Entering Harvest Caye, the first thing you will notice is the rather large number of pelicans. Swooping into the clear waters to catch the fish which they gulp down their large beaks, is a sight to behold. It is also a perfect precursor to what you will see in this island.
Hopping off the Norwegian Pearl cruise liner into Harvest Caye, a Caribbean premier resort style destination, is a great way to come up close with Belize. A short walk alongside a mangrove avenue gets you to a large complex that has a beautiful seven acre white sand beach, all filled with lounge chairs. There are luxury beach villas available on rent too and if you want to do nothing, well simply slip into a hammock and relax to the sounds of the sea.
The venue is peppered with shopping as well as dining options, so there really is never a dull moment. However, if adventure turns you on, there are a variety of water sports including a salt water lagoon for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, parasailing and electric float boats. There is also a 3000 ft long zipline, ropes course, suspension bridge and quick jump to get your adrenaline racing. A sprawling 15,000 sq ft pool and a swim up bar are for those who love water.
The wildlife and conservation centre is an interesting place to stop by. It has a butterfly garden where you can see the blue Mormon butterfly, view a boa constrictor as well as see the national bird, the Keel-billed Toucan and the Scarlet Macaw. This is also the place from where you can book a variety of shore excursions to explore the town. I decided to take a village tour to know the local life.
A short ride from Harvest Caye brings you to the Malacate Landing. From here, you can take a bus tour to see how locals live. The Mango Creek and Independence Village Life Tour will acquaint you with them. The twin villages of Mango Creek and Independence are separated by a road and our guide Ernila explained that the former is the older part that was built in 1940, while Independence village was built in 1981 after Belize became independent. Incidentally Belize has 28 varieties of mangoes including a black mango and white mango as well and almost all houses have a mango and coconut tree here. Passing by churches and schools, you can also see that most houses are built on stilts or on an elevation as this is a hurricane-prone area where flooding is commonplace. The houses are pretty colourful and you will see a sea of pastel hues on their exteriors. This is where you will see the Hockey Pockey Taxi on the Water Side, small boats that are used to transport school children and office goers.
Two miles from here is the commercial port of Big Creek which is the only natural deep water port in Belize. Locally grown bananas are loaded onto ships here and exported to Europe. Crude oil as well as sugar too are exported.
Four miles from here is the Savannah Forest Station where you can see the Savannah airstrip. A small yellow flight here is used to spray chemicals on the banana plantations to protect them from the Sigatoka virus.
This is also the airport where local flights land. Stop at the local market where you will be greeted by local musicians and artists who perform a local dance. You can pick up handmade Belizian handicrafts at the market too. A perfect island holiday is calling, go for it.
- Harvest Caye is a popular cruise port. You could check www.ncl.com for cruise bookings that dock in the island
- This is a private island and US dollars work on the island. Just make sure you carry smaller denomination notes as well for use in the villages as they will usually not return change in USD.