The coast off Belize features some of the best scuba diving and fishing to be found anywhere, and the steady winds and gorgeous scenery combine with these things to make sailing in Belize a huge part of the country’s growing allure. The second largest barrier reef in the world runs for almost 200 miles along the Belize coast, and the hundreds of tiny and not-so-tiny islands dotting this clear section of the Caribbean make for stunning scenery to go along with the endless water sport activities.
There are two major sailing centers in Belize:
- Ambergris Caye in the north is a long and narrow island just off Belize City, accessible by regular water taxis and home to many of Belize’s most posh hotels and mini resorts. Dozens of charter companies operate on Ambergris and the sailing choices are almost endless.
- Placencia Peninsula juts out into the Caribbean near the south of the country and also has a wide selection of crafts and sailing options. In addition to having great diving and snorkeling, the Placencia Peninsula also has miles and miles of sandy beaches, unlike Ambergris.
Types of sailing available
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There are dozens of charter companies that operate in each place, and a few of them run semi-scheduled trips between the two sailing centers. Just as with almost everything else in Belize, the companies tend to be small and locally-owned, but sailing is a relatively big business in the country so the range of vessels available runs all the way up and down the scale. Catamarans are the most popular craft for exploring the waters and islands off Belize, but tiny sailboats up to giant powered-yachts are also available.
Crewed charter boats are popular in Belize, but non-crewed, or bareboat, charters are also available. The typical set up for a bareboat charter will be a one or two-hulled catamaran in the 30 to 50 feet range that sleeps between 6 and 12 people. These boats are known to be easy to operate, and as long as at least one person aboard has sailing experience you should be okay. The islands and reefs off Belize do make for some tricky patches, so this isn’t ideal for an absolute beginner. These same bareboat charters can also be hired along with a local captain and crew for a minimal cost for those wanting to have their own boat without as much risk or responsibility.
There are also crewed charter boats in both places that have regular full-day or overnight sails open to small groups. Many of them have set routes where they’ll take you to all the best scenery, diving, snorkeling, and fishing locations, and most of them are totally flexible to the whims of those aboard. Water sports enthusiasts will never run out of things to do in the Belize waters, but the Caribbean winds and island atmosphere make Belize a haven for people who don’t want to do anything at all. Relaxing and gorging oneself on freshly caught and cooked lobsters and fish is all many people can bring themselves to do out on the high seas.