The lagoon at Half Moon Caye is almost a miracle in the noon sunlight, bluer than seems possible. We’ve just come ashore and walked down the jetty to the sand, to a short path that ends at a viewing platform. We can hear sharp squawks from the red-footed booby chicks long before we see them. Birds fill the air, flying in all directions to find fish to quiet the insistent appetites of the chicks. The 40 acres that make up this island are the avian world’s version of a maternity ward. From the top of the platform a sea of ziricote bush stretches out to the sandy edges of the island, and we can see hundreds of nests, each with a noisy pile of white fluff.
The marine life in this protected haven seems to wait for the Sun Dancer II live-aboard to arrive; a hawksbill sea turtle rises to the surface to have a look at us almost as soon as the engine stills.
This is our second day scuba diving along Half Moon Caye. And not one of the divers aboard has expressed any desire to move on — they know when to take advantage of a good thing. So far, each dive has included a visit from at least one sea turtle and a flyby from a spotted eagle ray — or many. I keep missing the eagle rays because I’m busy exploring the large tube and stovepipe sponges, fans and red gorgonians that festoon the wall with explosive colors.
Between our five dives a day, we indulge in hot brownies and cookies, waist-expanding gourmet meals and round-the-clock resort-style amenities including turn down, in-room coffee delivery and a large cabin window. Most of us head up to the expansive top deck at the end of the day to brag about all that we saw, toast the sunset or take in the clouds of stars at night. But we're never long from the water.
For some reason, all my big experiences seem to occur under the 138-foot dive boat, which makes sense. They put the moorings where they do for a reason. We have a permanent resident under the Sun Dancer II: a 3-foot barrel-chested barracuda, along with a few of its prey, a school of silvery palometo. They exist in tense accord. Not much happens most of the time, but every now and then the barracuda makes a sharp move that polarizes the palometo, just to make sure they know the pecking order. As I watch, I wonder what my neighbors are doing right now, then my big smile causes my mask to fill with water. I don’t wonder if my automatic sprinkler has gone off, if my sister replied to my last Facebook post or how the housing market is doing. I’ve reached that place of live-aboard Zen called living in the moment. It feels nice, too.
» Dancer Fleet Sun Dancer II
» 20 passengers, eight crew
» Gear, computer and camera rental
» Optional guided tours
» Up to five days per day
» Nearest airport Philip S.W. Goldson International (BZE)
» Instruction to Advanced Diver
» Amenities: seven nights’ sail with three meals and two snacks daily; alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages; double-occupancy cabins with ensuite bath
» Contact: dancerfleet.com