Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Sailing Down the Coast of Belize

49

Tobacco Caye, Belize

I didn’t think that Central America could get any better — and then I got to Belize. I’ve never really dreamed about Belize as a destination. I knew I’d like it, but it didn’t occupy my imagination the way Nicaragua did.

In this country, I found a land of Mayan ruins and caves filled with human sacrifices, of laid-back Caribbean islands and the most turquoise water you’ve ever seen.

The culmination of my trip was my favorite adventure of the year so far: sailing down the coast of Belize for three days with Raggamuffin Tours.

Erisa and Kate on Tobacco Caye

I was talking to my friend Alex about Belize a few months ago and he suggested this cruise, saying he did it a few years ago and had an incredible time. I Googled it — it looked fantastic. But a bit steep at $350 for three days.

Erisa and I decided to travel to Belize together after our tour, and while I was looking forward to Belize, it was a much bigger travel dream for Erisa. I knew this cruise would be right up her alley.

“Should I pitch them?” I asked her. “See if they’ll give me a comped trip? I’ll split it with you.”

“YES!” she exclaimed. “Why wouldn’t you?”

“Eh. I don’t mind paying.” You might have noticed that I rarely do comps or advertising on the site these days. I used to do a ton, but it’s a lot of pressure. I know that you guys prefer when I pay out of pocket, which I do about 98% of the time these days. I can’t stand travel blogs that are nothing but comp after comp after comp. I prefer to go where I want, do what I want, and write about whatever I want.

But…if I went on this trip, I would be writing about it anyway. Why not pitch them and see what they say?

I pitched Raggamuffin Tours by email and they offered me a complimentary cruise in exchange for a post. I accepted their offer and split the value of the comp with Erisa, each of us paying half.

From the Caribbean island of Caye Caulker, we set off for three days in paradise.

DSC_0310

A Day on the Boat

Our boat was an elegant white catamaran that had lots of space to chill out on board, including a net above the water.

Each day would begin with a few hours of sailing through fluorescent turquoise waters. The water around the reef is quite shallow and you could almost always see the bottom.

Sailing BelizeSailing BelizeKate sailing Belize

Our first snorkel and swim break took place mid-morning. The crew would take us out on a mini-tour and show us the wildlife. Later on, they brought out the spear gun for fishing.

Lunch was next. The food was universally delicious. Dinners had tons of dishes from which to choose; lunches were more simple but hearty and filling. Cookies and chips would make their way out in between meals. And unlike other similar trips I’ve taken, we didn’t have to do any dishes. Yay!

Sailing BelizeSailing BelizeSailing Belize

After sailing a bit more after lunch, we stopped for another snorkel tour.

By the time we finished, out came the rum punch. And I was glad it didn’t appear until then. It would be easy for this cruise to turn into a crazy drinking-all-day adventure, especially since it was open bar, but I think it was so much better that we stayed sober for most of the day.

We would then set up camp for the night on an island, have a delicious dinner, and keep the drinks flowing until we fell into bed, exhausted.

Rendezvous Caye Belize

Night One: Rendezvous Caye

LOOK AT THAT ISLAND. Is it even real?! It looks like a cartoon!

Our first night was spent on the uninhabited Rendezvous Caye. I’ve never stayed on an uninhabited island in my life, and it was a freaky feeling!

Rendezvous Caye BelizeRendezvous Caye Belize Rendezvous Caye Belize

We set up a little tent city and went out to snorkel. This island is literally on top of the reef, so the snorkeling is just as amazing as it was while we were sailing!

Despite being uninhabited, there are a few facilities on Rendezvous Caye, including some toilets. There are also a few caretakers that stay on the island, alternating shifts one at a time.

Tobacco Caye, Belize

Night Two: Tobacco Caye

Tobacco Caye was another tiny island, but it felt so cosmopolitan compared to Rendezvous Caye! Boats run here daily from Dangriga, there is a small collection of simple accommodations, and a few dozen people call this island their home.

Sting Rays on Tobacco CayeTobacco Caye, BelizeTobacco Caye, Belize

Tobacco Caye also has a bar with beer (which we didn’t have on the boat) and wifi. Believe it or not, I kept myself away from the wifi. This trip was a digital detox.

Kevin, Erisa, Chris, Kate, and Dane

The Crew

The Raggamuffin guys are some of the funniest (yet most professional!) guides I’ve come across. They are full of stories and music and they always have smiles across their faces.

Honestly, Erisa and I spent the whole trip hanging out with them. They made us laugh until our sides ached.

Kevin Sailing Belize

Captain Kevin kept us safe, and yes, his hair naturally grows that way.

At one point he randomly said, “You know how Shaggy said it wasn’t me?…It was me.

I nearly died.

Kate and Kevin Sailing Belize

Also, we had the same hair. And the same tan by the third day.

Crazy Dane

Dane was a ham and a half. If he wasn’t part of a joke or conversation or a photo, he’d throw himself in!

Chris sailing Belize

Chris. The world traveler and resident gentleman.

I called him Arms. You can see why.

Ellio Sailing Belize

And Ellio. He actually took us hunting for our dinner, grabbing conch shells from the ocean floor.

Here’s a video I took of us goofing off on the boat:

Raggamuffin is one of the more expensive outfitters in Caye Caulker, but that’s because they’re high quality. The equipment is top-notch, the trips are well organized, and the crew is fantastic. Lots of companies will do their one-day sailing trip for cheaper, but they won’t do it as well. (Raggamuffin is the only company running a three-day trip like this.)

Rendezvous Caye Belize

The Best Moments

There was so much happiness on this trip, and a few moments on board made it magical.

Dolphin in Belize

The day we saw dolphins! On our first day, some dolphins swam up to the boat and swam alongside us. I’ve seen dolphins in the wild before (in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa), and I hope I never get tired of this sight.

The afternoon we grooved to 90s R&B. If you know me, you know that 90s R&B is probably my favorite music genre of all time. It’s my childhood. Hearing the greatest hits of 1995 was a fantastic throwback.

Paul catches a fish in Belize

The morning Paul caught a barracuda. High drama! It was like a movie and everyone gathered to watch the action. Would he be able to reel it in? He did. We had it for dinner that night and it was delicious.

The night we had a dance party on Tobacco Caye. On our final night, we ended up turning up the dance music on the boat and throwing an impromptu limbo contest. Also, thanks for hiding my rum punch that night, she-who-shall-not-be-named.

Placencia

Placencia

The tour ended in Placencia, a beach town in the south. And I’ll be honest — Erisa and I were miserable the entire time we were there. We had been riding a massive high for the past three days (not to mention for the past month since El Salvador), and the abrupt end was like being dropped from a great height.

We cried into our cocktails.

Erisa and Kate in Placencia

The crew had to leave immediately after dropping us off. (They sail back to Caye Caulker in a single night.) And though we had fun hanging out with our fellow passengers for a few days, singing karaoke and chilling on the beach, we missed our crew and couldn’t stop talking about them.

The beaches of Placencia weren’t nearly as nice as what we saw on the islands further north. The water was dark and opaque, not the trademark clear turquoise of the Caribbean. Most of the beachfront was clean, but some areas were filled with trash. The town was sleepy and seemed to be geared toward older travelers.

So after two days, Erisa and I headed straight back up to Caye Caulker to hang out with our crew again. HA! And it was the best decision ever. We had a blast.

Rendezvous Caye Belize

What You Should Know

If you’re considering this Belize sailing trip for yourself, here are some things you should know:

Not all trips get the beautiful catamaran — smaller groups just get the sailboat, which I went on for a snorkeling day trip, and it seems so tiny in comparison.

The crowd was mostly couples in their thirties, though we had a few solo travelers, some friends, a group of siblings, and handful of people outside that age group. People came from mostly from the US and Australia, as well as Canada, the UK, Norway, and Albania (don’t think I’d forget you, Erisa!).

I really liked the group. I think the price point kept it from becoming a young backpacker party cruise.

Bring a TON of strong sunscreen and reapply several times a day. If you burn easily, I urge you to wear a shirt or rash guard on top of your bathing suit while snorkeling — it’s so easy to burn your back. Be extra vigilant and cover up.

There aren’t really showers on this trip until you get to Tobacco Caye. Trust me, you won’t miss them. There are toilets on both islands, though. And while there’s a toilet on the boat, I used it exactly once in three days. Everybody was peeing in the ocean, or the faciliseas, as Erisa and I called it. No shame!

Despite what the website says, pillows are NOT included. Bring your own or something comfy to sleep on, like a fleece.

Watch out for falling coconuts on Tobacco Caye. You could die if you got hit by a falling coconut. I avoided standing under and sometimes even walking under the palm trees. I saw one coconut fall and it freaked me out.

Sailing Belize

The Takeaway

This cruise was one of the best things I did in Central America. It was pure joy from start to finish. I can’t recommend it enough!

Belize is expensive compared to other Central American countries (excluding Costa Rica) — prices are on par with the US. I met several backpackers who sped through Belize or skipped it altogether due to the prices.

Don’t skip Belize. It’s so worth it. It’s so beautiful and wonderful and the people are so friendly. It’s the closest thing I’ve found so far to the tropical paradise of my dreams — yes, even more so than Little Corn Island!

On a personal note, this trip was an important step in my recovery from my shipwreck in Indonesia four years ago. Though it’s been a long time, I still freak out on lots of boat trips, especially when the weather is bad or the boat is in poor condition. But between the quality of the catamaran, the professionalism of the crew, and the fact that we did daytime sailing only and stayed in calm waters, I didn’t get scared once!

Honestly, I found myself wishing this cruise were a few days longer. I think there is definitely a market to make it a five-day cruise, or even a weeklong trip. Assuming showers are provided at least every other day.

Because the trip was so short, I feel like I didn’t get to know my fellow travelers as well as I have on past trips, like my weeklong Croatia cruise. Or maybe that was just because I hung out with the crew the whole time. Either way, I would jump on a longer trip in a fraction of a second!

PIN IT!

Belize! The Ultimate Dream Sailing Trip. Via Adventurous Kate

Essential Info: Raggamuffin Tours’ Overnight Belize Sailing cruise lasts three days and two nights and sails from Caye Caulker to Placencia. The trip costs $350 USD.

If it’s out of your price range but you still want to snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef, Raggamuffin offers  a one-day snorkel trip that visits three sites, including Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley, for $70 USD. (They offered me a complimentary one-day trip as well.)

In Placencia, we stayed at Lydia’s Guesthouse, which had comfortable doubles with shared bath for $60 BZD ($30 USD). Internet was mediocre at best.

In terms of food in Placencia, we had an excellent high-end meal at Rumfish. It was probably the nicest meal I had in Central America! The Tipsy Tuna was a fun bar and restaurant with good casual food and the best internet I found in town.

After the trip, we took a 6:00 AM bus from Placencia back to Belize City, which took about five hours and I believe cost around $40 BZD ($20 USD). You can also fly anywhere in the country via Belize City, which would cut down travel time massively.

Many thanks to Raggamuffin Tours for offering me a complimentary three-day sailing trip. I technically paid for half, though, because I split the value of the comp with Erisa. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Would you like to do a trip like this?

Comments

49 Responses to “Sailing Down the Coast of Belize”
  1. That just seems heavenly! I would LOVE a trip like that. The views, the drinks, and the people! Can’t beat it.

  2. Anna says:

    $350 for 3 days with food and overnight accommodation? Seems totally worth it. I would do this anywhere! Actually, if you know of something like this in Croatia or Montenegro, PLEASE let me know :))))))

  3. Tamz says:

    Top notch. Stunning island.
    My feet are itching to set foot on that catamaran and the islands…

  4. Marjorie Lehman says:

    Placencia has the best beaches on the mainland and the people are the friendliest. That’s why the Prime Minister is building there. Not only can you go to the islands/reef just a short distance away, you can go cave tubing, rock sliding, monkey River, Cockscomb Reserve and the Mayan ruins. We have been four times, and still have not seen it all. Just got back and will go again. Placencia has more to offer than anywhere. Lobster fest was a blast. The food was fantastic!

  5. Rich Brown says:

    Kate,
    Another great review. Love your style and the details. This sounds like a great three day cruise. $350 seems very reasonable. I spent nearly $500 for three days out of Port Douglas in Australia and had limited drinks. Thanks and keep doing what you do!

  6. Rebecka says:

    What an amazing adventure! My best friend will be venturing to Belize in January. I can’t wait to share this post with her. I especially loved how you wrote about the crew on your boat. I, as I’m sure many others appreciate that down to earth aspect of your traveling philosophy. I’m the same way when I travel, I love to meet the locals for a really unique experience. Great post, Kate!

  7. Jub says:

    Interesting, no one seems to be excited about Belize until they get there. It’s the one place in Central America I am really looking forward too seeing at some point.

    Awesome the lads on your crew were awesome.

  8. Amanda says:

    I did the 1-day sailing trip with Raggamuffin a few years ago (with Captain Kevin!!), and it’s what made me fall in love with Belize, too. It was SUCH a good trip – I would definitely consider this 3-day one next time!

  9. Eunice says:

    It looks awesome! My next step is definetely Central America! I need to improve my Spanish and I would not mind spending 3 days on a boat to do it :p
    xo
    http://studentsNtravelers.blogspot.com

    • Hi, Eunice — you’re welcome to comment, but please don’t leave your blog in the comment. It appears linked with your name; you don’t need to do this twice.

  10. Rachel says:

    I would love to do this. Definitely just pinned it. That water is ridiculous – it TOTALLY looks like a cartoon! There’s not much I like more than being on a boat.

  11. Andrea says:

    Wow! Looks like an awesome trip. SO which one of the hunks did you have the knee wobbling romance with? Chris? It definitely was Chris.

    • HAHAHA! I love it when my readers put together the clues I drop here and there! And you’re not the first person to say that. But when I think about the knee-wobbling moments of May, I was thinking of a night that did not take place on this cruise. 😉

  12. Katie says:

    The three day trip was so tempting but it was out of my price range unfortunately. We did do the one day snorkel trip with Raggamuffin though and it was a definite highlight of my time in Central America. I loved Caye Caulker too

  13. Rachel says:

    This looks like an unbelievable experience! I am also a solo female traveler, and I recently started a travel blog. If you have a spare moment, I would really appreciate some travel blogging advice from a pro to a newby.

    http://getlostandbefound.com/

  14. Looks awesome Kate!!! And its true, that island does look like a cartoon haha!! so picturesque and beautiful!

  15. Lena says:

    wow!! This is incredible! I so want to go! I don’t care how much it is!! ) And you Kate, are looking gorgeous!

  16. Katie says:

    To reference the beginning of this post: I really appreciate that your blog isn’t comp trip after comp resort stay after comp hotel. It’s why I love and read your blog — and why I so appreciate this post! You’ve earned some free trips, and your approach to covering it here was great. Seriously, thank you. These also have to be some of my favorites of all your photos. I want to be in all of those places, now 🙂

  17. Britt says:

    Ok this is definitely being added to my Central America to do list!

    It looks amazing- I love these sorts of trips and the crew looked like great fun. Caye Caulker has always been a must see for me but I was planning on heading there and skipping the rest of the country. If I have the funds I’ll definitely be getting on this tour!

    Also super proud of you for getting on a boat for three days!

  18. Andi says:

    How gorgeous!!! I loved my time in Belize!

  19. WOW. What an amazing trip. It looks like you guys had so much fun along the way. Being on a boat for that long is not something on everybody’s to-do list. Your blog really tells a great story and opens my eyes up to what is actually out there for us to enjoy.

  20. I had a fantastic time on my cruise to Belize. I wish I had more time to spend there. PS – I’m incredibly impressed with your domain authority! Teach me your ways!

  21. I have been to Belize and agree wholeheartedly that it looks like a dream. Each island has its own vibe and local bar. Great info and pictures. Next time I will try the cruise.

  22. Brooke says:

    Sounds like a fantastic time and what better place to sail than Belize! The water looks crystal clear and it looks like you had an amazing adventure. 🙂

  23. Holy crap, Belize looks amazing!! I want to go but about the only time I could this year is in October and I’ve read that’s not a great time to be there.

  24. Samantha says:

    Wow, what an amazing trip. I can see why you were so disappointed after it ended, Glad you went back to Caye Caulker and enjoyed some more time there. I never realized how beautiful Belize is. Going to add it to my ever increasing list of places to see, lol. Thanks for all the advice and suggestions. Love following you!

  25. Belize – it looks like my Nha Trang (http://dulichnhatrang.wikihoidap.com/) but I am feeling have an envy gene. I love your skin, Kate in this trip, hihi.

  26. Amy says:

    I love these photos! So gorgeous and looks like so much fun! Belize is high up on my bucket list!

  27. Ric Hornsby says:

    I did the same cruise last winter. I spent the entire winter in Belize, and was in Corozal when I first heard of Raggamuffin Tours. Once I got to Caye Caulker, I checked them out, and booked! I’m disabled by a nerve disease, so it is a bit different for me to take on such an adventure. It was GREAT! The crew helped me enjoy the entire time, and was sensitive to my needs. Yes, it was lobster season, but I’ve never before been asked, at each meal, “Do you want more extra lobster?”

    I spent months traveling around Belize, slowly, and will remember this as one of the best parts of the trip. There were about 20 passengers on the cruise, and they came from all over the world. Everyone had a fantastic time!

    I cannot recommend this trip strongly enough. DO IT!

  28. Amy M says:

    Saved for future travel plans!
    This trip looked wonderful and i’m so glad it helped you to regain confidence on boats xo

  29. Andrew says:

    looks like a simply awesome time!

  30. Swisswife says:

    I love this post. We were in South America for 4 weeks last year bu sadly not Belize….. you photos have made me want to go back, I’ll be adding it to my travel list 🙂

  31. Denise Bicera says:

    Beautiful article on Belize! Wishing tons that i could go there… How about we see Palawan in there, ey?

  32. Evocative, Kate, as always! I offer stories of Belize solo-and-couple-travel on my travel blog. Been going since 1990s; islands, inland, ruins, jungle stays, night canoe trips– all very eco-based, no tours, no groups. Simply a lovely country, with awesome folks. http://www.lsmith17s.com

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  1. […] said, there have also been times where I’ve improved. Sailing in Belize was a huge step in my healing process — it was a catamaran (and therefore more stable than a […]

  2. […] said, there have also been times where I’ve improved. Sailing in Belize was a huge step in my healing process — it was a catamaran (and therefore more stable than a […]



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