Lighthouse Reef Adventure 7d
On the furthest boundary of the Belize reef system at world-renowned Lighthouse Atoll, we have established the first ever Adventure Basecamp. Here we sea kayak, snorkel, learn about reef ecology, enjoy incredible seafood feasts, and take in one of the most beautiful islands and coral reef settings you can possibly imagine.
We now have two versions of this very popular trip: Lighthouse Reef Adventure – 7 Days or 9 Days. Depending on which you choose, you will have a choice of spending 4 or 6 nights at our Half Moon Caye Basecamp on Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
Lodging on the mainland is included before and after both trips, as well as dinner on Day 1 and a Crooked Tree lagoon boat tour on Day 2.
Arrive at the Belize International Airport where a representative will meet you and welcome you to the country. You’ll be taken to the Bird’s Eye View Lodge in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, with its swamps, wetlands and four lagoons, provides an ideal resting place for thousands of migrating and resident birds.
After checking into your accommodations you’ll have a chance to meet your fellow travelers, enjoy a meal and if time permits, explore Crooked Tree Village. Crooked Tree Village is one of Belize’s oldest Creole Settlements. Airport transfers, dinner, and lodging are included. Today is the day to meet your fellow travelers and acclimatize to your new tropical environment.
Accommodation: Bird’s Eye View Lodge
Coffee is served at sunrise. With your binoculars in hand, you’ll enjoy the sounds and sights of the awakening wilderness. There are usually several hundred birds of many species feeding in front of the lodge along the shores of the Crooked Tree lagoons. After a healthy Belizean breakfast, you’ll embark by boat to explore the surrounding areas. Throughout this adventure, our aim is to provide you with tremendous birding and wildlife opportunities. Turtles, parrots, ibis, Morelet’s crocodiles, and Iguanas are frequently seen.
Your boat charter departs at 10 am and takes you through white sand Cayes, mangrove ranges, and beyond the main Barrier Reef to Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Lighthouse Reef Atoll is located at the furthest edge of the Belizean Reef System. It is 55 miles offshore of the mainland. Upon reaching Half Moon Caye, your guide team will orient you to your new island setting and help you settle into your accommodations. You’ll then enjoy a late lunch and an afternoon snorkel or kayak around Half Moon Caye.
Accommodation: Half Moon Caye Basecamp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 – 5
Due to its isolated location from the mainland, the waters of Lighthouse Reef Atoll are exceptionally clear, with inspiring scenery, and a fabulously rich reef system. This ecosystem offers some of the best kayaking, snorkeling, and diving in the Caribbean. To begin, our guides will provide professional instruction – teaching you the fundamentals of sea kayaking, snorkeling, and safety in the waters of the tropics.
Over the next few days, you’ll have many options to explore, including a shipwreck, which looms just north of the Caye. In 1971, a ship named the Ermlund lost power during a storm and was deposited on the reef by a large wave. This 4000-ton wreck rests silently as a landmark and is one of many shipwrecks in the area. It serves as a constant reminder of the navigational hazards in these waters. You’ll also have ample opportunities to learn from our guides about the marine reef ecology, the island’s mangrove, and the interior forest habitat. This area of the park consists of 45 acres. Many species of birds nest on the island, including a 4000 red-footed booby colony. The Audubon Society has built a series of viewing platforms to intimately observe the many nesting sites. And of course, we always give you the option of hanging out in a hammock with a good book and a cold beverage!
Accommodation: Lighthouse Reef Basecamp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
For your last morning at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the choice is yours. Snorkel your favorite patch reefs, walk the island trails, swing in a hammock or beach-comb along the immaculate island beaches. After lunch, a motor charter arrives, and you’ll begin to prepare for your trip back to the mainland. This return journey takes you through Turneffe atoll across the Great Barrier Reef, and you’ll arrive at the Belize Biltmore Hotel usually by late afternoon. You can enjoy a fresh shower and swim in the hotel’s pool. Your final evening is reserved for relaxing at the hotel or exploring the local area.
Accommodation: Biltmore Plaza Hotel
Departure day – It’s time to say Good-Bye to new friends and to Belize and head back home. Make your own way back to the International Airport in time for your flight. Keep in mind that you need to be at the airport approximately 3 hours before departure.
Rates in 2019/2020
Rates are per person, based on double occupancy. For single or triple rates, please inquire.
Rate in USD
- includes taxes & fees
Rate in CAD
- includes taxes & fees
Belize international airport receives direct flights from the US, Europe, and other Central American destinations. The airport is pretty small and it is easy to find your way around. You will disembark your plane directly onto the airport tarmac and will be directed to the terminal building and Immigration. After your passport is stamped, you collect your bags and move through the customs area. The whole process can take up to an hour but is usually much quicker than that. After completing your check-in, porters are standing in clear view and are ready to assist you with your bags if you wish, but it is a very short distance to where we meet you. Please be aware the porters are not employed by the Airport Authority, they can be pushy and they charge $1US for each bag – you are not obligated to use their services.
A representative will meet you at the airport. As trip participants will be arriving on different flights throughout Day 1, we have arranged transport to the Biltmore Plaza Hotel as a pleasant and comfortable place to wait for those who have arrived on earlier flights than other group participants.
1:00-1:30 pm – The first vehicle will depart the International Airport between 1 – 1:30 pm to the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel where you will be able to relax by the pool, have a drink at the outdoor bar, eat a meal, and wait for the rest of the guests to arrive. If you arrive earlier than this scheduled pick-up and do not want to wait at the airport for the driver, please feel free to take a cab to the Biltmore Hotel.
Typically, we will have gathered all trip participants by 4-5pm and be heading on our way to our first night’s accommodation.
The trip ends at the Biltmore Plaza, 2 1/2 miles north of Belize City where we stay on the last night of the trip. Dinner is not included on the last night. We usually arrive in from the Cayes late in the afternoon and you’ll likely be tired from a full morning of paddling, swimming, and snorkeling. The Biltmore is a comfortable and convenient location to end the trip as you are only 15 minutes from the International Airport the following morning. Depending on when your flight departs you can arrange with the hotel front desk for a taxi (it’s always best to confirm the fare in advance) to take you to the international airport. We always recommend checking with your fellow travelers to see if you can share a ride to the airport. For those trip participants who will be traveling to other parts of Belize, Belize City is the transportation hub of the country and you can get to anywhere in the country from there. Please let us know your plans for post-trip arrangements and we will be happy to advise you on your best options.
- Accommodation as described in the itinerary
- Meals as described in the itinerary
- gov taxes & fees
- guiding services
- equipment as described in the itinerary
- extensive pre-trip information
- international flights
- airport fees and taxes
- costs and fees incurred due to delays or missed flights
- additional arrangements
- Snorkel gear
- personal gear & purchases
- expenses of a personal nature
From November to May is considered ‘dry season’ and conditions are usually clear, sunny, and warm. However, November and December are generally cooler and wetter. As Central America is ‘sub-tropical’ one has to expect rains at any time, however during the ‘dry season,’ these are less frequent and less heavy and usually don’t last very long. For those traveling at the beginning of the dry season (Nov & Dec), make sure you bring a rain-jacket, hat, and some warmer clothing.
June through October is considered wet, or ‘green’ season. It is hotter, more humid and generally rains more. Especially in the afternoons and evenings, tremendous thunderstorms can build up.
Yes, there are insects, including some that can carry nasty diseases. It is important to protect yourself adequately by wearing light-weight, long-sleeved shirts and pants and by using an effective insect repellent (those containing 15%-20% Deet tend to work quite well). To ward off sand-flies, coconut oil or skin-so-soft has proven most useful.
Electricity, cell phones & devices
The Basecamps (Lighthouse Reef, Glover’s Reef & Billy Hawk Caye) has solar and small fuel generators, which provide 110VAC power in the common areas for several hours each evening. Charging locations are in place for low drain power applications, typically for charging batteries.
However, it is highly recommended to leave unnecessary electronic equipment at home. The humidity and sand do not do the sensitive devices much good and you won’t believe the amazing extra benefit you get just from unplugging for a few days. Besides, electronic devices count as luxuries that few people can afford in these parts of the world. Thus, they represent an unnecessary temptation. Neither the tour operator nor we take any responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged items. Please make sure all such items are adequately protected and safely stored.
Cellular with Data Service is available in many parts of Belize. Service is less reliable as you head offshore and in many of the more remote inland areas you will find cell service becomes less available. Accessing these services while roaming becomes very expensive.
Snorkeling in the Tropics
For many, the highlight of their trip is the time spent exploring the wonders of the underwater world.
This does not require great skill or expensive equipment to accomplish. IE guides enjoy teaching the simple skills necessary to enjoy snorkeling.
In many of the areas we explore, the water is shallow enough to stand. Initially, we enter the water from a beach but as our skill level increases, we will learn to enter and exit from our kayaks. This will enable us to experience longer and deeper dives as well as drift dives – floating along a patch of coral with our boats drifting behind us.
To ensure the reefs are protected for future generations we avoid damaging the coral by not touching, standing on, or dropping anchor on coral. As a living organism, many corals rely on nematocysts to sting their prey. These same nematocysts can sting humans ranging from mild to strong intensity. Care is taken to show all participants the coral species which should be avoided.
If you get cold easily a lightweight wetsuit or ‘shortie’ is recommended to keep from getting cold when spending extended time in the water. Polypropylene or Capilene long underwear work as well. In addition, this clothing also protects against sunburn. We highly recommend wetsuits for children.
Purchasing Snorkel Equipment
Knowing how to snorkel and what to watch for are all well and good, but inadequate equipment can spoil the best of conditions.
Therefore it is highly recommended you purchase equipment that fits comfortably. Borrowing a friend’s gear is okay for fins and snorkel but a mask must conform to the individual’s face to ensure a watertight seal. Nothing is more frustrating for snorkelers than water leaking into their masks. When shopping for a mask check for the following:
- A smooth seal around the mask. Both rubber and silicone work well. Check that the material is not cracked, brittle, or stiff – all signs of an old mask.
- Press mask to face and inhale through your nose. DO NOT PUT THE STRAP AROUND YOUR HEAD but leave it off in front of the mask. If the mask seals it will stay on your face even when you tilt your head down. Check that no hair gets between the mask and your face to break the seal.
- Make sure the front of the mask does not press against the bridge of your nose. This will get worse the deeper you dive. Vaseline around the edge of the mask helps for a better seal for men with beards or mustaches.
- Make sure the snorkel fits comfortably in your mouth. With fins, a snug fit is best. Complete foot fins rather than those with a strap around the heel are preferred. Leave enough room for socks if you wish.
- Above all else, try the mask in water (pool, bathtub, etc.) before you arrive in Belize. A good dive shop will gladly exchange an ill-fitting mask for one with a better fit.
Note: Equipment is available for rent in Belize but must be organized in advance. Please ask.
Using a new mask for the first time: New scuba masks have a residue left over from the manufacturing process that coats the lens. Unless this coating is removed from the inside of the lens, your mask will constantly fog up. One simple solution is to use toothpaste. Thoroughly rub the toothpaste around the lens with your finger or a soft cloth – if possible leave it overnight. Then rinse well, removing all the toothpaste. Rinse again and you should be good to go.
Before each snorkel outing: To help avoid your mask fogging up you can spit into your mask, rub the saliva around to coat the lens, and then rinse quickly. You can also coat the lens with a commercial defogging agent or bring a supply of baby shampoo, which works the same – this should be done before every outing.
All trip participants are required to get Travel Medical / Evacuation Insurance. We also strongly suggest that you purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance. Some insurance packages include both bundled together.
- Photocopy of passport
- Air tickets
- Favorite snacks for between meals
- Personal spending and emergency funds
- 1 extra set of clothes for flight home
- 1 pair light running shoes for around camp
- 1 pair watersport sandals or water shoes (Teva’s or Keens are a good choice)
- 1 or 2 pair lightweight quick-dry long pants
- 2-3 pairs of socks
- 2 pair quick-dry nylon shorts and/or loose skirt or sarong
- 1 bathing suit
- 3 t-shirts
- 2 long sleeved shirts preferably with a collar (for protection from the sun & bugs). Silk shirts work well and dry quickly
- 1 fleece jacket or wool sweater (this will keep you warm even when wet)
- 1 good quality rain jacket
- 1 wide-brimmed sunhat (to keep the sun off your face and neck)
- Sunglasses with band (Chums, Croakies, etc.)
- 1 bandana (handy for sun protection)
- Spare set of eyeglasses (even if you wear contact lenses) and contact lens solution
- 1 headlamp and spare batteries
- Mask, fins, snorkel
- Shortie wetsuit, especially for kids (not essential but water temperatures in Dec. and Jan. can be cooler)
- Capilene or polypropylene, or silk long underwear (great for snorkeling)
- 1 liter water bottle
- 1 TOWEL (either a small camp towel or thin beach towel)
- Personal toiletries
- Personal medication and prescriptions
- Small personal First Aid Kit: i.e. Band-Aids, aspirin/Tylenol, scissors, tweezers, safety pins
- Sunscreen – biodegradable reef-friendly sunblock
- Biodegradable soap
- Vaseline, Aloe Vera lotion, or skin care cream
- Caladryl/After Bite/Benadryl Cream or lotion to ease itching from bug bites
- Insect repellent (20 – 100% Deet)
- 2 to 3 garbage bags – serves as extra waterproofing protection and keeps wet gear separate
- Earplugs if you are a light sleeper or sensitive to wave noise and animal/bird sounds
Optional Packing List
- Camera equipment – waterproof or waterproof throw-away camera
- Bug jacket
- Skin-So-Soft Avon used as a repellent
- Handy Wipe moist tissues for hands and face and/or waterless bacterial cleanser
- Toilet paper for emergency travels
- A good reading book, log book, and pen
- Wine or favorite liquor
- Small day-pack (can be handy on any of our trips)
- Mesh bag for carrying snorkel gear
- Fishing rod and tackle
- Art supplies, sketching tools, or watercolors
- 1 pair of light cotton gloves/bike gloves (for protection from the sun/blisters when paddling)
- Foot powder
- Waterproof watch
Supporting local education
Our Programs are aimed to provide grassroots educational assistance in the areas that we travel in. We support local primary schools in the communities that we work in – the Garifuna town of Dangriga, the agricultural village of Silk Grass, and the remote Mayan village of Santa Teresa. We support the Holy Ghost elementary school in Dangriga, the Silk Grass Primary School in Silk Grass Village, and Santa Teresa Village school in Toledo District.
Packing for a purpose
Our “Make Space in your Case” initiative gives you an opportunity to donate school supplies to students in Belize. Share a pound or two of your suitcase/luggage space for materials (pens, pencils, erasers, etc.) and we’ll take care of the rest to make sure the supplies get to the kids and teachers in Belize who need it the most.
We gather the school supplies, packs them off and distributes to the schools and students. Here are some ideas of materials that you can donate to make a real difference in people’s lives.
- Kids story books in English
- Kids story books in Spanish
- Arts and crafts materials
- Colored construction paper
- Colored pencils
- Maps Notebooks
- Solar calculators
- Used textbooks for teachers at any level
- Watercolor paint brushes
We also cooperate and support local conservation initiatives, such as Belize Zoo and guests can adopt an animal there through the ‘Adopt an Animal from the Belize Zoo’ – Initiative.
And we also support the Belize Audubon Society by donating a percentage of our revenues generated through the Lighthouse Reef trips. The Belize Audubon Society is a leader in conservation, not only protecting wildlife and habitat, but also by involving local communities in management to ensure sustainable use of natural resources and advocating for maintaining the integrity of the environment in a growing nation.
Fresh water out on the Cayes is at a premium. Most water available on the islands is from rainwater catchment systems or has been imported from the mainland, so water conservation is of the utmost importance to the inhabitants of the islands.
Each lodge will have a closed water system of their own which is controlled with hydro, solar and generator-powered water pumps. Water is pumped into raised black tanks to provide pressure to the system. The water in these tanks is warmed by the sun. At some lodges, this will be the only source of heat. Some facilities will have a propane or electric hot-water-on-demand system. Often generators will be stopped through the night as a conservation measure. This can affect water pressure and availability of light in the night and early morning.
Unfortunately, garbage (especially plastics) is found throughout the world’s coastal regions, Belize is no exception.
Weather, wind, and currents can all cause an excessive build-up of garbage to occur along the beaches and in the mangroves. The sad part is that much of this garbage is from offshore and not from mainland Belize. Besides making sure that we leave no garbage while on tour, we try wherever possible to pick up some of this extra refuse. IE organizes a number of work crews each season to clean up the Cayes where we camp and it is an integral part of our educational trip programs.