We did the all-day trip to Belize's Laughing Bird Caye with Nite Wind Tours. They're at Placencia's south tip near the Municipal Pier. To board their boat, you walk over a rickety dock past a ghost ship. While we were waiting to board, the nice lady who runs a food stand by the dock ("Brenda's"?) offered us some fresh baby coconut & sinful macaroons. Yum.
The 45-minute ride out to Laughing Bird was choppy, but eye-popping: turquoise waters, tiny cayes populated by a few palm trees. Our chef/guide ("Tippa"?) sat in the back of the boat with a very sharp knife cutting a potato as we bounced along. Laughing Bird appears like a mirage, some idyllic palmed island in a perfect sea. Our boat glides into shore (one of the few boats already there; more moor later) and we hop out, about 12 of us, plus two guides. We set up at picnic tables by the BBQ pit.
A Park employee welcomes us and gives a brief history of the Park, explains the lay-out and warns against disturbing the Laughing Birds. He asks where I'm from, then recites: "Chicken in a car. Car no go. That's how I spell Chi-Ca-Go!" Huh? I tell him I've never heard that one before.
Anyhow, the snorkeling guide ("Englebert"?) asks about everyone's swimming abilities and offers life jackets. We then do a 45-minute snorkeling loop on the west side of the island. Great visibility. Depths rang from 3' to about 15'. Healthy-looking brain coral, sea fans, staghorn. We see colorful angels, urchins, conch, parrotfish & damsels. Someone spots a ray. At one point, a huge swarm of white fish engulf us. We wave our arms and they move with us. Fantastic!
Lunchtime on the beach. Tippa has cooked up a pile of BBQ chicken & potato au gratin; smells great. We crowd around the picnic tables and chow down. Someone cracks open some Belizean spirits.
We get to know our snorkel-mates: what a cool group! The young couple from Buenos Aires (psychiatrist & biologist). The newly-retired university administrator from Michigan on an extended trip. The actress & urban planner from Big Apple. The German law student. A Detroit Tiger fan. Good company, good food, perfect setting. Among the most pleasant meals of our Belize trip. Afterwards, folks work on their tan or hike to the other side of the island.
Then, back in the water for an hour-long snorkel on the east side. More churned-up, greater depths, bigger fish. We see some Laughing Birds up in the trees, but they're scowling at us. Tippa joins us for this leg and is easy to follow due to his blue headgear (we often lost sight of Englebert during the a.m. snorkel). We circle around to the south end of Laughing Bird. It's really tough to exit (and not just because we didn't want it to end...the waves & currents were really preventing our exit!) A memorable trip.