BELIZE CITY, BELIZE: CAVETUBING
Link to Cavetubing.bz website:
We decided to book with cave tubing .bz for this port. This was the one and only port I was truly petrified of going to because of the tendering. I have not had to tender since the 80’s and 90’s when cruising and I don’t remember it to be a very pleasant experience.
However…. It was a breeze. I was worried over nothing trust me. We ate breakfast and sat up on deck waiting for them to announce when we should go get our tickets. When they did, we went down to deck 7 and there really weren’t a lot of people there. When it was time to hand out the tickets, they told everyone to form a line to “his right”. We did…however, others that were waiting on the other side decided to form their own line. The guy with the tickets laughed and ask why there were two lines and ask if we knew how to follow directions. LOL He went ahead and handed out the tickets taking turns back and forth between the lines. No problem. We ended up with tender #1.
We sat outside and waited for them to load the first two tenders with 1) the suite guest and 2) the people with NCL tours. Then we were called. It was about a 20 minute ride to the pier. They did tell us that the water we were in was only about 5-6 deep, which is why the Spirit has to dock so far out.
I’m going to start with the ONE AND ONLY complaint that we had about .bz in the beginning of this. We were taken to our van, then was told to stand outside (in blazing 92 degree weather I might add) while the rest of our people got there. This is the first time that this has ever happened to us whether it be taking a taxi/bus and waiting for it to fill up, to taking a scheduled tour. They usually have the vehicle running and cooled for the guest to get in and wait. Everyone was sweating and it was pouring off my husband’s head to where he finally said something to the driver asking why we couldn’t be sitting down in the van in a/c. The guy said the other guide (that had just walked back to the port to see if the others were coming) had the keys now. They did provide us with cold water to drink while waiting.
Ok, next problem…now I know why we weren’t waiting in the van/bus…the a/c SUCKED!! We had several elderly people in our van and they kept asking “is this all the colder you’re a/c is going to get?”. They replied it would get better once they got on the freeway…no, it didn’t. But we all made it and didn’t pass out of dehydration or heat exhaustion, no worries. ;o) We had a tour guy JUNIOR who sat toward the back in front of us. He ended up being our person “tube tour guy” THANK GOODNESS! He was the absolute best and told us so much about the island. We could not get enough. Seriously, this guy was the most informative person ever and knew everything. He could answer any question you could throw at him.
I will try to remember some of the interesting facts, but there were SO MANY, I know I’ll forget most. Belize was having Independence Day there and celebrating that from September 10th to I think he said the 23rd??? But it’s a LONG celebration. He showed us the graveyards on the way. It appears as if the bodies are buried above ground with the stones, however, religion is big in Belize and they believe that you can only dig 3 feet down and you have to go 3 feet above. The body is to be buried in the middle. They have to face a certain way with the heads all the same way. I believe it was the sunrise up over the feet and sunset behind the head (please forgive me if it’s the other way around). He joked that he was going to go against all odds and be buried opposite to shake things up. LOL He was hilarious.
He showed us a mining mountain that looked like a Giant laying down, you could see the head, nose, mouth and body. He explained that everyone there lives within their means and live conservatively using and having only what they need. We witness ladies in the rivers washing clothes, clothes hanging dry outside at houses. He explained those that had washers, they were located outside of the home. He showed us the richest mans house that lived there, which happened to be a guy from New Hampshire, I believe. He explained that the population was so small there that there was no crime because everyone knows everyone. They unite and help each other out. The richer (the doctors, lawyers and so on) people lived in the city, the average to poor lived outside of the city.
My husband is a skater, so they talked “skate” talk for a while and he was telling him about skating there and where you would find the skate park at (in the ghetto on the south side).
He talked about his family and children. He was born in Belize, but his family had moved to the US when he was young for several years (for some reason, I’m thinking age 6-12ish). So, he could relate to ANYTHING we talked about and actually told us about his recent visit back to the US and how a “camera took his photo and issued him a ticket for speeding…a CAMERA” LOL
There were no stop signs or street lights (I think he said they have maybe a total of 4 there) and that there was no speed limit. I ask about the police pulling people over for things, he said the only thing they are looking for were people smuggling any American cigarettes and several other things.
The taxes there are so high that it made buying things so expensive, but yet it was the one place (unlike most of the islands) that you could actually purchase your land and have a title like here in the US. He said most places, like Costa Maya and so on, people actually lease their property (and do so on like a 99 year basis), so if you wanted to get rid of it, you really just had to walk away from it, unless you have it in your lease that it could later be transferred. He said you could get an acre for $500-$1000 and it was pretty cheap, but hard to purchase.
He talked about the protected areas and how no one was allowed to build, hunt, or remove anything from that area, but they were very helpful with drying up rain and during hurricanes for protection.
He spoke about the cashew trees and showed us some along the way. I LOVE cashews and now have a better understanding for why they cost SO DARN MUCH!! For each nut on the tree, you get the fruit, 1 nut inside, and 1 seed only. So you can only imagine how many it takes just to make a bag of cashews! Of course I already knew about the seed inside and when burning it, the smoke is toxic. He talked about their cashew wine and how tasty it was…he would give us a taste when we were done with the trip. Then told us about all the things they use on the island to make wine out of.
We arrived at the site where everyone arrives at for the tubing tours (all companies). It was beautiful and big. They allowed us to go to the restroom and then we met them at the life jacket and tube building.
We gathered our equipment and off we went on our “15 minute hike”….sorry, it’s way longer than that and we joked with Junior about it. We ended up doing 2 caves, which he said is the most they do and most companies only do 1. I inquired about the 3 caves because I’ve read from many people that they do 3. He said people use to consider it 3 caves, but in order for it to be considered a different cave, there has to be a certain amount of opening, which they didn’t have with one of the caves, so they changed it to call it 2 caves instead of 3 (but it was still the same that people are referring to as 3 and you know this because the trail ends).
Along the walk, we were shown a tree that when you cut it open, the ink inside of it is used to make money. We seen the HUGE vines (tarzan vines) hanging and he informed us that if you were to cut it open, there is a water supply in it that would keep you hydrated if you were stranded in the rain forest. There was another plant that we got to eat. At first you don’t taste it, then it’s like a burst of water and makes your mouth water. Another source of hydration when you are hiking.
Ok, here comes the fun part. We stop at a tree with a huge hive like thing on it…termites. Yep, we all ate them. My daughter looked at me like we were nuts for eating something that was crawling around on daddy’s hand. But, she did it. They tasted like mint. Junior said you could survive for about 2 days on these as a food source out there. I’ll keep that in mind. ;-)
Then came the tarantula…they coaxed him out of his house and passed him around for everyone to hold that wanted to. My daughter wanted to hold it, so we told her under no circumstance was she allowed to move if it moved. It started on her hand and then moved up her arm to her shoulder. She didn’t budge. I’m now thinking my daughter is such a daredevil. First zip lining, eating bugs, now holding spiders. Whew. She has guts for a 3 year old. I’m now hoping she doesn’t think it’s ok to go around eating plants, crawling bugs and playing with spiders. Hmmm
There had been a lot of rain over the last several days, so they said the water was a little higher and rougher than normal and it had actually been closed the day prior and they would not let anyone tube that day. But things were ok for us today. We came to the river and there is a rope to hold on to and cross. But no one had any problems. They took my little one over and put her down in the running water to let her play for a minute then took her over to the side to wait on us. She loved it. Then back to hiking we went.
Junior told us how that area had been known to have Jaguars in it and I believe there were 6 living in the area. He encountered them only once during a night tour.
When we finally made it to the area for tubing, they put us in our tubes and Junior took just us 3 with him. He said he wanted to be responsible for the child. They are certified in just about everything from rescue, cpr and so on for safety. We were very happy we ended up with him.
HERE COMES THE BAD; MY FRICKEN CAMERA BATTERY DIED. GACK! I was so upset!!! Just my luck. We did not witness most of the tour guides from several other companies giving the details about the cave, bats and everything else you could think of the way Junior did. I noticed at one point another companies people were listening to him. Junior showed us where the lady that drown doing the excursion with .com happened and I can understand if you are floating along, not tied together, how that could be any issue at this particular spot. He said he was 3 minutes behind her and had he been there, he could have saved her. It was a traumatic day for everyone, including him. I can only imagine.
There were only a few areas that were a little rapid, but nothing to be scared of and he kept us in control at all times. He worked his butt off pulling us and paddling us around in areas. Those tubing guys must have the strongest arms. I can only imagine how hard it is to pull around the limit of 8 people. Whew. We felt safe with him at all times.
The caves did have one area that was dark and he told us to all turn off our lights so that we can see that we actually can’t see. LOL However, there are so many other tours both in front and in back of us, that we could see their lights on from a distance. Nothing scary at all. There were opening here and there in the caves. We seen fruit bats, vampire bats, and the bats that eat insects only. It was a great experience.
After returning from tubing, we all piled in the HOT van and headed to the place to eat. We had chicken, rice, cole slaw and rum punch. It was the best ever. Yes, I had 2 plates and could have had more even though I was full. Junior let us try the cashew wine…of course we loved it and had to purchase some to take home. It’s chillen in the fridge now just waiting for us to open it.
Our ride back was uneventful and everyone was tired, especially our tour
We arrived at the port around (in plenty enough time to shop and look around) and we had a wonderful day with .bz.
We had a wonderful time last time cave tubing and happy we had decided to do this for our first time in Belize. The tour guide, Junior, was wonderful and the entire experience is definitely worth it. The lunch they provide you at the end of the tour just tops off a wonderful day.
The ONLY complaint we had was standing out in the hot blazing sun when we first arrived, instead of being able to get in the van with a/c. Of course after getting in the van, I now know why...the a/c was not working well.
HOWEVER, just know that since we did this tour, they have replaced all of the vans with new ones and the a/c works wonderul.
If you get a chance to come to Belize, this is a "must do" at least once. Just to experience it, see the sights, hear the history and all of the neat things they show you during the walk alone is worth it. I highly recommend doing this excursion and I highly recommend .bz also.
****PLEASE NOTE CHANGES***
There have been some changes since we were here this time. They now CARRY THE TUBES FOR YOU! NO MORE CARRYING TUBES. This is a big improvement.
Since I have done this excursion twice now, I will probably not be doing it again. I usually do not like to repeat places or excursions, but felt that I needed to because I had more family members with us on another cruise we did.
Since we have done cavetubing, they have also added their own zip lining at the owners house, just down the street, as well.