RENDEZVOUS CAYE WITH CARNIVAL
We were going to be in Belize from 8-5pm. We booked the Snorkeling Wonders of The Barrier Reef Excursion with Carnival. Now everyone knows that I normally DO NOT book excursions with the cruise lines if I don't have to. There has to be a good reason to book with them (for instance in Belize, since it's a tender port, some excursions booked with them will leave directly from the ship and no tender needed).
This excursion did leave directly from the ship and we did not tender over. However, this would not be the reason we decided to book with Carnival. We booked because there was NO local vendors that went to where we wanted to go: Rendezvous Caye. Seriously...no vendors at all other than the cruise ships. I wonder how they managed that!
Previously we booked with a local vendor to go to Goffs Caye, which is very similar to Rendezvous Caye. They both are very tiny little islands situated in the middle of no where. They are very primitive but I believe that Rendezvous did seem a little nicer with more there than Goffs.
So, I just knew I had to go there. The price of the excursion was $74.99 per adult and $59.99 per child. I personally don't think that it's too bad of a price but did know that it didn't include anything other than transporting you there and back and the snorkel equipment if needed. There's no lunch or beverages included. But to experience this place was worth it because I truly enjoyed going to Goffs Caye last time.
The excursion is supposed to be for 4 hours and everyone knows that when you take a ship sponsored tour, traveling to and from is included in that time. Therefore making the time at the island extremely short. This is another reason that I never book ship excursions.
They did have food, snacks and drinks available for purchase there.
It was supposed to be a 40 minute boat ride each way.
We boarded the boat that would take us there and everyone was excited...or either faking a smile for the camera.
I don't know if I was still half asleep or what but I totally forgot to take a picture of my watch when we left and arrived. So, I had no idea how long it actually took us to get there. I didn't feel like it was that long of a ride honestly but I'm sure it was around 40 minutes because on the way back I took a picture of us pulling away from the island and one when we pulled up around the ship and that was 41 minutes. Oh well.
My first glance at Rendezvous Caye...
It was beautiful, just like I thought it would be.
I love small little islands like this...even if there's not much there. I don't need anything to please me other than the ocean and sand. Oh and pop, must have pop!
The nice thing about this island is that it had quite a few huts/palapa's to sit under. They all had picnic tables and chairs under them. Goffs did not have this and is more out in the open.
See all those people over there? (Last picture above) They were lining up for the snorkel tour. We were told prior to getting off the boat that they would have a 1) beginners class for those that have never snorkeled 2) an intermediate class for those that have snorkeled and 3) an advanced class for those that are feigns like us that can't get enough and are pros. I was just waiting to walk over to the advanced class with Sakari for them to say..."oh, she's a child and must go in the beginners class". I would then have to throw out the "she's been snorkeling since she was 3 and is a certified PADI seal scuba diver" sentence on them.
It always take me forever to prepare to snorkel. I have to get my equipment out, take it out of the bags, put my liquid in the mask to keep it from fogging, put on my dive socks and so on. Everyone else...just gets to walk over and wait for them to hand out everything they need as they are talking.
The hubby decided he didn't want to go and stayed back with Billy, Kam and B (who for some reason didn't want to go). That left just us girls and it was now going to be a task to try to get Kendra to sneak away from Kam without her seeing her.
Sakari and I headed over to the group, where I would stand and watch Kendra try to distract Kam and then take off running in the sand (have you ever tried to run in the sand? It's not easy) and then she'd bounce back and forth behind the palm trees (there wasn't many), a building or two, and sprint to the finish line of the hut where everyone was waiting.
Score!! She made it all in one piece, with all of her equipment, and without Kam noticing.
We arrived and ask which group it was. The instructor said that they had decided to combine the advanced with intermediate since we didn't have a huge group of people on the island today.
A lady in the group said "this is the advanced group" and looked at me and looked at Sakari. I was like "great, we're in the right group" and then added "the instructor just said it's advanced AND intermediate actually". She actually argued with me..."no, it's advanced" and then pointed to another hut and said "there's beginners". Um ok, I'm not sure what makes you think we are beginners...I'm standing here with my OWN equipment, which obviously means I'm not a beginner. She still kept telling me the same thing and at that point I have a blank stare with I'm sure a not so nice look on my face. Finally I had to put it to rest because she would not shut up about it and once again ask the instructor and he confirmed. Yep, the smirk on my face staring at her said it all...she stopped talking about it.
I forgot to mention, we were the ONLY one's on the island that day too! Yippee!
He didn't say anything to me about Sakari and I was relieved. I did ask him if it was ok for her to wear her mermaid outfit/mono fin snorkeling instead of fins. He said "if that's what she's comfortable in, then absolutely!" She was relieved as well. She really can swim better in it than fins.
After giving everyone instructions on what we were going to do, what we might see, how we were going to wear our equipment (the life jackets around our waist) we were headed to the entrance to go in.
The water was ROUGH today. So, they told us instead of wearing a snorkel jacket, we would have to wear the regular life vest. Honestly, I prefer that anyhow. I hate the snorkeling jackets because they ride up in places they shouldn't, go up over your face half the time and so on. They also told everyone that after we got out there, if we didn't want to wear the life jacket, we could remove it and tie it to our wrist, but it had to remain on us. Man, I really wished that Sakari didn't hear that because it would be an issue the entire time.
Sakari was getting ready and I was busy watching a lady get in the water and screaming...like seriously screaming, because the waves was pushing her, she steps on a rock, she couldn't get her fins on...it was just complaint after complaint and I kept wondering what she was doing in THIS group. Guess who this lady was.......I'm sure you have figured out it's "Ms Advanced"
I waited out in the water and before long...here came my mermaid.
She started her round of complaining instantly about having to wear the life jacket. Then she reminded me "he said we didn't have to wear them once we got out here" and she wanted hers off. I told her "we are not OUT here yet" and we were still in an area off the steps and it wasn't deep. She didn't like my response, but hey, the water was crazy choppy and I wasn't sure how this was going to go.
Everyone was in and we had several instructors taking us out and out we went. Wow, it was beautiful instantly! I couldn't believe my eyes. Much more than I expected. It was very beautiful and loaded with coral and fish!
Sakari found a friend. Here was a brittle starfish. One of the instructors brought it up and Sakari yells "oooohhhh, it's a brittle starfish. We have one of these in our tanks at home but she's much bigger and her name is Katie". He hands it off to her and I snapped a picture and reminded her to let others hold it because...for the most part, maybe others have never experienced this before.
Then of course I heard "We are OUT here now. Can I take it off?"
I ducked my head back under and acted as if I didn't hear her.
Some how Kendra ended up with the starfish and I came up in time to see her holding it, get a picture, then release it
Meanwhile, Sakari is struggling really hard to dive under. Silly kid. And the complaining continues...
We were told that we would be headed to snorkel the "wall". Now when someone tells me "wall" I just instantly freak out. Remember Sakari hanging out over the wall in Curacao when we went scuba diving? Yea, walls completely freak me out. So I was definitely making sure that Sakari was keeping her life jacket on.
It looked to be getting deeper over that way.
There were places to the left of us that were fairly shallow. To the right...was the "wall"
They kept motioning us to move out...as in toward the wall and away from the shallow coral. No, no, no, I don't want to go that way.
I think Sakari was a little mad at me and she went ahead with a group with the instructor who was in the lead. Kendra and I were hanging out with the instructor in the rear because I was busy taking pictures and he was busy showing us things.
The instructor in the front says "Who knows what some of the most dangerous coral is?" Sakari says "fire coral" and he said "ok, mermaid is not allowed to answer any more questions because she knows just as much as we do". Everyone laughed and I have no idea what other questions he was asking along the way was or what information he was telling the group, but obviously she had answered every question he had.
Notice how some of the coral (not a lot here in this area but some) is bleached out? We would find this to be the case in a lot of places.
I just couldn't get over just how great this place was.
Our instructor brought up a pencil urchin. This not something we have in our tank, by my neighbor does and they are considered bull dozers in the tank. LOL They like to run over your coral and knock them down. I elected not to put one in any of my tanks.
We caught up with Sakari and ...the complaining continues. "I can't dive down with this", "I'm not meant to wear this", "I'm a mermaid", "I'm fine", "Please mommy". Ugh The struggle was real that day.
Then this happened...
HOLY COW!!! Another first for us! This thing was huge and I believe weighing Sakari down! Kendra was brave enough to hold it too.
A lot of people in the front were missing out! Their guide was pointing things out and giving them a lecture on the different kinds of coral and fish...meanwhile, the guide we were hanging out with was bringing that crap up to us for a hands on experience!!!
Then I seen our guide dive down really quick. He started looking around this huge rock. He came back up and said a lobster had went under there but he couldn't reach it. He ask if I wanted him to take my camera down there and take a picture and I handed it off to him.
We were around the wall now. I was trying not to get to far away from the Non-Wall area. lol
Then our guide came up with this...a flamingo tongue snail. They are so cool! The first time I had ever seen one was in Cozumel in 2011 at Chankanaab. I had not seen one since then.
They have a very unique marking on them and there's no mistaking what they are when you see them. They are bright orange with black markings...kinda like a giraffe. This layer of color is not actually the shell. When it feels threatened, it will retract this layer and you will only see the white shell. As you can see in the picture, it was starting to retract because it was being held. We held it for a moment and then released it.
FLAMINGO TONGUE SNAIL
Here's a picture of mine from Chankanaab from 2011 when I seen my first flamingo tongue snail.
Next up...a sea cucumber. We find these every place we snorkel and are very common. Non-the-less, we decided pictures were appropriate.
Then up came a conch
After awhile, we started heading back. We actually swam basically around the island. The hubby said he could see us out there right in front of him. We really weren't too far off the island at all and everything was just beautiful that close.
On the way back...guess what he found!! The lobster finally came out and he got it.
"Ok mommy, we are going back, please let me take my life jacket off". I gave in and off it came. She was free and loving it. She swam like a pro.
She could now dive...but was limited to the life jacket attached to her arm so she still couldn't go too deep.
We swam back. It was a bit of a struggle. They gathered us around and announced that it would be too hard of a swim back to the island and they were going to send our boat out to come get us.
Well, the boat came and parked quite a ways from us and it was one of the hardest struggles to get to it. It wasn't this hard swimming to come back but right where they parked...oh my! It felt like forever getting back. I was worn out. Sakari was doing great and said she wasn't even tired.
She was like a dolphin frolicking in the water.
We finally made it aboard and I couldn't be happier to sit down. They passed out drinks and I rested until everyone was on the boat.
It was a successful snorkel and the boat just went around the corner and we were back to the island.
We got back and knew that we wouldn't have very much time left on this small but beautiful island.
The hubby was eating a hamburger ($6) when I returned and some chips ($2). Pop was also $2. I wasn't really hungry yet and decided to just get some chips and pop.
Of course Sakari had no time for food and immediately headed back to the water with B.
There are several little coves like this around the island. The entire island has this wall around it, except for the side where you come in with the boat on. If you have little ones, this would be the perfect place for them to play in the water. It wasn't deep at all.
For some reason there were a lot of crabs/conch up on the beach.
Ahh, pop in a glass bottle=delicious!
They were raking the sand and getting the seaweed up.
I decided to head out to the side that Sakari and B were on and see if there was even a remote chance that there is anything interesting around there.
There were A LOT of damsels in the area darting out as I went past.
I spotted a sea cucumber (I told ya they are always everywhere).
I found an anemone. I was excited. I really love these things and I put 2 of them in my tanks at home. I love to feed them and watch them grab the food and curl up while it shoves the food in its mouth.
I never seem to find any anemones that quite compare to the ones I have in my tank. I don't know where mine originate from but they are so much more colorful that what you spot when snorkeling or diving.
Here's my bubble tip anemone in my lionfish tank. It has gotten huge! and the bubbles are more prominent now.
Here's the other I have in another tank and it's really pretty and huge now as well and it has orange tips and the inside is neon green. When it opens up all the way, it's beautiful.
I love taking pictures of all my fish and coral. Yep, I do it just as if I'm snorkeling and put my camera (the one I use in my reviews) on the underwater snorkeling mode, put my hand in the water and snap away. hehe
There are conch shells everywhere in this area. Some had conchs still living there and others did not. However, they did have other creatures living in them.
Ahh, I also spotted a feather duster worm. I love these.
There were a lot of pencil urchins living in the conchs so I guess these empty shells are being used wisely.
I headed out and over to the other side. Of course I had to take pictures along the way.
And a little more snorkeling on the other side where I would find more anemones and a small dwarf puffer fish. But, it was about the same as the other side.
It was still very wavy out and the waves would be crashing onto the retaining wall around the island.
I decided to get out and take a few more pictures of this beautiful island before I knew we had to go.
One of the guys was going around and collecting life jackets. I'm really not sure why people still had them and didn't take them off on the boat unless these were the people in the beginner class and they didn't go out far enough to have the boat pick them up.
He told everyone "20 minutes we leave". Ugh! I really wish they would extend these excursions. There's really no reason that we should have to go back so early. I mean we were in Belize until 5pm for heavens sake!
I kid you not, within 5 minutes they were telling everyone to board the boat. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY 20 MINUTES?? It took us awhile to put all of our equipment up and gather things...for 7 people... and Kendra and her family none the less. I think it was obvious that we did not want to leave and were in no hurry.
We also stopped by the food hut again and I bought a yummy glass bottle of coke light to go. Sakari requested a bag of cookies ($2).
Then we reluctantly decided we would follow instructions and head to the boat. I would miss this place.
We slowly pulled out and I felt a tear roll down my face.
The crew passed out punch to drink on the way back (they gave water on the way there and on the snorkeling trip).
We were all tired, but very happy to have experienced such a wonderful place.
When we got closer to the ship, they stopped the boat and those of us with camera's got up and took pictures. Then we docked right up to the ship, the same way we had left.
I think by now you all can figure out that I absolutely LOVED this place.
It was a beautiful little island. It was nicely landscaped. The palapa huts were huge and had plenty of room with chairs and even tables under some of them.
It seemed like there was plenty of room there and everyone was all spread out. I liked that.
The 2 beaches there were ok and good enough for cooling off. Not a lot to see snorkel wise from the beach, but a few things.
The snorkeling....ah the snorkeling...simply amazing. I don't think pictures really do anything justice. Man was this place awesome! I don't think I have ever been on a snorkeling excursion (or even on my own) where we got to see so much all in the same encounter.
The guides were amazing!
I can't recommend this excursion enough. I would go back in a heart beat.
The ONLY thing that was an issue today was...the wind. Lordy lordy it was crazy. But of course, that's no fault of the excursion, Carnival or the vendors. It has been a rainy week for them and the water was a little outraged, so I would expect it to be windy. It was no big deal though. Nothing could have messed that day up.
The only other thing is the time. They really could and should extend the time. There's absolutely no reason to come back that soon. Seriously!
We pulled up at the island at 9:45am.
We pulled away from the island at 12:26
We had approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes on the island, which included our snorkeling time.
1 hour was spent snorkeling.
I guess if you factor in a 40 minute boat ride there and 40 minutes back, you are looking at a total time of around 4 hours...as the tour said.
I highly recommend it!