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Things To Do In Belize On A Cruise

How To Explore Belize For Cruise Passengers

Visiting Belize | What to Do in Belize City near the Cruise Port

Unless you earnestly wish to explore a couple of historic landmarks in Belize City on foot, almost all highlights and principal attractions in the cruise port require traveling between 15 and 80 miles. Therefore, the best way for cruise visitors to explore, discover, and enjoy Belize is with Shore Excursions. The only exceptions are Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, which can be reached by water taxi. More about this in the following paragraphs.

Mangroves Tarpon And Pelicans

On our way back to the Barefoot Caribe, we passed by the Caye Caulker Mangrove forest. It is a protected forest preserve, and the tarpon that live there are also protected. Our guide showed us how we could feed a tarpon without losing a finger!

The tarpon were large . When they surfaced for the bait, there was a huge splash and the bait was gone in an instant! But in this photo, you can see the tarpon swimming just below the surface:

Tips And Things To Know When Visiting Belize On A Cruise

Belize is a beautifully lush English-speaking Caribbean nation situated directly to the south of Mexicos Yucatan Peninsula and to the east of its Central America neighbor Guatemala. The people are friendly and welcoming to cruise tourists who like the destinations 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.

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Play With All The Dogs At Caye Caulkers Only Animal Shelter

Okay, Im probably the only person who thinks that laying around in the sand with a bunch of homeless dogs is an essential thing to do in Belize, but stay with me, here. A sweet local guy named Kenny runs this humble little animal shelter that takes in and helps rehome dogs and cats in need of some TLC.

Caye Caulker Animal Shelter is entirely run by donations so if you can, donate either your time to love on these dogs or a few extra dollars to help support Kennys mission.

Things To Do In Belize City Cruise Port

12 Things to Know When You Cruise to Belize

The port of Belize City is a stunning port for cruise travelers interested in Mayan archeologic sites, for those who appreciate breathtaking scenic sights, magnificent natural wonders, wildlife parks, zoos, or bird watching. There are lots of attractive options for cruise visitors looking forward to relaxing on a secluded beach and genuinely enjoy watersports.

Belize offers great outdoor activities both onland and in the Ocean some of which are ideal for those cruising with families including thrilling pursuits for the most adventurous.

In the Belize City cruise port, you can also savor local flavors and cuisine and shop for duty-free jewelry and watches. Once again, it must be emphasized that Belize City is far from ideal for cruise passengers that enjoy exploring cruise ports on your own and/or on foot.

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Belize City Cruise Tips Activities And Overview

Food and Drink in Belize City

Wet Lizard:The spot to grab a bit to eat and a few cold beers, the Wet Lizard is a happening spot inside Tourism Village. Downstairs you’ll find a DJ and a $5-a-spin wheel where you can buy rum body shots, an upside down margarita or bucket of beer.

Spoonaz: A small coffee and sandwich shop on the main road, just a five-minute walk after exiting Tourism Village, Spoonaz is as popular for its air conditioning as it is for the lovely sandwiches, meat pies, salads, parfaits and pastries it serves up.

The Smoky Mermaid: The menu at this seafood place features fabulous lobster and fresh fish dishes. Serves breakfast all day on Saturday.

Nerie’s: At the two locations of Nerie’s, you’ll find Belizean fare for a reasonable price. Try rice and beans, stewed pork or a fish burger. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Cafe Michel’le: A popular local spot, you’ll find tasty burritos, paninis, wraps, salads and smoothies here. It’s cash only, so a great place to spend any Belizean dollars you might have gotten as change from a souvenir shop or tour operator.

Ruby’s Cafe: If you’re spending time on Ambergris Caye, consider heading to Ruby’s Cafe, which serves coffee, pastries, tostadas, burritos and sandwiches.

Best Cocktail in Belize City

Check out Belize’s own Belikin beer available at any of the bars within the Tourism Village, as well as at most restaurants in town. Frozen daiquiris and rum punch are also quite popular.

Beaches in Belize City

Best Beaches In Belize

A coastline that extends some 175 miles along the gorgeous Caribbean Sea has you covered if you love the beach, snorkeling, diving or plain beach-combing or relaxing on a hammock strung between two coconut trees. Some of the best beaches are on Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Hopkins and southern Belize.

Thanks to the Barrier Reef that protects the coast, our beaches are relatively safe. The visitor will not experience much surf or undercurrents. For adventure on the high seas you need to venture outside the reef. This offers spectacular deep sea fishing and SCUBA for the adventurous.

Visitors looking for the ultimate secluded beaches, enticing warm waters and a laid-back Caribbean Latino style will find the cayes running along Belizes stunning Barrier Reef, the perfect haven. More than 200 islands are spread over the turquoise waters off the coast offering a wide variety of popular attractions and activities. Visitors are sure to find the Belize vacation that perfectly suits them.

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Setting Out On Our Tour From Belize City

Shore Excursion leader with sign

Once you get off the tender, you have to find your shore excursion leader. This area is known as the Fort Street Tourism Village, and there are quite a few people shopping and coming and going from ships/excursions. Look for people holding signs with shore excursion names on them. The signs usually have a cruise line logo on them, too. In our case, that was Carnival. While the excursion is set up by Carnival cruises, it is actually led by Exotic Eco Adventure Tours.

Once we found our leader, he had us line up and gave us paperwork to fill out. Yes, paperwork. Boring, huh? But its pretty typical to have to complete a liability waiver form for an excursion like this. We also had time to use restrooms and snap a few pictures before boarding a speedboat to take us to our island escape! Note: I do wish I had changed into my swimsuit at this time, because it was more challenging once we arrived at Caye Caulker. Also, it is common for public restrooms here to ask for tips for maintaining the restrooms and keeping them clean.

Go For The Big Islands

Top Things To Do In Belize City

Belize has more than 200 islands many secluded and less traveled. But we have big islands and a nice peninsula for those looking for the sun, beach and amenities such as gourmet restaurants, fine wines, clubbing and the finer things in life. If this is your preference we recommend Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and the Placencia Peninsula in the south as among the best attractions.

Ambergris Caye is the big island, but before that it was a peninsula of Quintana Roo, Mexico until the Mayas dug a channel making it officially an island and eventually part of Belize. Gotta love the Mayas. Ambergris Caye is a stunted version of Cancun with most anything a visitor from the developed world would want. Ambergris Caye has lots of space most folks do not realize the island is larger than Barbados. But the population is jammed up inside San Pedro Town.

Caye Caulker is a a couple miles away from Ambergris Caye and much smaller and attracts budget travelers and those looking for a more village style atmosphere. Both islands are an hour away by water taxi from the mainland, or a fifteen minute flight. Placencia is in southern Belize and approximately two and a half hours drive by road. Or a half hour flight from the Belize International Airport.

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How Is The Actual Belize Barrier Reef Snorkeling Experience

When we arrived on the island, the guides divided up the excursion based on self reported snorkeling ability. Those who had never snorkeled went to one side of the island, while those with some experience went elsewhere, and my daughter and I chose the comfortable snorkeling group.

All groups receive instructions and reminders from the guides to ensure they are comfortable before entering the water. They also check equipment one last time and assist in putting on fins in the water, if necessary our group entered from a place where we donned them in waist deep water rather than ashore.

Unlike many tours, each group enters the water in a different place, so we have less crowding than in many spots. This means we dont all see the same thing, but there is plenty of wildlife everywhere. The advanced group we joined had the most difficult water entry, climbing down a somewhat mossy set of stairs and onto a rocky beach before getting fully submersed. We found the water on our side to be slightly rougher, but that meant 6-8 inch swells.

Each group has at least two guides, one leading the pack and the other at the rear with an extra flotation device. The guide frequently stopped to show us sea life, including bringing up a sea cucumber and urchins for us to view.

Bucket List Worthy Things To Do In Belize

Known for its beautiful cayes, excellent scuba diving, gorgeous turquoise water, and many opportunities for adventure, there are far more fun things to do in Belize than can possibly be covered in one trip!

We spent almost two weeks exploring the beauty of Belize, from its beaches to its Mayan cities to the incomparable ATM Cavebut we still barely scratched the surface of this exciting country.

So, in order to create this Belize bucket list, we teamed up with several other travel bloggers to curate a guide to the top attractions in Belize!

Whether you want to climb a Mayan pyramid, take a flightseeing tour of the famous Blue Hole, relax with your toes in the sand on one of the best beaches in Belize, or even rent an entire island , we have you covered on this guide to what to do in Belize.

Heres what to add to your list of things to do in Belize to ensure that you plan a trip youll never forget.

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

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Visit A Howler Monkey Sanctuary

Howler monkeys kind of sound like demons, but they sure are cute! If you want to connect with your primate kin while in Belize, check out the Community Baboon Sanctuary close to Belize City.

Note for my fellow pendants: there are no baboons here thats apparently just the old local name for howler monkeys. Go figure. Eight villages have worked together to preserve the ecosystem around the river and protect the howler monkeys in their natural habitats. You can take a tour or rent a car to go to the sanctuary.

Where to Stay: Tours leave from Belize City, but as Ive said above, Id recommend doing it as a day trip from one of the islands and taking the ferry into Belize City for the day. If you must stay in Belize City, Sea Breeze is affordable and felt secure.

Local Cuisine And Drinks Quick Bites And Lunch In Belize City Port

5 Things You Must Do In Belize

Cruise passengers that take pleasure in tasting local delicacies will be glad to discover in the Belize City port quite a few pleasant places to savor lunch, a light meal, a refreshing drink, a delicious snack, or even an ice-cream.

Cruisers may like to try regional specialties like Chicken Stew served with rice and beans and fried plantains Bile Up Hudut conch fritters, fried maize or tortillas.

In a country with a fertile tropical forest, fresh fruit is a must: passion fruit, starfruit, jackfruit, dragon fruit, guava, papaya, mango, and pineapples are out of this world.

Generally speaking, eating and drinking in Belize City cruise port is relatively affordable. Like most countries in the Caribbean, Belize also has some signature drinks like Belikin Beer, One Barrel Rum, used to mix with cranberry juice to get Cranbarrel, Caribbean Coconut, and Caribbean Gold Rum.

In the historical center of Belize City, within walking distance there are a few places like the Smoky Mermaid and the elegant restaurants and grills of the Radisson Fort George Hotel .

If you do not wish to venture outside the cruise terminal, there is a good number of restaurants, grills, and bars at the Fort Street Tourism Village where you can taste great food and drinks from Belize. The Wet Lizard is arguably the most famous but there are many others. Check Bars in Belize to learn more.

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Dangriga And Hopkins Village

If you are searching for the real Belize, beyond the facade of painted-over made-for-the-tourist destination, Dangriga and Hopkins is as close as it gets. Dangriga is known as Belizes Culture Capital the birth place of the world-famous Punta Rock music genre and a hotbed for the continuing evolution of other indigenous music forms such as Paranda music. Dangriga Town is the capital of the Stann Creek district. Hopkins is a quaint village few miles the road on the way south.

Dangriga does not have many beaches and the location would be kindly described as grungy. It has more of an urban nature where you go to immerse yourself in the local culture especially during festivals and celebrations like National Garifuna Day on November 19.

Both Dangriga and Hopkins are the type of places where you may get invited to an impromptu dance party, which will include drumming and genuine Garifuna culture. If you are early to Belize in the tourism season, you will be wise to catch the John Canoe Festival.

Costa Maya Cruise Port Info

Costa Maya port is Mexicos second-largest cruise port after Cozumel. It is located about 5 minutes ride from the small fishing village of Mahahual, and around 290 km south of Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel.

Resembling an authentic Mayan city, the Costa Maya cruise port complex is designed to suit the cruise ship passengers needs. Costa Maya cruise terminal can accommodate the worlds largest cruise liners and has 4 berths in total. If there are more than 4 cruise ships in port simultaneously, other ships will drop anchor and transfer their guests ashore via tender boats.

Once you exit the ship, there is a long pier taking you to the terminal building housed in an orange building. If you have walking difficulties or traveling with small kids, there is a free trolley service to take you from your ship to the terminal building. If you have booked a shore excursion, here is where the tour dispatch takes place: here you can also book last-minute tours if you still havent.

The port complex features a wide range of facilities:

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Outside of the cruise terminal area, you will find a large taxi rank, golf carts, bike/car/ATV rentals, local tour vendors, Jade Maya Museum, a replica of a Mayan pyramid, and a few more facilities/places of interest.

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Climb The Mayan Ruins Of Lamanai

Mayan Ruins of Lamanai

The Mayan city of Lamanai, situated on the west bank of the New River Lagoon and today, largely overrun by rainforest, is believed to have been occupied as early as 1500 BC.

Youll start your adventure with a boat journey, watching out for basking crocodiles on the banks and iguanas and tropical birds in the trees above. Once at the sprawling archaeological site, you can climb 125 feet to the top of the High Temple, a vast pyramid thats been remarkably well preserved. From the top, youll gaze out over a sea of green.

Dont miss the intricately carved Mask Temple, on which the masked faces wear crocodile headdresses in honor of the ancient citys name Lamanai means submerged crocodile in Maya language.

Dive The Barrier Reef

Best Things to do in Belize // Belize Travel Tips // Full Episode

Belize Barrier Reef

Along the coast, youll find limpid lagoons, dozens of sandy cays to explore, and miles of mangrove forests. Under the water, though, is one of the reasons Belize draws adventurers from all over the world: the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere.

There are literally hundreds of places to dive, and the reef is considered so important ecologically that UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 1996. The dazzling corals are teeming with aquatic life, including turtles and manatees, groupers, eels and rays.

Divers can expect to see over 400 species of fish and more than 60 types of coral. Depending on the season, you can even swim with whale sharks, gentle giants that feed on krill.

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