What to do in Belize: Goff’s Caye & Snorkeling the Second Largest Barrier Reef

What to do in Belize: Goff’s Caye & Snorkeling the Second Largest Barrier Reef

How many different boat rides can you take in one day???  Well in Belize… a lot!  This is a shallow port so you take a tender boat to shore and then hop on another boat to go out on your excursion.  We have a great day planned with a trip to Goff’s Caye.  We chose this because of the uniqueness of this teeny tiny island and the amazing snorkeling.  Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world and we were excited to see it for ourselves!

The Carnival Dream dropped anchor about five miles offshore so we had a nice 20-minute ride in.  We made sure to get up nice and early so that we were on the first boat out.  What was neat is that there were only two ships in port and the other happened to be the Carnival Magic which is the sister ship to the Dream.  They are very similar but have a feeling all of their own. Once we arrived in port, we had about an hour and a half to kill before our excursion left.  So we decided to explore the port and do a little shopping.  This port is much larger than we expected it to be and the shops and places to eat were plentiful.  But first a family picture in front of the ‘belize’ sign.

A ride out to paradise

It’s time to go and our family boards the Belizian Beauty to make our way back out to sea.  The boat actually held way more people that we expected and we all snug in for the ride.  Have you ever had water in a plastic pouch before? Well, me neither until now! Instead of water bottles, our guides tossed small blue bags filled with purified water to all of the passengers.  You just tear off the corner and drink away.

It was a 30-minute boat ride out to Goff’s Caye, but it was peaceful and beautiful.  Our guides were great and told us about the island and what to expect once we arrived.  We pass the two giant cruise ships in anchor and head out into the open sea.  After a while, you can barely see land and then ahead of us a couple of very small spots begin to emerge. 

Our first view of Goff’s Caye

There are a few of these cayes out here but none the same as Goff’s Caye.  Picture in your mind what you think of as an island paradise and then look at this picture.  Pretty spot on, right?  It is so small, only 1.2 acres total!  But so picturesque!  It is a tiny island surrounded by beautiful white sand with palm trees sticking out in the middle.

We are brought first to the island to use the bathroom (there are only two, one for men and one for women) and for anyone who needs to change into a swimsuit before snorkeling.  We were the first boat to arrive and we had it all to ourselves.  You step off of the boat dock which wide plank boards where you can see the crystal clear blue water right below you.  Then you will pass under a sign that announces ‘Welcome to Goff’s Caye’ and you step foot on this island.  We only have a few minutes, but we take in the beauty of our surroundings.

Time for some snorkeling!

We all re-board the boat and they take us to the starting point for our snorkeling adventure.  We are all given snorkeling masks, floatation devices, and flippers. They ask how many are in each party and we are broken up and given a personal tour guide.  There are enough of us in our group, we have eight, that we set out with no one added to our group.  With the first dunk of my head under water, it was breathtaking!  The water is perfectly clear and much of the area is shallow which makes for perfect visibility.  And when you do bring your head above water, you see the perfect tiny island in the background. 

The sea life in this area varies dramatically.  There are many variations of coral and beautiful fish, we even saw sea urchins which were a first for us.  Some of these coral formations are HUGE!  Many of our group (not me as I am a chicken) took off their floating vests and dived down.  The coolest fish we saw was a flounder who camouflages himself on the seabed.  We didn’t even see him until our guide swam down and disturbed him and he moved.  Speaking of the seabed, I love how the sunlight reflects off the water and shimmers on the sand… it so pretty. 

The drop-off!!! 

After a long while of being among the shallows and coral, we come to a drop-off.  This reminds me so much of Finding Nemo!  But it really is this lush area full of coral and sea life an then it instantly drops very, very deep.  We swam over this area and turned right back towards the island as we followed our guide.  We then encountered more shallow area that had a very different look to it than the first area we snorkeled through.  Here we found several conch shells with the conch still inside… it seems like I have only seen these as souvenirs on land.  This gets more and more shallow until you are walking up to the beach on Goff’s Caye. 

What an experience!  You are dropped off at least a mile off shore, snorkel through the second largest barrier reef in the world and swim up to shore to an island paradise!

Island food… yes please

Once back on shore, we stored our snorkeling gear back on the boat and grabbed our beach bags.  All of that snorkeling works up an appetite and the locals have that covered for you!  Azul was grilling up some chicken, shrimp and steak kabobs plus grilled chicken breast and served with rice and bean and corn.  And if you want a hot dog, you can get that too… on a tortilla.  The food was really good, as was the local Belikin Belize beer.  Other than beer there is unlimited rum punch for the adults and non-alcoholic fruit punch for the kids.  And of course little bags of water (I still can’t get over that). 

This place is BEAUTIFUL!

I stood in the middle of the island and turned in a circle and could see every square inch of the island.  Other than the cook shack there is a small covered pavilion and a covered open grill.  Other than that, your shade will come from the palm trees.  Most of the island is a small circle, but there is a long skinny peninsula area off to one side.  This is where you arrive when swimming up from snorkeling and this is where most people have claimed a spot on the beach for the day.  A rum punch in each hand, we walk all the way down and out into the water… Because of course the boys have to hunt for seashells.  The water here is so clear that you can see far out.  Most of the sea floor is white/light sand and there are dark spots of sea weeds.  We have two hours here after our snorkeling adventure and we just sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery. 

After we had enough sun, we pitched up with some cold drinks at the pavilion.  Cameron saw a coconut fall from one of the palm trees and made a beeline for it.  He was so excited to have a coconut as a souvenir!  We found some local inhabitants of the island… hermit crabs which entertained us until it was time to head back. 

Time to go…

The boat ride back was very different than the ride coming.  Everyone was exhausted!  A day of snorkeling and being in the sun will really zap your energy!  We leaned back to back and closed our eye and let the rocking and vibrations of the boat lull us into a short nap.  All in all a pretty perfect day!

Overall thoughts

Goff’s Caye truly is an island paradise!  It is so beautiful and relaxing on land.  And it holds breathtaking underwater views just offshore.  Also, this excursion was very reasonably priced at @$40 per person.  What was not included was the food, sodas, and beer… but like I said, unlimited rum punch!  If I have anything negative it is that there were too many people there.  At first, we were one of the first boats, but by the time we left the small island was teeming with people.  With limited shade and even more limited bathrooms, I wish they would limit the people on the island.  I am sure this is day by day and there are times when it will not be as busy.  But overall, I get say that I highly recommend a visit to this perfect example of island paradise.

Note:  We booked this excursion through a company online called Island Marketing, but there are others that offer the same or similar excursion to this location. 

Want to see this story come to life?  Here are the videos: Tender in Belize & Goff’s Caye Part 1 and Snorkeling Belize Barrier Reef & Goff’s Caye.

Want to see more from this trip?  Here is the full Carnival Dream Playlist

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EECC Travels


6 thoughts on “What to do in Belize: Goff’s Caye & Snorkeling the Second Largest Barrier Reef

  1. Beautiful post! Now hearing some Ocean calling for our family. Belize is on our list of must-visit as family! ❤️❤️❤️ Safe travels from our traveling family to yours!

    1. The ocean never seems to stop calling us… We currently are going on one family cruise per year but we are hoping to increase that next year. Belize is beautiful and I can truly recommend it. We will be back in April and will try something different then. Safe travels to you as well! Alisa

  2. Hi Alisa,
    Your pictures of the island are spectacular!:) Thank you for detailing the cost and experience for everyone (bathroom situation, extra cost of snacks, etc.)

    1. Thanks Christina! I have always tried to be as detailed as possible but have made a few changes with my last few posts. I have learned a lot lately… So glad you enjoyed the post!

    1. Belize is beautiful and we are lucky to be going back in April. This time I think we may go into the jungle for some zip lining! I have heard Antigua is beautiful, we hope to go there one day too!

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