Natalie Preddie, a freelance travel writer published this article in the e-edition of the Toronto Star, the Star Touch. Natalie joined us on our Paradise Islands trip in January this year. She interviewed one of our fantastic guides Kimike Smith. We are grateful to have guides like Kimike to be part of the team at Island Expeditions. Their dedication, skill and hard work make our trips the best of their kind in Belize.
Star Touch - Natalie Preddie
"Meet a Belizean Tour Guide Who Can Navigate by the Stars", Belize – February 6, 2016
“They Saved my Life”
A Belizean guide says an adventure company got him into a boat and out of trouble.
Kimike Smith can navigate his boat by the stars and tell you the name of every sea creature along the reef. He’s a guide with Island Expeditions.
How did you come to work at Island Expeditions?
Everyone in Belize knows about Island Expeditions. They have been here since 1987 and provide good jobs to a lot of Belizeans. We know the ocean and the jungle unlike any foreigner and they respect our knowledge. They are also the best tour company in the country — the most professional and protective of our wildlife. I started working with them 12 years ago, and they saved my life.
How did they save your life?
I was young, my parents were no longer in my life and I was living in a friend’s basement. I was getting into some trouble. A friend’s mother told me about IE and the type of jobs they offered. I knew the ocean, and I liked working with people, so I thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna be a guide.” I was cocky. Because I didn’t have my tour guide licence, they only let me work maintenance. I quit once. I was frustrated that they wouldn’t let me guide just on my knowledge, but they have a high standard for their guides, and I couldn’t be one until I met those standards. Finally, once I got my ego in check, they helped me go to guiding school where I aced it. Of course. If they hadn’t supported me and believed in me, I don’t know where I would be now . . . I have the best job in the world.
Look around. This is paradise. I get to spend my days on the water and in the sun. I get to see beautiful fish and watch the reef change and grow. I see my cousins and friends on all of the small Cayes every week as I guide guests from lodge to lodge. I also get to meet and talk with people from all over the world. I love meeting new people, hearing about their lives, travels, families, work. I have people I could stay with all over the world now.
Natalie Preddie’s trip was sponsored by Island Expeditions, which didn’t review or approve this story.
Preparing for a day of adventure at Tobacco Caye Paradise Cabins
When You Go
Canadians must fly to Belize through the U.S. (Miami, Atlanta and Houston are connecting options). High season is November until April. Low season is May until October.
Island Expeditions offers guided trips in Belize for six to 12 people. Sea and river kayak programs run during the dry season, from November to May. Inland trips and a jungle beach explorer package are available year round.
This Paradise Islands lodge-to-lodge kayaking journey with snorkeling and standup paddleboarding costs CAD$1,999 per person for five days/six nights (double occupancy) and includes meals, accommodation, guided activities and equipment.
It starts in Belize City and ends in Dangriga. Return bus or air transfers to Belize City (about $10 to $100 (U.S.)) are extra.
Snorkeling off Billy Hawk Caye - Paradise Islands trip