Sailing in Belize: Caye Caulker to Placencia

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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.


Sailing in Belize

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 Belize
Sailing Belize
Kate 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 Belize
Sailing Belize
Sailing 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

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 Belize
Rendezvous 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

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 Caye
Tobacco Caye, Belize
Tobacco 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.



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

Sailing in 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

Belize Sailing: 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!


Solo Female Travel in Belize — Is it Safe?

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. You can find the best rates on other accommodation in Placencia here.

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.

Be sure to buy travel insurance before heading to Belize. If anything goes wrong, travel insurance will make sure you’re covered financially. I use and recommend World Nomads.

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 do a sailing trip in Belize?

62 thoughts on “Sailing in Belize: Caye Caulker to Placencia”

  1. $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 :))))))

  2. Marjorie Lehman

    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!

      1. Robi Khossaghi

        Hello Kate.
        Iโ€™ve seen your blog is very great blog.
        i hope i can learn one or two things from you

        best regards
        Robi Khossaghi

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

    1. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. 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

  10. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

  20. My husband and I are visiting Belize in March 2017 for two weeks. We will be staying at a cabana in Hopkins. Did you get a chance to stop there ? We will be right on the beach. It’s been a dream of mine to go there and i am checking it out for retirement. I love your blog.

    1. I did not visit Hopkins, but I’ve heard nice things. Are you spending your whole trip there? With two weeks, you’ve got more than enough time to travel all over the country!

  21. Hi Kate,
    We just booked this sail trip, thanks for the recommendation! Quick question, is it necessary to also do the day snorkel trip to shark alley and Hol Chan Reserve? or is it redundant? with such precious time I’m wondering f we can skip it.


    1. You don’t HAVE to do it. The only thing that’s different is snorkeling with sharks and rays. But if that isn’t important to you, you’ll get more than enough snorkeling on the cruise.

  22. Hi Kate,
    Thanks for this overview of the trip! We are leaving in two days for Belize and will be doing this 3 day sail next weekend (fingers crossed for no rain!). I’ve read a lot about this online but we’re still confused about the bag situation. I know we should have a small day bag and rest gets stowed. Should this small day bag also contain all the stuff for camping (travel pillow, small blow up camping mat, pants cause I get cold, bug spray, sleep socks, etc) OR do we just need a day bag truly for the day (cover up and a book) and we can access our stowed bag for camping? Also can the day bag be a simple beach bag, or do you recommend something that zips and is more secure like a backpack? Thanks for your tips!

    1. I would recommend keeping as much of your stuff as possible as you need in your day bag, because it will make your life easier. That said — you will not need pants. You’re in the Caribbean! And you won’t need the camping mat either; they provide it. I don’t recall bugs being an issue. Just go back to basics! We all did. Hell, I didn’t shower and only used the boat toilet once in three days.

  23. Hi Kate,

    I’m so excited, I will be doing this sailing trip this May. But the itenerary now will actually end in Dangriga, which is 2.5 bus trip away south of Belize city. My question is, how safe is transportation back to Belize city.. is the bus ok? Ow would you recommend taxi. I read Belize city is not the safest.. so I want insights from a few people of the safest way to travel in the main land. Kudos to you girl.. with all the travel info and inspiration you share with us. Keep living to the fullest!

  24. Ah, Kate, this is amazing! I’m currently travelling through Central & have heard some horror stories about the backpacker scene in Caye Caulker, this looks like a much better option! And considering Belize is expensive either way, I think this looks like great value – will book it! The Tao boat in Palawan is very similar (and 5 days, so slightly longer), and is one of the best things I’ve ever done – you should try it if you head to Palawan, sounds like you will love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Dear Kate, I like to read and see your travel experiences, which motivates us to travel also through this wonderful world, Grateful.

  26. We have 10 and 13 yr old daughters. In your opinion is this a kid appropriate trip? Theyโ€™ve been exposed to a lot, but Iโ€™m just wondering if it would be weird for the other travelers.

    1. I don’t think this would be a good trip for kids that age. Also, I’m not sure if Raggamuffin has an age limit. But this was very much an adult trip with free-flowing alcohol in the afternoons and dance parties late at night — as much as I love kids, this wasn’t the place for them.

  27. I know this is an old post, but based on this review alone I booked my first solo trip EVER to Belize & had the time of my LIFE! Probably the best experience ever.
    The drop off has now been changed to Dangriga as they have bought another beautiful island for the second night stay, but a girl I met and I had stayed in Placencia & I wish I wouldโ€™ve gone back up to the Caye!
    Thank you so much for this review, literally LIFE CHANGING.

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