February 2018 Belize Barrier Reef Adventure - This review is a bit late but things get so busy when returning from vacation.
At the beginning of the year Randy (my husband) and I (from Toronto, Canada) planned a wonderful adventure on the Belize Barrier Reef. We started off with booking the Island Expeditions 4-day Glover’s Getaway Tour followed by kayak rentals for a 5-day self-guided camping/kayaking trip on the cayes. BEST MONEY SPENT!
We easily worked through the details of our trip with Brendan, Shannan and Mel at Island Expeditions over email and calls. Upon our arrival into Dangriga, we checked into our hotel room close to the outfitters so we could get an early start. The accommodations were fine for us but sparse. If you want a bit more comfort you might check out Pelican Beach Resort at an extra expense and short taxi ride the next morning. Once at the main office at Island Expedition the General Manager, Andy, was very helpful with our self-guided planning and gave us great information.
By 8am that morning an excited motley crew of 20 or so adventurers arrived and we were whisked off to Glover’s Atoll on a motor boat. (Word from the wise – sit in seats at the stern of the boat – it can be a bumpy ride and will save your back on rough days on the ocean). At Glover’s our personal glamping tents were waiting for us in a gorgeous location – felt like we landed on the Gilligan’s Island except we all enjoyed a comfortable bed overlooking the ocean, taking care of by wonderful staff and guides and the most delicious homecooked food! (Psst - another tip and trick – if you are bother by sounds at night, bring ear plugs in case the winds are blowing, causing the tents to make noise. It didn’t bother Randy or me, but some people on the trip would have enjoyed knowing this tip in advance.) A shout out to the island’s staff – a big thank you to guides Bernaldo, Mike, Mario, Keon, and Venancio and the boat Captain – the winds were blowing (up to 70 knots one day) and they kept us safe while kayaking, fishing and swimming on the reefs. We would do this tour again, hands down!
Once we finished our 4-day excursion at Glover’s Getaway, Island Expeditions dropped Randy and me off at Tobacco Caye. As mentioned, we worked in advance with Island Expeditions to learn where the best islands to camp on. The islands on the barrier reef are all privately owned, so it’s helpful to know in advance where you can put up your tent worry free and perhaps for a small fee.
Our two kayak rentals Island Expedition arranged and our camping equipment and food brought with us from Canada was already at Tabacco Caye waiting for the next stage of our vacation – a self-guided adventure among the islands on the southern reef. Before heading out we decided to stay at Tobacco Caye Paradise for two nights. Their lovely cabins were fully booked, but Doreen (the property manager) offered to let us set up our tent and camp under the trees at the water’s edge. An absolutely gorgeous spot facing west for the sunsets with access to homecooked meals, bathroom facilities and Wi-Fi. Doreen is Tobacco Caye and Island Expedition’s GEM – lovely personality and every interaction with her was warm and friendly – couldn’t stop hugging her when saying our goodbyes.
FYI - Tobacco Caye is a charming, tiny island with mostly private family cottages - we felt safe and comfortable walking through out the island. The Belize children (coming from the mainland and staying in their weekend-getaway cottages) adopted us. The sweetest two memories with them was when four children climbed onto our kayaks (ssssh don’t tell Island Expeditions) while we paddled to their recommended fishing spot and the night under the full moon fishing in the dark off the pier. What fun they made it!
Our next adventure was crossing the straight (an opening in the barrier reef) traveling south. It was a harrowing experience in 10-foot swells, but an amazing memory I will enjoy replaying in my mind. We camped on South Water Caye one night – the snorkeling on the southern tip of the caye was incredible as huge schools of giant fish swam by us. Next we kayaked over to Hangman’s Caye. Hangman’s is a MUST if you are self-guided. Junior and Rose have built an absolutely lovely spot on an acre-sized island where you can camp for a couple of days. They are warm and funny and very, very kind.
After a night on Coco Plum Caye we kayaked back to the mainland Dangriga – took around 3 hours of paddling with the wind at our backs.
Needless to say, we had a wonderful experience on the Belize Barrier Reef and if you are adventurous too, please check out Island Expeditions – the are a very professional tour group and outfitters - we plan on coming back to try out their Epic Belize Tour in 2019 or 2020.
We had an absolutely great time on the Glover's Getaway - Kayak Rental Combo. Glover's was spectacular - comfortable tent cabanas, fantastic snorkelling, kayaking and paddleboarding, expert, friends and fun support from knowledgeable guides, and fabulous food. The only way we could have improved our Glover experience would have been staying longer. We really enjoyed the opportunity to rent kayaks and do our own travel as the next chapter. Again, fantastic snorkelling and beautiful paddling in 80 degree, clear blue waters. If only we had landed the four foot barracuda that was on the line! For others taking this combo, just be prepared that camping is fairly limited on the cayes and is far removed from the style of wilderness kayaking experienced, for example, on the BC west coast. But it never hurts to have access to a cold beer at the local beach bar, and the people we met are a big part of the great memories we have. Major call out to all the IE staff and guides - they were, without exception, friendly, professional, and committed to making our trip as enjoyable as possible. One really great thing about this combo is how smart they manage the logistics - enabling you to leave heavy gear with the office while you're at Glover, dropping the heavy gear off for you along with a fresh produce order when you get your kayaks, and storing the heavy stuff once more when we went inland for a few days. Great times - thanks IE.
Belize is an ideal destination for some warm-water kayaking, and Island Expeditions is the right company to use. Glover's Reef provides the perfect introduction to Belize - spectacular location, amazing snorkeling and outstanding staff. From there, you can venture off on your own to explore by kayak this remarkable country and meet more of its people. Highly recommended.
Stunningly beautiful, warm and knowledgeable staff, adventure on safe seas. Loved our experience
Looking for a great getaway and a chance to unplug, then look no further. Island Expeditions provided this and so much more. All the staff were welcoming and professional and ensured that our vacation was their top priority. My wife and I signed up for the Glover's Getaway & Rental Combo and we loved every minute of our trip. Everything was very well organized and we were well taken care of.
Tim was very helpful planning my solo part of the trip! People are friendly and have an attitude of 'make it work for you'.
Generally we found the information provided beforehand could have been a little more detailed, especially regarding the camping logistics. Pal's was adequate for one night and convenient to the base.
The organization and efficiency of our trip was outstanding, as were the conditions of the camps. The food at Glover's camp was outstanding!