What Are We Preserving?
Belize Oil Surveying
If you have been following the news this has been a hot topic in many respects – environmentally, politically and personally.
The Barrier Reef is extremely fragile and so many people agree seismic testing is risky business and would put the reef in danger. The process involves airguns to blast shock-waves to penetrate the sea bottom. This is not healthy for the marine ecosystem and can disrupt animal migration, communication and even cause deafness.
More than half of Belize’s population 366,942 people, are supported through tourism and fishing related income. It is not worth jeopardizing our most precious natural resource which provides the country with long range economic development and a thriving tourist based industry.
Last year (2015) Belize received 1.3 million travelers and overnight arrivals were up 6.2%. Southwest and COPA Airlines’ flights to Belize brought a 7% increase in airport arrivals. If we want to keep increasing our numbers, oil exploration and ultimately oil drilling in our jewel should not be done.
The following article was a submission I wrote for the BTIA Destination Belize Magazine. It is geared towards first time travelers and a great reminder of all the wonderful things we stand to lose by allowing oil drilling. We need to give people who have not seen our precious jewel yet the opportunity to do so and for those that have the chance to keep on loving it.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Dreaming of the island life and endless sunsets? A place where walking, riding bikes and cruising around in golf carts are the main transportation? Are you ready to enjoy delicious food, incredible sights and savory experiences? If you answered yes to any of these, Ambergris Caye is the place for you.
Accessible by small plane and public or private water taxi, the incredible island of Ambergris Caye, and it’s welcoming residents, capture traveler’s hearts. Most people are instantly captivated with it’s rich Caribbean history, fabulous views and friendly people.
Rich Island History
The name dates back to the 1800’s and finding “Ambergris” otherwise known as whale vomit on the north end of the island. Today the Sperm Whale excretion is still used in making perfumes and can sell for a whopping $9070 per pound. In the United States and Australia, however, usage of Ambergris is banned, due to Sperm Whales being an endangered species.
The Maya people, originating in the Yucatan, found their home in Belize around 250 A.D. Many migrated to Ambergris Caye and most of their ruins are yet to be discovered. The Marco Gonzalez Maya Site is the only excavated ruin on Ambergris Caye and skeletons, pottery and jewelry of the Mayan people have been unearthed, further developing knowledge of the culture all over Belize.
What You Will See Today
Many folks have been coming here for years and have witnessed the changes from a quaint fishing village to a bustling island. With more growth comes the opportunity to see some amazing things and the island is fast becoming the place to go to see wonderful snorkeling spots, beautiful beaches, and relax in the crystal clear water.
Sight-seeing on Ambergris Caye is fantastic. The Belize barrier reef is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, starting up north with Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, a designated World Heritage site at the north end of the island, and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley to the south. Both sites are great places to see wildlife and are accessible by boat in roughly 20 minutes. The beach is close to everything and a great place for people watching or quietly sitting on a dock, enjoying the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The island is known for friendly people and is very community oriented. There are many charitable organizations such as, SAGA Humane Society, San Pedro Food bank and Belize Red Cross that always need extra hands, donations and love volunteer hours from all visitors. Often local businesses hold fun nights for charity, like Crazy Canuck’s Tuesday night crab races and Friday night Trivia. Lions Den Bingo also on Friday nights is a hit with tourists and locals. These fun events are a great way to make friends, and meet new people while contributing back to the community.
Ambergris Caye has a wide variety of restaurants; you can experience everything from delicious budget friendly local food to fine dining on the beach. Flaunts, tostadas and shrimp or beef tacos are some of the favorite inexpensive San Pedro treats that can be found around town and in the park at night.
By just wandering up and down the 3 main streets, Front, Middle, and Back (Barrier Reef Dr., Pescador Dr. and Angel Coral are their real names, but no one uses them) you can find tons of vendors selling a wide variety of things. If you’re feeling fancier, try one of the many mid priced or fine dining options all over the island.
Island Grocery Pricing
Keep in mind that everything is brought in by air or sea and this can drive the prices up. Basic grocery pricing in Belize dollars, Bananas 5/$1.00, Eggs 3/$1.00, jar coffee $8.70, box milk $3.50, sugar $0.60 lb, boneless chicken breast $4.00 lb, snapper or grouper fillets $12 lb, Shrimp $17lb
Places To Stay
Ambergris Caye is 25 miles long and 4 miles wide at it’s widest point (but much narrower at its most populated points). With an island this big your options of where to stay range from budget hostels on the beach to high end luxury resorts. You can stay north of town at one of the secluded resorts or right in the heart of San Pedro. No matter what part of the island you decide to stay, you’re bound to find somewhere incredible, no matter what your budget.
Snorkeling, Diving, Fishing. If It Involves Water, We Have It!
If you’re a fan of water activities, then this is the island for you. Our island runs parallel to the second largest Barrier Reef in the world and offers extraordinary fishing flats; attracting more than just your average fisherman. Sport fishermen and tourists alike travel to Ambergris Caye to experience saltwater fly-fishing for bone-fish, tarpon, permit, and other prized fish. Also popular is deep-sea fishing for bluefish, wahoo, sailfish, mahi mahi, tuna, swordfish, blue marlin, and other bill-fish. These waters have seen some big catches over the years and are home to many annual fishing tournaments. Anglers will also find barracuda, king-fish, tarpon, amber-jack, grouper, and snapper closer to shore.
If fishing isn’t your thing, don’t worry, the list goes on and on. Enjoy leisurely snorkeling trips to sites like Mexico Rocks and delightful dives like you’ve never imagined in the thousands of coral canyons that run along the reef. You can see coral reefs of all colors, sizes and shapes. Belize is home to an extensive list of fish, eels, conch, stingrays, sharks and much more!
Belize also has wonderful water sports options. Sunset catamaran trips where all you have to do is sit back and relax, or if you’re feeling more adventurous you can rent a 13 foot Hobie and set sail! Many places offer rentals and even if you don’t know how to sail, they will teach you. Kiteboarding and windsurfing are some other fun in the sun options. For slower paced fun, try renting a kayak and some snorkeling gear and head out to find your own underwater oasis.
Looking to Island Hop?
There are many fun ways to go from Ambergris Caye to nearby island of Caye Caulker. If you want to be in charge of your own adventure, then the water taxi is a good option. You can also fly over if you are feeling rich or do a combo for 2 different experiences with great pics.
Another great way to go is on a catamaran, this way you can get your snorkeling adventure in along the way!
Just Say No to Oil Exploration and Drilling in Belize
Of course there is talk that even though so many people and environmental organizations have stepped up to halt the process that it could easily happen anyways.
If only the powers that be would understand No Means No. An oil spill can Belize’s waters would be catastrophic for residents and tourists who both depend on a healthy marine ecosystem.
There will be those who argue that oil spills are “infrequent”. The problem is, when they happen, they are catastrophic to marine life. For a country developing its tourism product, the long term risk is not worth it.
Do not let Oil Companies Drill and Explore in Barrier Reef.
Please click through on the following and help this most important cause.