Saturday, December 02, 2017

Caribbean Cruise Adventure - Day 4

[Composed 11/22/2017]

I admit I didn't have the highest hopes for our stop off in Harvest Caye, Belize. Don't get me wrong, I relish the thought of getting back to Belize. While technically located in Belize, Harvest Caye is NCL's private island and is intended to provide a perfect day at the beach. If lounge chairs, plenty of beach front, a swim up pool bar and epic zip-lines are your thing, then you're in luck. As for me, I'm more of a nature and history guy over something manufactured and sanitized.

Still, Harvest Caye was our next stop and I was going to try my darndest to make it work.

The NCL Getaway carries at most 3,969 passengers. It was Thanksgiving week, which is a popular time for families to cruise, and they told us the boat was at capacity. And which of the 3,969 passengers was off the boat first on this day? None other than my wife. Beach people or not, my wife doesn't mess around when it comes to punctuality.

Once on the island, we rented our own little clam-shell beach shelter and a locker to stash our stuff in. Along with the kayaks, we noticed there were stand up paddle boards (SUP) to rent. We'd never SUP'd before and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try. In fact, it was. The water was calm, and the boards quite stable. This made for a great beginner experience. Thanks to the stand-up positioning, we had easy access to keep our eyes on the water, which is where we found a few interesting fish and lots of brain-like jelly fish. I'm telling you, the whole experience was awesome and made our trip to Harvest Caye a memorable stop. So much for my anti-island snobbiness, right?

After our SUP experience, Shira retreated to the clam-shell for reading time and I grabbed my snorkel to explore the water at the beach. Before we had hit the island, I'd asked a number of people who had been to Harvest Caye if there were any secret spots for snorkeling. They all had the same answer: no. Initially, I had to agree. My favorite quote of the day came from a fellow snorkeler: it's like snorkeling in the dead sea over here.

I started at the far edge of the beach, near some rocks (and where the zip-line ends) and found nothing but murky water and a couple of tiny fish. I then made my way to the other end of the beach, exploring the rocks that make up the small jetties that separate sections of the beach. It was only when I explored the farthest jetty, the one right next to the private beach, that I found real signs of life. I found a star fish, a conch, and a school of medium sized fish among other discoveries. For a seasoned diver this would have been a joke. But for a land lubber like myself, I couldn't have been more pleased.

The island even has a small (and free!) nature area, where you can see some pretty birds and such in cages. It's not exploring the jungles of Belize, but it was at least a solid gesture to remind folks of the beauty of the country.

At lunch time, Shira and I made our way back to the ship to refuel with pizza and ice cream. We then returned to the beach so I could do some more exploring in the shallows.

It's true, Harvest Caye is hardly an authentic Belizean experience. But the island wasn't nearly as over the top as I thought it would be, and most of all, we had a heck of a good time. The money spent on the beach shelter, locker and SUP were all well worth it and meant that we had a convenient, fun and sun-stroke free day at the beach.

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