Harvest Caye is a 75-acre private island and resort in Southern Belize, featuring an exclusive 7-acre beach, a salt-water lagoon for water sports, an expansive pool with a swim-up bar, and exciting shore excursions including zip lining and snorkeling in the second largest barrier reef in the world.
Note: In Belize, “Caye” is pronounced “Key” (unlike The Bahamas where it's spelled “Cay” and pronounced “Kay”!)
Opened in November 2016, the island features a wide variety of facilities and activities to enjoy. Owned and developed by Norwegian Cruise Line, Harvest Caye resort and cruise port cost $50 million and took 4 years to build. NCL worked closely with the government of Belize to make this cruise port as authentic as possible. (All the staff working on the island are locals!) All the restaurants, amenities and shops are also locally owned. Even the materials used to for construction were locally sourced from Belize.
Getting Around Harvest Caye
When you arrive at the port, the ship docks a fair distance away from the shore, leaving you about a quarter mile walk, along the canopied pier, to the resort. (Occasionally, if the water is too choppy to dock at the pier, tender vessels are used for transportation to and from the cruise ship.)
You'll be delighted at how spacious and well-designed Harvest Caye is. Everything feels new, clean and inviting.
The shopping market is at the entrance to the resort where you will find chocolate stores, rum tasting and other small shops that sell jewelry, Caribbean cruise shirts, local crafts, handwoven items and colorful artwork. From the shopping area, several paved paths lead to different facilities on the island.
© 2020 BMcElhaney Studio / Caribbean Citrus Co.
For easy navigation, there is a large map at the center of the port where you will find directions to everything on the island.
To the left of it is the Excursions Pavilion and marina where you begin excursions by boat to the mainland, water tours, and snorkeling.
Straight ahead, past the direction board is the wildlife nature sanctuary. This is a free botanic gardens and small zoo where you can learn about local plants and animals.
To the right is the huge swimming pool area and the Landshark Bar and Grill. Past those attractions is the pristine beach area. And a little further down the island, you will get to the lighthouse where the zip line course starts. Next to the lighthouse is the the lagoon, which is offers kayaking and paddle boarding.
Things to do in Harvest Caye
1. Relax at the Beach
Behind, the pool area, across the pavement is a 7-acre, white-sand beach with literally thousands of lounge chairs neatly organized in rows. There is a large, sheltered roped-off swimming area for you to splash, swim, and play in the warm turquoise blue Caribbean ocean. On the sandy beach you'll find plenty of shade under the many palm trees. For even more comfort and privacy, there are shade cabanas available for rent. Also available for rent are a few hammocks. Or, you can rent a floating water mat and lounge in the warm waters all day long. If you're competitive, join a game of beach volleyball, or play chess with giant sized chess pieces.
2. Splash and Play in the Swimming Pool
To the right of the welcome center is a mammoth swimming pool. This swimming pool is one of the best we've ever encountered. It’s huge (over 15,000 square feet!) beautifully designed and features an under the bridge section, a swim-up bar with several clever in-water seating areas.
Don't be surprised if you see an iguana or two swimming in the pool! There are several small palm tree planter “islands” in the pool where the local giant green iguanas like to sun themselves!
On the sprawling patio deck surrounding the pool there are plenty of lounge chairs. Like the beach, palm trees are abundant at the swimming pool area, providing shade and a seamless flow to the beach.
3. Kids Splash Pad
A bit further down the paved deck between the pool and beach is a water play area for kids. You'll find fun water features like water slides and a giant barrel that fills up and then dumps out a waterfall every few minutes.
4. Enjoy the Nature Park
To add an element of exotic local flavor, NCL built a plant and wildlife sanctuary in Harvest Caye. In the sanctuary you'll be delighted to discover macaws, toucans, butterflies, snakes, and other animals, all set in a tropical garden of beautiful flowers and colorful Caribbean plants. The Butterfly Sanctuary is a must-see highlight of the nature center. This enclosed space features hundreds of various beautiful butterfly species. This nature park is free to visit and you’ll get to learn about the plants and animals that are indigenous to the island and experience them first-hand.
5. The Zip-line
Zip-lining is arguably the most exciting adventure activity on Harvest Caye. The zip-line course starts at the “Flighthouse” lighthouse and runs 3000 ft across the island. Thrill-seekers soar hundreds of feet above the Caye and get a bird’s eye view of the entire resort as well as long vistas as far as the coral reefs and the Mayan mountainsides of mainland Belize.
6. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
Kayak or paddle board on the saltwater Lagoon which is home to various species of exotic sea animals. Or take a boat tour excursion of the lagoon and explore the mangrove forest and see wildlife while enjoying the cool Caribbean breeze.
7. Food and Drink - Restaurants and Bars
Unlike other private cruise ports, Norwegian Cruise Line doesn't offer a free lunch or extend your on-board drink package in Harvest Caye. Instead, food is available for purchase at the Landshark Grill. This restaurant is locally owned by one of the top restaurant owners in Belize. NCL did this as an agreement with the government of Belize so that the people of Belize would continue to benefit economically from this tourist site.
Centrally located in the pool area, this beautiful two-story restaurant has ample seating where you can relax and enjoy a delicious meal. Choose from local specialty dishes including fish sandwiches, chicken wings, fried shrimp, salads and ceviche, a traditional Belizean dish.
The island also has 4 full bars where you can grab a frozen cocktail or a cold Belikin beer, the favorite beer of Belize.
8. Shops and the Marketplace
NCL intentionally strives to make shopping on at Harvest Caye authentic and reflect the local culture and the rich Mayan history of Belize. Most of the shops in the market area are locally owned and sell locally made goods. Upon entering the the marketplace, you'll be greeted by Moho Chocolates a selling chocolates and soaps made from cocoa beans. Also, you'll also find a rum tasting center, where they sell exotic rums and spirits. Enjoy shopping for coffee, handcrafted souvenirs, local art and jewelry, Caribbean cruise t shirts, rum and chocolate.
Note: US dollars are the only currency accepted on the island.
Well, that about wraps it up! We hope you enjoy yourself at Harvest Caye. Happy Cruising!!