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Kayaking & the Ambergris Caye Eco-Kayak Challenge

Posted by Valeria Espinoza on Jun 11, 2011 2:00:39 AM
Valeria Espinoza



Eco-Kayak Challenge Winners Cross Finish Line

Kayaking is one of those sports that are a real delight, when you live on Ambergris Caye. I highly recommend it. You don’t have to buy a kayak. It’s easy to rent a kayak for one person, or two, from several locations on the east side of the island. You can rent for an hour, or several hours. Resorts such as Xanadu and Belizean Shores are great places to rent a kayak, or other water toy. 

Enjoying the View of Ambergris Caye from a Kayak

Friends of ours who live on the beach keep their kayaks tied up at their dock. When in San Pedro, they regularly take their kayak out to the reef, drop an anchor and snorkel. After all, it’s only ½ mile from the shore to the reef. This is the least expensive way to snorkel, since you don’t need to join a guided boat trip.

We’ve kayaked in the back bay, to the west side of the island. Whereas it can be windy on the east side, the sea behind the island is calmer. And there are lots of birds that hang out in the mangrove areas. That makes for a totally different experience. There are all kinds of islands to the west of Ambergris Caye.

Kayaking can be a pretty strenuous endeavor, if you are out for hours. Years ago I joined a one week kayaking vacation, led by naturalists, in Mexico. The group kayaked around a small island in the Sea of Cortez, to the east of LaPaz.

I was totally exhausted each day, kayaking around Ispiritu Santo. But it was one of my best ever vacations. I still can remember much of it vividly in my mind’s eye - over 20 years later. We were so in touch with nature, both in the sea, and on land. Kayaking makes you feel like you’re truly at one with the surrounding sea and its creatures…

Here on Ambergris Caye every year they hold a different type of kayak adventure. It’s called the Eco-Kayak Challenge. It was first started by Elito Arceo, a Belizean businessman who is an environmental activist. He started this event seven years ago, as a means to sensitize the younger generation of Belizeans to the beauty and fragility of the island, especially on the north side. Kayaking around the island is a unique and challenging way to experience this beauty and connection to nature.

Anyone can join this race.  It’s a two day kayak race around the island that covers 42 miles. It starts in downtown San Pedro, on the back bay, at 6 AM on a Saturday morning.  The competitors kayak up to the north side of the island and camp at Robles Point on day 1. They first day is grueling, but they get a chance to experience the stunning World Heritage site, Bacalar Chico, up close and personal.


Beach Supporters Gather at Town Square

On day 2, the surviving kayakers head back to town. They are greeted by a high spirited crowd of residents and supporters. They are all waiting in the town square, ready to cheer for their friends who are in the race. The majority of the town shows up for this lively event. There are many prizes and activities that afternoon.

The purpose is this event is to encourage and promote awareness, protection, and conservation of our island’s fragile mangroves, lagoons and reef systems. The Eco-Kayak Challenge was the first event that kicked off Ambergris Caye’s annual Reef Week. In total, 30 teams signed up and competed.

One of our San Pedro Club friends, Tyrone, decided to give it a try this year. Â He just moved to Ambergris Caye within the last six months. Â I see Tyrone regularly at the Club. Â But recently he disappeared. Â When I ran into him in town I asked where he had been. Â He said that everyday he was kayaking around the island, to the south, to get ready for the Challenge. Â As you can see from the picture, he did make it. Â Congrats to newcomer Tyrone. Â (More info on San Pedro Club here...)


Club Member Tyrone Survives Eco-Kayak Challenge

Of course, you can enjoy kayaking without ever intending to compete in any kind of race. But I enjoy sitting at a nice beach restaurant, having a taco and a mojito, and watching the more ambitious entrants glide through the finish line, with smiles of relief on their faces.

For more details about the Eco-Kayak Challenge, and who won the big prizes, link to the San Pedro Sun’s on-line article…

Personally, I’m perfectly happy to spend an hour or two in a kayak… I have a different goal, at my age. It is to enjoy myself, and the enchanting natural environment around me, while I stay fit…


Topics: Special Events

Valeria Espinoza

Written by Valeria Espinoza