Why go to Harvest Caye?
Lots of on-island activities including a zipline, ropes course and a lagoon.
Food isn't free; passengers must pay to eat at one of the restaurants ashore or go back to the ship.
Plenty to do on the island, including cultural activities, or grab an excursion/ferry to the mainland.
Good to Know?
The sun and heat can be brutal in Belize, and there's not a lot of shade on Harvest Caye. Although small touches -- mist-blowing fans, shade canopies and even air-conditioning -- have been added throughout the island to help with the heat, be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and water. (You won't find free water, not even water fountains anywhere.) Seek respite indoors during the midday sun if you're prone to burning or overheating.
It's a decent trek from your docked ship down a long (but mercifully shaded) pier and through the shopping area to the beach -- farther still if you've rented a cabana. Factor in time for getting from place to place on foot, or wait for one of the golf cart shuttles to whisk you from ship to shore.
What Sets It Apart
Less chintzy and more focused on supporting the local economy than other private ports, Harvest Caye shows Norwegian's commitment to Belize by hosting native performances, displaying pieces by Belizean artists and offering space for local businesses to sell their wares in the island's shopping area. You'll find a handful of national brands like Del Sol, Cariloha and Harley Davidson as well, but all other shops, bars and restaurants (including LandShark Bar & Grill) are locally owned -- even the duty free store is owned by a local company. Most materials used in constructing the island -- decorative flora for landscaping and hardwoods used for building exteriors -- were also sourced from within the country.
Loungers and umbrellas are free at both beaches and the pool, but be warned: the latter are limited and hard to snag when a large ship is in port. You can rent double lounge chairs with covers for $39 per day. If you're interested, definitely book online or on the ship ahead of time.
Floaties are $15. Snorkels and fins cost $14 for kids and $29 for adults. There are also lockers that you can use all day for $5.
Kayaks and peddle boats for the lagoon can be rented as shore excursions in advance or at the dock. Kayaks cost $25 per hour.
Access to the "Flighthouse" zipline can also be booked onboard or online as a shore excursion. You must wear closed-shoes and comfortable clothing; flip-flops and bathing suits are not allowed. The four segments of the zipline cost $69.
Parasailing is one activity that's bookable on the island, but not necessarily onboard (it can depend on which cruise line you are on). The one-hour session is $99.
Harvest Caye has a pier, but it's a long walk to the end. Shuttles are available.
One of Harvest Caye's notable attributes is that it's more wheelchair accessible than other private islands because it's not a tender port. Although the dock is long, shuttles are offered and accommodate those with mobility issues. A small fleet of special wheelchairs with large rubber tires is available for those wishing to spend time on the beach, as are lifts for getting into and out of the pool.
There is one wheelchair-accessible cabana, which must be booked directly with the cruise line.
There is no dedicated kids club on Harvest Caye nor is babysitting offered on the island. There is a Kids Splash Park near the beach with a dump bucket and a variety of ways to cool off. All beaches and pools have multiple lifeguards.
Wi-Fi is not available on Harvest Caye with one notable exception: If you rent a private beach villa, Wi-Fi is included, with a signal that's much stronger than what you're likely using on the ship.
One complaint we hear about Harvest Caye is that unlike other private islands, there is no complimentary beach barbecue and drinks aren't included in your beverage package. In fact, all food and drink on the island has to be paid for with cash or credit card.
That being said, we found the food to be nicely spiced and delicious, at reasonable prices.
There are no included dining options ashore in Harvest Caye. Head back to the ship if you don't want to spend any money on the island.
Manatee Bar & Grill: Near the pool, the shopping village and the lagoon, Manatee Bar & Grill has outdoor seating.
LandShark Bar & Grill: This outpost of Jimmy Buffet's restaurant is the largest dining area on Harvest Caye, with two stories of eating space, and also supplies the outdoor swim-up bar at the pool. A full menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, seafood baskets and burgers are served here; prices range from $7.99 to $13.99. You'll also find desserts and a "little sharks" menu for kids here too.
Laughing Bird Bar & Grill: This restaurant and bar is closest to the beach chairs and also the zipline area.
Horse Eye Jack's Bar & Grill: This restaurant is the farthest away from the ship, but the closest to the private beach cabanas; if you're staying in one of these, your butler will be giving you this menu. The fried plantain appetizer ($7.99) is delicious, as is the local fish of the day -- red snapper on our visit ($12.99). A quarter chicken with rice and beans is $9.99.
As with food, drinks are not included on Harvest Caye and you can't use your onboard drink packages. Bring cash or a credit card to handle bar charges.
Besides the restaurants listed above -- all of which have bars -- there is a bar at the pool and a retail outlet.
Pool Bar: The swim-up pool bar is a nice draw for partiers who don't want to leave the pool area (and with attractive landscaping, pulsing dance music and 15,000 square feet, why would you?)
Daiquiri Store: There's also a daiquiri store in the shopping village where you can buy huge alcoholic drinks to sip as you walk around.
About a dozen small stores and kiosks, most with T-shirts, novelty items and jewelry, make up the Shopping Village. The only shops that aren't owned by Belize partners are Harley Davidson, Del Sol and Cariloha.
Highlights to look for include the Moho chocolate store, with milk and dark chocolate bars made from local cacao as well as a hammock vendor to bring the island vibes home all year 'round.
There are two types of cabanas to rent on Harvest Caye: the pool cabanas, which are open-sided tents near the main pool, and the beach-front villas, which are standalone small houses on the beach at the end of the island.
Which one is right for you depends on what you'll need during the day. Pool-lovers will enjoy the convenience of being right there, in the heart of all the action. But you'll miss out on having an air-conditioned sanctuary, which can feel necessary with the Belize heat and humidity. Beach villas have the obvious appeal of a sandy beach, as well as quieter surroundings. But if you don't like swimming in the ocean, then this option isn't for you.
Pool cabanas come with two lounge chairs, as well as small tables and chairs. Towels are available. The pool cabanas can hold four and costs $249.
The luxury beach villas are more elaborate. The standalone small huts have an air-conditioned area inside with a sectional sofa and large coffee table, a high-top table with two chairs, a large counter, six towels and a Bluetooth-equipped stereo so you can play your own music. There's also Wi-Fi and a shower, as well as a private bathroom. The deck area of the beach villas has four padded lounge chairs under a canopy, and there are four lounge chairs on the beach too, as well as a hammock. You also get several floaties to use. Bottled water is free, but all other food and drink must be ordered by your butler (it comes from nearby Horse Eye Jack's).
The beachside cabanas cost $499 for six people. They can handle 10 guests total, with a cost of $49 per additional person.
Given the sheer heat of Harvest Caye, the air-conditioning in these cabanas makes them worth in. Being far away from the madding crowd is also well worth it if you're traveling on a megaship.
For more, read Harvest Caye Cabanas: 8 Reasons They're Worth A Splurge.