Our first destination of call during our Royal Caribbean cruise this past Christmas was to Belize. After exploring Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras, Belize has been on my wish list for quite some time and unfortunately I’d only get a taste of this un”belize”able place (as the tour operators rightly called Belize). But a taste was enough to whet my appetite and understand why so many tourists are flocking to the amazing English-speaking cayes (small islands) off the coast of Belize.
By far the largest attraction in Belize is her beautiful, vibrant barrier reef. Belize boasts 190 miles (300 kilometers) of the 560-mile long (900 kilometers) of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System which is the second largest barrier reef in the world spanning from Cancun on the northeast tip through the Riviera Maya and up to Honduras. Most people come to Belize to enjoy the diverse scuba-diving and snorkeling activities afforded by the reef, however, there are many other fabulous things to do and see in Belize. Belize hosts her own share of noteworthy Mayan ruins, adventure sports and amazing wildlife.
Our cruise line had many amazing excursions in Belize but given the ages and interests of our kids, we wanted to do something we would all enjoy. Of course, I love anything adventurous. I would have loved to take the 8-hour tour of the Mayan ruins but snorkeling also strongly fit the bill of being adventurous. We signed up for a four-hour tour that included a ride on a semi-submerged submarine through the barrier reef followed by a beach day on our own tiny little private island called “Rendezvous Caye”.
The only downfall of taking a cruise into Belize is that Belize City does not currently have a port large enough to handle cruise ships meaning you have to tender. Getting 3,600 people off the ship into tenders takes a very long time and was a pain. Thankfully Belize is investing millions of dollars into the expansion of their port and hopefully will soon be able to eliminate the annoying tendering process. Since we were going on an excursion, we experienced less waiting time to get off the ship. But little did we know our day in Belize would require taking six separate boat rides!
Our first ride was on a tender that would take us forty minutes away from the ship to our semi-submerged submarine ride. It was a gorgeous day with bright blue skies that bounced off the aquamarine waters of the sea. The temperature was a perfect 84 degrees and we were all smiles. My children had never before seen such gorgeous blue-green water and were mesmerized by the beauty.
Although the skies were clear and bright, the wind conditions were stirring up the water beneath. Our hour and a half spent on the semi-submerged submarine (which required an additional boat to reach after the tender) was an enormous disappointment. We could hardly see a thing. Thankfully the best part of our day awaited us. Our trip to the Rendezvous Caye.
We boarded a small boat that ferried us over to tiny, private Rendezous Caye. In the distance, the caye was so small it looked like a mirage. I have never been on such a small island in my life!
Sadly, by the time we reached the caye we only had a little over an hour to enjoy before our long process back to the ship. I could have stayed the entire day on this little island, snorkeling, bathing in the sea and drinking the local beer.
Snorkeling gear was provided and it was time for my children to learn something new. We didn’t have much time in the water but it was amazing.
And play in the sand….
But then just like that, it was time to leave. So sad!!!!
We got back to the ship around 2:30 pm and were all starving. After a quick lunch, we boarded the tender to head into Belize City. I had read that there was really nothing at all to see or do there and I was right. The port was extremely small and outside of the port had very little to offer, especially for young children. At least we got our souvenirs! And for me, a huge urge to go back and experience more of un’belize”able Belize.