Explore the Caribbean the way it was meant to be traveled: by sea. Old standby boats include the “old-school sailing trip” aboard the refurbished Rum Punch II (parked north of Cholo’s Bar, tel. 501/610-3240), operated by longtime resident and captain George Eiley, offering glass-bottom-boat snorkel tours, beach barbecues, and sunset charters.
The Sirena Azul is a 40-foot Belizean hardwood beauty operated out of the Blue Tang Inn. Built by a boat-building family in the northern village of Sarteneja, and with an added diesel onboard engine and restroom, it’s an experience worth the extra cost. Sunset sails (US$50 pp, drinks included; private charter US$350 for 1-6 people) are popular, although the boat also goes on snorkeling day trips.
Another popular and fancy cat for private rent or for sunset sails is Seaduction, operated by Seaduced by Belize (tel. 501/226-2254). Ecological divers now offer sailing charters aboard their two 50-foot catamarans as well as sunset dinner cruises by the reef.
For a more rustic and laid-back sail, spend the day with the Rubio brothers snorkeling, fishing, drinking aboard No Rush, a quaint 36-foot catamaran that can be booked through Unity Tours (tel. 501/600-5022, full-day snorkel US$75 pp, half-day US$50 pp). Reef Runners (tel. 501/602-5055 or 501/610-1061, full-day snorkel US$45 adults) has 24-foot-long glass-bottom boats for snorkel tours and fishing trips, and they know these waters well. You can’t miss their bright-yellow boats docked beside the San Pedro Belize water taxi terminal. Searious Adventures (tel. 501/226-4202) offers sailing and snorkeling activities.
A notch up is Belize Sailing Vacations (tel. 501/621-0417 or 501/664-5300, U.S. tel. 800/640-2182, from US$1,295), providing luxury sailing charters with “the amenities of an all-inclusive luxury resort aboard your own private catamaran, tailored to your own personalized itinerary.” This dream itinerary goes from island-hopping to snorkeling and diving on the way or just relaxing on board. A popular choice is Doris, a 50-foot catamaran with four air-conditioned cabins, four baths, lounge areas, plasma TVs, and your very own chef on board.
The area within the reef is a favorite for tarpon and bonefish. Outside the reef, the choice of big game is endless. Most hotels and dive shops will make arrangements for fishing, including a boat and a guide. Ask around the docks (and your hotel) for the best guides. Serious anglers should consider Abner Marin at Go Fish Belize (beachfront at Boca del Rio Dr., tel. 501/226-3121), one of the most qualified and reputable guides around. Or try Fishing San Pedro (Front St., above Manelly’s, tel. 501/607-9967), another sure bet where half- or full-day chartered fishing trips are relatively affordable at US$325 for a full day for two people, including tackle, bait, soft drinks, and water; a fish or lobster barbecue costs a bit extra.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Belize Cayes.