Dragonrider Ashley embarked on a three month long adventure through Central America with Dragon by her side. With nothing but a couple backpacks, passport, and a bit of cash, she and her boyfriend hiked across five countries from Mexico all the way to Costa Rica. Dragon hitched a ride in her bag (when he wasn’t flying, of course). And what better way to rest those tired legs (and wings) than to go for a relaxing swim, right? A swim with sharks.
Welcome to Caye Caulker, Belize. Where you can take a sailboat out on the seas, and make friends with a shark for minor fees. (Or recite more rhymes if you truly please).
But sharks aren’t the only creature you’ll meet in the water. The snorkeling tour lasts a full day and is full of many adventures. So here’s a quick guide to the top 10 experiences you’ll have. And info on how you can sign up to make this adventure your own.
1. Sail on Seahawk
To get to where you’ll
get eaten by swim with sharks, Blackhawk Sailing Tours will transport you twelve miles from Caye Caulker to the oldest reserve on the Belize Barrier Reef: the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Established in 1987, the reserve provides snorkelers and divers the best spot to see marine life.
For those who have never experienced sailing (and veterans who already know its charms), the trip to get there is a highlight in itself. The 32 feet long sailboat Seahawk offers beautiful views of the rolling waves and sparkling sea, and you’ll be wined and dined on board. The full day of snorkeling includes lunch, rum punch, fresh fruit, juice, water, and ceviche (marinated fish).
“The couple that runs the tour is super easy going and fun to hang around with. Also, it was a great way to meet other backpackers!”
2. Notice the Nurses.
First stop: Shark and Ray Alley. Before you ever dive into the water, you’ll encounter hundreds of Nurse Sharks that gather looking for
humans to nom on scraps of fishies. A result of years of local fishermen cleaning their catch just inside the reef, the sharks and rays in the area have learned to appear at the faintest sound of approaching snorkeling boats in order to get a tasty treat of discarded fish guts. By the time your boat stops at the destination, the surface of the water will already be bubbling with more Nurses than you can count. Still think you want to swim with sharks?
3. Shake Fins with a Shark
Of course, the best part of the trip happens only if you hop off the boat and dive into the water. Nurse Sharks span an average of four to sex feet in length–as big as a human–but they are pretty tolerant of snorkelers. Docile by nature, they usually swim directly towards divers in the water, so you get plenty of up-close encounters without any aggression. You can even try giving them a nice pat on the back and saying, “Hey buddy, let’s be pals.” Sharks love making new friends.
And here’s that close-up one more time in case you weren’t paying attention. Do you see his little eye? Look at his eye. Look at it.
4. Study a Stingray
A swim with sharks is only half the fun, though. You also get the chance to buddy up with a stingray! In Stingray Alley, Nick and Ashley had a thoughtful conversation with Sir Stingray the Second, son of Stingray the Brave, Lover of Ocean Grass and Ambassador to the Human World. He says hello.
5. Start a Friendship with a Starfish
Ashley even found a starfish. Here’s a pic of them shaking hands. Because that’s what you do when you make a new friend.
6. Mingle with a Moray Eel
It’s a little more difficult to make friends with moray eels. But honestly the little dudes are just so
creepy misunderstood. No, they cannot shock you; moray eels are not electric eels. The most popular in this region, the green moray, can grow to eight feet long. And despite their wide jaws, large teeth, and tendency to keep their mouths open–a harmless action that appears quite frightening to many–moray eels are not vicious or ill-tempered. These shy and secretive creatures actually prefer to flee or hide from humans in tiny crevices rather than attack or fight. They typically bite humans only in defense if you do something silly like stick your hands into their burrow. Silly human. Some divers swear moray eels can even be quite friendly. So if one heads right for you, panic calm down and wave a little hello. Just keep your fingers away from their mouths.
7. See a Sea Turtle
A Loggerhead turtle stopped to chill with Ash and Nick on his way back from 42 Wallaby Way. Typically around 3 feet long, these turtles can weigh two hundred to three hundred pounds and have incredible navigational abilities, allowing them to travel between nesting sites that are hundreds of miles apart.
8. Follow the Fishies
I’m not sure where they’re going, but I think they’re in school. (School haha. Now tell us we’re funny). Along with your swim with sharks and stingrays, the tour gives you the chance to see a variety of coral fish, as well as schools of jacks, groupers, snappers, and even barracuda. Have you ever seen this many fish, outside of film and television, swimming in formation before?
9. Relax by the Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest reef in the entire world. The day trip includes a guided tour above the corals and into the cut in the reef where more experienced swimmers have the option to swim from one side to the other.
10. Traverse a Tunnel
Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming….through the reef in an underwater tunnel! How cool is that?
“When you do things like the sail boat tour, it’s not only an amazing experience, but it’s also a great way to meet other travelers and figure out places they have been to and the tips acquired along their journeys.” -Dragonrider Ashley
P.S. — And if you wanna be extra cute while swimming with sharks, do it wearing this epic bathingsuit. I laughed so hard when I saw it, but I am in love. The following link leads to Amazon and is an affiliate link, meaning if you do decide to buy the suit, I get like 50 cents or so commission (at no extra cost to you). If you’re not a fan of affiliate links, feel free to swim on by. But if you do buy this awesomeness, promise me you’ll come back and send me a picture of you wearing it. This suit is too awesome to not have epic photos of it everywhere. EVERYWHERE I say!
EXPERIENCE THIS ADVENTURE:
How to Swim with Sharks (and other marine life)
Company: Blackhawk Sailing Tours
Trip: Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Length of Trip: Full Day of Snorkeling
Includes: lunch, alcohol, beverages, park fees, and snorkeling gear
Price: Roughly $55 per person according to Ashley
Phone: 501-607-0323 (Belize)
Website: Blackhawk’s Sailing Tours
Blackhawk Sailing Tours is open year-round for you to swim with sharks in Caye Caulker, Belize. Tell them Adventure Dragon sent you, and we say hello!