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The Great Blue Hole and Light House Reef, Belize
Belize and Tikal-Guatemala

Cahal Pech- Court YardCahal Pech- Court Yard (Julie Bleau)
This morning at 5:00 a.m. we were up and ready to get some breakfast before taking the boat to the Great Blue Hole at 6 a.m. It was a nice boat ride to the Great Blue Hole, starting with a nice smooth ride behind the barrier reef seeing turquoise waters and cayes after cayes filled with mangroves, birds and clear white sands beach. Then, we cut in front of Turneffe atoll, the largest in Belize, before punching through the waves towards Lighthouse Reef. We could feel everyone's excitement aboard with the thoughts of snorkeling or diving the Blue Hole National Monument. It is around 9:00 a.m. that we could finally see a large dark blue patch in the middle of the sea. . . and jump in the dark blue water ! While the divers were doing their mandatory rest before plunging to 130 feet deep, our first encounter took the form of two 6-7 feet long dark shape about 15 feet under us snorkelers: Two reef sharks ! Under the reassuring guidance from our guide, we looked at the sharks as they gracefully glided in the water under us. Then, we continued towards the internal wall side of the Blue Hole, looking in barely 3 feet of water amazing and colorful corals and variety of fishes along the Blue Hole's walls: it is like doing a wall-dive, but right under the sun under which the colors come in vibrating blues, reds, purples, yellows and greens. After about 35 minutes, we got back on-board and we were off to Half Moon Caye where we snorkeled from the boat and the open sea towards the beach while exploring the reef. Several stingrays, a couple of large spotted eagle rays, lobsters, parrot fish, angel fish, lion fish were just a few of the marine life that crossed our paths. This second snorkel's site ended at the Half Moon Caye Bird Sanctuary, where we walked to the nesting place of Red-Footed Boobies, Brown-Footed Boobies and Frigate Birds. The reserve, managed by Belize Audubon, provides an observatory bringing you right at eye level with the nesting grounds of literally thousands of birds. There are 98 documented species of birds at Half Moon Caye; during our visit, we saw at least 20. It was a great experience to witness the parents feeding their babies as well as hearing all of the boobies speaking to each other in their own bird language. It was lunch time and we walked on the other side of the small island to meet our fellow divers, looking at beaches, palm trees and turquoise blue water 400 yards away. Amazing sandwiches, salads and fruits prepared by the Hamanasi's staff were delicious and welcomed after a great morning of snorkeling and birding around the island. After lunch, we all left the Bird Sanctuary to our final snorkeling place of the day at South Long Caye. All kinds of fishes welcomed us in the water. We saw spotted rays, squids, easily over 30 different species of reef fish and even a barracuda escorted us all that time. At 2:00 p.m. we headed back to the boat and took off back to Hamanasi Resort. Around 4:30 p.m. we arrived at the dock and we were amazed of the day we had with all the great things we've experienced. This was our best snorkeling experience ever, and that is a lot as we snorkeled in Hawai'i, most of the Caribbean, and Tahiti's Bora Bora.

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