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Belize versus BVI
We sailed in Belize this February (have also sailed the BVI multiple times). While we thoroughly enjoyed Belize, and felt completely safe, this is a destination that is VERY different from the BVI. We sailed with TMM from San Pedro (Ambergris Caye), so my observations are based on that perspective.
Here are some key differences:
- Provisioning (food, ice, water, fuel) -- once you get south of Cay Caulker, there is nowhere to get anything until you get to Placencia, which you are not likely to do in a week''s sail. You need to plan ahead and conserve. It needn''t be a big deal, but it''s something to think about.
- Sailing conditions: with steady trades coming from the east at 10-20 knots, you will be beam-reaching almost all the time, as you sail from north to south -- the sailing is the best we''ve ever experienced on charter. The waters are quite shallow, and there are many spots where you need to be especially attentive for coral heads and patch reefs.
- Anchoring and anchorages: there are no moorings, so you will need to anchor almost every night, mostly in silty sand or grass. Make sure your anchoring skills are up to snuff. There are a few classic protected anhorages (St. George''s Caye, Bluefield Range), but other nights you will simply find yourself in the lee of an island.
- Nightlife and restaurants: again, virtually nothing south of Caye Caulker, with the very pleasant exception of the dive lodge at St. George''s Caye (you must reserve to dine here). Of course, I''m happy to trade a night in a restaurant for grilling just-caught lobsters on my own.
- Activities: it''s mostly about nature here. Snorkelling and diving, and manatee-watching are the highlights. Lots of great land-based activities (Mayan ruins, jungle tours), but those are typically reserved for before or after your trip, as they are a good distance inland.
- Beaches: if you come here for the beaches, there''s not much to them. A handful on the reef (can''t stay overnight), and that''s about it.
Don''t get me wrong ... we absolutely LOVED sailing in Belize and would return in a heartbeat. But we went prepared, with our expectations properly managed. If you are looking for something different, but not too different, consider the Abacos.
I have a report of my sail on my webpage at www.homestead.com/islandtime/MainPage1.html (you''ll also find a couple of reports on the Abacos). Also, feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org