Our offers for shore excursions in Belize City
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Useful Information for Excursions in and around Belize City
We have put together the following information for you about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights as well as many useful tips for shore excursions in and around Belize City.
The most beautiful sights in and around Belize
Belize City is the largest city in the second smallest country in Latin America. With only about 385,000 inhabitants, it is also the least populated country in the region. Belize is located in the southeast of the Yucatán Peninsula between Mexico in the north and Guatemala in the south and offers a unique variety for your cruise stay: From exploring the rainforest with its Mayan sites to discovering the coral reefs of the second largest barrier reef in the world, you can arrange your shore excursion according to your taste. The untouched natural diversity is considered the country’s unique wealth. About 50% of the area is under nature protection, breathtaking beaches on countless offshore islands invite you to swim and dive.
Besides the unique nature, Belize is characterized by the Mayan culture. There are about 20 historic Mayan sites throughout the country. As early as 2000 BC, the land was inhabited by the indigenous Mayan people, who created impressive buildings in their centres. Nowhere did the Maya leave so many traces as in today’s Belize. Even today, about ten per cent of the country’s population is descended from the Mayan people. Many shore excursions lead from Belize City to the most famous former Mayan temples.
Belize City is the former capital of the country. Today it is indeed a provincial capital, but with approximately 70.000 inhabitants it is nevertheless very natural and not very touristic outside the cruise area.
The river Haulover Creek divides the city into a northern and a southern part. In the northern part lies the historic Fort George quarter. This is characterised by historic buildings, including the colonial town hall. Other landmarks such as the Queen Street Baptist Church, the famous Baron Bliss Lighthouse at the harbour or the Belize Museum, which is housed in a former prison, can also be found here. In the part of the city south of the river, there is the St. John’s Cathedral, built in 1847, the oldest Anglican church in Central America, as well as the government building that was the seat of the colonial government for more than 150 years.
The city, divided by Haulover Creek, is connected by several bridges. The Swing Bridge in the city centre at the shopping street Albert Street is outstanding. It was built in 1923 and is today considered the last swing bridge in the world, which is still being moved day by day by human hand.
If you want to explore Belize City on your own, you should travel carefully throughout the city and not carry any valuables open. Crime is high and Belize City is considered the most dangerous city in the country. You should follow the main roads and avoid less frequented neighborhoods. The Federal Foreign Office generally advises against walks after dark and gives further tips on how to behave. The easiest and safest way to get around is with a guided shore excursion!
One of the most famous Mayan ruins is Altun Ha. About 45 kilometers north of Belize City, this site is nestled in the rainforest near the coast. Due to its location, it served as an important trade center with connections to the other Mayan sites in the interior of the country. It is said that about 10,000 inhabitants once lived here. It was not until the 1960s that the complex, hidden in the rainforest, was finally rediscovered. During subsequent excavations, scientists found the jade head of the sun god Kinich Ahau, which today is one of the national treasures of the country.
All in all, the complex consists of several temples that can be climbed. The brick altar dedicated to the sun god is the highest temple and has a height of 16 metres and can be climbed over a stone staircase. From the top, there is an impressive view of the entire complex and the surrounding rainforest.
Lamanai lies on the shore of the New River Lagoon in the middle of the tropical rainforest. From Belize City, shore excursions take you inland by bus. The last part is adventurously covered in a boat. During the impressive trip on the New River you can admire the exotic flora and fauna. If you are lucky you will see different water birds, iguanas, crocodiles or howler monkeys.
Translated Lamanai means “submerged crocodile”. The Mayas are said to have lived here for over 3,000 years. This makes the facility one of the longest inhabited Mayan sites in the world. Today three large temples can be admired. From the 33-meter high High Temple, which can be climbed, you have an incomparable view of the surrounding area.
Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef extends directly off Belize. With a length of 300 kilometres, it is the second-largest barrier reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The reef is very popular with nature lovers and divers. The diversity of species is incredibly impressive. It is not without reason that the reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As soon as you dive your head underwater, you will already get to know the first sea dwellers. You can meet rays, turtles, corals, sharks and more than 250 different fish species.
More than 200 small offshore islands of coral and sand deposits, the so-called cayes, are ideal starting points for a diving or snorkeling trip. Caye Caulker is one of the most famous Cayes. About 35 kilometres northeast of Belize City, the island can be easily reached in about 45 minutes by water taxi. The return trip costs approx. 25 US dollars per person. With a length of approximately eight kilometres and a width of almost two kilometres, the island can be explored wonderfully on foot. Even if there is no real beach, one can enjoy the wonderful view of the clear, turquoise water with a delicious cocktail and bathe in it.
Another popular destination by water taxi is Ambergris Caye. The island is a little further north, about 50 kilometres from Belize City. Overall this island is more touristy compared to Caye Caulker. Nevertheless, care is taken to preserve the island character by not allowing buildings to be higher than two storeys. The capital San Pedro is world-famous for Madonna’s hit “La Isla Bonita”. For the journey, you should plan one and a half hours and costs for the outward and return journey at a value of 45 US dollars per person.
Great Blue Hole
The world-famous Great Blue Hole in the Belize Barrier Reef was originally a cave that collapsed about 10,000 years ago and sank into the sea as a piece of land. This natural spectacle left an almost even circle at the sea surface with a diameter of 330 meters and a depth of 130 meters. For many divers, it is a lifelong dream to discover the underwater world in this fascinating dive spot. In the middle of it, there are unique stalactites and stalagmites, stalactites hanging from the ceiling and from the floor. But only from above you can see to the full extent how the dark blue, round surface seems to stand out as a hole from the rest of the turquoise reef. Helicopter flights are also offered, during which one enjoys the best view from the bird’s eye view.
Map of the Cruise Port in Belize City
The port of Belize City is very small and does not have any direct cruise ship moorings. Due to the size and protection of the coral reef off the mainland, the cruise ships are at anchor off Belize City, about four nautical miles from the city. From there, cruise guests are taken to the mainland to Belize City by local tender boats. Depending on weather conditions, the journey in the tender boats takes about 20-30 minutes and takes you to the Fort Street Tourism Village in the east of the city. In the harbor area, you will find several shops, bars and restaurants. The city centre is about two kilometres away and can be explored on foot from the harbour, although this is only recommended to a limited extent. Belize City is considered a relatively unsafe city, so you should stay in the tourist areas and avoid other areas.
Overall, Belize City offers only a few sightseeings and is used instead as a starting point to explore the numerous highlights in the surrounding area. For cruise guests, it is recommended to start on a guided shore excursion. With the knowledge of a local guide and the safety of a group, you can best experience the country with its unique nature and culture. If you book a shore excursion with us, you will, of course, be picked up in the immediate vicinity of the harbour.
Useful Facts for shore excursions in Belize
Shipping companies and routes
In particular, international shipping companies such as MSC, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises have meanwhile firmly included Belize City in their programme and operate the port all year round during the Caribbean and Central American cruises. The high season for cruise ships is between November and March. During these months, the German-speaking shipping companies AIDA Cruises and TUI Cruises – Mein Schiff will also be making regular calls to the port. Further ports are often Santo Domingo, Samana and La Romana in the Dominican Republic, the ports in Jamaica like Ocho Rios and Montego Bay or Costa Maya, Cozumel, St. Maarten, Puerto Limón and Cartagena de Indias.
Entry and Visa
If you travel to Belize on a cruise, no visa is required. However, you will need a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the end of your stay.
To be on the safe side, we generally recommend that you obtain information about all valid entry regulations directly from your cruise shipping company and from the Federal Foreign Office in good time before your cruise.
Taxi and public transport
If you would like to visit one of the highlights in the area, it is advisable to book an organised shore excursion for Belize City. The famous Mayan sites are partly hidden in the rainforest and are difficult to reach on your own.
If you have not booked a transfer or guided shore excursion, taxis are available directly outside the port area. The official taxis are easily recognisable by the green number plate with the letter D and four following numbers. Please note that there are neither taximeters nor fixed prices. Prices should, therefore, be negotiated with the driver before departure.
The water taxis, which are available at the harbour, are also very popular. The providers Belize Water Taxi and Ocean Ferry Belize take you to the offshore islands like Caye Caulker and San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Depending on your destination, you should expect to pay from US$25 per person for a return ticket that covers the return trip. Be sure to check your destination and departures before your trip so you can make the most of the day. The moorings for water taxis vary from operator to operator but are only a few hundred metres from the port area. In general, allow sufficient time for the return journey and bear in mind that the journey in the tender boat back to your ship – without waiting times – takes another 20-30 minutes.
The official currency in Belize is the Belize Dollar (BZD), which is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate. 1 Euro is currently equivalent to about 2.25 BZD. However, an exchange of the currency is usually not necessary. As a tourist, you can pay almost everywhere comfortably with US dollars. You can exchange these before the start of your Caribbean cruise. In addition to cash, credit cards are also very common and are usually accepted as means of payment. ATMs can often only be found in the cities.
Belize City has a tropical climate with high temperatures all year round. The high season is in the winter months between December and April. This is also the high season for cruise ships and they avoid the rainy season in summer (lots of rain and high temperatures). Also, hurricanes between July and November cannot be excluded. During the milder dry season in the winter months, it is usually sunny and the average temperature is between 24 and 28 degrees. In addition, the trade wind provides a pleasant refreshment. Nevertheless, you should expect short but heavy rainfalls during this time.
Port operator and tourism organisation website
Video: Impressions of Belize
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