South Water Caye

Our destination for the day was South Water Caye, a relatively straightforward 5 nautical miles to the south, which is easy to find.  It is possible to see it and I think most kayakers would find it by following the reef.
We were still interested in manatees though, so once again we crossed to Tobacco Range and like the day before our search was fruitless. Following the mangrove tour we crossed directly to Twin Caye. Although the Admiralty Chart of the area doesn’t show it, there is a navigable channel running north south through the Caye. In my limited experience it looked like perfect manatee territory but they clearly had other ideas and were elsewhere. We were rewarded with some great views of White Ibis though, a bird I am not certain I have seen before.
From Twin Caye we headed east towards South Water Caye, one of the most developed cayes in the area. There is a campsite on the island, which is being developed by Rich from New Jersey. Look for the green “Bamboo” sign and you have arrived.
There are 3 resorts on the Island so there is always the excuse to go in search of the bar at “Happy Hour”, there is also the possibility of finding food, but we decided to be self sufficient.
We went snorkelling to the south of South Water Caye  and there is good snorkelling on the east side but it is not always easy to access the water. There were a number of private signs on the land and part of the beach was roped off with private signs. Not being able to walk along a section of beach because it is private is completely alien to somebody from the UK.
The one thing that was a pleasant surprise was the almost total lack of biting insects. We had travelled prepared with insect repellent, long sleeved shirts and trousers and they all stayed firmly in the dry bags. Shorts and t shirts are essential, the fleece has  not been required so far, and neither is my lightweight sleeping bag. The silk liner is more than adequate.  There is so much to learn about kayaking in the tropics!

Tobacco Range
More unsuccessful manatee spotting.at Tobacco Range
South Water Caye
Wherever we looked there were mangroves. It took some time to get used to the scale of the region. The mangroves are quite low so are actually closer than they appear.
South Water Caye
Nicky studying the sea bed close to Twin Caye. The water was incredibily clear at times we had a number of quite large rays swim under the kayak.
South Water Caye
Look for the sign and you have arrived. It is roughly half way along the east coast.
South Water Caye
The view from the tent was pretty perfect. The sunset over the Belize mainland was something pretty special.
South Water Caye
Just a lovely sport to relax and have a couple of cold beers. Although there are 3 resorts on the Island it didn’t appear to be that busy.

Mangroves

There is something fascinating about paddling though mangroves. They are such a special environment but one which is under increasing threat as the desire to build ever more tourist resorts spreads into the areas where they are likely to be found.
We were really fortunate to be able to be able to experience some relatively large areas of mangroves, in Belize, paddling gently through the protected channels and just savouring the moment.
We were spending the night on Tobacco Caye but were eager to get some paddling in so crossed over to Tobacco Range. It is always a pleasure to be accompanied by Frigate Birds and Pelicans whilst paddling and we were not disappointed today. What was surprising was just how unconcerned they were as we paddled past. Perched on the larger branches of the mangroves we were often within a couple of metres of a number of birds.
The main reason for visiting Tobacco Range was the hope of seeing manatees. The Belize population might number up to 1,500 individuals and we had been shown an area where sightings are a distinct possibility. There was even a sign which indicated that we were in the right area but unfortunately on this day there was no sign of these fascinating creatures.
From there we returned to Tobacco Caye, our home for the night. Contrary to the information camping waspretty much impossible, at that time, so we had to pay to stay in the resort, a cost which we hadn’t really taken into consideration before we left the UK.
Staying at the resort did mean that we were able to sort out our kit in relative comfort and we ready to leave at a reasonable time the next morning.
One of the difficulties of a trip like this, for a north European, is what to leave behind. It goes against everything we have learnt to not take a fleece but I have taken the plunge and left mine behind. The next few days will indicate whether it was the correct decision or not.

Mangrove
Nicky paddling along the eastern shore of Tobacco Range, looking for the inlet into the lagoon.
Mangrove
A rather unconcerned Brown Pelican. They are just a pleasure to watch in flight and feeding
Mangroves
We are rather more familiar with members of the Cormorant family back in Jersey than we are Pelicans.
Mangroves
There might be a sign but they were clearly out, we paddled past here twice and the best we saw was a distant splash.
Mangroves
Nicky paddling through the logon in the centre of Tobacco Range, we were surrounded by Mangroves on all sides.