Belize is a beautifully lush English-speaking Caribbean nation situated directly to the south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and to the east of its Central America neighbor Guatemala. The people are friendly and welcoming to cruise tourists who like the destination’s warm temperatures and variety of activities available both on land and in the surrounding waters.
The cruise port in Belize City is a nice jumping off point for cruisers eager to explore this interesting country. Belize is a hot spot for snorkeling and diving, with the Mesoamerican Reef and famous Blue Hole just off its coast.
Inland, you can spend a day in the lush rainforests or venturing into the underworld of a majestic cave system. So, if you arrive to Belize on your cruise, you have several activities and highlights that you can put on your list to experience. Here are some things to check out and a few tips to help when you cruise to Belize.
More than half of the country is designated as rainforest, and you can take jungle tours to spot all kinds of interesting and colorful creatures. Try a birdwatching trek to see scarlet macaws and toucans, or go to a howler monkey preserve or the jaguar preserve at the Cockscomb Basic Wildlife Sanctuary.
Many jungle hiking excursions also include a session dedicated to cave tubing. This is a Belizean specialty, and numerous outlets offer this experience which includes a trip into the rainforest to reach the unique cave systems into which the rivers flow, disappearing into an enthralling underworld. You float downstream on a tube and view stalactites and stalagmites amid the echoes of oohs and ahhhs.
The territory is rich with Mayan history, and you can visit the nation’s most-significant archaeological ruins relating to the history of the Maya people. Try Xunantunich and Altun Ha to view some of the best-preserved sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. These tours are often combined with Belize City sightseeing.
The second-largest reef system in the world (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the champ) stretches 620 miles long and include the Belize Barrier Reef within. You can take snorkeling and diving excursions at the coral reef system near Ambergris Caye. The reef is inhabited by all kinds of exotic colorful and banded fish as well as reef sharks.
On the Water
Of course, there are more water opportunities. You might want to get out for a fishing trips or sightseeing airboat tours to see the extensive Belize wetlands and mangroves and possibly spot manatees.
Close to Town
At port, in Belize City, attractions include St. John’s Cathedral (the oldest Anglican church in North America), Baron Bliss Lighthouse (next to the BELIZE sign and a simple photo op) and Museum of Belize (which documents the nation’s history, people and culture).
Food and Shops
The small Tourist Village right at the port offers restaurants and shops. You also can easily take a stroll into the town proper. Most action is on Albert Street, where you will find stores and small restaurants. To get a true flavor of Belize, grab a seat at a joint serving rice and beans with fried chicken or beef.
Ships anchor in the bay away from the cruise pier at Belize City, and cruise passengers will be tendered ashore through the shallow waters.
Weather and Money
The dry season in Belize runs from mid-November to mid-April, and this makes it the ideal period during which to visit. Temperatures average in the mid- to upper-80s at that time, and the average temperature year-round in Belize is about 80.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted throughout the country, so there is no need to exchange to Belize dollars. The rate is two Belize dollars to one U.S. dollar.
Yes, Belize has its own private island for cruisers. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Harvest Caye is an idyllic resort-like beach and watersports complex that offers a sensational experience. If your cruise includes a day at Harvest Caye, you’ll find more options than you’ll have time for. The facility features private cabanas, water sports rentals, beach loungers, restaurants, bars, waterpark, resort-style pool, river tubing and a zipline.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.