A little over a week ago Snorkel Venture wrapped up its first group snorkeling safari since the Pandemic knocked the world off its axis and put all travel to a screeching halt. Prior to the trip, I put out a blog about all about traveling under all the new restrictions and protocols for international travel, which were very manageable. Now I’d like to fill you in on what it’s like to be a part of a snorkeling safari at this very interesting junction to what is hopefully the final stages of the pandemic.
With the exception of the small pop-up tent set up just outside the vessel where guests would wash their hands and receive a quick temperature check prior to boarding, the boarding procedure was basically the same. The Aggressor III had already received everyone’s COVID-19 vaccine information as well as their “negative” COVID-19 test results so we had the highest level of assurance that everyone boarding the boat was safe and healthy.
I arrived a few hours early to familiarize myself with the boat and crew again, and just get all the little things I need to prep for the trip finished before the fun began. I must say, the crew really took the new cleaning protocols very seriously. The Belize Aggressor III is always held in a constant state of cleanliness and tidy, but now it’s been elevated to a new level as crew members tirelessly clean and re-clean all the handrails, walls, sofas, and high touch areas.
As the Belize Aggressor III and IV boats have been successfully and safely running snorkel and dive tours for the past few months, we opted to follow their lead on the whole masks thing. The crew are regularly tested for COVID-19, and since guests have to have a “Negative” COVID test or proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter the country and board the boat, we all felt very safe going mask free onboard. I must say, it was not only a relief to not have to worry about a mask for an entire week, but such a joy to see everyone’s giant smiles after the snorkeling sessions and as they joked around with one another onboard.
As always, the onboard Chef outdid herself as she prepared all of our hearty meals and snacks every day. The only difference here was that all of the meals were a la cart now, instead of buffet style as some meals used to be served. Nevertheless, the food was just as delicious with plenty of extras for those—like myself—who have really big appetites after snorkeling.
Outside of not having a mask rinse tank onboard anymore, (we just use the shower on the back to rinse the anti-fog out of our masks now), the snorkeling was one thing completely unaffected by the pandemic! The corals were in their usual beautiful formations and the fish, sharks, crabs, squids, and rays carried on completely oblivious to the global chaos. It was such a relief to disconnect from everything that’s happened over the last year and devote all your senses to the magical underwater world beneath us.
We had some amazing encounters with unique and beautiful marine creatures as we explored the Belize Barrier Reef. On just about all of our snorkel, including several night snorkels, we had eagle ray sightings, while on others we had a few sleepy nurse sharks, big schools of tangs and bar jacks, and we even managed to find a seahorse in the mangroves on the final day of snorkeling! It’s hard to say for sure what the highlight is as everyone has their own personal preference, but from the feedback I received, the highlight was night snorkels. Night snorkeling is always popular, but I don’t think I’d ever say it was the highlight of the tour for all the guests. That being said, we did have some truly amazing snorkels after the sun went down which included loads of squids, giant crabs and lobsters freely walking around the reef, a giant green moray eel on the hunt, nudibranchs, eagle rays, nurse sharks, and everyone’s favorite—octopus out on the hunt.
At the final meal with all the guests, which we arranged to have on land at a funky-cool restaurant just next to the water, I couldn’t have been more pleased with how the tour went. All the precautions the crew took to ensure the highest level of safety onboard kept us worry-free as we indulged in the life onboard and immersed ourselves in the vibrant reef life. Seeing how smooth this first group snorkel safari went, it gives me much hope and promise for all the tours we will begin to run once countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and the south pacific Islands feel it’s safe to open their borders.
Trip Highlight Video