Any advice on where to go and simply relax on a beach and let the kids snorkel in Belize? My kids (8 & 10) love to snorkel and want to enjoy the beautiful waters of Belize. No interest in cave tubing or the zoo. Looking for "been there, done that" advice from families! Thanks!
OK. We fall into the category of "been there, done that" Belize Style. We went via cruise ship last Christmas with our two sons, aged 12 and 19. At the outset, let me say that my family members are avid water people. Two of us are PADI Certified. We surf from North Carolina to Florida and Hawaii when we can justify business trip to the islands. We have snorkeled everywhere from Hanauma Bay, Oahu to the Cayman Islands so we are experienced. Evidently, the snorkel tours in Belize mostly transport their guests to an offshore reef about 90 minutes from where the cruise ships anchor. The trip was made in an open, high speed outboard similar to an Aquasport type Center Console. We passed several interesting inlands and two Mangrove swamps on the way. The trip out was wet and fast. Upon arriving at the reef, I was quick to compare the area to the John Pennecamp Underwater Park in Key Largo, Florida with one main difference: At Pennecamp, the Florida State Rangers control all boat traffic. In Belize, there is no one in charge and anything goes. As a result, we felt the snorkeling was somewhat scary with boats drivng all around and at least 100 people in the water. To make matters worse, the ocean swell was large enough so that some waves could clear the reef making entering the water and re-boarding your boat an adventure. The actual water was not as clear as one might expect due to the ocean swell and boats coming and going the entire time. After an hour of snorkeling, we were taken to a small island's hotel for a lunch and swim in their pool. The ride back to the ship was an experience with 3 to 5 foot seas. We were soaked and pounded beyond anything I would call fun. And finally, the jump from our speed boat to the ship's boarding platform was nothing short of dangerous. My advice: Take a "beach" snorkel trip but avoid any trips to the outside reefs. In fairness to the Belizians, we were told that Belize is just getting their tourist business off the ground but their lack of safety concerns dampened the excursion greatly.
I sure do appreciate your advise! I, like the origianl questioner, will be traveling to Belize In July with my family, daughter 11, son 18 and husband. We're gonna take your advise seriously! Do you have any suggestions? I've heard that Belize is NOT a place to venture off on your own, as some areas are just not safe. We're also not crazy about having to be transported an hour by bus just to get to a tour starting point. Any advise?
I certainly hope my advice will be of help to you and your family. Unfortunately, I cannot be of any true help beyond our experience because we never got a chance to get on dry land in Belize City. I could have given you much more detail of our snorkel trip but I was afraid the readers would be get bored but our snorkel trip had several problems which required us to "run" long and use up the entire day in Belize. The trip out to the reef was great. Smooth ocean ride and very high speed. It began to fall apart once we went to the small island hotel. One of our guides left the group and they couldn't find him for an hour. We left that island an hour late. As the weather worsened, the seas got very rough and we lost both engines due to the slamming over the waves. The two 200 hp outboards sucked some air into their fuel lines and killed both engines twice because we were low on fuel in tanks onboard. We arrived back at the ship about 30 minutes before they left. It was pretty bad.
Anyway, we heard other passengers on the ship at dinner say that Belize City was nice and seemed safe. Beyond that, I can't recall hearing any other stories or problems. If you would allow me to sound a little "bragging", we have had quite a few vacations over the years. As a result, I would say that it has been our experience that there is always some risk on all excursions no matter what Caribbean Island or other exotic trip you are taking. In Mexico once, we had a hair raising bus trip to Tulum and a snorkel trip. I always feel that the cruise ship companies have a responsibility and a desire to ensure some level of safety but there are risks. If I were you, I would continue to post here or over on CruiseCritic.com for people with Belize experience beyond our trip. Like I said before, we were told that Belize is just beginning to get their cruise excursion industry going so there are bound to be some problems. I hope someone else who has been to Belize can fill in the blanks that I cannot. Have fun and be safe.
Do the Ruins and River tours.. we went and had a great time// got a short tour of the city, rode through the countryside with a guide, then had an hour at some neat ruins, went to a small shop/restaurant for some good chicken and beans, and then rode a speedboat down the river and back to the dock...