My wife and I, both aged sixty, are very well travelled, if I do say so myself: we've been on all seven continents, yes, including Antarctica. And we are backpackers at heart, though increasingly we splurge on things. She's English; I'm a Yank from Arkansas and Tennessee, though I now have British nationality. So much for the preliminaries, which are necessary, I feel, since the wildly contrasting opinions from visitors--from the savage & acidic to the tender & sweet-- and the contrasts, too in the experiences inspiring these views, make it particularly urgent to know who's doing the talking.
First of all, I have nothing Personal to complain of: Becky and her mother, Marsha-Jo were always polite, measured and buisness-like in dealing with me; and the logistics of paying in advance, though awkward, were not fraught or tinged with any hint of fraud.
Above all, let me say we had a very fine experience during our week on Glover's Reef Atoll, in early February (2012), despite the unseasonably windy, rainy weather, and would very willingly go again. We felt a bit sorry for the campers that week, who so often got soaked or driven indoors; but not even they came away with the kinds of negative feelings I've seen voiced by some others.
We felt very at home in our cabin over the water, #9 (a.k.a. 'Blackfin Tuna') which had a lovely, forty-foot walkway out to it and, on the far side, a huge wrap-around deck with low-slung, weathered teak chairs and a table. Inside, we had a double bed, a set of bunk beds, and a pair of large tables for a kitchen where we had a two-ring gas burner, a couple of kerosene lamps (I nicked another to make three), and a reasonable selection of workable pots, pans and cutlery. The Cabana was a large, hexagonal, high-peaked Hobbit House over the water and had a real, funky charm.
Our feelings in general about Glover's Reef resonate most with those who have said that being there is like 'upscale camping,' and that what's required for the best experience is a resourceful, independent spirit. The wall of our Cabana, for example, had three or four bits missing from the wall on the windward side--poles of the kind of palm that had yielded the thatching for the roof. My lord did that wind whip through! We found a couple of rubbishy, blue plastic tarps in the working yard/junk yard at the very centre of the island, rinsed them off, strapped them into place along this windward side and, Hey Presto, no more wind chill. At least one pair of doors didn't meet, did not have working restraints at the top, and blew open regularly. Oh no! Well. . . we jammed a conch shell or two under the offending doors, backed up by a lump of coral and the five-gallon bottle of water we had purchased from Becky & Co. No problem. The roof leaked when the rains came at their worst. Oh no! We moved the bed. No problem. In short, everything that bothered us seemed resolvable with a bit of ingenuity, patience and humour.
The snorkelling and diving here can't be beat, in Caribbean waters, anyway. We bought a 12-dive package of dives, split between the two of us, which came with two free dives (so that we got seven apiece) for $500US. A genuine bargain, I think. In diving, we didn't find the colours as varied and vivid as in the Philippines and other S. Pacific locations, but the reef is perfectly beautiful and healthy, and the fish life is fantastic, too--much better than in Ambergris Caye, which is relatively barren apart from the over-fed nurse sharks, rays and horse-eyed Jacks.
Not to be underrated, too, is the quality of the resident dive master, Bryan Edwards, who is a real gem in every way. The Lamont family have a great asset there, and I hope they pay him well. For the [Glorified Camping] 'Resort' he does innumerable jobs as an all-round helper. As a dive master, he could not be improved upon: genuinely friendly, patient, skilful, knowledgeable, observant, relaxed in the water and inspiring relaxation in others. . . who could ask for more? On two morning dives, we had him to ourselves and these were among the most pleasant diving experiences of our lives.
We bought 'all dinners' but otherwise fended for ourselves. Ali, from Manchester, was the principal cook and did a really good job. Very tasty, plentiful food: fish one night; lobster another; chicken another; lasagne another. . . . Nothing like the Jumped-Up Pot Noodle others may have experienced in days of yore. The meals were not cheap: US$ 18. But they were good, and, everything taken together, seemed entirely worth it to us. We also enjoyed the experience of getting to know some of our fellow travellers over dinner. We always had at least six dinner companions, and sometimes as many as ten.
Logistics and Recommendations: we came to Glover's Sittee River place on Saturday so that we could most easily make the Sunday departure on the big cattamaran for the Reef. Not sure I'd do this again. The cabin at Sittee River was not wonderfully clean. The Mom & Pop grocery store just up the path was a great salvation to us for our trip out; but if we were to do it all again, I think I'd stay in Hopkins somewhere, shop much more substantially, and still make it (no sweat) for the Sunday morning departure.
Becky's son Warren is indeed a prodigious fisherman. I've never seen anything like it. He came back day after day with huge, beautiful fish to clean on the docks at around 5pm, tossing bits to the Magnificent Frigate Birds sailing above, storing the rest for sale on the mainland, and selling some also (I suppose) to the restaurant and anyone else who was interested. If I had to do it all over again--and indeed I hope I will!--I will come prepared to cook some fish, and buy at least some of dinners from Warren, lovely fillets of Wahoo or Snapper or Whatever to make with curry and fresh coconuts (all you can eat!), or the like.
Other reviewers who repeatedly have stayed on Glover's Reef have offered you good lists of provisions that they have brought when aiming to cook for themselves. I suppose the point for me is that you really can cook for yourself, and wonderfully well, too, if you have prepared yourself with the essential ingredients. I think I underestimated how easy it would be to get the vital thing--fish, or a kindred 'main course' ingredient--so I brought only tinned tuna, pot noodle, soy sauce, 'Happy Cow' cheese, and other tame, lame ingredients. The Mom & Pop store doesn't have a wide range of products, by the way, though they have some vital things. If you really plan to cook for yourself, make sure you have time to visit Hopkins or somewhere with a genuine 'supermarket.'
This has gone on for too long. Odd, isn't it, that everyone who writes about Glover's Reef writes at considerable length? Isn't that something in its favour? Don't you want life to be memorable?
- Also Known As:
- Glover`s Atoll Hotel Glovers Reef Atoll
- Glover`s Atoll Hotel
- Glovers Atoll Hotel
- Glovers Atoll Belize City