by guest blogger Katherine Forbes

Northeast Caye
Sisters Katherine and Lisa with Slickrock guides Elmo and John on Northeast Caye during their first visit to Glover’s Reef

20 years ago, my sister Lisa and I travelled with Slickrock Adventures after learning about a sea kayaking adventure from a tiny ad in Outside Magazine.  At that time Slickrock was a much smaller operation leasing Northeast Caye as their destination island.  Lucy was our head guide, Elmo and John were her assistant guides, also our fishermen and cooks.  Our small group of travelers (about 15) stayed in tents on the beach with a few guests in small cabanas. Days were spent kayaking and snorkeling while marveling at the amazing underwater coral and sea life.

It was such a unique experience that 20 years later we decided to come back with our families.  With husbands and 7 children between us ages 10 to 16, we returned to Belize in April 2013.

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Katherine, Lisa and their families during the girls’ second visit to Glover’s Reef this April
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Sisters on Long Caye

What a wonderful surprise to see how much Slickrock has evolved over the years!  Not only have the accommodations improved, but instead of just offering kayaking and snorkeling, Slickrock now provides a wide array of activities like surf kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, kite boarding, scuba diving and fishing.  No experience necessary, you can be a beginner and still enjoy everything!  And if you want a break from water sports you can explore the island, looking for hermit and blue crabs, trying to catch lizards, playing with the bunny and even learning how to open coconuts.  Perfect for everyone as there are so many fun activities to entertain all ages.

But what makes Slickrock really special is the “Eco-Friendly” resort they have created.  In this day and age where everything is excess, it was wonderful to live with simpler means for a week.  Composting toilets, a rainwater collection system used for all island drinking water and the use of only solar power is part of your unique experience.   Saving the pristine tropical environment is a priority to Slickrock and a great lesson on how an eco-friendly resort works.   Notably there is no cell, internet, social media, wifi, or TV on the island.  Everyone is unplugged which is an unexpected pleasure!  With all the activities to keep you busy during day and then evening volleyball, board games, hermit crab races and island educational lectures everyone had a fabulous time.  No one missed their cell phone, laptop or TV – not one bit, even the kids!  It was wonderful break from our digital world that has become such a constant in our lives.

If you are looking for a vacation on a beautiful tropical island with unlimited water sports, world-class snorkeling and scuba diving, delicious food while living “off the grid” then Slickrock Adventures is for you.  A fabulous trip for families and perfect destination to get away from it all!   We plan to go back again but not wait another 20 years!

Slickrock’s big move out to Glover’s Reef occurred in the summer of 1996. We had been running sea kayak tours in Belize for 5 years out of Placencia, on the mainland coast in southern Belize, doing self support week-long tours among the islands along the outlying barrier reef.

But the islands were starting to get crowded, and a few developed, so our trips were losing their wilderness character. Lucy was contacting various lodges around the country as part of a project to just get to know Belize better, when she ran across the folks on Long Caye out at Glover’s Reef Atoll. We already knew that the atolls had the best reefs in the country, and were much more remote and pristine than the barrier reef islands. When the family wrote us back and told us they had a “spare island” for rent, we couldn’t believe it! At that, we decided to go down and see for ourselves what the atoll was like, with the possible plan to move our operation out there for the next season.

When we took the boat out to the atoll, we were immediately impressed by the location, and decided to make the move. This entailed hiring the family’s sailboat and going to Placencia, picking up all our kayaks, and moving the equipment to NE Caye, the island we decided to lease. That was the easy part.

When we arrived on the island next Dec, having already booked trips featuring this location, we were surprised that the island had not been cleaned up and the few cabins present were in bad repair. But we dove into the project of getting things ready, and soon had a nice set-up in place with 3 cabins, a kitchen building, and tent sites ready for our guests. Having an island base dramatically improved our itinerary, and over the next 4 years our business increased by leaps and bounds. The stunning coral reefs, private island location, and comfort of not being exposed to inclement weather were all big improvements to our Belize experience!

Later we moved to the island next door, but that’s another story…

Click on each image to see the full picture. All images taken at Slickrock’s facility in 1996-1998.