American Yacht Harbor
Cyril E. King
No formal license
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This page provides useful planning, pre-departure and travel information. From servicing airports to base arrival procedures, it will tell you what to expect to make your vacation smooth and care free.
We suggest you read the following information carefully several weeks prior to departure and also print a copy to take with you.
COVID-19 Travel Guidelines
It is important that you refer to our main COVID-19 page for Belize to see detailed guidelines and information sources before you go on your sailing holiday. Lab and pharmacy located along the Placencia Main Road, in the center of the village.
Before You Travel
UTC/GMT -6 hours
Tourist Information Center
Belize Tourism BoardNew Central Bank Building,
Level 2 Gabourel Lane P.O. Box 325
Belize City, Belize
Area: Approximately 8,866 square miles. Belize’s mainland is approximately 180 miles long and up to 68 miles wide. Belize also consists of over 200 cayes (islands), ranging in size from a few hundred feet to 25 miles long and four miles wide; most of which are located inside the 200 mile Belize Reef.
Location: Belize lies on the eastern coastline of Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. It’s separated by sea from its neighbor to the southwest, Honduras.
Capital city: Belize City
People: There is a great deal of ethnic diversity among Belizeans, who include Creoles (African-European), Mestizo (Spanish-Indian), Garifuna (African-Indian), Mayan, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern and Asian.
Language: English is the official language and is widely spoken, as is Spanish. Other languages include Creole, Mayan and Garifuna.
Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant, others.
Government: Independent nation since 1981, member of British Commonwealth of Nations.
Climate: For more information, view this destination’s Cruising Conditions.
By taxi to Belize City; then by bus from Belize City to Placencia via Dangriga. Bus trip takes a minimum of 6 hours.
Due to the number of flights we organise, the Moorings can offer some great rates to many destinations. Please make sure you contact our inhouse flight specialist at 033 0332 1513* before you book your flights.
Two local airlines serve Belize, Tropic Air and Maya Island Air. For your convenience you can make advance bookings with Tropic Air through the Moorings.
The distance from the airstrip to the base is approximately 3 miles. Taxi fares are USD $3 per person with a minimum charge of USD $10.
If you are planning to make a tour of the country, spending a few days in the mountains and a few days at the beach, you might want to rent a car. However, if you are 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 a one way drop off fee in Placencia will be charged. Car rentals in Belize range from $75 US to $85 US per day. It is possible to rent a golf cart in Placencia for local exploring and shopping.
Boarding Time Procedures
Charter Boarding Time: 12:00 p.m.
Sleep Aboard: Time: 6:00 p.m.
Briefing Times: 9:00 a.m. for 12:00 p.m. starts and 4:00 p.m. for evening starts.
All skippers must attend a Chart Briefing which covers all you need to know about the cruising area, use of the VHF radio, how to call for assistance, and more. A Boat Briefing will also be provided onboard your yacht.
If clients arrive after office hours, their yacht will be on the C Dock in front of the office. The Chart Briefing and Boat Briefing will be held the following morning prior to departure.
Check Out Procedures
Charter End Time: 11:00 a.m.
A debriefing and final walkthrough will be done upon return so please allow enough time to complete this before the charter end time.
Moorings Care packages are included on every yacht. These packages contain some of the basics to get you started for your vacation. Additional items are available to be purchased and delivered directly to your yacht. Visit our Provisioning Page to learn more.
Check with your service provider for information about cell coverage in this region.
WiFi is available at The Moorings base in Belize. WiFi Connection at Thatch Caye Resort and Hatchet Caye.
While most of our newer boats have Bluetooth capability, we cannot guarantee all boats are outfitted with this equipment. For your convenience, we highly recommend you bring an AUX cord so you can listen to music from your mobile devices.
No shore power for yachts. There is a 12V cigarette lighter outlet by the chart table on the majority of our yachts.
Electrical System: 110 volts AC.
Customs & Immigration
Entry, exit, and visa requirements depend on the locations you are departing from and traveling to. You are responsible for having the correct documents so make sure to check with the consulate of the countries you plan to visit before you travel. Visit travel.state.gov for the latest information.
A formal sailing licence is mandatory to charter here. Review the power or sail requirements for Belize while planning your holiday. Please contact our Holiday Planners at 033 0332 1513* if you have any questions.
Luggage & Packing List
Soft-sided luggage or duffel bags are best, as luggage storage space on your yacht may be limited. We have no facilities for holding luggage at the base. Pack lightly and review our suggested packing list for required and necessary items to bring.
- Pack essential prescription medicine and change of clothing in a carry-on bag*
- Passport and other travel documentation
- Tickets and paper confirmations for pre-planned activities
- Light-colored, light-weight clothing
- Formal wear for upscale dining establishments
- Swimwear and cover up
- Hats and sunglasses
- Sandals and flip-flops
- Athletic shoes and hiking boots
- Travel-sized toiletries and hygiene products
- Insect repellent and OTC pain relievers/ointments
- AUX cable for playing music through your device
- 12V DC to 110V AC power inverter (for boats without generators**)
- 12V to USB power adapter for charging mobile devices
*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.
**All boats include a 12V DC outlet (a “car” outlet). Boats with generators have 110V outlets in the Caribbean and 220V in the Mediterranean and Exotic locations.
The use of flying drones may be restricted in some areas. For current drone regulations in this destination, please visit belizetourismboard.org/tourism-resources/belize-drone-requirements/
The local currency is the Belizean dollar. Most restaurants, markets, and other service providers will readily accept US dollars. They will generally give you change in Belizean dollars unless you request otherwise.
Accepted Forms of Payment: US Dollars and US travelers checks accepted throughout. Visa and MasterCard are also accepted at resorts and most restaurants on the mainland but supermarkets in Placencia and restaurants at the cayes will require cash.
10-15% is generally acceptable if it has not been added already
Taxes & Fees
You might incur some costs while on charter such as mooring and docking fees or cruising taxes. We highly recommend bringing enough of the local currency to cover these costs as they are not always payable by USD, debit, and/or credit cards.
A security deposit must be paid at the base by Visa or Master Card and is refundable at the end of your charter subject to there being no loss or damage. To significantly decrease your security deposit, purchase our Yacht Damage Waiver insuranceahead of time.
Vaccination and Immunisation Information
This destination is generally risk-free of contagious disease. Visit cdc.gov(link sends e-mail) for the latest information.
Your health and safety are important to us. For advice on how to stay safe while on charter, please review our Travel Advice Information.
Please note that a travel advisory is in place for Belize. Current travel and safety information can be obtained by visiting travel.state.gov (link sends e-mail)
Swimming is often a fun and important part of a vacation. However local rules, flag systems, currents and where swimming may be permitted, can be different and vary from country to country. Snorkel vests, Life Jackets and Diver Down flags are all available on board.
- Talk to children about water safety at the start of a vacation, making them aware of the potential dangers.
- Accidents can happen at any time on vacation, but often they happen on the first and last day, so keep watch and do not get distracted when your children are playing by, or in the water.
- Children in or near water should always be supervised by an adult and never left unattended.
- Get in the water with them, it is easier to keep an eye on them as well as good fun. Floatation devices are highly recommended for children but are not a substitute for supervision.
Be aware of your surroundings
- Check warning flags and signage on the beach and only swim where it is permitted.
- Beware of dangerous currents, these can be very powerful. Not all beaches have lifeguards and/or warning flags.
- Beware of underwater hazards, such as reefs, rocks, sudden changes in depth and marine life.
- Never swim where a sign says not to e.g. in zoned areas for jet boats or jet skis.
- Never swim at night or after drinking alcohol.
Look out for others
- Never swim alone, ‘buddy up’ with others in your party and use the snorkel vests provided.
- Know how and where to get help. If you see someone in difficulty; raise the alarm, preferably the emergency services. Ensure you know the correct number for the country you are in.
Do not overestimate your ability
- Consider swimming lessons before you go if you think it would be useful to learn proper swimming technique.
- Even if you regularly swim in a pool, remember that open water swimming can be very different.
All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets, harnesses, snorkel vests & diver down flags. You can see all this equipment demonstrated in our online safety briefing, and we strongly recommend that you make use this equipment during your vacation. This safety equipment will be displayed in the saloon of your boat on boarding – If you have any questions feel free to ask our base staff during your briefing.
We have a very limited supply of children’s life jackets on base so highly recommend that if you are travelling with children, you bring their own. This ensures that children have correctly fitting jackets that are comfortable for them.
Children should not be allowed in the dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and should wear a buoyancy aid or harness whilst 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.
The Moorings offers comprehensive travel insurance for your peace of mind. If you have your own travel insurance, verify that it covers the destinations and activities of your Moorings vacation.
*Please note country entry/exit and vaccination/immunization requirements can and do change. The Moorings is not accountable for these requirement changes and we advise visiting the destination’s authority website to receive the latest updates.
About the Marina
The Moorings Belize Ltd
(c/o Laru Beya Resort)
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week (evening staff to cover until all flights have arrived)
Local Dock Facilities
Lagoon side at Placencia Village and Roberts Grove dock
Placencia Sailing Club (Chabil Mar Marina) south of base in lagoon
The Placencia Marina, ocean side north of Maya Beach
The Reserve Marina, located in the Sapodilla Lagoon Cucmber Beach Marina, south of Belize City
A formal sailing license is mandatory to charter here. Review the power or sail requirements for Belize while planning your holiday. Please contact our Holiday Planners at 033 0332 1513* if you have any questions.
All bareboat charters are required to stay inside the barrier reef. Local skippers must be on board for any and all excursions outside the barrier reef.
South Water Caye 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 Caye and all places between
Gladden Spit/Silk Cayes* Marine Reserve – From Gladden Spit* south to and including Queen Cayes
Laughing Bird Caye*
Sapodilla Cayes* – stretching from Tom Owens in the north to Sapodilla Caye* in the south and out to Seal Caye in the west
*These reserves require guides for entry and have a daily fee. Our Belize base will go over these requirements during the charter briefing and share the ways we can get tour guides to the yachts you would like to enter those reserves as well as suggest alternative snorkeling sites. While the base can assist in securing a guide for your yacht, this will be an additional expense that the charterer must pay. The cost of a guide will vary depending on how we get him/her out to the yacht. If they accompany a boat going out to the reserve and we can arrange a minimal cost for the transport to and from the reserve, the guide is going to cost about US$50; if we have to arrange transport to the reserve, it will cost in the region of US$150 for the guide.
Cruising Area Restrictions
The Belize authorities take the protection of their reefs very seriously and you must ensure you are aware of and understand the strict sailing area restrictions and regulations of where sailing is prohibited, and ensure you stay well clear of the reefs at all times during your charter. Please be aware that should you damage the reef during your charter the Belize authorities have the option of imposing fines and/or confiscating your passport, with potential criminal implications, until such time as any fine or resolution is achieved.
Glover’s reef, Turneffe reef and Lighthouse reef.
Charterers will receive a sailing chart that outlines red zones for the cruising ground.
It is strictly forbidden to sail alone, we require two persons minimum on board.
Cruising to Guatemala
There is no restriction on sailing to Guatemala, but please note the following details.
Clearing out of Belize can be quite time consuming. While you are in the Rio Dulce it is strongly recommended that you stay in marinas overnight as there is a form of piracy on Dulce River (Rio Dulce) itself.
You will need to go to Big Creek (near Placencia) to clear out of customs and Belize Port Authority, then take a taxi to Mango Creek to clear immigration.
On your return you will also need to clear in with the BAHA (Belize Agricultural Authority) as well as Customs, Belize Port Authority and Immigration. It is recommended that you do not bring in fresh produce and meats as this will probably be confiscated, regardless of whether this was purchased in Belize or not.
In Guatemala, you will need to clear in at Livingston. It is best to arrive at Livingston early (around 10am) and secure the services of Servamar, an agency which gets all the paperwork done for a small fee. The alternative is the better part of the day spent trudging up and down steep hills to the various authorities.
Naturally, you would be responsible for all expenses incurred. Generally when our clients go to Guatemala, we recommend a local skipper is hired who can support with all the legalities.
Charts & Pilot Books
All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are issued at your chart briefing.
You must be moored at least one hour before sunset. Night Sailing is not allowed without permission from the base manager. The decision to allow night sailing is based on your skill level and can be requested in advance. You will need to fill out the Sailing or Power CV for the base to review but we cannot guarantee approval.
Travelers entering Belize International by air and connecting to in-country flights are charged an additional $0.75 US security fee.
Moorings Fees & Taxes
There are marine park fees in effect in large parts of our cruising grounds and a flat rate of $10 USD per person per day applies in all of them now, including at Laughing Bird Caye. These fees are not for use of the mooring buoys, which are now in place in some of the cayes, but are simply a fee to be in the marine reserve* and these fees apply to people staying on cayes there too. 3 moorings in the Pelican Cayes range near Hideaway Caye
3 moorings on the east side of Thatch Caye Resort
3 moorings on the west side of Thatch Caye Resort in the Inner Channel
4 moorings at Ray Caye, $15 USD per night
The Placencia Hotel
Laru Beya Resort
While most banks have automated teller machines, ATM’s in Placencia are located at Atlantic Bank and adjacent to MNM Hardware Store.
Banking Hours: 8:00am – 2:00pm / M – F
Placencia Post Office – Next to Placencia Office Supply about 300 yards from the main pier.
Hours: 8:30am – 12:00pm & 1:00pm – 4:00pm (Weekdays)
First class mail between Belize and the US averages 8-10 days for delivery.
International Express mail from the US to Belize usually arrives in 3 business days; cost is $14.00.
The Moorings Provisioning
Online Provisioning is available.
Visit our Provisioning Page to learn more about delivery direct to your yacht.
Supermarkets are located in Placencia Village. Supermarkets are generally open daily and the hours of operation vary based on the day of the week and the supermarket. All supermarkets accept Visa and Mastercard.
Most supermarkets: 8am – 10pm daily and seldom closed on public holidays. *Restocking near Placencia can be difficult and costly. Water can be purchased from Placencia Harbor, but is expensive and subject to availability throughout the rest of the cruising grounds. If you are making arrangements with a dive shop, we recommend asking them to bring out ice on the dive boat if you are in need.
No Name Point is good for a pick up to tour Monkey River.
For your convenience, you can add water toys to your charter prior to arrival at the base. They will be waiting on your boat upon arrival. You are able to rent these at the base; please keep in mind that we have limited availability. For more information, please view our Water Sports Options(link sends e-mail).
Scuba diving packages are available through several dive operations in the area. Go Sea Tours is a reputable local dive operator. Please note that dive rental gear is subject to availability during the season.
The Moorings is unable to provide snorkelling equipment to our customers at this time. Fins are available at the base.
Game fishing charters available; local inner reef charter services available. Fish life abounds within the main reef. When trolling, you can catch Tuna, Wahoo, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Dorado, Barracuda. Bottom fishing has rewards of Snapper and Grouper. We have local suppliers who can rent a good quality rod, reel and lures for $10 USD per day. Hand lines are also available.
Note: Due to Belize fishing laws, charterers who are interested in fishing for leisure or sport must hold a sport fishing license. The fees are US$25 per week. You may purchase these licenses at the base.
Spear fishing guns are legal only when free-diving. No tanks allowed when using spear guns.
The lobster closed season runs from midnight February 14 to midnight June 15.
Belize is subtropical, wit h a mean annua l tempe r ature o f 80°F (27°C ) . Winte r storm s may bring t he tempe r ature d own to the low ’6 0 s (16 to 18°C) ; it can reach t he mid-9 0 s (arou n d 35°C) o n the mainl a nd at the heigh t of summer. Trade winds blow along the coast and on the cayes most of the year, keeping temperatures pleasant even in the hottest months, except for a few weeks, generally around mid-August to mid-September. The dry season generally lasts from December to May; the rainy season is typically June to November. Hurricanes occur occasionally; they are most likely to hit in August and September. Rainfall is heaviest in the south and the jungle areas, lightest in the north and on the Cayes. Water temperature averages between 79°F to 83°F (26°C to 28°C).
Waves inside the barrier reef are minimal but the breeze is fresh creating superb sailing conditions. Outside the barrier reef in the blue water Turneffe Islands and Glover’s atolls are each a half day’s sail away and Lighthouse Reef can be reached in another half day sail.
Immediate weather conditions can be found at https://www.weather.com(link sends e-mail).
Historical weather (averages by month):
|°F Max||°F Min||°C Max||°C Min||Avg Precip (in)||Avg Precip (mm)||Avg Water Temp (°F)||Avg Water Temp (°C)||Ave Wind Speed (knots)|
The tidal range is very small: 30 cm to 60 cm (one to two feet) including the variation of level due to atmospheric pressure and dominant winds.
The base provides a weather forecast for the first day and will provide a listing of stations that broadcast weather.
Whether this is your fifth trip or the first of many, we want you to feel at home when you’re at a Moorings base. At Laru Beya Marina, we welcome you to relax at the resort before boarding and setting sail from Placencia.
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