Caye Caulker is a relatively small island not far from Belize City and we chose to spend just over a week there on our tour of central America. For such a small island Caye Caulker is over run with tourists and tourist agencies! They’re just everywhere (on an island that’s about 4 miles long!) but after comprehensive searching there was ONLY one that we would use and recommend! If you’re on Caye Caulker with kids and looking for a child friendly day trip, these guys are brilliant.
Why use Stressless Eco Tours?
The idea behind Eco Tours is that you leave no trace, have no impact and watch animals behaving in their natural environment. Animals shouldn’t be touched, they should be watched. We will only use eco friendly tour guides now that have an ethical approach to animal welfare.
On Caye Caulker there were three self-promoting and labelling eco tours.
After some not so discrete questionings, we discovered that one of the companies offered a booze cruise and the other offered fishing trips. We don’t agree with the environmental impact of either of those activities, so that left just one agency; Stressless Eco Friendly Tours
What a good job that they answered all my (not so) covert questions correctly and they also have 96% excellent rating on TripAdvisor. We hurried along, clutching our Belizean dollars and signed up for their six snorkel trip.
I could not have been more excited! I mean, it’s not every day that you get to snorkel alongside turtles, sharks, stingrays and manatees now, is it?!
We chose the Stressless Six Snorkel Tour
The six snorkels they offered are:
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve
- North channel
- Shark and ray alley
- Coral Garden
- The Shipwreck
- Manatee Paradise
It’s an all day, full on tour where you spent the majority of the day in the water. You need to be a competent swimmer although they do have buoyancy aids. Our kids swim really well and they’re used to flippers and masks. If you have water babies who love the ocean and are keen world-schoolers and eager to see and learn more, they will love this tour.
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Hol Chan Marine Reserve
I am not a fan of feeding wild animals and Stressless Eco Tours do not feed them but there is a fisherman in the area who has been feeding the loggerhead turtle here for over a decade. As a result the turtle is enormous (the biggest I’ve seen yet at well over 2m wide) and remains in the area which gave us the opportunity to see it up close.
Swimming with this magnificent marine animal was our kids’ highlight. Although it isn’t entirely natural behaviour, it gave them a glimpse into how big they’re supposed to grow.
The fish here are also big and unperturbed by human contact. They happily swim within a few centimeters of you.
Shark and Ray Alley
This was my first time swimming with nurse sharks and it was phenomenal. I never felt in any danger as they’re entirely non-threatening to people and if anything they were more scared of me and swam away rapidly if I approached.
I couldn’t believe that we were also so fortunate to see a green turtle here too. No sooner had I turned off the GoPro thinking there was nothing more to video than three sharks, two stingrays and a green turtle came into the same frame! Oh my goodness. Be still my beating heart. It was amazing.
This was a spectacular snorkel and really wet our appetites for the ocean and marine life living in it. Our kids were not scared by being in the ocean surrounded by these creatures but if yours are, you might need to prepare them for the quantity of marine life here. It’s truly mesmering.
Coral Garden lived up to its name with us seeing not one but TWO eels. First a spotted eel and secondly a moray eel. The guys managed to entice the moray eel out of his hole with a conch and we were able to watch him swim around for a bit before he scurried back into it.
Can you fly for less with kiwi?
Swimming the Shipwreck
The current was pretty strong whilst we were here and it really dragged me down the ship. After I swam back up it twice I was exhausted but it was worthwhile to see how the coral had attached itself to the wrecked barge and was growing.
In contrast to me struggling against the tide, the tiny tropical fish seemed to have no problem and they were plentiful here, swimming in and out of the shipwreck with ease. Sadly the GoPro didn’t pick up the fish here but they were in abundance.
I was the first out of the boat (minus my flippers) because I actually didn’t believe that a manatee was in the water. As soon as I saw his little nose coming out of the water, that was it, I literally dived off the boat and swam as quickly as I could towards him.
At first his tail looked like a ships’ propeller but as the water cleared of sand, I realised that it was a manatee! The best moment was when the manatee turned to look at me.
The entire day was amazing
We were SO exhausted by the end of the day but we were truly pumped. What an amazing day! We gave this day our absolute all and we were not disappointed.
It is well worth the money we spent and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The guys took great care of us and were happy to answer my ever growing list of questions as I discovered more creatures in the water.
They excelled any expectations I had and I’m so happy we took this tour. If you want to learn more about the ocean and its life, this is definitely the tour to do. I cannot praise it enough because it was phenomenal.
This is probably the most kid friendly ocean tour we’ve been on so far.
Cheap accommodation minus the high prices
It was amazing to see the sharks and be so close to them. Swimming alongside turtles is always inspiring for their sheer scale and agility in the water but for the me it was the manatee which totally made the day!
I’ve never seen a manatee before and to be within touching distance of one was spectacular. When it glanced over at me and made eye contact, I thought I was going to drown from happiness.
What an amazing day we had. It was just a brilliant experience and one that has heightened my awareness of the fragility of the ocean and all the magnificent creatures that live there.
What should you take with you?
If you go on this tour, you’ll need:
- Reef friendly sun cream or better still a UV top and ditch the sun cream.
- Two lightweight towels as they get wet and cold very easily.
- A t-shirt to wear on the boat, if you’re cold sensitive, I’d recommend a hoodie for the end of the day.
- A waterproof bag is a good investment
- A camera, GoPro etc
- Money to tip with
Our Video from Stressless Eco Friendly Tours
We know you’re busy so we try to keep these videos as short and sweet as we can. We’d love it if you watched it and let us know what you think?
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