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Water, Wind and Waves ...

Watersports are a great way to enjoy Belize’s waters and add fun and adventure to your vacation.  The coastline is primarily known for its diving and fishing; however, it’s also an excellent backdrop for a variety of watersports.  The steady winds and relatively calm waters provided by the barrier reef make for smooth sailing off the coast.  Windsurfing is popular and boards are often seen racing across the shoreline.  The small catamarans are great for a relaxing cruise in the afternoon.  The relatively new sport of kite surfing uses sleek traction kites that offer a lot of speed and air on your board.  Jet-skies are a lot of fun and anyone can ride them; cruise along the shoreline or head towards the barrier reef for some snorkeling.  Parasailing will take you up into the sky for spectacular aerial views.  Kayaks are popular because of their versatility.  You can take it around an island to explore, often spotting birds and wildlife along the shoreline.  Embark on an island-hopping expedition on kayaks where you camp out on the beach.  Or paddle to the reef, anchor your kayak on a buoy and enjoy some snorkeling.  The many rivers that etch through the jungle are also excellent for watersports.  You can paddle along calm waters and observe wildlife along the banks, while the more adventurous might try the various classes of white-water rapids

The water conditions and weather are generally great for watersports and equipment is easy to come across.  Off the northern islands like Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, the barrier reef (less than a mile off the shoreline) creates calm protected waters.  Close to the shore there is some chop for bumps and jumps.  Near the reef it’s smooth for getting high speeds.   Finally, the channels through the reef form large waves when the winds pick up.  The wind averages between 12 and 20 knots with February through June brining the highest wind speeds.  Further south, off the coastal beaches like Dangriga and Placencia, the water is generally calm in the morning with good waves forming later in the day as winds pick up.  Several rivers wind through the land and are usually explored on kayaks or canoes.  Some of the most scenic rivers include Monkey, Macal, Mopan, Rio Grande, Temash, Caves Branch, Sittee and New River.  Along stretches of some rivers, like the Macal and Mopan, you can find white-water rapids ranging through different classes, from easy to difficult.  Most beachfront resorts on the islands, atolls and coastal beaches (as well as jungle lodges beside rivers or lakes) offer complimentary use of watersports equipment.  In some you will see kayaks lined across the beach, where you can just pull one into the water and embark on a little adventure.  Kayaks are quite common throughout the country, however Ambergris Caye has the largest selection of equipment, from jet-skies to kite surfing boards.  Courses are also available for various equipment like windsurfing boards, sailboats and kite boards.  They range from beginner classes where you can be up on a windsurfing board in an hour to advanced classes for learning tricks.

Where to Go

For those who want a little bit more than just taking in the scenery, you can add some adventure on the water with a variety of watersports.  Although all the islands and coastal beaches offer some sort of watersports, the availability of equipment may vary.  Below is a brief description of the watersports in these different destinations that should help you in choosing where to go.     

Ambergris Caye: Ambergris Caye offers the greatest diversity of watersports equipment.  There are winsurfing boards, sailboats, kite boards, jet skies, parasailing, wakeboards, kneeboards and even torpedo rides.  The barrier reef is less than a mile offshore with varied water conditions from calm water to large waves.  There is something for every skill level, from the beginner to the advanced.  Several instruction courses are also available.  Several beachfront resorts carry varied watersports equipment as well.   

Caye Caulker: Just like its island cousin to the north, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker offers a variety of water conditions, from calm waters to large waves ideal for watersports at all skill levels.  However, the availability of rental equipment is less extensive; it includes windsurfing boards, sailboats, kite boards and kayaks.  Several instruction courses are also available.

Atolls: The atolls are primarily diving and fishing destinations.  However, several of the resorts have kayaks or canoes that guests can use on their down time.  The lagoon of Glover’s Reef has coral patches for good snorkeling.  On Turneffe Islands you can also explore the lagoon and surrounding coral reefs on kayaks.  You can anchor your kayak to a buoy and enjoy some snorkeling as well.

Placencia: Toadal Adventures is an outfitter based here that specializes in camping excursions.  One of their packages will take you island hopping on kayaks with overnight camping on the islands. check out our Belmopan & Placencia Extreme Adventure Package which includes this island kayaking.   Another one of their packages will take you up the scenic Monkey River on rafts while camping along the riverbanks.  The itineraries can be customized for all fitness levels.  Several beachfront resorts carry varied watersports equipment as well. 

Dangriga: There is a small windsurfing school that offers rentals and excellent instruction courses in Hopkins, just south of Dangriga Town.  Kayaking or canoeing down the Sittee River is popular activity, where you can spot wildlife along the banks and enjoy the scenery.  Several beachfront resorts carry varied watersports equipment as well.  

San Ignacio: The Macal and Mopan Rivers run through the pine and rainforest terrain.  Some stretches are calm for canoeing or kayaking to take in the flora and wildlife along the banks.  Other stretches have various classes of white-water rapids.  Entering Barton Creek Cave, where the river flows into the cave, is done on canoes.  Trips to the Maya ruins of Xunantunich can be combined with some canoeing along the river.

Belmopan: The Belize and Caves Branch Rivers run through this area.  The Caves Branch River is often traversed on inner tubes passing through jungle terrain and underground caves.  The Belize River can be explored on canoe, spotting wildlife along the banks and taking in the varied flora.

Orange Walk: The New River has a lot of lush vegetation and wildlife and is often included as part of the tours to the Maya ruin of Lamanai.  The river empties into the New River Lagoon whose calm waters are good for various watersports like skiing and canoing.  Paddling near the banks can yield many bird sightings and other wildlife.  You can even paddle over to Lamanai, which sits right beside the lagoon.  Further into Orange Walk is another lagoon, Laguna Seca, that is also good for canoing or kayaking.

Punta Gorda: Punta Gorda has several rivers like the Rio Grande, Sarstoon and Temash.  These are usually traversed on kayaks or canoes spotting wildlife along the way and taking in the varied flora.  A few hotels are nestled right along some of these rivers, with kayaks and canoes available for guests. Off the coast of Punta Gorda are several islands great for sea kayaking and camping. Check out our Indian Creek & Sapodilla Cayes Jungle & Sea Kayking Package.

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