Off the southern coast of Belize lies Harvest Caye, Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) private island retreat. It's part of The Norwegian Edge initiative, which was designed to bring higher standards to the high seas.
Surrounded by the lush greenery of Central America, guests are treated to a wide range of activities on the 75 acre oasis. The island was developed in partnership with the Belizean government, and local inhabitants own the businesses and work onsite, contributing to the local economy.
Harvest Caye hosts an abundance of natural wildlife as well as access to a barrier reef, the second largest in the world.
Here is what you need to know to prepare for a visit to Harvest Caye.
What's the weather like?
The weather in Harvest Caye is ideal for cruisers all year long, ranging from the 80s to 90s. December and January tend to have the lowest temperatures of the year, (still high 80s) and the hottest period is between May and October.
January to May are the driest parts of the year; summer and fall tend to be rainier, with October being the peak. Humidity is high during these peak times.
Sea temperatures are similar in pattern to the weather, and it is warm enough to swim all year long.
Harvest Caye is the only port with a cruise ship pier in Belize, a bonus for Norwegian cruisers. Walking along a covered path, it takes about 10 minutes for guests to reach the island. There is transportation available for those who are in need.
English is widely spoken, and both U.S. and Belizean dollars are used. As local people own the island businesses, ship cards are not accepted as a form of payment in restaurants, bars or shops. Do take note: there is no wi-fi available onshore.
The island is on central time, but cruisers should pay attention to ship time. With the sun and heat, it is essential to bring adequate sunscreen, a hat, and a towel. The ship does not provide towel service on the island but there are lockers to rent at a cost of $5.
Things to do
Harvest Caye provides a great selection of activities, whether it be the beach, pool, or something a little livelier.
Beach - The island has a 7 acre beach area with plenty of loungers and some palm trees for shade. The far end is rarely crowded with lots of spots available.
Pool – Popular with guests, the 15,000-square foot pool has a swim-up bar and a waterfall. The resort style area is complimentary and includes chairs and umbrellas. The pool is not heated, which is not a big issue given the weather.
Ocean - Harvest Caye allows for access to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world. There is also a saltwater lagoon that hosts several water activities.
Activities and shore excursions:
- 3000 foot long zipline stretching along the island
- Double Beach Run zipline (side by side) where guests race facing downward
- Ropes course
- Volleyball courts
- Barrier Reef Snorkeling
- Rainforest River Tubing
- Standup Paddle Board
- Wave Runners
- Boat cruise
- Monkey River Eco Tour (rainforest)
- Glass Bottom Boat Ride
- Catch and Release Fishing
- Ferry to the mainland (Placencia)
- Kid’s splash park
Those wanting to explore nature can enjoy the free wildlife experience with butterflies and birds, in addition to the island’s botanical gardens.
There is also an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the region with visits to Mayan ruins and the archaeological site of Nim Li Punit. For a culinary twist, see how chocolate is made and try some locally made sweets.
Just before heading back to the ship, visit the shopping village with locally made souvenirs, t-shirts, chocolates, and more.
There are two main types of cabana rentals at Harvest Caye, which can be booked through NCL’s website:
Private Canopy Pool Cabana
- Starts at $399
- Poolside location
- It comes with lounge chairs and curtains for additional privacy
- Easy access to the bar, retail shops and Landshark Bar & Grill
- Price includes 4 guests
Luxury Beach Villa
- Starts at $899
- Located on a secluded portion of the island by the ocean
- Includes private restroom, indoor and outdoor showers, BlueTooth audio, a digital safe, mini-refrigerator, beach hammock and front porch
- Air-conditioned interior space
- Private butler and concierge service are provided
- Price includes 6 guests
Food and Beverages
Unlike most other cruise lines' islands, food and drinks are extra, and the ship card cannot be used for payment. Ensure to bring cash and credit cards. Be aware that they don't take American Express, either.
Harvest Caye has eight venues for meals, snacks and drinks. The menus include typical bar food with some touches of the Caribbean with fried plantains and ceviche. Fruity cocktails, rum and beer are all popular drinks, including some local Belizean beer.
For a different view, the Manatee Bar & Grill is located on the other side of the island (which is not far at all) by the marina. Or for a quiet spot, walk to the far end of the beach to Horse-Eye Jack’s Villa Bar & Bistro
How to visit Harvest Caye?
Harvest Caye is listed on itineraries in the Western Caribbean. There are currently 7-day cruises departing from the ports of Tampa, Miami, Galveston and New Orleans. In the past, Harvest Caye has been included on longer itineraries, including a special Panama Canal trip.
There are a number of Norwegian cruise ships that stop in Harvest Caye:
- Norwegian Bliss
- Norwegian Breakaway
- Norwegian Dawn
- Norwegian Encore
- Norwegian Getaway
- Norwegian Jade
- Norwegian Jewel
- Norwegian Joy
- Norwegian Pearl
- Norwegian Sky
- Norwegian Star
- Norwegian Prima
Harvest Caye Frequently Asked Questions
How much does food and drink cost?
Harvest Caye is unique in that food and drink is not included on the private island. Expect to pay anywhere from $12-$18 per entree, $9-$12 for a cocktail, and $5-7 for a beer.
That being said, if you want to save money it's best to return to the ship for lunch.
How much are shore excursions?
Like any port of call, the price of shore excursions varies.
A Barrier Reef snorkeling tour, for instance, runs at about $119 for adults and $99 for children, and the Lagoon Zipline costs $65 for adults and $45 for children. Stand up paddle board rentals are $49, and Kayak rentals are $35.
Remember there are included activities if you don't wish to pay extra, such as the resort style pool and beach.