Punta Gorda’s Secret Beach

Last weekend I decided that I had been in Belize far too long without taking a dip in the Caribbean Sea. Though PG is a seaside town, it doesn’t really have any beaches; most of the locals go swimming off of wooden docks because the shore is rocky and unwelcoming. I had heard a rumor, however, that there was a hidden sandy beach behind the graveyard on the far southern edge of town. I had a Saturday free, so I decided to put my adventure hat on and see if I could find it.

I biked until I discovered the graveyard, and as I walked behind it I spotted a handful of bikes parked ahead. Getting excited, I followed the trail and found a stretch of rocky shore where several locals were snorkeling. I threw down my stuff and waded into the water — it was slightly cooler than a bath and felt amazing in the stifling heat. Though I enjoyed it, the rocky bottom was quite uncomfortable to stand on and I reflected sadly on what seemed to be a false rumor. As I stood on the shore looking back on PG, however, I noticed some people walking through the woods above me. My curiosity got the  better of me — what if there was a sandy beach if I just went further?

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The view of PG from the “beach”

My exploration soon became an unexpected hike in a bathing suit and sandals. Starting to become wary of the bites and scratches I was inevitably going to suffer if I went too far into the woods in this outfit, I was about to turn back when I spotted a man ahead.  I decided to ask him if it was worth continuing.

“Excuse me, is there a beach up here?”
“Yes”
“Is it rocky?”
“No”
“Is it far?”
“Not too far. Do you want me to show you?”

Suddenly aware that I was talking to a stranger in the woods wearing only a bathing suit, I politely declined and kept on trekking myself. A little further ahead, I reached an inlet where the ocean flowed inland like a river. I could see that there was indeed a small sandy beach on the other side, but as I had my camera and phone on me I didn’t want to swim across. I stood looking at it for a little while and had almost given up hope when a family came out of the woods behind me. I waved hello and watched as a father, a mother, two children, and two dogs started walking into the water. They walked about thirty feet out from shore and then turned right along a sandbar to loop back to the beach on the other side. Amazed, I followed them, never hitting water deeper than my knees.

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The family that guided me across the ocean

As it turned out, the beach wasn’t all that impressive. I’m still not certain if I found the rumored spot–or for that matter, if it even exists. The sandy part was just large enough for the family to enjoy, so I trekked on a little further, enjoying wading through water with a soft, sandy bottom. The views of Punta Gorda and the mountains of Guatemala alone were worth the trip to this secluded spot. I laid down on a large rock to read for a while and then turned around to head home.

On my way back, the father I’d seen before wordlessly directed me across the sandbar. There was one moment where I was twenty feet out into the ocean and hopelessly lost: every direction around me seemed to be water up to my chest. I looked back at him and he smiled and pointed me onward. It was a delightful interaction that left me abuzz with the beauty of human kindness and our ability to communicate across languages. Despite my failure to find a sandy beach to lie on, I could not have been more satisfied with my day.

 

 

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