Belize

Essential information

Belize

Location

Our Belize base is located in the Laru Beya Resort and Marina, just 10 minutes from Placencia Regional Airstrip.

Contact details

Sunsail Belize
(c/o Laru Beya Resort)
Placencia Peninsula
Placencia,
Belize, C.A.

Open hours

8am–5pm, seven days a week, all year round.

Base/shore facilities

Laru Beya Marina facilities include:

Showers and toilets, limited provisioning, hotel and pool, bars and restaurant, laundry and a selection of shops.

Arrival and departure

Airport parking

Save up to 30 percent when you book your airport parking through Sunsail.  Please call us for more details.

Airport hotels

We have preferential rates at many hotels at the UK’s major airports.  Please call us for more details.

Time difference

Belize is in the Central Standard Time zone (GMT –6 hours), and does not utilise daylight saving time.

Flights

Gatwick information: 0844 335 1802

Heathrow information: 0870 000 0123

Manchester information: 0871 271 0711

Luton information: 0158 240 5100

Glasgow information: 0870 040 0008

Luggage

Luggage allowance is 20kg per person. Only one item of hand luggage per person is allowed and this must not weigh more than 5kg. For storage aboard we recommend travelling light and using folding luggage.

Lost or damaged luggage whilst flying is the responsibility of the airline and is not covered by your travel insurance. Virgin Airways carries no liability for loss or damage to valuable or fragile items packed in hold baggage however caused. You must not include in checked baggage money, jewellery, precious metals, computers, personal electronic devices, negotiable papers, securities or other valuables, business documents, passports and other identification documents or samples.

Alcohol may be taken on flights but only in checked luggage (well secured from breakages) not as hand luggage due to airport security restrictions.

Incidents

If an incident occurs, immediately report it to airport officials and ensure Property Irregularity Reports (PIR) are completed. Claims will not be considered once you have left the airport.

Pre-booking

If you are taking our Virgin Airways flights please note that Premium Economy cabins are being refurbished and the aircrafts are now not confirmed until 24 hours before departure so pre-seating can only be requested 24 hours before departure at check-in online or at the airport.

Virgin are also enhancing the advance seating process so after 1 November 2012, until further notice, clients will not be able to pre-book seats before 24 hours before check-in until its completed.

Airport

Placencia Regional Airstrip is a 45 minute flight from Belize City International Airport.

Belize is about two hours and 15 minutes by air from Miami, Florida and Houston, Texas. US gateway cities to Belize include Miami, Houston and New Orleans, Louisiana. Direct flights are also available from Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C, and from Toronto, Canada. From Mexico, direct flights to Belize are available from Cancun and Chetumal. Most Central American countries offer direct flights to Belize, including Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica.

Transfers

Transfers from the airport to the base are not included. Taxi fares are USD 3 per person from the airstrip to the base with a minimum charge of USD 6. From the village it is usually USD 10 per taxi, not per person. Transfers cannot be pre-booked.

Luggage

We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally your luggage may arrive at the base after you do.

Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht.

Passport and visas

Please ensure your passport is valid for the period of travel and for six months after you return. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket, otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid.

If your child is not already included on a valid British passport, they are required to hold their own passport.

EU passport holders do not require a visa.

Non-British passport holders should check with their local consulate direct.

It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure relevant visas are obtained where necessary. We cannot be held responsible for refusal of entry or travel due to lack of visas. If you're in any doubt, please contact your embassy for full details.

Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the latest information before you leave.

We are not responsible for any requirement changes.

Customs and immigration

A valid passport and return ticket are required to enter Belize. No visas are required for citizens of the United States, Canada, Caricom countries, European community member nations (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, UK, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Sweden).

Visas are required for nationals of the following countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Columbia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Japan, Korea (North and South), Libya, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, Yugoslavia and Zaire.

For the nearest place to obtain a visa, please visit: Belize Consults and Embassies or visit www.embassyworld.org for a complete database of all embassies worldwide.

US residents are permitted a USD 400 per person (or USD 1100 per family) duty-free tax exemption upon returning to the US, and can also bring back one quart of alcohol and 200 cigarettes duty free.

A departure tax of USD 39.25 per person is charged on leaving Belize, which must be paid in US dollars only. Travellers entering Belize International by air and connecting to in-country flights are charged a USD .75 security fee.

On arrival

Your yacht will be ready at 6pm for boarding. The yacht briefing introduces you to your yacht, its systems and rigging. It is carried out individually for each yacht.  It is important that all systems and equipment are fully understood. Briefings are mandatory.

Yacht brief

If you arrive before 6pm, you may request a briefing for that same day. If you arrive after 6pm, your briefing will take place the following morning after 8.30am.

Chart brief

If you arrive before 4pm, you may request a briefing for that same day. If you arrive after 4pm, your briefing will take place the following morning at 9am.

The chart briefing describes the cruising area and any potential hazards.

Out of hours arrival procedure

A Sunsail representative will be at the base, waiting for your arrival. As a back up, an information sheet, with name of the boat, times for briefings, etc. will be given to the Security Guards or placed on the wall in the lobby. The cockpit light will be switched on.

On departure

At the end of your charter your yacht will need to be vacated by 11am, so we recommend that you return to the base the day before. Before departing your boat a staff member will debrief you.

The debrief form is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip. This enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.

In addition to filling in forms we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and fridges of food and throw away, return snorkel gear and any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to us in a clean and tidy state.  We reserve the right to charge for boats left less than shipshape.

Sailing information

Sailing experience: Level 2

Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area. Follow the link for more information on the sailing conditions.

Get more information on Belize's sailing conditions.

To sail in Belize without a skipper, you must fill out a charter application to obtain a temporary Certificate of Competency. Your application will be submitted to the Belizean Port Authorities. This temporary Certificate of Competency is required for all bareboat charters in Belize.

Download the temporary Certificate of Competency.

Sailing licences

To charter a yacht in Belize, there must be at least one skipper and one crew member, both over 18 years old. The skipper should be competent at handling a yacht in close quarters, anchoring and mooring in varying conditions, be able to use navigation and pilotage skills to plan the day’s sailing and know your position at any time. As a yacht skipper, you are required to have a sailing license or a certificate from a recognised sailing association as detailed below.

Skipper is REQUIRED to have one (1) of the following:

  • ICC (International Certificate of Competence), InternationalPrerequisites: RYA “Day Skipper Course” or similar/equivalent certification from any recognized sailing association or complete the ICC Assessment form to prove competence from previous experience.
  • IPC (International Proficiency Certificate), AmericaPrerequisites: ASA 104 or US Sailing “Bareboat Cruising Course”

and/or

  • UK: RYA Day Skipper practical (with our without photo)
  • USAUS Sailing “Bareboat Cruising Course”, ASA “104 Bareboat Cruising Course” or above
  • Germany: Sportbootführerschein See“ or above
  • Belgium: Algemeen Stuurbrevet/ Brevet de conduite général
  • France: Le Permis Plaisance

Or a similar/equivalent certification from any recognised sailing association

The skipper must also have a Belizean Temporary Certificate of Competency.

Cruising permits and taxes

There are marine park fees in effect in large parts of our cruising grounds and a flat rate of USD 10 per person per day applies in all of them now, including at Laughing Bird Cay. These fees are not for use of the mooring buoys, which are now in place in some of the cays, but are simply a fee to be in the marine reserve* and these fees apply to people staying on cays there too.

*The marine reserves in the southern cruising grounds are the following: South Water Cay Marine Reserve stretches from the Tobacco Range in the north, through Southwater and Twin Cayes, Blue Ground Range, Pelican and Lagoon, south as far as Crawl Cay and all places between. Gladden Spit/Silk Cayes Marine Reserve stretches from Gladden Spit south to and including Queen Cayes. Laughing Bird Cay itself. Sapodilla Cayes, stretching from Tom Owens in the north to Sapodilla Cay in the south and out to Seal Cay in the west.

Night time sailing

You are not permitted to sail at night unless it has been agreed with the base manager prior to departure.

Cruising area limits

All charters are restricted to sail inside the barrier reef. Restricted zones include Glover's Reef, Turneffe Reef, Lighthouse Reef and inside the reef, both Gladden Spit/Silk Cayes Marine Reserve and Laughing Bird Cay World Heritage Site. Local skippers must be on board for any and all excursions outside the barrier reef or to enter the two restricted reserves.

Please note: Tom Owens Caye is a definite red area for our boats. The approach is difficult and full of reefs and we discourage people from going there.

Charts and pilot book

All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht. Charts and pilot books can be purchased from the UK chandler Kelvin Hughes by contacting 02380 634911.

The only cruising guide for Belize is “Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico’s Caribbean Coast including Guatemala’s Rio Dulce” by Captain Freya Rauscher.

Skippered charter information

The skipper’s time is booked from 12pm-12pm in 24-hour periods. If you have reserved a skipper for the first day of your charter and have a 6pm start, he or she will use this time to ensure they are happy with all aspects of the yacht and will be at the base to meet you upon your arrival. If you've reserved a skipper for a later date on your charter they will start at 12pm on that day.

The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. They are not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight. He or she must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of the contract with you.

For “check out charters” (anything less than the full duration of the charter) the check out skipper’s time is booked from 6pm-6pm to allow for a meet and greet in the evening and go over basic systems, then a full day with you the next day.

The skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you how to contact the base, the return to base procedures and the emergency assistance procedures. We suggest that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his or her time with you on the yacht. We also suggest that you make it clear exactly what you want to cover: anchoring, docking, etc.

The skipper fee does not include food or beverages for the skipper and this is your responsibility. We suggest that you discuss this on the first day with your skipper and establish whether you'll provide cash for meals, whether you've included him or her in your provisioning or whether you'll accommodate him or her as part of the group for meals ashore.

The skipper must have his or her own cabin. We prefer not to put the skipper in the bow due to the shared head and size of the cabin. If you expect your skipper to stay in the bow, please let us know well in advance so that we can choose the appropriate (small) skipper.

For one-day check out skippers, it's your responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay all expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him or her back to the base.

The average tip for a skipper is 15-20 percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at your discretion.

Fuel

We would highly recommend that you pre pay fuel for your own convenience. Fuel is available at the marina next to the Sunsail marina  and delays in refuelling can be quite lengthy.

Cool boxes

Cool boxes are supplied on board. Please return them clean and undamaged otherwise there will be a charge for replacement. Only one per boat.

Banks and money exchange

Currency

The Belize dollar is the currency used throughout Belize.

The fixed rate of exchange between the Belizean dollar (BZD) and the US dollar (USD) is two to one. Most locations will accept US currency, Belizean currency, traveller's cheques and credit cards.

The euro isn't accepted anywhere except at the Central Bank in Belize City. The only foreign currency which will be accepted is US dollar and US dollar travellers' checks. Euro travellers' checks are not accepted.

Currency can be exchanged commission free at any high street TUI retail travel agent on production of your Sunsail invoice. You can pre-order your currency from a TUI travel agent by telephoning them in advance on 0870 9005154 to find your nearest branch.

Banks

Bank opening hours are Mon-Fri from 8am-2pm. The two banks you will find are Atlantic Bank and Scotiabank.

Credit card information

Visa and Mastercard is widely accepted. American Express is not widely accepted in Belize and is not accepted at our base.

General information

Language

The official language in Belize is English, with Spanish spoken as the second language.

Cost of living in Belize

A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is approximately USD 50 (without wine). A bottle of beer is approximately USD 3. A bottle of wine costs approximately USD 20 and the cost of a snack is approximately USD 10.

Restaurants

There are a number of restaurants throughout Belize that caters for every taste and budget. Our staff can advise you of the whereabouts of restaurants.

Many restaurants close during September throughout the low season. If you are travelling in low season there is likely to be a limited choice of restaurants to eat ashore and you should provision accordingly. This is a perfect time of year to enjoy a barbecue on your boat.

The Quarter Deck
Laru Beya Resort
Placencia Peninsula, Belize
Central America
Toll Free: +1 800 890 8010

Serving great food and drinks on the beach at Laru Beya Resort.

The Inn at Robert’s Grove
Placencia, Belize
Central America
Tel: +501 523 3565
Toll Free: 1 800 565 9757
Fax: +501 523 4367

The restaurant at Robert's Grove serves three meals daily and prepares picnics for day trips. All baking is done on the premises and they have the only temperature controlled wine cellar in Belize.

Tipping

Tipping is standard and expected in all restaurants and bars and for other services undertaken during your holiday. The rule of thumb is generally 10-15 percent of the amount charged. Some establishments automatically add this onto the bill.

Shopping

Simple souvenir shops are abundant in Placencia. You will find Guatemalan, Mexican and Nicaraguan crafts. Local Mayan crafts are sold by Mayan ladies who set up a display at the marina. Their crafts include beadwork, embroidery and woven articles and are hand made in the villages in southern Belize. They also often have carved wooden bowls and baskets made of fibres harvested in the jungles of Belize. 

Hotels

Laru Beya Resort and Villas
Placencia Peninsula
Belize Central America
Toll free: 1 800 890 8010
USA dial direct: +501 523 3476
Fax direct: +501 523 3483
Email: Info@Larubeya.com 

Laru Beya is a full service beachfront resort located on the Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize. They have a wide selection of rooms and villas to choose from. All of the accommodations feature ceiling fans air conditioning and high speed internet access. Laru Beya is located across the street from the Sunsail marina.

The Inn at Robert’s Grove
Placencia Peninsula
Placencia
Belize Central America
Tel: +501 623 565
Fax: +501 623 567
Toll free: 1 800 565 9757
E-mail: info@robertsgrove.com

Electrical, phones and music

Electricity

The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts. In order to use electronic equipment that is 220 volts you will need an inverter suitable for use in a cigarette lighter.

Mobile phones

Please check with your provider before leaving to make sure your phone is set up for international roaming and you will then be able to use your phone in Belize. Coverage in outlying areas with this system appears to be somewhat better than the GSM network phones.

You can rent a mobile phone at Belize International Airport. There are no other options available for rentals, so you must deal with this at the airport before departing for Placencia. Local BTL offices do not do rentals.

The fee is USD 10 daily and nine percent tax will be added. A deposit of USD 150 will be required. These are prepaid mobile phones and cards should be purchased. Mobile phone coverage out at the cayes is sketchy, as it is throughout the country, so there are large areas where they will have no reception at all.

Music/iPods

All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your iPod whilst sailing you will need to bring along an I-trip or FM radio transmitter.

Activities

Car and jeep hire

If you are planning to spend a few days in the mountains and a few days at the beach, you might want to rent a car. However, if you're just coming to the base, we suggest that you fly to Placencia. The scenery driving down is quite lovely, but chances are, once you make the drive down, you won't feel like driving back (and if you are renting a car in Belize, you must return your vehicle to where you picked it up, otherwise the one way drop off fee in Placencia of USD 140). Car rentals in Belize range from USD 75 to USD 85 per day.

Budget
Tel: +501 223 2435
Email: jmagroup@btl.net 

Crystal Auto
Tel: +501 223 1600
Email: crystal@btl.net 

There are a few car rental agencies that allow one-ways from Placencia to Belize City. Prices range from USD 75-158 per day for the vehicle, depending on what type of vehicle, USD 15 for insurance per day and the pick up fee if the vehicle is dropped off at the airport in Belize City (USD 100). No mileage fees.

Candy Powers
Tel: +501 523 3284
Email: stanncreekautorentals@hotmail.com

Provisioning

We offer a wide range of food and drinks packages to suit your party’s needs.

Find out more about our provisioning options.

Supermarkets

Supermarkets are located in Placencia Village; near the airstrip and base. They are generally open daily 8am-9pm, although the hours of operation vary based on the day of the week and the supermarket.

Water sports

Fishing

A new law has been passed in Belize affecting sport fishing. This means that anyone wanting to fish for leisure has to hold a sport fishing license. The fees are USD 25 per week. Fines for noncompliance are USD 250 or six months' imprisonment. Or both. You can purchase these licenses at the base. Equipment can be rented at the marina.

Game fishing charters are available as well as local inner reef charters.

Spearfishing

Spear fishing guns are legal only when free-diving. No tanks are allowed when using spear guns. Big fines and prison terms can apply if caught using with tanks. Also, it is totally illegal with scuba equipment or any type of fishing equipment within marine reserves and punishable by up to five years in prison.

Lobster

The lobster closed season runs from midnight 14 February to midnight 15 June. 

Scuba diving

Roberts Grove Dive Shop
Tel: +501 523 3565
Email: Francisco@robertsgrove.com
Roberts Grove Dip Shop rents diving equipment and organises rendezvous dives.

Whale shark season

Whale sharks are best seen three or four days before and after the full and new moons in April and May, although they are often sighted through the summer months as well. They roam up and down the coast. The Gladden Spit area about 26 miles off the coast of Placencia is known to host large concentrations of whale sharks during April and May. Diving with whale sharks is strictly regulated and can only be done with a local tour operator.

Snorkelling

We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own you may wish to bring them with you.

Standup paddleboards

This is the newest way to experience the water. Experience gliding on the water's surface; this is as close as it gets to 'walking on water' and is suitable for all ages.

Kayaks

Explore our world of water by kayak and reach places that you never even knew existed.

Health and safety

Illness or injury

If you get ill and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip, contact a member of our staff at the base as soon as possible.

If you need to make a claim for curtailment due to illness, ask the base manager for assistance and contact your insurer’s emergency medical service immediately. Your insurance company will assist with travel arrangements, advice and payment of bills. Obtain receipts for any medication, treatment or transport you have to pay for and submit with your claim

Hospital

The closest hospital to Placencia is in Dangriga, about 60 miles north of Placencia.

Dangriga Hospital
Dangriga, Belize
Tel: +501 522 084

Travel time from Dangriga to Placencia varies from an hour and a half to three hours, depending on road conditions. Medical care for minor conditions is generally available in urban areas. Trauma or advanced medical care is limited even in Belize City; it is extremely limited or unavailable in rural areas. Serious injuries or illnesses often necessitate evacuation to another country.

Safety

All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets and harnesses. We leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn.

We have a limited supply of children’s life jackets (age 4+ only). If you have your own children’s life jacket we would encourage you to bring it along.

We suggest that children who are not strong swimmers should not be allowed in a dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and that they should wear a buoyancy aid or harness when on deck.

Children under the age of 16 should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy.

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