“A steady easterly is blowing me away from South Water Caye, a small tropical island on the crest of Belize’s Southern Barrier Reef. I drive my blade into the turquoise water and propel my 12-and-a-half-foot-long stand-up paddleboard forward, aiming for a green smudge on the horizon….”
It’s been nearly nine months, but my stand up paddleboarding trip to Belize last February with British Columbia-based Island Expeditions — this month’s cover story in WestJet Magazine — remains a vivid memory. Led by Canadian paddleboarding pioneer Norm Hann, who is doing some immersive coaching in the above image and cruising through the mangroves in the front-page photo, the experience was exhilarating and idyllic from start to finish. I can’t recommend SUP trips with Island Expeditions or Norm’s tours on the west coast of Canada highly enough. Whether you want to improve your paddling technique or your confidence in dynamic conditions, or just explore a fascinating part of the planet, you won’t have any regrets.
The accommodations and amenities in Belize were top notch, including Kirk Westby’s creamy piña coladas (below right bottom) at the Tobacco Caye Lodge’s thatch-roofed seaside bar (below right top). My cabana at the adjacent Tobacco Caye Paradise (below left) was also pretty sweet. (We also spent a few nights at the International Zoological Expeditions lodge, which you can read about in the WestJet story — and was just as heavenly.)
We spent a lot of time on the water in Belize, learning moves such as pivot turns:
We also saw some amazing wildlife:
Ate some very fresh seafood:
And, naturally, as a writer on assignment, I had to work hard to get the story right:
Ultimately, however, it was about the boarding, and I can’t wait to go back.