Saturday, April 27, 2013

Budget Belize

Glover's atoll fishing

A few things about TH:

  • he has a fishing problem
  • his natural element is the outdoors
  • his perfect vacation plan involves a tent, a fishing rod, rum, and very few people
Considering these factors, I knew we were going to Belize when he discovered Glover's Atoll, located on a coral reef two hours by boat from Sittee River Village.  Here we would have a chance to pitch our tent on the beach, and then fish, kayak (to a fishing hole), or snorkel (to a fishing hole), every day.

After an overnight in sketchy Belize City, we hopped on a colorfully decorated (formerly U.S.) school bus heading towards Sittee River.  The bus broke down midroute, but we still managed to make the highway turn off for Sittee River before sunset.  We hitchhiked to our guesthouse, Toucan Sittee, where we enjoyed cold beers and an amazing dinner, followed by shopping for our week's food at the only store in the village: Reynold's.

sittee river belize

The next morning we were picked up by Breeze, who ferried us, along with the small backpacker crew that had gathered, to the atoll.

The good:

  • The price for a week of camping, including roundtrip boat transport and outdoor camping style kitchen use, was under $100.
  • We visited in July, which is the off-season, and only had to share the island with six other guests and a few of the owners and staff. 
  • Snorkeling was awesome.  We saw a huge variety of sea life, including numerous sharks (up to six feet in length), tropical fish, urchins, corals, and lobsters.
  • Fishing.  TH was delighted with the island's remoteness; a large number of fish can still be found here, unlike other parts of the world. It was sweet to catch our dinner every night. 
  • The Robinson Crusoe effect.  Maybe we are weird, but we really enjoyed the task of fending for ourselves on a remote island. 
  • Cool guests.  On our last night we all participated in a potluck challenge.  Each of us had to bring something edible that could be found on or near the island.  The evening's menu included: barracuda, lobster, coconut "candy",  seafood chowder with island coconut milk, and seaweed salad. 
  • Night time star viewing and lightening shows. Epic.  

glover's atoll belize

The bad: 
  • Sand fleas. It was here that we learned to apply liberal doses of baby oil to our bodies in order to suffocate the buggers before they could bite.  Unfortunately, TH also learned that liberal doses of baby oil can cause vicious sunburn. 
  • Howling winds.  We had to set up a palm frond fortress to keep our tent from taking off (with us in it!).  On the positive side, when it was windy there were no bugs.  
  • I am grateful that we brought our own tent.  The cabanas that I peeked into were not in the best shape. 

Glover's Atoll Resort cabanas

The ugly: 
  • The dump.  All waste on Glover's was deposited in one location, which came alive at night, teeming with hermit crabs and who knows what else.  Sometimes the wind picked up the garbage, tossing it around the island. 
  • The outhouses.  There were only two for all of the guests.  
In summary, Glover's Atoll Resort occupies a beautiful location, far enough from the mainland that it doesn't see much outside traffic. If your vacation goal is snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing, on the cheap, this might be the place for you. However, for those looking for amenities like immaculate accommodations, attentive hosting, or anything resembling a real eco-tourism experience, keep shopping. We did enjoy ourselves and TH actually returned to Glover's Resort for spring break, with his boyfriends. (I opted for Cabo with my girlfriends.)

Question:  While on vacation, would you rather rough it, enjoy pampering, or take the middle road? 

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