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Unplugged in Paradise

Half Moon Caye

Photo courtesy of Island Expeditions

Platform tents at Half Moon Caye base camp on Lighthouse Reef Atoll.

For months, I had been telling folks back home that we were going to an “island resort” in Belize. So when my family arrived at Half Moon Caye, I was surprised to discover that we would be sleeping in tents. Heavy-duty tents, with wooden floors and beds. But still . . . tents. We would also be showering outdoors, using composting toilets and reading by kerosene lantern. Needless to say, we would not be checking our email or posting to Facebook. We were off the grid. Way off.

Half Moon Caye is at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, located about 55 miles off the coast of Belize. The pristine island protects a rookery of some 4,000 red-footed booby birds. And it’s the site of a seasonal base camp for the Canadian adventure company Island Expeditions. Not a resort, but a base camp.

Rustic accommodations aside, Half Moon Caye is a stunner. It’s everything you imagine a tropical island to be, with swaying palms fringing white sand beaches and a vibrant coral reef lurking just below the surface of turquoise waters. The base camp is essentially a launching pad for exploring these aquatic environs: paddling a kayak to discover hidden coves and deserted beaches or snorkeling the reef to encounter the exotic underwater world.

With no distractions from electronic devices, there was nothing for my family to do but bask in the beauty of the island and make some memories together. We greeted the mornings with sun salutations on the beach, followed by dark Belizean coffee. Each day we investigated a different snorkel site, sometimes straight off the beach. We came face to face with friendly fish of every hue, not to mention a grim barracuda and the famous resident three-legged sea turtle. We spied on the booby birds and hunted for hermit crabs. We took afternoon naps in hammocks. For dinner, we feasted on fresh yellowtail snapper that our travel companions had caught that very morning. After dinner, there were games, songs and conversation.

Blissful and beat, we fell asleep to the sound of the surf, crashing up on the rocks just outside our tent. And we gave not a thought to those unanswered emails.

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