Sharks and Rays and Turtles, Oh My!

If I could invite three people alive or dead to dinner, they would include David Bowie, David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau. Bowie for not only the incredible music and jaw-dropping costuming, but for the revolutionary way he challenged society’s perception on gender, individualism and creativity.

And for Attenborough and Cousteau, their love and knowledge of mother nature. The world is an incredible life force that has sustained living creatures of all shapes and sizes for millions of years, and is something that has always fascinated me to no end. I planned to study marine biology, until I got wrapped up in the world of travel and media. But the science of the earth continues to excite and challenge my perception of the world, and as you’ll see, I really got my nature fix on this trip.

On our third day on the island of Caye Caulker, Bridget and I organised to take one of the many snorkelling tours out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, part of the Belize Barrier Reef. There’s a lot of competition for these tours and you’ll get hassled no end as you walk up the main street of the island.

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After a bit of research and some careful negotiation, we decided to go with Cave Man Tours, located in a festively coloured rainbow hut on the beach.

We set off mid morning with our captain Ronnie, snorkelling gear in hand and jumped into a boat that was little more than a tinnie in search of sea creatures big and small.
Note: If you are wanting a slightly more luxurious vessel, Ragamuffin tours will take you on a proper yacht.

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First stop on our sea-ward journey was Shark Ray Alley – we weren’t wasting no time swimming with the little fishies. An experience both slightly terrifying and also insanely exhilarating, we flailed around (not too much, didn’t want to attract those sharks!) amongst nurse sharks, spotted eagle rays and a loggerhead turtle or two.
Bucket list, TICK!

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After a quick burger on board (lunch is included) we then headed toward Hol Chan Marine Reserve for snorkelling around the coral reef, catching glimpses of more turtles, moray eels, and an abundance of tropical fish, aka heaven.

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As the sun started to head further west, we made our way back towards Caye Caulker in search of my favourite sea cows, the manatee. It seemed today would not be our lucky day however. We did manage to hustle up some sea horses who were minding their own business in the mangroves, as well as nearly losing a hand to some feisty (terrifying) seagulls.

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An animal enthusiast or not, you’d be kicking yourself not to discover what wonders can be found beneath the surface.

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