Twenty-Twenty twenty began with a bang as our Snorkel Venture season started out with back to back trips in Belize aboard Belize Aggressor III, the liveaboard operator for our Belize tours. Belize is a fantastic place for snorkeling, not only is getting to Belize easy if you are coming from the States or Canada, but the reefs and marine life are prolific! Here’s an in depth break down of what you can expect from a snorkeling safari with us aboard Belize Aggressor III.
As far as international travel is concerned, Belize couldn’t be easier to get to. If you are coming from North America you can expect just a couple short flights, possibly one direct flight if you live next to a large international airport, and boom, you are in Belize city. It’s a small little airport and easy to navigate your way to the taxi stand. At the taxi stand you just tell them where your going—which is the Radisson— and pay the flat rate at the stand so no need to haggle or barter with the drivers. The national language of Belize is actually English, not Spanish, so getting around and asking questions is really easy! Not only that, but their currency, the Belize Dollar is locked at 2-1 with the USD, and most shops will accept USD anyway so that also makes life easy. It is recommended that you grab a few Belize dollars if you do plan to do some souvenir shopping, but once onboard or in the Radisson hotel everything can be paid with a card. Just make sure to tell your bank you are traveling!
My personal recommendation would be to arrive a day before the trip starts and stay at the Radisson as the Belize Aggressor III literally parks on the doorstep of the hotel. However, if you want to arrive and jump on the boat straight away that is absolutely fine as well and many guests did just that. Either way, make your way from the airport to the Raddison and then walk the next couple hundred feet down the pier to the boat waiting on the end where we will meet you.
The Belize Aggressor III is a fantastic and well maintained steel yacht built specifically for diving and snorkeling. It’s 110ft long and 22 feet wide and able to sleep 18 guests with it’s 8 Deluxe staterooms and 1 Master Stateroom. Yes, each room has it’s own private bathroom complete with hot water shower, and full sink with drawers and cupboards, there’s even a closet. The room are a comfortable size for two, but best keep in mind this is a boat so space is in a limited supply so if you don’t do well in smaller spaces this is something to keep in mind. The boat is divided into four decks with the lowest deck being for the cabins, the middle deck hosts a large social area with large comfortable sofas and an entertainment center. The restaurant and kitchen are also located on this level along with the spacious snorkel deck where everyone has their own gear locker! Up above the main deck you’ll find another large deck complete with Jacuzzi, sun loungers, and a full wrap around bar that features their local beer on draft! Moving up to the very top of the boat you’ll find a smaller deck which functions more as a look out or chill out area where you can catch some rays or just watch the horizon for dolphins.
The food, well lets just say you’ll never go hungry. The chefs are amazing and somehow manage to have these amazing snacks ready for you after each snorkel session which his then followed by these huge delicious meals featuring everything from Mexican, Italian, American, and of course local dishes among many other great meals. There is always fresh fruit, jars of cookies and chips around as well as a full fridge of soft drinks. Basically everything you could ever need and more. Oh, and after your last snorkel for that day the bar is open and it’s all free!
Snorkeling via liveaboard couldn’t be easier. All the travel between snorkel sites is done between snorkel sessions while your gorging yourselves on whatever culinary masterpiece the chef has whipped up, and once you’ve digested it all it’s time to jump in the water. From the larger boat we will either just jump straight off the back or load up in a large dinghy, which then shuttles us to the reef. After the snorkel session the captain maneuvers the boat into a suitable and safe position and shuts the props off so we can climb the three steps up the ladder to the back deck.
Every day, with the exception of the arrival day and day before departure, we do three day snorkels with the option of doing a night snorkel—of which we normally do two or three depending on the day. The snorkels themselves are awesome, and because there are so many different reef systems each one is a little bit different than the last. The reefs are generally characterized by a shallow sandy area with a bunch of mixed coral heads covered in sea fans, sponges, and hard corals. Here the coral comes up to the surface! As you swim towards the outer reefs you’ll notice a very gentle slope where the coral coverage increases. The slope typically goes from a few feet to about twenty or thirty feet deep and then drops off into a wall and open blue water. The average depth where we spend the majority of our time is around three to ten feet. Here we have the best mix of stunning coral and marine life. Aside from the clear blue water, very mild to absent currents, and vibrant scenery, one of the best things about the snorkeling on our tour is that we never really run out of reef, they just kept going and going and going!
Some of the highlights for myself and the guests were the forests of sea fans which totally blew me away. Even by Indonesia standards there was a ton of them and right up in the shallows, something you don’t find in the Indo-Pacific! Other highlights included the many giant eagle rays who casually passed us by and of course the nurse sharks we found either sleeping or swimming through the snorkel groups on many of the sites. The sharks were so cool and docile, just like a dog wandering around it’s neighborhood only to stop and take a nap under a tree.
The Final Day
We do offer an optional half day land tour on the final day of the trip to see the Mayan ruins that are just an hour from where the ship docks. Unlike some of the popular Mayan ruin tours in Mexico, the archaeological site here in Belize are empty or, or relatively empty and only had a few other people visiting it on the day we went which meant we could observe the fantastic and well preserved ruins in peace. The whole trip takes a few hours and the guide who escorts us is wonderful and full of funny commentary for the duration of the tour.
For those of you who are not interested in the ruins you are welcome to either lounge around the boat and enjoy the facilities onboard or you can take a little self guided walking tour of the nearby markets and shop for souvenirs. The area around the Radisson and the pier are very safe and those guests who did indulge in the local scenery and shopping came back with some great stuff.
Once everyone is back onboard that final afternoon the crew throw a little fiesta on the sundeck upstairs with more outstanding appetizers and of course drinks. Following the happy hour we head downstairs to the entertainment center where we have a slideshow and video showcasing the trip highlights!
Also, because the Belize Aggressor III runs back to back trip with same day turn around, on this final evening the crew is busy restocking the boat for the next guests who will be arriving several hours after we depart the following day. So, for the final evening of the tour we disembark and eat our final dinner of the trip on land. People can choose to eat where they want, the Radisson for example has a couple great restaurants, or for those that want, we can also arrange for a large group dinner. Either way, it’s a great way to finish the trip.
The following morning breakfast is served as usual and then we check out from the boat around 8:30am. For those that are leaving that day you can spend your time lounging at the pool or any one of the restaurants at the Radisson hotel until it’s time to catch your airport transfer. For those that have other arrangements, we bid you farewell.