Excited about your cruise to Belize? Well, you should be. Belize cruise port is a growing attraction among cruise-goers with over 200 ships now visiting this small Caribbean country yearly. With more than twice its population visiting the port, it’s evident that Belize is truly a special place.
And Here is Why you Should Cruise to Belize…
This small country, in fact, the second smallest in Central America, features a surprisingly unique combination of precious ecosystems. Starting from the second largest barrier reef in the world, to rainforest jungles, not forgetting some of the most important Mayan archeological sites.
To add to this, the country is uniquely half Caribbean and half Spanish. Bringing the diverse cultures of Kriols, Garifunas, Mayans and the Spanish people together in one place. Resulting in a beautiful culture that will have you enjoy the food, music, and practices of this diverse country even the more.
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Located between Guatemala and Mexico and bordered to the eastern side by the Caribbean Sea. This country has it all and it’s no wonder, it has become such a popular destination on western Caribbean cruise itineraries.
While enjoying everything this majestic nation has to offer, won’t be possible in a day. Here is a guide on what to do on your port day at Belize to help you choose the best activity and plan effectively.
1. Explore Belize City
Some of the major cruise lines that visit this port include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise lines, Princess and Celebrity Cruises. Due to the shallow waters of Belize City’s harbor, cruise ships visiting this port of call are forced to anchor a few miles away, rendering it necessary to be tendered to the port.
Do not worry though as the tendering is done on speedy boats that have you at the port within 20 minutes.
The port ushers you into the tourist village, that is created to offer a tourist ambiance to cruisers such as yourself. It features common tourist shopping sites like diamond internationals and Del Sol. There are restaurants and bars present at the port as well. That offer a true Belizean experience to those of you who would rather hang around the port. All excursions start from this place.
While at this port, you can walk to touristic attractions, such as the Baron Bliss lighthouse or further inwards into Belize City. To St George’s Fort which features historical touristic sites like the St John Cathedral. The oldest Anglican church in Central America, built in the 18th century.
While exploring the city you should also visit the Museum of Belize which used to be Her Majesty’s Prison until 2002. Here is where you will learn about the intriguing history of the Mayans. And get a firsthand view of their daily lives through the artifacts and drawings featured at the Museum.
You should, however, stick to the parts of towns that are friendly to tourists for your safety.
Excursions offered by most cruise ship in regards to a tour of the city. Include a bus ride around the city, with a professional, local guide narrating the history of the place and showing you important landmarks. It also includes you visiting the zoo which is 1hr away from the port. But well worth it, as you get to see over 150 animals indigenous to Belize including the country’s national animal, April the Tapir, and the elusive Jaguar. For such an excursion, you can expect to part with $60 and above.
But the best of Belize is not in the city, far from that, the best is a little bit inland. In the interiors of Belize, there is much to see and do on your cruise to Belize such as:
2. Put on Your Archeological Hat and Go Explore
A Mayan adventure awaits you at the many Mayan ruin sites available in Belize. In fact, did you know Belize has the most discovered Mayan ruins? Expect to find ruins in forests, villages, and towns like Caracol, Lamanai and Cerros. Sites such as Altun Ha, Lamanai and Xunantunich are just some of the most popular. There are many more Mayan sites that can be visited when you don’t have time limits. Put on your archeology hat and go on an adventure of discovery to these mysterious sites of ancient civilizations.
Both cruises and local tour operators offer tours to these sites. Your excursion to places such as Altun Ha starts with a bus ride through the town. With charming local tour guides giving you the history of the place along the way. Other excursions to ruin sites such as Lamanai, will have you take a bus ride and a boat ride to get to the site.
Climb the pyramids at the sites and have a view of the forests, rivers, and lagoons that surround the place. Take plenty of photos and learn how ancient Mayan’s were mathematicians, agriculturalists and also notorious men of war.
All in all, a tour to any of these ruins will leave you with a lasting memory and having learned something about world history.
Insider Tip: Book through reputable local tour operators or visit early enough to get the place all to yourself and your group, before crowds get there.
This excursion will cost you anywhere from $85 an adult or $65 a kid depending on your cruise line.
3. River Tubing in Underground Caves, Anyone?
Are you an adrenaline junkie? Then this is your excursion. A river tubing experience through underground dark caves combined with ziplining awaits you in this amazing excursion.
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On this excursion, you will take a scenic 1hour tour of rural Belize to a place called Jaguar Paw. Once at the place, safety and induction formalities will be done before you are allowed to the fun. Mind you, you will have to trek from the base of jaguar paw to get to the excursion’s start point. So, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring bug spray with you.
And finally, once you arrive at the caves, you will have your tubes roped together and a guide will take you through the river across 3 caves. Where you will learn interesting things about how the caves were used by the Mayans.
Oh! And did I remember to tell you, that some of the caves will be pitch black? Don’t worry though you will be given headlights for the trip and there is no known danger that has ever been reported in them. Have fun floating around and exploring caves viewing their formations on this trip.
Tip: Carry good water shoes, bug spray and a good waterproof camera for the best experience at this place.
4. Belize Ziplining
Once this exhilarating trip is over, you will have lunch and head on to the Ziplines, (if you choose to, of course). This will now serve as the second part of your thrilling adventure. You will soar high over the forest canopy, having a bird’s eye view of the region. You might even get to say Hi to Belize’s avian and wildlife up close. And best of all, you don’t have to worry about safety or the technical details of hooking or unhooking yourself.
The guides on the zip line course take care of all that for you. The river tubing/ zip lining combo will cost you anywhere from $90 depending on your cruise line. And $20 less for individual excursions.
5. ATV Tour Through the Jungle
While the rush from these activities is still on. Consider going on an ATV excursion. Now if you are up for a challenging course, navigation and the thrill of it. This activity will satisfy that need. Explore the lush, densely forested jungle of Belize with an ATV, racing down the rough muddy roads. For a thrill of a lifetime.
Test your stamina in your ability to control these machines as they negotiate sharp corners and bumpy roads in the jungle. After this trip is done, grab a hearty serving of Belize’s national food, rice with fried chicken and beans and move on to other activities.
6. Horseback Riding
Given that there are areas in Belize that can’t be explored on boats or vehicles. You will want to book this excursion, which takes you on a scenic horseback ride through the thickly forested jungles of the country.
Discover over 200 species of flora and fauna, beautiful orchids and wildlife on this trip. Get a close up look at the brightly colored bird species of the Caribbean such as parrots and keel bill toucans. While howler monkeys fly above your heads and squeal in mischief.
Encounter wildlife such as green iguanas, tapirs and even sight crocodiles in the majestically calm Belize river. Which runs adjacent to Bacab eco-lodge where you will experience all this magic.
Ride along the narrow paths, while being enveloped by raucous noises of birds, monkeys and other wildlife of the jungle. Thankfully, the thick canopy of elephant eared trees and royal palm trees offer a cool shade from the intense Caribbean sun. This trip resembles a scene from movies such as Tarzan and Anaconda.
After the trip is done you can grab a Belizean delicacy for lunch. And afterward cool of in the swimming pool present at the lodge. This amazing trip will cost you anywhere from $80 depending on the cruise line you are on.
7. Airboat Tour of the Wetlands
If you are never inches apart from your camera, you will love the photo op on this trip. This is for the laid-back folks who are looking for a rustic kind of an excursion.
This excursion is actually a two in one where you take a guided bus tour of the town. With your tour guides divulging detailed information about the landmarks you pass by and the history and culture of Belize on your way to Bak-a-Bush Airboat outpost. Where you will get on an airboat that will take you through the waterway leading to Almond hill lagoon.
Here you will be able to view manatees grazing idly in their habitat. A little bit further down you will get to Indiana creek. Where you will have an even better view of sea creatures such as turtles the avian life. And if you are lucky you might even sight crocodiles.
After about an hour on this ride and many photos later, you will return to the boat post. From where you can relax, have a meal before you are taken back to Belize city. This trip will cost you anywhere from $60 for kids or $90 adults depending on your cruise company.
8. Beach Getaway
Unlike most ports of call, you won’t be able to access a beach immediately you hit the port. Instead, you will have to take a boat out to some of the Cayes. Which feature private resorts, where you can enjoy a beach day. But it will be totally worth it, as the warm clear ocean waters are inviting. And there are plenty of water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, diving and paddle boarding to indulge in.
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Enjoy a frozen daiquiri on a beach chair or join in the fun in a game of beach volleyball. Whatever you choose to do at this place, whether to float around in the water, go snorkeling or paddleboard enjoying the spectacular views of the place, you are guaranteed fun.
The best beaches are at Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye which is are a little under 1hour away from the port. Cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean will take you to starfish island resort for a private getaway. And as the name suggests there are plenty of starfish on the beach
9. Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Go scuba diving at any one of the many diving spots located on the 185-mile-long barrier reef in Belize. The reef is the 2nd largest in the world and produces at least 3 of the world’s best diving atolls. Let’s not even mention the wonder that is the blue hole. It’s hundreds of feet deep and has an ambitious wall drop.
Whichever cruise line you are on, you are sure to see this excursion on their offering which mostly starts from$165. A normal dive excursion will have you transferred from your ship to one of the outer cayes of Belize. This 30 minutes ride along the barrier reef will take you to any of the two largest cayes in Belize. The cayes are ambergris and caulker caye.
From there, diving gear will be provided. And you will get back on the boat and head out to either the spectacular Turneffe Atoll or Hol Chan marine reserve which hosts the popular snorkeling site, Shark Ray Alley. Here you get to interact with harmless nurse sharks and southern stingrays. You will have 1hour dive intervals at two different locations with lunch served in between.
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Once you wrap up the excursion, you will be taken back to the shores of the Caye to enjoy a few last minutes in the place before being whisked back to the port.
While at the same cayes, you can take fishing trips. Local fishermen of Belize don’t mind sharing their secret fishing holes with you. As a result, they will take you to one of these secret spots. Where you are guaranteed to come out with a catch whether you are a pro or an amateur fisher. With over 500 species found in the large coral reef, you are guaranteed to catch something.
The fishermen are so cool, that some just rip open the fresh catch and serve you sushi with a sauce right on the trip. However, every other catch made including yours goes to charity homes in the country. This activity will leave you with a fish tale for your buddies back home. You can catch even a barracuda in this place.
Also Read: 12 Things to do in Harvest Caye, Belize
11. Culinary Tour of Belize Combined with Shopping
The official staple food of Belize is rice served with fried chicken and beans. Enjoy this delicious meal at any of the restaurants found in the country like Nerie’s Kitchen. For a seafood, delicacy try the smoky mermaid located on cork street. Visit also robin’s kitchen south of the town, if you fancy a true Caribbean style chicken jerky.
On the drinks end, visit mojos lounge or any other bar in the town to enjoy frozen daiquiris, margaritas, the local Belikin beer, and rum punch.
Get beautiful bracelets, hand-woven baskets, t-shirts, hats and hand curved artifacts to carry home from this port. Visit the local market at the tourist village for these pieces.
12. Belize Weather
In order to plan your trip effectively here is a summary of Belize’s weather. The country experiences typical tropical Caribbean weather. Where it’s warm all throughout the year, with the hottest months being between May to September. Where the temperatures can get up to a high of 95°F.
However, you can expect an average temperature of 79°F any other time. With the exception of November to January, which are the coolest months. If you don’t like a raining vacation, then you should visit Belize between November and April which is the dry season in the country.
There you have it…
A cruise to Belize as you have witnessed is nothing short of amazing and definitely never boring. So, get off the ship on this port of call and scratch some items off your bucket list in this beautiful country.
And as you know, fun things sell out pretty first, so be sure to book some of these excursions early in advance lest you are left out of the fun.
Also note, there is so much to do in Belize that this article barely scratches it all. Be open and ready to have new experiences, try something new even if it’s not listed here and have the time of your life. All in all, wish you the best on your upcoming trip to Belize. Happy Cruising!!