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

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.