“There we go, this was it…” I don’t want to die yet and I start praying to avoid a panic attack but I cannot longer fight my tears. “I am scared!!”, I scream to the captain who is manoeuvring a small-open-75-horsepower-engine boat loaded with food, water and drinks for a week, heavy backpacks wrapped in garbage bags and 9 people in total heading to a remote atoll, 70 kilometres off the Belizean coast. Given the conditions, it means the trip to the bounty island will take us about three hours from our departure dock in Sittee River, a remote cluster of houses along the like named river, South of Dangriga and Hopkins.
After letting behind a few cayes or islands that protected us a little bit, we are on the open ocean. Soon, I can’t see any land. Dark clouds caught up with us. The cold rain is pouring on our shivering bodies. The poncho I put over my raincoat is a joke as it is tearing in the wind and I get even more soaked with every wave which so forcefully smashes into me that I have a hard time remaining seated and keeping my eyes open as the salt stings. My sinuses get a thorough rinse and I spit out the salty seawater after every wave that hits me, almost grasping for air. It cannot get any worse than this.
Three horrifying hours later, I am literally thanking God as we make it to the coconut island far away from civilization. We are soaking wet, shivering cold and rushing to unload the boat, as we need to get settled before dark, and the sun is already setting. We will we be spending one week here in pretty basic conditions: electricity only a few hours a day, no cell phone signal, no Internet, no warm water, nor flushing toilets. Just loads of palm trees and coconuts, our wooden cabin built on the water and accessible by a wooden deck, the reef of the UNESCO world heritage site, and the marine reserve of Glover’s Atoll at a swimming distance.
After a quick orientation tour in case we would get lost on this tiny 5-hectare island, we settle in our cabin and get warmer as we dry. We cook our first meal in our kitchen, i.e. on a stove connected to a propane tank, barely lit by an oil lamp. The sheets are humid and sticky but do the job as we fall asleep to the sounds of waves, rain and wind, howling through the cracks of our naturally ventilated cabin.
Waking up we take in the beauty: the storm seems to be a distant memory as the sun rises on the calm waters of the atoll and colours the sky orange. Having basic but nonetheless delicious seawater-and-flour pancakes for breakfast on our deck surrounding the cabin, we observe stingrays, barracudas, and an occasional shark swimming by in crystal-clear waters. This is paradise!
With the discovery of the coconut grinding station, these pancakes will soon be improved to be baked with a mix of coconut water and seawater for the salt, while graded coconut will complement the flour to add heartiness and crunchiness. Coconuts become an important part of our diet and we soon find out what it takes to open them, and at which maturing stage we should, based on what we want from them: water, milk, oil, shreds, soft, or crunchy meat.
The island is a snorkelling paradise: diving from our deck, a new world opens up with rays, barracudas, conches and nurse sharks distracting us while we swim for about 15 minutes to some fantastic patches of corals, belonging to the second largest reef in the world. Many species of colourful fish swim among the various coral pinnacles.
It is an idyllic spot to get introduced to scuba diving, and obtain one’s open water certificate after 4 intense days of learning. One’s reward is the exploration of a small part of the 80-kilometre of sheer coral drop-offs surrounding the island or a dive into the famous Belizean Blue Hole.
Enjoying it fully to the last moments, as we snorkel back at sunset on the last day, we are greeted by a rare 1.5-metre-wide spotted eagle ray graciously flying through the water, as waving goodbye as it passes us and fades away in the blue of the Caribbean Sea. It is a magical moment and the perfect ending after a unique life-experience that lasted for a week.
Claire & Marcella
- Glover’s Atoll Resort provides a truly unique experience in paradise-like but basic conditions. If you want to experience solitude and remoteness in an unspoiled environment, it is your spot.
- Glover’s Atoll Resort is located in the marine reserve and close to the fishing area.
- We strongly recommend you to book a cabin over the water as the sea breeze keeps the mosquitos away. The beach cabins and the camping grounds will provide a more itchy experience…
- A complete dive-shop is onsite with PADI instructors and scuba diving or snorkelling gear for rent, as well as kayaks.
- Other cayes provide luxurious hotels or party-like atmosphere, like Caye Caulker or Ambergis Caye.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area!
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