Last year was our TGT Grand Canyon trip 2015. It was a domestic “non surfing” trip but was certainly riddled with adventure. I affectionally refer to our 2015 Honored Mate (HM) as Sir, Ian – who during the white waters of the Grand Canyon turned to me and passed on the tradition, high responsibility, and great privilege of becoming HM for 2016. Thank you Sir, Ian, I am genuinely honored!
Choosing our next destination was no easy task. This was my first chance at being HM and I didn’t want to disappoint! I considered every domestic and international destination with a reasonable budget in mind. After countless hours of contemplation, I stuck a pin on San Pedro Island, Belize. I had been there twice before and instantly enamored. A former British colony, located on the north eastern coast of Central America in the western Caribbean. It has a rich culture and the second largest barrier reef in the world, English is the official language. Known for deep crystal blue waters, white sand beaches, scuba diving, the blue hole, bone fishing, Mayan ruins, and so much more. The TGT brothers joining us would be Seddy (yours truly), Ian, Rob, Wyatt, Jof, Adam, and Brad.
On a clear sunny day in late April we gathered at the Belize City airport and boarded a single engine Cessna Caravan with Tropic Air for the last leg to San Pedro Island. The short flight provided a birds eye view of warm, translucent waters that carry your mind off to a place of peaceful serenity. Upon landing on the small tropic island of San Pedro we were immersed in the island’s culture. The primary mode of transportation on our new island home was the golf cart and we happily rented two. We carefully loaded our luggage on the carts and meandered our way through the bustling streets. We certainly stood out as tourists, but were warmly welcomed everywhere we went. Our accommodations were to the north of the Island in Ambergris Caye, a VRBO beach front property with an infinity pool, dock, roof-top tiki bar, and plenty of space for relaxing following our audacious daily excursions.
Our opening TGT Ceremony was enjoyed that first night, and launched what would become a week of fond memories. Belize is not known for its surf, but rather for many other activities, including adventures we’ve enjoyed in other locales, such as Alaska and Bend Oregon. Fishing has become a more recent endeavor that we have appreciated on TGT trips, but we hadn’t yet experienced bone fishing together. Our first morning I scheduled three boats and guides to pick us up at our dock, but the winds had picked up so much that my carefully hatched plans had to be scrubbed. While disappointed, we always pivot and find ways to make the best of our time. That evening we enjoyed a prepared meal by local chefs for hire. We enjoyed the meal so much we all agreed to do it again another evening and we did.
As the week passed, we enjoyed snorkeling at Shark Rey Alley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. If you ever dreamed of having the courage to swim with sharks, shark rays, and other marine life this is the place to be! We missed the chance to swim with whale sharks but that is equally jaw dropping. Later we did some fishing with guides while Jof and I jumped out of the boat to do some spear fishing. Jof and I failed to spear anything other than our egos, but the group caught enough from the boat that allowed our guides to prepare fresh ceviche tacos. I can still taste it all, it doesn’t get fresher!!!
Other excursions led us to the mainland where we explored the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich on the Guatemala border. We made the most of our day and tamed All Terrain Vehicles through the thick jungle and mud that covered us from head to toe. We enjoyed the full adrenaline rush and somehow avoided injuries. Our last excursion on the mainland led us to a tropical cave tubing experience. We all donned tubes and hiked to the launching point. Along the way our guide convinced Wyatt, Jof, and I to eat some termites that were abundant in trees along the path. The taste….oddly enough could only best be described as peaches. I insisted our guide give us the “locals” experience and not the cruise ship excursion. After slipping our guide a tip we were treated to a superior cave tubing expedition! We even found ourselves crossing over retaining ropes and diving in to the dark and mysterious waters below.
Also enjoyed during our week was an overseas trip to the blue hole, made famous in 1971 by Jaques Costeau. Brad and I donned scuba gear and dove the depths of the blue hole where hammer head sharks are often sighted. The experience delivered all we had hoped. Our next stop following the blue Hole was lunch on the small 42 acre tropical island of Half Moon Caye. This small island, located in the southeastern corner of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll is a nature reserve that is full of life including red-footed boobys and large hermit crabs. Following lunch, we had one last dive near the island that was full of colorful sea life!
Back on San Pedro Island we continued our exploring and rode golf carts along the beach beyond where developed roads could take you. We discovered a remote resort and enjoyed perfect snorkeling near the reef. We later met a couple, originally from Ohio, who left everything to build a home and non-profit, faith-based organization to benefit and employ locals on the island. They had raised their sons and decided to start a restaurant on their property. We enjoyed an excellent meal with phenomenal service and hospitality.
Before long, our week in Belize was coming to a close. Jof would be the next HM, and we would head home exhausted and content after another awesome TGT adventure.