Jacks gathered under Sundancer II in Belize
My husband and I have two DiveDestination Lists – one for if that big lottery win ever comes through and theone that we can actually afford. There is also the mix of our diving abilities/styles to consider. The simple truth is that I don’t care for multiple deep dives when current is involved. As spectacular as Galapagos would be, there is a better than average chance that he’ll make thatone a “guy trip” with some friends. Anyway, year before last we sat down and prioritized what dive trips we want to do over the next several years and this year was supposed to be the Red Sea. In view of geopolitical events, however, about the same time that we determined we would delay that trip, some friends emailed to say they were going to Belize in October and asked if we wanted to get in on the special that the Dancer Fleet was running. The schedule was good for us and in fact, we had an additional reason for going to Belize. Other friends have been living in Ambergris Caye for many years as ex-patriots and we’d been promising to visit for at least a decade. It didn’t take long to set up the plan. Fly into Belize City on a Thursday, hop over to Ambergris, see the lovely Casa Brisa by the Sea (http://casabrisabythesea.com/), then make our way back to Belize City for the Saturday departure of the Sundancer II. I admit that once we were on Ambergris, I could certainly see why people make that their primary destination. It is a lovely island and there are multiple resorts and dive operators to choose from. In order to see the area from a different perspective, we opted for the one-and-a-half-hour water taxi instead of flying back to Belize City. Then it was a quick taxi ride to the dock where the Sundancer II and the Aggressor boat were tied up. We re-united with our friends on-board, met the other passengers for a total of 17 divers (capacity 20, I think), Captain Eddie, and the crew of six. It was also our first time to be on a Dancer Fleet vessel; an experience that I can comfortably recommend. We set out that evening for the week’s itinerary of Lighthouse Island, the Blue Hole (weather permitting), and Turneffe Island. Weather did prevent us from diving the Blue Hole, we did have to move to Turneffe Island a day early, and we did have a day and a half of reduced visibility, but one cannot control either Mother Nature or Mother Ocean, and this is a risk that dive vacations are subject to.
All the sites were combination wall with reef and other than no sharks, marine life was plentiful. There was a single seahorse and a single pipe fish, a couple of reef squid, and a few turtles, but we saw eagle rays and southern stingrays on most dives. Trigger fish, indigo hamlets, and garden eels were other treats that we don’t frequently see around Key Largo. A highlight for us was the spotted toad fish, a particular species apparently found only on Turneffe Island. Since we haven’t been to Cozumel, home of another type of toad fish, it was a new experience for us. Large black and Nassau groupers were prevalent and the lionfish situation was allegedly better than divers recalled from the previous year. For the first few days, my request to the “scuba god” for eels seemed to have been confused with sea cucumbers, but then the slump was over and my husband added to his green moray and spotted eel portfolio.
I was told that late spring is a particularly good time to dive Belize, but whatever time you choose, I do suggest that it be on your list. The entire trip is chronicled in the posts on my blog at www.charliehudson.net/weblog.
Spotted Toadfish Belize
Charlie Hudson,Author, Deadly Doubloons, Groupers and Gun Mounts: Inside the USS Spiegel Grove and other books you can see at www.charliehudson.net