Our second day of exploration in Belize begins with an early cruise up the Monkey River. We meet local guides from the small village at the mouth of the river and are on our way.

Starting early pays off and we see multiple species of birds along the banks. Of them were kingbirds, parrots, herons, and egrets. Our local guide, Leonardo, shares: “There you see a great white egret. Here we call egrets, ‘Darlin’s,’ so you can also say ‘there you see a Great Miss Darlin’.’”

Around the next bend, we spot two howler monkeys resting at the outer edge of the canopy. While the howler monkeys rest during most of the day, the males make deep guttural calls to mark their troop’s territory. We continue down and Leonardo shares stories of growing up along the river, hunting, fishing, and harvesting medicinal plants. Before we depart, we turn the motors off, drift down stream, and take a moment to appreciate the sounds of birdcalls and territorial howler monkeys surrounding us.

We follow the river back to sea, and set anchor at Laughing Caye, named after the inhabiting laughing gulls, for the afternoon. Local guides from SPLASH accompany us to ensure we keep the reef and ourselves safe as we snorkel. One look in the water and guests and naturalists alike are stunned by the liveliness of the reef. Our undersea specialist, Rachel Crane, comments, “This is some of the healthiest hard corals I’ve ever seen.” Snorkelers returned to the beach, greeted with watermelon and sangria, to end our salty adventure with a sweet note. Yet another day well spent admiring the rich ecosystems and cultures of this charming country.