A Winter Break in Belize

Washington, D.C. has had a more brutal winter than we’re accustomed to. It has been much colder and snowier than in the recent past. As I have mentioned on this blog, I for one am OK with a real winter like this. But, it’s also fun to break out and experience warm weather in the dead of winter.

My friend and I took a trip to Belize this year to celebrate a few milestones and do some relaxation and exploring. Belize is an awesome, small English-speaking Caribbean country just south of Mexico. For such a small area, it has a wealth of natural beauty. Given we only had 4 days, I prioritized visiting the caves of the mainland and the cayes on the barrier reef, leaving the mountains and rainforest for next time.

Belize did not disappoint. It was a dry 85 degrees every day (in February!), a laid-back and (relatively) honest atmosphere, and a value when it came to lodging, exploring, and eating. Here are some highlights from my trip.

The first location we visited was the Crystal Cave, near San Ignacio on the mainland. Cave formations are numerous all throughout this area of the Caribbean — forming as ancient limestone was exposed to erosion from rainwater. Most people visit the ATM cave for its scale and number of ancient Mayan artifacts. Less visited is the Crystal Cave which rivals its beauty but offers a more unique experience with the many shimmering calcite coverings over the stalactites and stalagmites of the caves. It was a calming and eerie experience tubing through the freshwaters of the cave, and disembarking every several hundred meters to explore the formations. The guides of Cavetubing.bz were great in accommodating my special requests as a photographer.

Shiny Formations resemble an elephant at Crystal Cave, Belize

“Elephant Cave”

Shiny Formations resemble an elephant at Crystal Cave, Belize

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Stalactite and stalagmites form organic formations topped by the twinkle of calcite

“Heart of Darkness”

Stalactite and stalagmites form organic formations topped by the twinkle of calcite

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“Spirit Court”  An eerie wall of limestone formations within Crystal Cave, Belize.

“Spirit Court”

An eerie wall of limestone formations within Crystal Cave, Belize.

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Calcite crystals shimmer over stalagmite formations like fresh snowfall on rocks.

“Winter Underland”

Calcite crystals shimmer over stalagmite formations like fresh snowfall on rocks.

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Exploring the Crystal Caves of Belize

Exploring the Crystal Caves of Belize

Where dark finally meets light at the Crystal Cave, Belize.

“Convergence”

Where dark finally meets light at the Crystal Cave, Belize.

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The next day, we went snorkeling at Hol Chan near the barrier reef. I still haven’t gotten scuba certified, which ideally I would have done instead at the Blue Hole. Regardless, it was a great experience swimming 5 feet from huge stingrays and nurse sharks. I tried using a cheap underwater housing for my camera but it flooded quickly — next time I’ll try something more sturdy (expensive).

Nurse sharks swim eagerly towards bait meant to lure them. The camera was panned in the opposite direction of the sharks to emphasize the motion.

“Sharks”
Nurse sharks swim eagerly towards bait meant to lure them. The camera was panned in the opposite direction of the sharks to emphasize the motion.


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On the last night of our trip, I set out to the north end of Caye Caulker, one of many small islands that make up the cayes. On the 15 minute walk there, the scene changed from the restaurants, bars, and dive shops to a more quaint residential look. The pastel colors of some of the homes showed the easy-going character of Caye Caulker:

“Island Colors”

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I had envisioned an image of small caye off of the coast with mangroves, under the starlight. I set out to find such a scene in a place where I thought I would find it. In researching other photographers images, I know there are some places that have been photographed before where it would have been much easier. But, I wanted to do my own exploration and see what I found. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the image I sought, though I did find this peaceful scene of young mangroves on the coast.

Tide brushes over young mangroves that line the north end of Caye Caulker, Belize

“Oceanside Nursery”

Tide brushes over young mangroves that line the north end of Caye Caulker, Belize

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Belize is an awesome destination, especially in the dead cold of winter. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of this beautiful country. Till then, all I have is memories…



“Forever Fair”
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