Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ambergris Cay

Belize is home to the world's second largest barrier reef.  Just inside the reef, protected from storms, is a collection of small islands called Cays (Keys in Florida).  Ambergris Cay is one of the largest and is the tourist hotspot at the moment.  This morning we took the 10 minute ride to the Corozal Airport and caught a six-passenger flight by Tropic Air to San Pedro on Ambergris Cay.

The tiny plane arrived about five minutes before departure time and taxied right to the door of the Tropic Air terminal.  We scrambled aboard and the flight taxied out to the shortish runway.  Pleading long legs, I persuaded the pilot to let me sit in the copilot's seat up front, as long as I promised not to touch anything.  With a roar from the engine, located inches in front of me, we moseyed down the runway, applying full right rudder the whole time, to about 100 yards from the end and lifted gracefully off into the air.  Flying at an average speed of 110 knots and an altitude of 3500 feet, we flew through fluffy tropical clouds over pristine Caribbean waters to the San Pedro airport on Ambergris Cay, conveniently located right downtown.  Possibly one of the best flights I've had in 50 years of flying.

A short taxi ride to our tiny, seven room, beachfront hotel (Tio Pil's:  $75US/night for a seafront room) and out for a breaded shrimp lunch at a nearby seaside restaurant.  After lunch, we walked out to the end of the hotel's dock and were collected by Belize Diving Adventures who had sent a boat for us.  A quick boat ride up the beach to their office (faster than using a bus or taxi) for a short course on scuba diving theory and to be fitted out with the equipment, then off to the dive boat. With three other divers, the 45 footer quickly took us to the Hol Chan Marine Conservancy near the barrier reef, where we paid the entrance fee to the guard boat and moored.

More instruction followed and finally, with her own personal instructor, Reggie fulfilled her life-long dream of scuba diving over a coral reef.  After more than an hour of wide-eyed exploring, she finally admitted fatigue a swam happily back to the boat.  A sunset cruise back to the hotel, followed by supper at Fido's bar/restaurant on the beach and our first day was done.  What a place!

Riding shotgun on Tropic Air out of Corozal

How the other passengers flew in Economy Class

Corozal from the air

Curious seabed striations, visible from 3500 feet

High-rent district near Ambergris Cay

On Final into San Pedro on Ambergris Cay

View from our hotel balcony (yes, Reggie tried the hammocks)

Our little hotel from its dock

Reggie and her personal, one-on-one dive instructor

She actually did it!

Passing turtle

Prowling Barracuda

Gratuitous Caribbean sunset shot.  What a day!

No comments:

Post a Comment