Excursion Focus: Goff's Caye, Belize City


Royal Caribbean offers a number of cruises to Belize City and like us, you may be looking for something fun to do here during the day.  We spent weeks searching for the right excurison for our family and we eventually decided on Goff's Caye.


Goff's Caye is a small private island off the shore of Belize City.  It's only accessible by boat and you must book a private excursion to reach the island.  Did I mention Goff's Caye is small?  It's only 1.2 acres of sand but if you're looking for somewhere to swim, enjoy the sun and snorkel, then this is the place for you.

We booked our excursion online for $40 per person (kids under 4 are free).  This gets you transportation to and from the island, snorkeling equipment and complimentary rum punch.

Getting to and from the island is probably the most difficult aspect of the entire itinerary. Royal Caribbean ships have to tender in Belize City, so you have to take the Royal Caribbean tender to Belize City and then take a different boat to Goff's Caye.

We were on the first tender to Belize City to avoid the notoriously long tender lines on the cruise ship and made our way to the check-in area in Belize City for the excursion.  We had put down a deposit online a few weeks earlier and paid off the remainder of the balance in port.  We were then given wristbands and told which dock to report to.

A couple of hours later it was time to board the speedboat to Goff's Caye.  There were about a dozen or so people on the boat and the ride takes about 20-30 minutes.  The boat goes much faster than the cruise ship tenders so the ride isn't so bad to get there.

Once you arrive at Goff's Caye, you pick a spot on the beach.  You can rent chairs (no umbrellas) for a nominal fee. The beach is clean and mostly rock-free.  Walking from the beach anywhere else does require shoes due to the various rocks in the interior of the island.

You can optionally purchase lunch on the island, which is BBQ food.  Prices were reasonable and there are beverages also available for purchase.  Rum punch and water are complimentary.

If you choose, snorkeling is provided in groups.  At a designated time, the boat takes a group off shore to snorkel and the snorkeling group moves around the island.  I did not partake in the snorkeling but I spoke with a number of people who did and they all reported the experience to be fun.  They all said they saw a good amount of sea creatures and generally enjoyed the experience.


Goff's Caye is a no-frills beach break excursion.  For someone looking for a basic beach day with just you, sand and the water, then this is perfect.

The remote location of Goff's Caye makes it quite serene.  There's little cover from the sun so be sure to bring plenty of sun lotion (and be sure to actually apply it, unlike this blogger).  

What we liked about Goff's Caye was we got a chance to sit down and relax on the beach with the occasional swim.  We had gone to Goff's Caye in February and it was a cloudy day so the water temperature was a bit cool.

The value for the excusion is quite high as the overall cost isn't bad at all, especially compared to other private island beach excursions.  Ultimately the low-cost is what convinced us to book Goff's Caye and I was happy with the choice.  It wasn't the best beach excursion I've ever taken but it was exactly what I expected.

If you want an inexpensive beach day in Belize City, it's hard to go wrong with Goff's Caye.

Royal Caribbean to invest in new $156 million Belize cruise port project


Mike Feinstein, of the Feinstein Group, announced at a press conference a proposed US$100 million project for the development of a cruise port at Stake Bank and a shopping zone on North Drowned Caye, about two miles off the coast of Belize City.

The project is being described as 100% Belizian, but Feinstein did indicate that Royal Caribbean intends to invest in the new venture. Royal Caribbean runs the only existing cruise port in Belize. Another port, however, to be built by Norwegian Cruise Lines, has recently been proposed for Southern Belize. The Stake Bank project is also being considered for government approval.

The project has two major aspects.  The first is a US$67.5 million investment to build a deep water port at Stake Bank, just four nautical miles southeast of Belize City that allow cruise ships to dock at the pier.  The second aspect would build a port infrastructure to garner additional tourism including restaurants, night-clubs and other forms of entertainment for both visitors and Belizeans.

Feinstein says the project could be completed and operational in 18 months once the Government of Belize gives the go-ahead.

The port would be open all cruise lines currently sailing the Caribbean, with Royal Caribbean having already committed to come on board as a major investment partner in the project.

Locals in Belize pass petition against cruise tourism


Nearly 90% of the residents of Placencia Village in Belize passed a petition that they are opposed to the proposed introduction of cruise tourism.The petition is in opposition of Royal Caribbean's recent purchase of land in the area for the intention of building a tourism village.

The petition was started by an area resident and was designed to give more proof that opposition to the proposed plan to bring Royal Caribbean ships to the area aren't limited to a "few residents".

On the petition, 330 registered voters agreed that they are opposed to cruises coming to their area, which is out of 367 registered voters in the village.

The villagers are opposed to the plan because of the chaos tourists bring as well as the environmental impact the ships and people will have on the area's ecosystem.

Opposition to proposed Belize cruise port grows


A public meeting was held last week that featured the members of the Placencia Village Council, Placencia Tour Guide Association and the Placencia chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association.  The meeting was geared to having these locals express their concerns to Royal Caribbean represenatives and to the Belize government about a plan to build a new cruise terminal in Placencia.

Royal Caribbean has already purchased the land for the terminal, but opponents claim the proposal would damage the environment of the area, which is central to Placencia's appeal to begin with.  Obviously the prospect of a cruise terminal in the town would increase the amount of tourists visiting the area, locals are more concerned with the environmental impact the cruise ships and tourists would have in the long run.

"Overnight tourists and foreign home owners are our current and future bread and butter that we have worked so hard for over the last 20 years," said local developer Boris Mannsfeld, who is building the Villas at CocoPlum. "They will be driven away if cruise ships arrive here."

Investors with ties to Royal Caribbean aquire land in Placencia area


According to Channel 5 in Belize, investors with ties to Royal Caribbean have acquired land in the Placencia area "for the establishment of a cruise tourism village".

No further news on this development, but the clear consensus among residents of Placencia Village are against it.  

Debate over new port in Belize heats up


Earlier this month news came out of Royal Caribbean was considering building a new cruise port in the country of Belize near the village of Placencia.  Belize government officials confirmed last week that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines wants to build a “tourism village” and the debate among locals is heating up over if it's a good idea or not.

The Belize Ministry of Tourism chief executive Mike Singh indicated that Royal Caribbean plans to build a facility on the southern point of the peninsula as “a welcome center for tendered cruise passengers.”

Once word of the plans came out, locals have voiced their opinions and often, their anger over the plan.  Many do not want cruise ships to stop in their village for fears of environmental damage, lack of infrastructure to support the tourists, and revenue from the cruises not impacting locals.  In just a blog entry on this site earlier, over 30 comments were generated mostly by locals who were against the plans.

"Placencia Village is way to small to receive passengers from cruise ships."

"Revenues from this will go to a very select few, not Placencia. Tour companies and the terminal will be owned by people who are already rich!"

"Stay away from Placencia! We have no sewage system, no hospital, no fire department, few police, one doctor, one nurse, maybe not enough water (we don't know) - we simply can't handle cruise ship passengers."

"Placencia won't be Placiencia anymore if mass tourismus comes there."

Opening a cruise port in Placencia can be good and bad.  On the plus side, the town gets worldwide exposure, additional revenue from tourists into the local economy and more home buyers from those looking for a vacation home.  On the down side, critics argue cruise ships simply bring day-trippers who don’t spend money and leave environmental damage in their wake.

There is also a report that this plan for Placencia is merely a negotiating tactic by Royal Caribbean to try to get a better deal.  Royal Caribbean is reportedly in a dispute over plans to build a second terminal in Belize City.