January 1st – We woke up yet again extra early to catch our ride out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve for another snorkeling excursion with Tuff E Nuff Tours.

This is the floating ranger station.

This time however we didn’t have a private tour and were joined on the boat by approximately 15 others. Once at Hol Chan Marine Reserve we broke up into 3 groups. Our guide was Buddha, he was awesome! So knowledgeable. He would tell us what types of coral we were looking at, he would point out small fish that we would not see otherwise. And most importantly…he was very attentive to our Kiley who was a little nervous around the larger fish and snorkeling in the channel, which was approximately 30’ deep. Once past her fear she loved it! We saw more Spotted Eagle Rays, anemones, barracuda, and an octopus.

We all had our favorite fish. Kiley’s was the Spotted Eagle Ray, for those that don’t know he was the bus in Finding Nemo. Sienna’s was the Rainbow Parrotfish. Briana’s was the octopus. And mine was the French Angelfish.

Buddha playing with a lionfish

Once back on the boat we headed to our next stop – Shark Ray Alley. This is the location where they throw chum in the water from one side of the boat, to attract the nurse sharks and stingrays, while we all jump into the water from the other side of the boat and swim as fast as possible around to witness the shark feeding frenzy. Pretty amazing I must say, if not a little hectic by all the people fighting for position. Kiley really didn’t like this part. Sharks were too big and all around us. She was holding onto Briana’s arm with a death grip. At one point a 7’ nurse shark swam right underneath them and you could see in her eyes that she was over it. Our guide Buddha even dove down and brought up a rather large stingray for Kiley to pet, but nope, not gonna do it. Soon after this she retreated back to the boat with Briana. Sienna, on the other hand, absolutely loved it! She said the nurse sharks looked like little puppies, so cute and cuddly. Cuddly they are not. But cute they were. We loved watching the sharks and stingrays swim all around us.

I would highly recommend Tuff E Nuff Tours for anyone that makes a trip down here to Ambergris Caye, and when you do ask for Buddha. This man is the real deal, he knows his stuff. Plus when my fin strap broke, just before entering the water, this man gave me his fins and managed to somehow fix mine and use them. Grade A tour guide!

Back at Grand Caribe, we headed straight for our favorite pool on property, to order drinks and lunch. After a couple hours pool side we showered, and headed to the Truck Stop.

This place is AWESOME! Think of it as a restaurant made up of food trucks, which are actually shipping containers. The food was awesome. Sienna had a meat lovers pizza, Briana and I had Latin bowls, and Kiley had a vegetarian rice dish with tofu. And the coconut frozen mojitos were perfect! To make the night even better they had live reggae music. And on Wednesday nights they show movies over the lagoon. Last night was Step Brothers. This place truly is a place for all. While the parents can sit and have some great libations and enjoy the music the kids could be playing life-sized Connect 4, ping pong, or corn hole. This place has it all.

After dinner we came back to the condo and made our way straight to the dock to watch the tarpon, eagle rays, and even a shark dot in and out of the lights in search of prey. I tried to capture some of the stars with my new lens. Still needs some work, but it’s a start.

January 2nd – Today we all slept in. Enjoyed some hot coffee and made breakfast for Briana’s parents since today is their 49th wedding anniversary.

We spent the whole day poolside and enjoying the last few days of sun and warmth before heading back to DC soon. Tonight we celebrate Briana’s parents with dinner at Rain which is here on the grounds of Grand Caribe and has a rooftop terrace with 360 degree view. Should be an amazing sunset.

Tomorrow more of the same….