.”

The thread turned to the subject of Belize and one poster stated: “No surfing in Belize – the world’s 2nd largest barrier reef gets in the way. :)

Well, of course, we felt obliged to unburden them of this illusion. Though the barrier reef indeed does get in the way of most surfing in Belize, Long Caye on Glover’s Reef (where we operate our tiny eco-resort and multi-sport paradise,) is well outside the barrier reef and is therefore privileged to be the home of the only accessible surf break in Belize (in fact it was awarded one of the world’s top five snorkeling and surfing locations). Our evidence is below. Need we say more?

Here’s our post to the Fodor’s discussion thread:

Chrissy J and hopefulist, thanks for mentioning Glover’s Reef. I work for Slickrock Adventures and we operate the eco-resort that Chrissy stayed at. I stumbled across this thread just now and wanted to add that, in addition to surf kayaking and stand up paddle boarding offered to all our guests (along with a host of other water sports), we actually do have a selection of regular surf boards for our guests to use. And use them they do, whenever the surf is peaking (see http://www.slickrock.com/surfingbelize.html and http://belizeadventure.com/2010/12/great-surf-on-our-belize-island/ )

Granted, the waves never develop to anything of epic size, but on a good day they are plenty big enough for the average surfer. We’ve had many good rides at Long Caye. The Long Caye surf break, 50 yards off shore from our surf dock, is the only directly accessible surf break in Belize (not over living coral, and therefore safe to surf.)

And regarding hopefulist’s correct point about the rustic accommodations, he stayed on Northeast Caye, the island adjacent to Slickrock’s Adventure Island on Long Caye. He’s right. That setup really is for those who want bare-bones accommodations. But on Long Caye, we like to think we’ve been able to achieve something mid-way between that flavor of super rustic experience and the highly developed luxury of many of the other resorts in Belize. We like to call our style “five star camping”. For a look at the accommodations check out: http://www.slickrock.com/accommodationsbelize.html

Belize Weather Map

With a storm whipping up winds in the central Caribbean, it’s looking increasingly hopeful that this weekend will see the season’s best surfing conditions out at the island

Surf Kayaking

For more information about wind conditions at Glover’s Reef visit our previous blog post on the subject, or this page on our website devoted to weather in Belize.

great surfing pic

We’re one of the only places in Belize with a readily accessible surf break, which means when conditions are optimal, we have a lot of fun!

 

 

 

 

Belize paddleboard surfing

Everyone knows how popular paddleboarding has become in recent years, and out on Long Caye at Glover’s Reef we enjoy a perfect set-up for all types of paddleboarding. In addition to a great selection of beginner boards perfect for learning the basics in the calm waters of the lagoon, we have a fleet of four cruiser boards which we use to tour to the other islands of the atoll.

The real excitement comes from learning how to surf on a paddleboard. Our wave is great for beginners to advanced paddleboarders, and this year we have added a 10’ Mana Board by Naish which is specifically designed for its ease in the surf. Your first rides would be on a longer board, but you’ll be surprised how fast you’ll soon be ripping on the bigger waves, like the paddleboarder in this picture, shot from our surf dock!

Photo by Vladimir Brezina

Surf Belize

Wavecation.com, a website dedicated to making it easy to find the world’s best surf accommodations, just named our resort in Belize one of the top 5 surf and scuba destinations in the world!

We share this honor with Four Seasons Explorer in the Maldives ($1000+ a night!), the Abajo Inn in the Bajamas, Sebastian’s on the Beach in Tortola, and Villa Tropical in Puerto Rico.

Thanks Wavecation!

surfing in belizeWe are so lucky! Our island, Long Caye at Glover’s Reef, enjoys the only breaking surf in Belize that is both accessible and not breaking over live coral. As a result, we have the only Belize surf center.

There are other Belize locations where the swells break on the barrier reefs and atolls, and there are even a couple of nicely formed point breaks at channels through the reef, but all are either breaking on live coral, or are a long boat ride from dry land.

The swells break on the end of our reef as it opens to form the channel between Long Caye and a neighboring island, and peel off to the right in long, running breaks that can go for several hundred yards. Our point break is almost always active where our channel intercepts trade wind-driven swells. The bottom topography under this break is eroded coral rubble, with no live or sharp coral faces, creating a safe (but hard) bottom surface for the inevitable wipe-outs and swims.

Surfing at our island is great for intermediate and advanced surfers alike, our break is not ideal for beginners, and therefore not for beginning surfers. This break is on a reef of broken coral rubble, not sand. Since beginners often fall, this could result in a serious injury. Hard bottoms are not recommended for beginners.

Belize kayak surfingBut no worries, if you are a beginning surfer you start out first on our surf kayaks and paddleboards. You can work your way up to a surfboard!

Surfers may also bring their own board, which we will gladly carry out to the island from our base in Belize City One can ride a variety of boards on the break, everything from long boards and fun shapes on mellower days (or for the less experienced) and our wave is also great for the modern fish shapes on bigger days. True short board thrusters occur on bigger days for those in the know. A fish is probably the all-around best bet as it works in most size waves, including smaller, mushier days. Another good option would be the new hybrid “mini-tanker” boards with higher volume/less length in the 6-7 ft range. Our wave is not a consistent short board break but it is a very consistent long board break; any board over 7’ is going to perform well on our wave.

A list of our surf boards:

-6’10″ Epoxy Fish by Yancy Spencer
-6’10″ Funboard by Blue Surfboards
-7’6″ MBB Model Thruster by Channel Islands
-7’10″ Funboard shape by Blue Surfboards
-9’0″ Performance Epoxy Longboard by Colbalt
-9’2″ Squash Tail Epoxy Longboard by Colbalt
-9’0″ beginner hard-bottom foam board

If you want world-class, immaculately groomed long fetch overhead barrels – you should consider a destination such as Tavarua or the Mentawais. However, if you’re a surfer planning to go to Glover’s for the reefs and kayaking, windsurfing, etc. – you also might be rewarded with some very fun, VERY uncrowded tropical surf.

Driving to Belize with kayaks

Every fall my partner Cully drives all of our new gear down to Belize. He has been doing this since 1977, and has only missed 2 years in all of that time. He left Monday morning and is now in Texas, he’ll cross over into Mexico tomorrow.

It is our custom to take a picture right as he leaves Moab. I wish I had all of these pictures, in order! Our vehicles have gotten much nicer, and our sports gear has gotten more interesting. This year he is driving down sea kayaks, racing paddleboards, a regular paddleboard, and surf and whitewater kayaks.