- Build year:2020
- Length:48 ft
- Boat type:Catamaran
Explore South America’s sensational Mesoamerican reef on a catamaran charter Belize and roam these uniquely sheltered clear waters, meeting howler monkeys and exploring each Mayan ruin and beachfront jungle as you go from the Turneffe Atoll to Glovers reef and Hatchet Caye. Belize is a totally unique catamaran charter destination!
Sat on the NW of the Caribbean Sea in Central America, Belize is a British protectorate. Prior to the Brits and Spanish, it was a major territory of the Mayans in this part of the world. Let’s take a look at where you can go and what you can do on a Belize sailing vacation.
There are many things to enjoy, old and not so old on a Belize yacht charter. The oldest of all is the Belize barrier reef that is the second biggest in the world after the one in Australia, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site marine reserve thanks to its important marine ecology. Most bareboat charter sailors will sail inside the barrier reef - charter companies will rarely if at all permit you to sail offshore of the reef thanks to the poorly charted coral heads beyond.
On the mainland and islands you will run into the odd Mayan ruin that are dotted around the Central America country, often lost deep in rainforest. These date back 1,200 years in some cases and are an opportunity to see hints of civilisations destroyed for our own.
Just south of Belize City is Old Belize, a tourism centre on the mainland. In Old Belize you can enjoy the fun to be had and perhaps get an understanding of the Mayan ruin locally. Cucumber Beach Marina is also an important yacht charter hub from which you may begin your Belize yacht charter.
Only 35 miles of east of Belize City, you may wish to visit Belize’s most popular holiday destination, Ambergris Caye and its capital, San Pedro. San Pedro is on Belize’s largest island and is a year round party town with festivities and fun to be had almost around the clock. Caye Caulker is nearby, a very chilled out island that still has much of the buzz of its bigger brother, Ambergris Caye.
On a yacht charter with skipper and crew to look after the navigation you could get out to Lighthouse Reef, an atoll with the famous Blue Hole diving location. This is a world renowned bucket-list dive for many, who descend to their limits and in some cases even encounter the resident hammerhead shark that lives here!
For those who want to go scuba diving at the Great Blue Hole on Lighthouse Reef, you will need a local skipper on board to navigate you safely beyond the Mesoamerican Reef thanks to the challenging navigation and poor charting of underwater obstacles. The water is deeper so larger yachts can navigate these waters - though even a 12 metre yacht can run aground on a subsurface coral head that isn’t on the charts!
At nature reserves such as South Water Caye or Hol Chan Marine Reserve you will run into a huge array of wildlife including whale sharks and a variety of birds, rays and other species living on and around the reef. South Water Cay is a very popular destination for snorkeling and scuba diving too thanks to its great coral reef.
Most charters start in Placencia, from where you can sail out into the Cays, or head inland for the bizarrely-shaped Placencia Lagoon, a must-visit inside the Placencia Peninsula. Placencia gives you access to the southern stretches of the Belize Barrier Reef and cays within. Take a SUP and paddle across the sheltered Lagoon Caye.
A crewed yacht charter is one of the best ways to enjoy a Belize yacht charter holiday. With an often large vessel just for you and your fellow charter guests’ use, on a crewed yacht charter the skipper and crew will look after your every need afloat. They will look after the tender as you venture ashore on cays like Wippari Cay and Lagoon Cay, and perhaps make suggestions as to the best spots to enjoy a first class meal or activity of your choice.
On a bareboat charter catamaran charter you will have the space and added privacy to get the luxury yacht from A-B at your own pace.
Though you will often have to have a sailing license for a larger vessel, a bareboat charter will give you complete freedom and privacy to do what you want. Unlike a monohull sailing yachts, a catamaran charter yacht will often come with en suite heads in all the cabins, an AC generator and all the comforts of home as you captain your own ship.
A skippered catamaran charter can range from a 46ft+ catamaran. The skipper aboard will look after the sailing and make suggestions as to your next destinations, with you playing as much or as little a role in getting from A-B as you want. It is customary to pay a tip at the end of the trip, on top of the $100-$150 a day fee for the skipper you pay as well as the basic charter fee.
A crewed charter could mean a 60ft yacht with skipper and host/chef, but could also mean a luxury fully-crewed yacht charter with a whole team of people looking after your every need. As well as sailing the vessel up the the waters inside and outside the barrier reef, they will cook, look after the housekeeping and water toys, and provide you with the service you expect at the top end of yacht charter holiday experiences.
Ranging from a 40ft yacht to much, much larger, this will be enjoyable to sail (particularly with the wind aft of the beam) and unlike a monohull sailboat will often have en suite heads in all the staterooms. You will have plenty of entertainment space aboard and even the smaller vessels will have room for water toys such as paddleboards and kite surfing gear or even diving gear and jet skis. If the windage of the catamaran sailing boat gets too much, powerful twin engines will be able to get you upwind to your next destination too!
Ranging from 46ft to over 100ft LOA, you can charter a luxury motor yacht catamaran with crew or bareboat. Thanks to the wider beam they are more stable than a monohull motor yacht (no one going green at sea unless too much drink was involved!) and much faster. This could allow for longer legs, perhaps to Ambergris Caye and onward to Lighthouse Reef.
There are three broad types of sailing holiday to be had in Belize - family, outdoor or party.
Partying can mean stays in fun spots like San Pedro or Old Belize - or something a little wilder on the Placencia Peninsula!
Family holidays are the bread and butter of the Belize economy. You can relax in great places like South Water Cay or Caye Caulker.
Active holidays The Blue Hole on Lighthouse Reef is on every scuba diving bucket list!
A catamaran charter boat charter in Belize can mean a variety of things to different people. The sailing is reliably excellent so a blast at sea every day will be a core part of the fun.
For the family or older ones, you can sail between hidden coves and quiet sandy beaches, while visiting fishing villages and quieter resorts.
You will want to sail for several hours a day - with the near perfect sailing conditions this is unmissable. Watching the marine life and tropical fish from the windward rail on a beam reach as the catamaran bounds across the sea will be an unforgettable experience.
As such your typical day could be a mix of things, from an early start to blast off to the next island to waking up at lunchtime feeling a little green around the gills and thanking your crew for getting you back aboard. The choice is down to you.
As an up and coming sailing destination, Belize isn’t on everyone’s list of charter destinations - yet. When you come to appreciate the beauty of the country and fun to be had on a Belize sailing vacation you soon want to come back time and again. With its laid back charm and authenticity, this is a under-explored Caribbean gem.
If you are on a skippered or crewed catamaran charter you do not need a license to sail on the Caribbean Sea - you can just turn up at the marina and go.
You do need a license if you are on a bareboat catamaran charter. You will need to check with your charter agent but here are some examples of typical sailing qualifications that are approved by the Belize Port Authority:
International Certificate of Competence: This is issued on request by your European sailing authority and you should automatically qualify with certain national sailing qualifications.
RYA Qualifications: If you have the following qualifications you will typically be able to take a bareboat charter out of Rhodes (but it is worth checking as per above), these include Day Skipper (sail or motor endorsement), Coastal Skipperor Yachtmaster.
American Sailing Association (ASA): The ASA 104 Bareboat certificate is commonly accepted but also check as per above
US Sailing: The International Proficiency Certificate is widely accepted and The Bareboat Cruising Certificate is also accepted in many cases.
Unlike Europe, the sailing season in the Caribbean runs from November to May - perfect for a dose of winter sun. The NE Trades are settled and you will encounter weather between 25-35 degrees C.
Within this period, March and April after the winter northerlies have passed are cooler yet the sailing is just as fun as the rest of the year. Belize is after all a tropical country!
For those who want to try something a little outside their comfort zone, August and September are said to be the very best sailing months of all.
There’s a problem with this - many yacht charter fleets will not be in the area thanks to hurricane season that runs between July and October. If booked and a hurricane is on its way your holiday will be cancelled. There is no minimising the danger of being in the region in a hurricane - there is no high ground and with the general trend for ever fiercer storms, it is not an experience to even risk being around for.
North East Trade Winds: Similar to those of the Canary Islands these are regular and can get up to F6 at times, but steady and predictable.
May to November is hurricane season, and while the sailing can be fun it can be dangerous. With climate change as it is, hurricanes have increased in ferocity and frequency, and it really isn’t worth the risk.
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The main points to consider are what is your budget, have you got the necessary sailing experience and qualifications to manage the boat if it's not going to have a skipper, whom you are taking sailing, where exactly you wish to go and what will the weather be like on the proposed dates of your trip.
You will typically pay 50% up front on booking the catamaran hire and the balance on arrival. You will either pay a security deposit with your credit card on departure or can get insurance covering damage in advance. In some cases (such as the recent Covid situation) charter companies may be more flexible but this depends on the individual charter companies themselves.
If you are at sea and in danger, call MAYDAY on VHF Ch16 or ring the coast guard on your phone if you have reception. If you have a mechanical fault and can make it to or are on a mooring you will be able to phone a help line number given by the boat charter company and they can typically send someone from the charter base
You should consider do you have the experience to handle the catamaran before you book and where do you want to go along with what the weather will be like. Bring warm weather and cool weather clothing if it looks like the weather can be cool as well as warm and remember at sea it can be cool in the evenings.
If you want to sail without a skipper then you will need relevant qualifications like RYA Day Skipper/International Certificate of Competence (ICC)/ASA 104 Bareboat certificate or the US Sailing Certificate. If you choose to have a skipper on board your catamaran you won't require licences.
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