7 days on a remote island somewhere in the Caribbean Sea without electricity and WiFi. This might sound scary to some people, but it is exactly what we are looking for. We spent one week freediving, opening coconuts and chilling in our over-the-water bungalow. Glover’s Reef is one of 4 atolls in the Caribbean and is around 50 miles off the coast of Belize. A true hidden gem for nature lovers who regard tranquility as a luxury.
How to Get to Glovers Reef Resort?
The owners of the resort go to the mainland once a week to pick up and bring back guests as well as to buy supplies. On the island, there are only coconuts and fish. The boat bound for the island leaves the mainland every Sunday and comes back the following Saturday. The departure port is the cute beach town Hopkins. We recommend spending one or even 2 nights in Hopkins before heading to the atoll. Don’t stay in the Glover’s Resort guesthouse, it is very far away from everything and full of mosquitos. At the day of departure, just take a taxi to the Sittee River Marina. Make sure you have booked in advance via email so the family knows that you are coming and have a bungalow reserved for you.
When is the best time to visit Glover’s Reef?
In general you can visit all year around, but the seas are the calmest during March to May. Try to avoid the rainy season in Belize. We didn’t book much in advance and still got an over-the-water bungalow so usually the island is not too busy. During Christmas, New Year and Easter, the island is packed and you need to book well in advance.
The Island – North East Caye
North East Caye is one of 4 islands within the Glovers Reef. The island is within the turquoise blue lagoon with 1.000 of patched reefs inside. It also borders the open ocean which drops off to 4.000 meter just off the atoll. The coral reefs surrounding the atoll are colourful and full of life to explore. If you are going for a stroll on the island you will be walking through a coconut palm tree forest and the ways are marked with wonderful shells. Don’t expect a super neat resort style island it is more the Cast away kind of wild island with tonnes of little hermit crabs. You can’t get lost, the island is really small and it takes about 15 minutes to walk around the whole island.
Accommodation – Over-the-water Bungalow
An over bungalow surrounded by turquoise water is probably most people’s dream scenario for a holiday on a beautiful island. So far, we could never afford such luxury apart ,from Lato Lato Resort in Malaysia. But at Glover’s Reef Resort we actually could, the prices are very reasonable for being in such a pristine place. One thing is for sure, there are not many places like this left in the world. You can find all prices on their official website.
The over water bungalows can be divided into two groups, the ones facing the ocean and the ones facing the lagoon. The ones facing the lagoon have the nicer view but are also more exposed to violent northern storm winds during winter months. We stayed in bungalow 9 which is called Jaguar Ray and we shorty noticed why. Every day several sting rays and eagle rays circled around our bungalow in the search for food. We loved watching them and following them around the house. The bungalow is very rustic but still beautiful if you know what to expect. They all come with a kitchenette which means a gas stove and kitchen equipment for cooking your meals. Note there is no fridge as there is also no electricity. Take this in consideration during your shopping.
We also had a huge comfortable king size bed as well as 4 other beds. So basically my whole family could have fit in the place. What we liked the most were the 3 terraces which face different directions. It doesn’t matter which direction the wind comes from, you always have a sheltered side. Usually the lagoon is flat but from time to time there are some storms coming and strong winds. We experienced it twice and the whole house was shaking. The owners will give you a little solar light which gives you some light after the sun goes down. Don’t forget to charge it during the day time.
Living in an over-the-water bungalow has the advantage that you are always surrounded by wildlife so keep your eyes open also during the night. One night we found squids next to the bungalow, this was a treat because you seldom see them during diving and snorkelling. And the other night we had 3 nurse sharks sleep underneath our bungalow. Isn’t that amazing! You can find many more sea creatures like waving crabs and walking sea anemones, just keep your eyes open.
Toilets and Showers
As I already mentioned this island is no luxury resort and a real eco resort experience which means camping toilets and cold showers. On shore, you can find several showers and camping toilets which are shared with all other people on the island. I definitely got enough steps every day just walking to the toilet. Everything was clean and well maintained. So if you arrive with the right expectations and like camping then you will not have any problems.
Food – Coconuts, Coconuts, Coconuts…
You can bring your own food from the mainland and cook in the kitchen or you can book a meal plan. So the owners will prepare food for you which is mostly rice, fish and somehow coconut. The resort cannot cater vegans so meh ad to cook for ourselves which we actually really enjoyed. We cooked the most delicious veggie curry with freshly squeezed coconut milk. So before you head to the island you need to do quite some shopping. Hopkins has a very well sorted supermarket where you can find most of the things you will need.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Becky will bake fresh bread, coconut cake and banana bread for sale on the island. If you asked them to skip the egg the banana bread is vegan and it is so delicious that we finished it very quickly.
Drinking water can be bought on the island for 25 BZD or you can bring it from the mainland. In the supermarket they sell reusable 20 litre water tanks which you can return afterwards. Please don’t buy plastic bottles it is really not necessary.
The best thing is that you can drink and eat as many coconuts as you want during your stay. Coconuts are next to fish, the main food source on the island. After arriving they will show you how to open the coconuts and then you have enough time to practice by yourself. Luckily we learned this already during our French Polynesia trip and can open the coconuts quite quickly. If you try it for the first time it can be quite a workout, but don’t give up fresh coconuts are definitely worth the effort.
Shopping List for Vegans
Veggies: Tomatos, Broccoli, Sweet Potato, Carrot, Beans, Onion
Fruits: Pineapple, Banana, Oranges
Seasoning: Garlic, Ginger, Fresh Tumeric, Curry, Soy Sauce, Spicy Sauce, Tomato Paste
Bread, Rice, Penne, Tofu, Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Chick Peas, Tahini
100% Natural Peanut Butter, Jam, Dark Chocolate, Dried Dates & Rum
(Apart from tofu and tahini you can find everything in Hopkins. We tried to buy local and natural products without plastic.)
For breakfast Roland made scrambled tofu with onions and shiitake mushrooms on grilled bread. Additionally we would eat peanut butter bread and fruits. After this big breakfast we had only a small lunch with grilled bread with hummus or tahini dip and fruits as well as the banana bread. You really need to be careful to not finish it within one day.
Dinner was always something with freshly squeezed coconut and it was just too delicious. 3 nights we had veggie curry (using fresh turmeric for the curry is a real game changer) and the other nights we made penne in coconut tomato sauce. This is definitely one of our favourite dishes now.
During the making of coconut milk we always had so much coconut flakes left that I made little bounty balls one day just with dates coconut flakes dipped in dark chocolate. We didn’t eat that well for a long time.
As you can see on the shopping list is also rum mentioned. We made a little pina colada from time to time with fresh pineapple and coconut milk it is just heaven.
Freediving, Scuba Diving, Fishing & Kayaking
The island offers several spots for superb snorkelling or diving. If you want to go diving Warren (son of Becky) will take you out around the island and also to other islands. Snorkelers can also tag along for places which are further away.
We didn’t do any scuba diving because we enjoy free diving so much. The best places for snorkelling and free diving are outside the reef. If you don’t want to join Warren on the boat you can just go to the back of the island there is a little passage which leads outside the reef. The visibility is amazing and you can see plenty of fish and healthy corals which is kind of rare in the Caribbean.
You can also rent a kayak and explore the patched reefs inside the lagoon which are nice but not as healthy and exciting as the reef outside the lagoon (visibility sucks inside the lagoon). If you have the kayak you can also go to the neighbour island ,park your kayak and walk towards the site facing the open ocean. There you can also find a little passage to swim out of the reef. This is our favourite spot for snorkelling or diving. If you don’t want to kayak you can just ask Warren to join the scuba divers because they dive this place regularly. We did this once and just followed the scuba divers free diving down to their level.
A lot of people come to Glover’s for deep sea fishing and spear fishing. You can go out with Warren as he goes out every day to catch fish for dinner. We didn’t participate in such activities as we enjoy seeing fish and lobsters in the wild and not on our plates.
7 Days Without Wifi & Electricity
Sounds horrible to you? To be honest we were also a little bit scared how this would be. For us it was just perfect. The time really stands still from the moment we arrived on the island. There was so much to explore and to do that we didn’t feel bored or the need for our phones for only one second. It is hard to describe but the moment you switch off your phone you can really relax and let go all the things going on elsewhere. The island life made us be more present than usual. Somehow all things just blend out like that we are on a world trip, what month or year it is…The interesting thing is that to really disconnect made us even happier. Why is it like that? I didn’t find a clear answer on that yet. These 7 days past so quickly we both wished we could stay longer. I brought 3 books because I was scared I would be bored but I did not touch one of them.
After being back on the mainland we got the feeling that we actually didn’t want to be connected again. Arriving at our hotel we still couldn’t resist checking our messages and Instagram. Did this make us happier? The answer is no. One thing is proven for us being more disconnected and present makes us happier. But why is it still so tempting to check our phones for messages and news uncountable times a day? I am not sure but the goal for 2019 is definitely to consciously switch off more often and spend more time in the real world.
Reduce Your Waste to Protect the Ecosystem
Remember you are on a small island 50km offshore and there is no such thing as recycling and luckily no landfill on the island. Try to produce as less waste as possible. Glass containers and tins will be brought back to mainland and all plastics are burned on the island. So try to keep this wonderful place as clean as possible. Bring some reusable shopping bags for your grocery shopping in Hopkins and buy the 5 Gallon reusable water tank in town or on the island. In order to not harm the lagoon don’t use any beauty products with toxic chemicals inside which kill the corals (often in sun lotion) nor micro plastic. You can also bring a stainless steel straw for the coconuts.