Amazing experience...so many laughs!
My friends are already annoyed with me b/c I can't stop talking about our Island Expeditions trip and obsession with Belize. And I won't quit recommending this company and trying to steer others toward it. I rarely encounter a business as conscientious as Island Expeditions. Their focus on preserving the unparalleled natural beauty that they share is more than marketing. They and the Belizeans with whom they work created low-environmental impact yet absolutely stunning environments for their visitors. The Canadian office staff well-prepared us for what we should expect and arranged special transfers and whatever flexibility we needed to make their package work with our other travel plans. We loved resting on the dock late at night and looking at the constellations and frequent meteors. The best part though was the quality of the staff, who were FUN, extremely candid and generous with their time and knowledge, passionate about their country and preserving aquatic life, and extremely attentive to safety and to creating unforgettable experiences for their visitors. All of them communicated a love for their own respective communities, and most were involved in additional community development efforts. Belizeans are extremely enterprising, highly (often self-) educated and whip smart, intensely hard-working, and industrious about spearheading grassroots community initiatives. They felt a responsibility to take care of their country and their neighbors. I'm gushing, but the Belizeans whom we met, especially the ones working with Island Expeditions, were simply exceptional individuals, and our experience of Belize was better for having met them. And the food was incredible. Belizeans are artists when it comes to flavor combinations, and Bol and Ann loved pleasing our palates. They were open to special requests and also met a broad range of dietary requirements and preferences. I don't think that the natural beauty that we experienced can really be topped. Glover's Reef Atoll and Lighthouse Atoll were astoundingly beautiful. The color of the water shifted with each subtle change in the light. I've spent time in the Caribbean, but I've not seen shades this vibrant. The Red-footed Boobie preserve was jaw-dropping. There's a viewing tower that settles you right into the action. We saw thousands and thousands of these birds, which co-habitate with thousands of red-throated frigate birds. We saw them soar about with their impressive wing-spans; we listened to their mating calls; we watched them groom each other and take turns protecting their adorable chicks. It was such a relief to snorkel and kayak among reefs that remain relatively healthy, and our guides strive to keep them (and other reefs) that way. Many of our guides grew up fishing and free-diving, which they still did for us. They, and the spitfire firecracker resident marine biologist, Andi were able to answer our myriad of questions about the marine ecosystem there. They also taught us much about Garifuna culture, Belizean politics and history (utterly fascinating), and they took us out to meet local fishermen on their bay. These fishermen sleep 8 to a hull and weather all sorts of conditions. Some mentioned that they are careful not to overfish or to remove too many lobsters. They want their children to enjoy the wonders that they've enjoyed. We saw so many wild things! We kayaked alongside a large school of Eagle Rays. We saw nurse sharks, many other rays, eels, lobster, octopuses (they were not camera-shy), bioluminescence (jump on the dock at night to see more -- thank you for the tip, Lesley), Angelfish, and so much more. And we learned how to observe fish behavior and interactions. The yoga was also a big treat. Our instructors at both locations were kind and easy going, and they provided a regimen that challenged us but that also nurtured us so that we were ready to begin our days refreshed and invigorated. Island Expeditins' unbeatable customer service did not end after our trip did. The Canadian staff has remained in communication and even accepted the burden of delivering a book I ordered for one of the Belizean staff members per a conversation that we had over dinner one night. Both the Belizean staff and the Canadian staff take pride in what they do and what they offer. You can't leave these places and people without wanting to return and without wanting others to experience what you had the privilege of experiencing. The trip fell a bit outside of our budget, but it was well-worth it. We could trust that we were in excellent hands, and the value could not be beat. This trip taught us a better way to travel and to be travelers.
I appreciated learning about the Garifuna people and their culture - it was very impressive the amount of information ALL of the guides provided about the marine life prior to an activity. Everyone was very attentive to my health concerns (keeping my insulin cool) and being extremely patient with any concerns - THANK YOU!!
This trip did wonders for my confidence level in traveling solo and doing things I haven't done in decades. The patience, education, care and FOOD that all of the guides provided are commendable and definately recommended to others considering a trip to this beautiful country.
I really hope that Belize does not become too commercial as the beauty of the country will be lost. I will be returning to Belize in the future to experience more of the cultural aspect.
Being a 'tenter' when camping - I loved lying in bed and watching the sunrise and especially seeing all the stars out my window right down to the horizon. The trip to Lamanai was top notch with good food and friendly staff.
Jill's yoga classes were very welcoming to 'non-yoga' folks and well designed to target the muscles we were using when snorkeling and kayaking. Lastly, we had a great group and enjoyed all of the participants.
This was a fantastic trip, one of our favourites and a great company to work with. I can't imagine why anyone wanting a tropical get-away would NOT book with you. Having a private tent mere meters from the ocean with only a small group on an atoll. I cannot think of any resort in the world that can offer the same, especially for the cost - very good value.
The food was a hugely positive surprise. As someone with a healthy appetite, i frequently go hngry in group environments. Never once on this trip was I left hungry and did not find even one meal less than exceptionally delicious!
Unbelizable trip! All was perfect.