Our first day exploring Belize began in the maze of red mangroves at Payne’s Creek National Park. Some of us cruised through the narrow channels of mangroves to explore the pine savanna ecosystem, while others explored the area via kayak. This brackish waterway was home to salt-harvesting Maya people during the Classic Period, and it is the site where archaeologists found a Maya paddle preserved in the anaerobic mud of the mangrove forest.

After lunch, we headed to West Snake Key for an introduction to snorkeling in Belize led by local guides from SPLASH Diving. The area was recently devastated by a hurricane, but the soft corals and fish populations are making a strong comeback. After swimming to our hearts’ content, we headed back to the ship for the evening recap, dinner, and an introductory presentation on Belize by naturalist Randy Jones. Another wonderful day aboard National Geographic Sea Lion came to a close. Until next time!