26th to 30th June 2022
Entry was easy enough in good conditions – the clarity of the water makes it easy enough to pick out the coral heads, so as long as you keep the boat speed down navigation by eye is simple. Tip for first-time entrants to the reef who want to anchor off Long Cay: stay to the left of the two marked surface-level reefs in the center of the channel. We went to the right, so took a somewhat circuitous route rather than the simple “turn left before you hit the coral, go between the other coral bits” entry you’d have. But all was safe enough and the kids enjoyed playing “bow boys”.
We had planned a 2-3 day stay before returning to the mainland to wait out a forecast tropical storm. But we loved it here, so changed our plans. As I said to Theo, we’d instead stay until the food ran out or the weather looked bad. He munched on some coconut we’d collected from the island and pointed to the fishing rod and said “the food will never run out.” He does have a point, but as fishing wasn’t permitted inside Glover’s and our other food supplies dwindled, we decided to return to the mainland. Had we known how lovely it was out here, and that the forecast for a storm would fizzle out, we’d have stocked up before coming out. Mistake.
Park fees were collected on one day, BZ$10 per day, adults only. Because we’re honest, we paid BZ$30 each for the week. Which is a bargain.
Long Cay is home to two resorts, one of which had already shut for hurricane season. The other, Off the Wall, is home to Kendra and her family. They were also closed, and in the process of tidying everything in preparation for bad weather. It’s a beautiful resort, incredibly well-kept and with plenty of space for nature on the island – a real contrast with some of the privately owned islands we’ve visited recently. Long Cay is a former coconut plantation, so coconuts are freely available. We gave Kendra some strawberry plants as she’s never tried them on the island before; hopefully they’ll add to her wonderful plant collection. And we were given some basil in return- it’s great having fresh herbs onboard, and we can have sories and memories we can attach to each we collect.
There’s a three-quarter mile nature trail around the island which takes you to the west end beach with a natural swimming pool behind the reef (warm, calm, amazing). The trail takes you over coral rubble, out of which the island is made, past iguanas and other lizards, and back into the resort. Kendra explained to us that this area of the island is kept wild and natural, which is a huge contrast to some islands, which have been cleared to fit in the maximum number of houses. Well worth a wander.
The west end beach was perhaps our favourite place on the island. The water was incredibly clear and warm, pelicans dive-bombed around us, large schools of fish were abundent, and the nearby reefs were shallow with amazing water clarity. There is a dinghy pass located near this end of the island- Arthur and Charlotte tried it to go out and fish, but it felt too choppy to be fun. Maybe another time.
The dock on the beach is home to innumerable species of fish and rays. Arthur practiced his catch and release fishing, in line with park regulations. The “bar jack that eat hooks” were his favorite species, apparently; and the fight with a big snapper was enjoyable, too. The kids and Charlotte spent a good amount of time playing on the dock, snorkeling around the place, and collecting conch.
Just around the boat we saw a 2m nurse shark. So, as you do when one of your boys shouts “shark!”, Charlotte immediately found her underwater camera and mask and jumped in to take a look. And there were many beautiful eagle rays, which we all got to swim with at one time or another.
There are innumerable coral patch reefs nearby, some marked with buoys and others not (the buoys are tied to blocks and would probably hold the dinghy, but we usually anchored away from the coral just in case). The reefs closest to the pass are incredibly abundant, but for fish-life we found the ones a little further out more varied. Charlotte got a lot of snorkeling in at various times, Theo some, Arthur a little. Me none, as what small amount of energy I had was needed for work unfortunately. But I seem to be feeling a bit more ‘level’ after a fast, some probiotics and attention to my diet. No daytime naps, although brain fog and tiredness remains a serious issue if I want to get more than a couple of hours’ work done in a day.
We’ll be back, either in July or when we return to Belize towards the end of the year.