Related blog post: Belize January wind statistics
Related blog post: Beaufort wind scale
Related blog post: New Belize windsurf center coming together
Belize's greatest attraction to board sailors is that nobody sails here! Belize enjoys ideal conditions for wind sports. We have steady winds, warm water, and a variety of accesses to the sea. Eric Sanford, writing in Windsurf magazine remarked that it reminds him of Baja, Mexico in the early 1980’s.
Our island sits astride the ring reef of Glover’s Reef, allowing easy access to both the waves and swells of the open sea and a launch from our beach into the sheltered waters just off our shore. The average wind speed is 10-20 mph nearly every day, so although some days will be spent on light-wind gear skimming across the flats of the lagoon, others will find you on a 4.5 sail or smaller blasting on the swells or trying your luck in the surf. The warm air and water temps mean you don’t need a wetsuit!
Our location on Long Caye at Glover's Reef offers exceptional opportunities for windsurfing for both novices and experts (best high-wind season: Jan - Mar). We offer basic windsurfing instruction on a daily basis anytime the wind is right, and we employ a land trainer and a fleet of modern, wide beginner boards that allow anyone a rapid advancement in learning how to sail. Combined with the flat water conditions inside the lagoon, we have the perfect set-up to learn this exciting sport.
To see a complete description of our system for teaching beginners to windsurf, visit our Adventure Island at Glover's Reef page.
Because advanced windsurfings are sailing on their own, they are expected to be proficient enough to self-rescue. Anyone requiring a motorboat rescue (as opposed to a kayak rescue) will be charged a small fee for a motorboat pickup of $50 per pickup. Guests may buddy-up and rescue each other using kayaks to avoid this additional charge.
Looking for wind or wave information for our island? Follow the link above to a satellite buoy station with wind and wave information, located 31 miles WNW of our island, right in the area where we cross the Blue on our way to Glover's Reef
The location for sailing inside the atoll is ideal for long, extended reaches, and it is easy to dodge the many patch reefs which are visible in the clear water. On a north wind (our strongest, commonly 4.0 conditions), it is possible to do a 6 mile reach encompassing all the islands of the atoll, while sailing over the turquoise sand bars behind the ring reef. There are no obstructions within the atoll, and the protected waters cut out the swell and chop so it is usually smooth water sailing.
Our equipment consists of a core of late model gear with set-ups for light-wind cruising, mid-range screaming, and high-wind blasting; we have boards from 170 L to 80 L, and sails from 3.0 to 7.5. Although advanced sailors are on their own, our guides are proficient windsurfers and can assist novices on our land trainer and beginner boards. The calm waters of the lagoon are perfect for practicing first moves, and there is always enough wind for novices, making Long Caye an ideal location to learn the sport.
Outside the atoll, open sea conditions can be found, with large swells and choppy surfaces. And, for those looking for surf action, we do have an excellent point break which is perfect for surf sailing when the wind is right.
Although Long Caye has an excellent surf break that is ideal for paddleboards and surf kayaks, it is not usually optimal for wind sports. Both windsurfers and kitesurfers like a ‘side shore’ wind direction to surf waves, which is when the wind blows parallel, or nearly so, to the wave break. This allows wind powered boards to power up across the break, which is the direction a board naturally takes on a wave while surfing. Long Caye’s wave, however, usually experiences an onshore wind, blowing in the same direction as the wave break, or an off shore wind, which blows against the break. Either of these directions do not present favorable conditions for wind powered surfing.
"Anyone can go to a place like Maui or Aruba, where the conditions are always perfect, but traveling to a place with an unknown breeze is like investing in Amazon.com rather than IBM. If you go to Aruba and the wind doesn't blow, you're bummed. You go to Belize and it blows; you're stoked. And guess what, it blows there. Amazon just tripled!... if it doesn't blow, the snorkeling, diving, fishing and kayak tours are world class."
Eric Sanford, Windsurfing magazine, July 2000
Another day on the island comes to a close, and I find myself alone on my cabana porch, looking out over the open Caribbean as the sky and sea merge into a dark blue. Cut off from the world on this isolated patch of sand and palms, I have only my own guess as to what the weather will bring tomorrow. As the darkness descends, the starlight illuminates the relentless surf pounding the reef a few yards away. I have been paddling and diving while exploring more of these endless reefs over the past few days, but what really has been on my mind is wind. It can blow hard for days on end out here, and I am anxious for the next big blow!
I didn’t even know I had fallen asleep in the hammock, but suddenly I am awakened by an even louder sound than the surf: a storm has blown in and the palms are straining under a stiff wind from the NW behind my cabana. I look over the railing and am greeted with a face-full of fresh water off the roof as a hard rain has also begun, its curtain hidden in the dark and wind. I stumble to bed with a grin, anticipating what this could mean for tomorrow.
I am up at sunrise, greeted by an angry sea. The wind is blowing a steady 25-30 mph, and foaming whitecaps stretch to the northern horizon. It doesn’t take me long to down a cup of coffee, and in nothing flat I have assembled my rig from the collection in the surf palapa and am stepping into the water. I quickly power up, shooting across the small bay of the island. After two tacks to clear a reef I am free of the shallows. Now I settle in and start ripping down the sand flats behind the atoll’s reef. My next stop is an island three miles away. Patch reefs shoot by, easily visible in the ultra-clear water along the flats. Startled stingrays dart from my path across the sand bottom, as I push forward for more speed. Dark and light patches of turquoise surround me and I look over the atoll’s ring reef at perfect lines of surf breaking on the coral, which shelters the sand flats I am hugging. The colors are too vivid to be real, highlighted by the sparkling reflections from the rising sun. I am into my dream! I am all alone in this vast water world, not a boat or sail to be seen.
Soon the details of the palms on the next island come into focus and I know it’s only a mile away. It is perfectly in alignment on a single reach from our island, so I sail right up to its beach for a visit and rest. "Just the loco windsurfer again, you know you’re crazy to be out there in this wind!" the local caretaker calls out. After a cold Coke and a stretch, I head back into the water and prepare myself for the next reach, a 4-mile run back to, and past, our island base. But 4 miles is only a matter of minutes at the speeds I can maintain in this wind.
Halfway along my new bearing I have to leave the glittering sand flats and head into the atoll’s lagoon, where I improvise a course through the numerous patch reefs. You never know if you’ll get cut off by a reef that is just a little too far upwind to pass by, and it keeps the excitement at a constant, high level as I have to make a continuous series of critical judgments. It’s similar to skiing the trees back in Utah, I think to myself; mistakes are not an option.
As I burst out into the sand flats behind the NE reef, another group of rays shoot away. One of them jumps out of the water, showing the clear black and white markings of a Manta Ray.
I make a long, arcing jibe and start back to our island, my legs cramping after 4 miles of straining in the same position. Now I aim a bit downwind for the channel, which lies between the two islands at our base, breaking out to the sea. I have to spill some wind to slow down, but I know the reefs here and I cut through a small opening and into the surf zone. Here I take a few tacks along the edge of the break, then come screaming back up to our island, landing right at the dining palapa.
After stowing my gear I head into the kitchen where I join the others having breakfast. "Hey, wind looks awesome today, going out?’ somebody asks me. "How can I not?" I reply, thinking how could he not know where I had just been? Then I realized why, my hair wasn’t even wet! I had sailed half the atoll, with no wipe-outs. No one had missed me, no one knew about the ride I had just experienced. I guess it was just a windsurfer’s dream.
The Magic Seaweed wind report for the Gulf of Mexico.
Belize is at the very bottom of the map... a very good wind map.