I love sailing!!! After my Panama San Blas sailing experience I wanted to learn sailing and have my own boat one day. I love to be in and around the ocean and even more when the ocean looks as clear and turquoise as in Belize where you continuously want to jump into the water. When I found out there is a sailing boat tour in Belize I immediately wanted to join, but that seems not too easy to accomplish. The Raggamuffin Sailing Tour is very popular and for a reason!! In this blog I will give you an impression of my experience with this three days sailing tour.
I have sent many emails to the Raggamuffin email account, but not with the best response to be honest. It felt that I was lucky to get on the boat because they added an extra tour starting on Wednesday. They normally depart twice a week on Tuesday and Friday; but it depends on the weather conditions as well. The tour cost 400US$ and our boat had 25 people (minimum 12) including four staff on board. It seems expensive, but everything is included: accommodation, food, drinks including Rum Punch, many snorkeling trips, fishing and transport from Caye Caulker to Dangriga. But the best is the priceless experiences and new friends you make!
Tip: Be persistent and even try to call to get the attention to get you on board of the sailing boat on the date you wish.
You will receive an official email confirmation that you can join the three days tour. After that you receive clear instructions and the day before departure you have an official life briefing about the tour: what to bring, how to pack your bags, fit your snorkeling gear, meet follow passengers and most import meet the crew!! I was getting very excited now and prepared all my bags accordingly!!
Tip: Charge all your batteries, phones, GoPro and other digital devices in advance and/or bring your mobile battery. Be aware you don’t have reception during this trip; warn your loved ones that you are off air!!
Tip: Book your accommodation in Hopkins or any other destination in advance, on the boat you don’t have Wi-Fi or reception. This way you can even relax more knowing where to go to next after your arrival in Dangriga (±16:00PM).
We were told to drop of our big bag at 7:30AM at the Raggamuffin office; this bag goes into the front of the boat is not accessible (only by exception) during the boat trip. After dropping of the main bag you have some time to have breakfast, check out at your hotel and do the last shopping if you still need to do that. Departure of the boat is at ±9:00AM. The boat looks different than the sailing boats I have been on before, a big cabin with benches on both sides that fitted the 21 persons.
Soon after sailing off; everybody spread among the boat, cabin, front and upper deck. I found my favorite spot was at the front of the deck; breeze through my hair, reggae music over the speakers, sun in my face and a juice in my hand. Heading to the first snorkel spot where we stayed inside the barrier reef, so the ocean was relaxed without too many waves. One of the crew members said to me: “Mirja’s why are you smiling all the time?”…..Can you guess why?!?!?
I noticed that the sails were set but the engine was still running…hmmm. This lasted for the whole trip; not sailing 100% but with some help to get us in the right place at the right time. I was told that otherwise the tour would last much longer than the three days to get us to Dangriga.
We past Belize City and saw the cruise ships passing by and was glad I was on this smaller intimate boat. Our skipper Shawn, gave a lot of information during the trip about the history and the ocean. The crew was well organized and run smooth on the ship. The two deckhands (Marvin & Mark) worked very hard; entertaining the guests, setting the sails, anchor, snorkel guides, cleaning the fresh caught fish, serving the food etc. The Chef was the best! I was surprised how good the food tasted, that was served during the entire trip. We had ceviche, spaghetti, fresh fish, snacks, fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and fry Jacks for breakfast and all tasted perfect! And of course after 15:00PM the Rum Punch was served!!
The first day we had a couple of snorkeling stops including spearfishing. Then headed to Rendezvous Caye to sleep for the night. We were given all the camping equipment including mats and sheets.
I got a tent for myself and positioned it well to see the sunrise the next morning. The island is unbelievable beautiful; white sand, clear turquoise waters with shells and fish all around. On the island were some small huts for the shade; these were set up for the people of the cruise ships that visit the place during the day. After setting up our own tent; time for a dip and more Rum Punch at the beach and talk to the other traveler. Fresh caught spearfish for dinner and around 22:00PM I went to my tent. It was not my best night sleep but I fell asleep with a big smile on my face on this deserted Caye.
Some raindrops woke me up in the early morning and saw the stunning sun rise. Pinched myself; indeed I was awake, but still felt I was dreaming in my tent in heaven.
The morning dip in the sea was refreshing. No showers available on this island; but who needs a shower if you wake up on an island like this!! After breakfast we broke down the tent and left Rendevous Caye at 9:00AM with the Ragga Queen for a new adventure.
I joined Marvin a couple of times on the spearfishing snorkeling tours; which was cool and skillful. During the three snorkeling tours today I saw amazing ocean creatures: huge turtle, dozens of rays including the spotted one, tons of tropical fish, colorful corals in many shapes and materials, barracudas, shells and a smaller turtle.
Loved it; Mirja middle name Mermaid!!! Closer to the end of the day we got on shore for an hour at Tabacco Caye; again a little paradise. Here you can rent rooms and cabins and I saw some bars and restaurants.
Tip: One of my fellow passengers booked a couple of nights on this Tabacco Caye after this Raggamuffin boat trip. Which sounded like a very good idea!
After this break is was just a short sail to our own Ragga Caye. This very tiny reef was our home for the last night. The island has four rooms with four bunk beds each and three private cabins which you can rent for 100US$ per couple extra. On this Ragga Caye you can take a basic fresh shower and has a natural toilet. The boat has a marine toilet, I preferred to pee in the water… On Ragga Caye there is a common area where the food including the fresh caught barracuda was served; including a balcony all around where everybody got together do drink more Rum Punch. Being in the ocean and open air all day, made everybody sleepy again. Last night already, wish this tour lasted longer……….
I slept like a baby in my bunk bed with only one other girl in my room; quite private to me!! The breakfast including the Belizean Fry Jacks were served in the main building where the Chef had a proper kitchen to work in; instead of the basic one on the boat. Boarding at 9:30AM to sail to Frigate Bird Island. This bird is a large, lightly build sea bird; the male has a striking red gular sac which it inflates to attract a female; all the birds gather at this small island to breed and feed themselves with fish.
Next we sailed to the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary to spot the manatees. This is a unique island where all around and in the mangroves the manatees are hidden. We spotted one for a short moment and searched for more but didn’t find one.
Next was the most perfect snorkel spot of the trip; snorkeling around at the Tabacco Caye Marine Station and the South Water Caye Marine Reserve at this Belize Barrier Reef. We saw amazing sea life, corals and underwater plants like: the Caribbean sting ray, cushion sea stars, green sea turtle, nurse shark, purple sea fan. Loved this sooooo much!!! Almost the last minutes in the water and heading back to Ragga Caye to get our final lunch. I think a gained weight in these three days, ate too much!!
We packed our bags, said goodbye to the lovely hardworking staff and departed Ragga Caye around 15:00PM with a water taxi to Dangriga (30min). Everybody was quiet in the boat back to the main land; but everybody was smiling from ear to ear. What an amazing experience; if you have the chance to join this trip, don’t hesitate and just sail away!!!!