Blue is the color between violet and green, which perfectly defines the color spectrum of our Caribbean waters. I don’t know anything about color psychology, but this chromatic blend of indigo, turquoise, azure, cobalt and teal literally stirs my emotions. Like the sensations you experience when eating a heavenly dessert, my eyes savor and delight in the very sight of these gorgeous hues of blues. Of the three atoll reefs off the coast of Belize, Lighthouse Atoll is the queen of these colors. Regal in her coral-studded crown and cloaked in sapphire, her vibrant beauty is far more than water deep.
Lighthouse Atoll is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses the Blue Hole, which attracts thousands of divers from around the world each year. Dozens of other world-class diving sites lie within this coral reef, but you don’t have to be a diver to experience this underwater wonderland. Although my family likes to dive the depths of the deep blue I prefer not to depend on life support while underwater, and snorkeling here is equally exhilarating. As if the water isn’t enough to entice you to this little slice of Belizean heaven, another amazing place to explore here is Half Moon Caye Natural Monument.
This quintessential Caribbean caye is complete with picture-perfect white beaches, coconut groves, the remains of a rustic lighthouse and a Red-footed Boobie bird rookery where you can observe their nesting grounds (and their super cute white fluffy babies) from a treetop lookout.
The Blue Hole is 62 miles from Belize City and almost as far from Ambergris Caye. If you depart from either of these locations, dive boats usually leave very early (5AM) in the morning and take more than two hours to get there. This means you spend more of your day on a boat than in the water, and by the time you reach back you can count on being exhausted. While there are options such as live-aboard dive boats that frequent the area, the idea of days of close quarters on a boat with nothing to do but dive doesn’t sound all that fun to this island girl. Fortunately there is a much better way to experience the phenomenal waters and amenities that Lighthouse Reef has to offer. Did you know you can stay within the heart of this atoll at Huracan Diving Lodge located on Long Caye?
Now THIS is the way to do it! Out of the five Lighthouse Reef islands, Long Caye is the only one permanently inhabited. Huracan Diving Lodge is the only dive center in the atoll and is the ideal place to stay, dive, eat amazing food and relax in island ambiance.
The historic building that houses the lodge was originally built as a hurricane shelter, thus the name Huracan (Spanish for hurricane), and the structure has been beautifully remodeled in a relaxed, comfortable design. With only four guest rooms, the atmosphere is quaint and cozy, with the super friendly staff making you feel right at home.
The boat ride from Belize City to Long Caye usually takes one and a-half hours, weather permitting. Our stay included three nights in comfy rooms with private baths and five amazing dives, with the first dive on the afternoon of our arrival. Dive Masters Arthur and Anna (she also manages the lodge) are all about safety, and before taking their guests to the Blue Hole they require a prior dive to assure you are properly fitted with your gear. At Huracan, there’s no long boat rides to the Blue Hole, and the following morning boat Captain Luis and First Mate Ian have us there in less than 15 minutes!
We are fully rested, and with a yummy breakfast under our belt we are ready to dive in! As a bonus, like life couldn’t get any better, we have this Belizean landmark to ourselves, arriving way before the big tour company boats – what a treat! Other world famous dive sites are just minutes from the lodge and each day is a delicious mix of breakfast, dive, lunch, relax, dive, cocktails and dinner.
Each meal is a culinary masterpiece created by Chef Dyron, who is proud to familiarize the guests with each plate he places before them. From banana pancakes for breakfast to chicken taco salad for lunch to shrimp pasta Alfredo for dinner, not to mention the desserts, we were always hungry from a day in the water and glad we were burning off all this delicious food! No doubt both Chef Dyron and assistant Carmelita are the secret ingredient to the exceptional meals we enjoyed each day!
If you are not a diver and are just along for the experience, days can be spent beach combing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming or snorkeling right from the beach, working on your tan, biking, exploring the many marked trails on the island, bird watching, spending quality time in a hammock with a good book or checking out the nearby Itza Lodge for a change of pace. Because of the small size of the lodge, guests easily make friends and enjoy sharing photos and stories about their day of diving together.
Huracan Diving Lodge is an all-inclusive establishment, with one price covering boat transfer to and from the mainland, all meals (excluding alcohol) and a number of dives depending on if you take the three-night or five-night option. When you compare costs to staying on the mainland or Ambergris Caye and add diving expenses and meals, Huracan not only offers a reasonable rate, but the rare opportunity to dive the many world class sites within the atoll. With all the comforts of home, even WiFi for those who need to stay connected, a stay on Long Caye and diving the Lighthouse Atoll is a once in a lifetime experience you won’t soon forget. (Full diving story here)
For more information please visit Huracan Diving Lodge at www.huracandiving.com