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Published: January 14th 2017
As you take a deep breath through the salty snorkel, you are quickly surrounded by Nurse Sharks and colourful fish. While you follow them in amazement a giant turtle crashes into you while you desperately try to avoid crossing pathways with the playful Stingrays and magical Manatees
Travelling by speed boat from Chetumal in Mexico to Caye Culker in Belize, you soon find yourself arriving at the San Pedro border and being forced to stand in assigned numerical order. Similar to experiences in communist China, watching 50 strangers weaving in and out of a queue to organise themselves before being checked by the drug squad and processed by immigration a highly entertaining and bizarre experience.
Arriving on the tiny island of Caye Culker, situated an hour or so off the coast of Belize, this tiny little island that was previously part of British Honduras is a beautiful get away and prime jumping off point to one of the worlds most famous natural wonders, the Blue Hole.
"Hay man, Go Slow" is the first thing you hear as you chase the rusty metal cargo trolley from the boat and along the old creaky pier to the little wooden ferry
terminal to collect your backpack.
While you hike around the island, you would be forgiven for wondering whether everyone on the island is completely stoned. With a strong Caribbean influence, and Jamaican type accents, the locals quickly become stressed when you break a walking speed faster than a day dreaming stroll.
With your new local friend Charlie sporting the latest designer sunglasses and dreadlocks, trying to sell you everything from weed to coke-a-cola, your initial assumption is proven right as you realise the locals and expats truly are living the high life on this tiny little paradise island.
Tucked away between the mangroves, and without a beach in sight, you soon find the days passing by while staring out to sea on one of the many wooden piers, kitted out with hammocks, chairs and sun loungers. With locals forever pulling coconuts and bananas from the trees, you are never cut short on the munchies or something to enjoy with that potent Belizean rum.
Jumping from one of the old piers into the sea you quickly discover the reason why so many travellers visit this tiny little island. You are suddenly drawn into a warm underwater playground
with unbelievable visibility, filled with colourful fish, sea horses, corals, shells and turtles.
Sailing towards the Blue Hole and snorkelling the shallow coral reefs, you eagerly await the sighting of your first shark. Jumping into the sea and being surrounded by half a dozen nurse sharks an experience never to be forgotten.
Holding your breath and free diving 12 metres to swim through coral caves to see eels, squid and large crabs a lot of fun. Scrambling to the surface to fill your lungs with air a desperate and welcome relief.
As the sun begins to set bringing an end to 2016, you drop the sails on the 30ft Belizean yacht and begin heading back to Caye Culker. While the yacht breaks through the calm waves, you break open the rum and begin enjoying a few sun downers while throw fish to the gulls hovering above and hanging out with some new friends.
What an awesome way to see in the New Year.
Happy New Year 2017.
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