You can stare as long as you want out off the coast of Trujillo, and I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll never see Cayo Blanco (White Key). Of course, we all know that the word Cayo means there is a small island, and “Cayo Blanco” would be the name of an island. We’ve all heard of Key Largo, Key Biscayne, Cayos Cochinos (maybe not everybody), and one of our favorites, Key West. So if Cayo Blanco is located about 3 miles off the coastline at Trujillo/Santa Fe, why is it invisible?
Aha! This is where things get interesting. Apparently Cayo Blanco was a very nice tropical island once upon a time. During the Second World War, the US Navy had a base at what is now Puerta Castilla, at the point of Castilla, and German U-Boats used to hide behind Cayo Blanco and wreak havoc on the US ships at night. In an effort to take away their hiding place, the Navy bombed the island to oblivion, reducing it to a pile of stone rubble reaching as high as about 3 feet below the waterline of the Bay of Trujillo. Apparently this plan worked, as the harassment stopped after the island was leveled. So what was once an island is now one of the most beautiful coral reefs filled with lobster, tropical fish, snapper, a few barracuda, and clean, clear water.
So this morning we chartered a panga to go snorkeling at Cayo Blanco.
The whole trip cost us 2,000 lps (about $100) for 5 of us, a real bargain! We planed along the glassy sea for about 30 minutes, hugging the coast until we got to the garifuna community of Santa Fe, and then made a sharp right turn. All along the way, the sea is clear as glass, the beaches are white and clean, palm trees draped over the water’s edge. As we head away from the shoreline, we can spot a handful of handmade dugout canoes in the distance. This is where we are going.
Each of the canoes is painstakingly hand carved out of a single tree trunk into a seaworthy little craft. We gently pull alongside and the man proudly shows us his catch of lobster and fish which will be served for dinner at Caballero’s restaurant that night. He is also happy to sell us all his lobster for a few dollars right here on the spot. Now we look over the side of the panga and, where before there had just been deep blue water, now we are staring at coral heads, sea fans, staghorn coral, and fish that we can see from the boat. As fast as we can, we are over the side and in the water. UNBELIEVABLE! The water is so clear, you feel like you can see forever.
The colors of the fish and coral, with a bright blue backdrop of the water, paints a vision which will be stamped into my memory for a very long time. We spend the next few hours floating, paddling, diving, and exploring over the reefs.
There are so few people out here the fish don’t even pretend to acknowledge us. We float and play around them, in no danger of getting bored. There are lobsters hiding in their holes, the occasional barracuda poking around to see what we’re up to, and tropical and other fish too numerous to count dancing all around and giving us quite the show.
We’ve had such a great time learning some more about the history of Trujillo, and the best part was combining the lesson with some world-class snorkeling and sightseeing.