Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Dock at Night

Belize Vacation

On November 30th, my wife and I left rainy Vancouver to visit Belize for the first time.  Belize is a tiny country in Central America with a population of about 320,000.   It is 290km long and 110km wide, you can literally drive around the whole country in one day if you wanted to.  English is the official language which makes getting around very easy.

Due to our last minute booking we had to take four flights (Vancouver -> San Francisco -> Houston -> Belize City -> Dangriga) and a boat ride to reach our final destination, Coco Plum Island Resort.  The last flight is on a small plane which lands on a tiny runway in Dangriga, just part of the adventure I suppose.

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Belize City to Dangriga Hopper Flight

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Dangriga Airport Approach

Coco Plum is on a small 16 acre private island about 15 minutes by boat from Dangriga.  There are only 10 or so cabanas on the island, so it is very quiet and far removed from large resorts elsewhere in Belize.  As soon as you arrive on the island, the staff make sure you are well taken care of.  Bags are taken to your room, and the bartender makes you a tropical welcome drink.  In our case, mosquito bites :)

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Welcome Drinks - Mosquito Bite

The bar is a central hub of activity for staff and guests.  Special thanks to Leo for being such a nice guy and a great bartender.  Erwin, Bella, Sam, Crispin, and Byron also deserve special mention for making our stay fantastic.  The roof of the bar is covered in t-shirts from former guests, each with its own message.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Shirts At The Bar

After check-in, we went to our cabana and were surprised how big they were.  More than enough space for two people.  Everything is very clean, well maintained and comfortable.

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana Interior

2012-111-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana Interior

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana Interior

The ocean literally steps from the door.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana View

 

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangrove Trees

The resort is beautiful, tranquil, and a great place to relax.  Here are some shots from around the resort.  The island in the photo below is another resort, Thatch Caye.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : View To Paradise

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Conch Shell

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset

The long dock is one of the great features.  During the day a place to relax.  At night the lights attract rays, sharks (small ones, don't worry), and squid.  It's also a good place to snorkel, we saw a lot of interesting creatures and I even found a huge live conch.

2012-12-03 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Live Conch

A large hermit crab.

2012-11-30 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Hermit Crab

Another type of crab which seemed to be unhappy about my presence.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Crab Under Dock

Even an urchin which did a good job of hanging onto my hand.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sea Urchin

The water is typical Caribbean: blue green, warm, and clear. Katie and I spent a lot of time snorkeling around the area.  We also ventured out on most of the snorkel trips from the island to the local barrier reef.  Belize has some of the best snorkeling I have encountered anywhere in the world and I have been to a lot of great locations.  The reefs are still in great shape and there is a huge variety of coral, fish, and invertebrates.  Spotted Eagle Rays are common.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Spotted Eagle Ray Over The Coral Reef

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sting Ray

Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Coral Reef

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Snail on Coral

A lobster trying to hide in the coral.  The lobster here don't have big claws.

2012-12-03 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Lobster on the Reef

This puffer fish was also trying to keep a low profile, but I spotted him.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Hiding Puffer Fish

There are also a lot of birds in the area, including pelicans.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Pelican Unhappy With Us

We had a few nice sunsets while we were there, though not quite as good as we had in Thailand and Hawaii.

2012-12-01 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset At The Bar

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset in Belize

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Sunset In Paradise

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : The Dock At Sunset (Final)

On some days, there are several inland tours you can participate in.  We chose to visit the Belize Zoo, which is small but well laid out and quite natural.  Animals have large pens with plenty of room for cover.  Considering that this is a third world country, the animals were well kept.  Unfortunately, when we were there it was raining and a lot of the animals were not visible.  We didn't get to see a jaguar, which is one of the big draws.  It also made getting good photos harder, but here are a few from our visit.

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Monkey at Belize Zoo

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Belize Zoo : Monkey at Belize Zoo

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Tapir

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Deer and Food Thief

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Puma at Belize Zoo

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Peccary at Belize Zoo

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Jaribou Stork at Belize Zoo

On the say to the zoo, we also stopped at a gift shop that had captive Coatimundi.  Similar to a racoon, they are very cute and curious animals.  Unfortunately, they have to live in this small cage.

2012-12-04 : Belize Vacation : Inland Tour : Coatimundi

 

Being far removed from a large city there isn't much light pollution and on a clear night there are a lot of stars visible.  Though I have almost no experience with star photography I decided to give it a shot.  Here you can see the mangroves lit up from a small amount of light on the island.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangroves at Night

I also tried to 'light paint' some of the mangroves with a flashlight in a few of the shots.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangrove at Night with Light Painting

 

One of the cabana at night.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Cabana at Night with Light Painting

While the snorkeling was great, I also enjoy scuba diving and went out with divemaster Steve for two dives (thanks to Byron for setting it up!).  As expected, it was amazing.  The reefs are teeming with life.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Spotted Eagle Ray

Here Steve swims with a green sea turtle.  This guy didn't seem spooked and just swam around with us for a while before moving on.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Steve With Green Sea Turtle

Pterois Lionfish are not native to the Caribbean, and are quite damaging to local species.  They don't have the same predators here that they do in their native waters, and their numbers are rising.  They are strikingly beautiful fish (though poisonous so don't get too close), but they should be removed from these waters when possible.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Pterois Lionfish

2012-12-03 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Pterois Lionfish

The variety of coral is just fantastic.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Fan Coral

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Coral Formation

Some great camouflage.

2012-12-05 : Belize Vacation : Scuba Diving : Fish Camouflage
Finally, a few parting shots.  The bar at night.

2012-12-02 : Belize Vacation : Coco Plum Island Resort : Bar at Night

Mangrove trees at sunrise.  Shot straight into the sun, then converted to a sepia tone.  I just liked the composition.

Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Mangrove at Sunrise (Sepia)

The dock at twilight, a few stars visible in the sky.  In the evenings, the hut is converted to romantic dinner spot for two.  I like the contrast of the warm red light in the hut with the cool blue and green tones of the surroundings.

Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Dock at Night

We left a lot unseen in Belize, it will warrant a return trip some day.

A couple of people have asked what type of camera I used.  I have a bit of info about some of my gear here, but specifically for these images I used:

  • Nikon D800 DSLR camera
  • Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 lens (the wide angle zoom)
  • Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 lens (the normal zoom)
  • Really Right Stuff TVC-33 tripod and BH-55 ball head

For the underwater photos, I use:

  • Canon PowerShot SD870 IS Digital ELPH
  • Canon WP-DC17 Underwater housing

The Canon camera and housing is a relatively inexpensive way to get decent underwater photos.  The housing is good to 40m of depth and suitable for recreational diving.  The major drawback is that I can't shoot in raw and adjust white balance in post processing.  White balance adjustments are needed much more for underwater shots then for photos on the surface.  Unfortunately, I can only do so much with a jpg file.

 


Sunset in Belize, Coco Plum Island Resort

Photo: Sunset in Belize

New-Web-Belize-Dock-Final-2048

Sunset in Belize.  Taken on a small island off the coast of Dangriga.  Very quiet, only a few people.  A fantastic spot to get away from reality for a break.


Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Dock at Night

Photo: Twilight In The Caribbean

This photo was taken at twilight in Belize on a small island in the Caribbean Sea.  The dock is part of the Coco Plum Island Resort, a nice retreat to get away from city life.

Belize 2012-12-02 : Coco Plum Island Resort : Dock at Night