Ceviche & Sundowners While Sailing Sunset out of San Pedro, Belize

by Carolee Chanona
xsite belize Ambergris San Pedro ceviche

Belize might not be the immediate first thought at the mention of “Caribbean,” but why not? It hits all the marks. After all, the entire Caribbean is hailed for its sunshine—and it’s easy to see why. I mean, is there anything that spells out “relinquished from stress” more than sun-rays through dappled palms, sugar-like sand, and gin-clear waters that sparkle a blinding gold? Sounds like Belize to me. And then of course, there’s golden hour. For centuries, sunsets—particularly sunsets over the sea—have inspired romantic musings. And I’ve fallen in love—no, not with a person—with an experience: sailing into sunset out of San Pedro with a sundowner and ceviche in hand, thanks to XSite Belize Sailing & Adventures. And now, I’m ready to admit it: I’ve never been more in love with Belize than when sailing in its viridescent waters.

North-bound for Sunset

Tammy, who owns XSite along with her husband Neftali, walked us out onto the dock while chatting about how the traffic on San Pedro has been, the latest addition to their fleet, and what Gold Standard meant to them. With a warm smile—obvious by bright eyes hovering above her face buff—Tammy waved us off and reassured us that we were in great hands. After we sanitized, First Mate Eddie and Deckhand Eddy (we differentiated them by endearingly nicknaming Eddie 1 and Eddy 2) took our temperatures before giving us the universal “all-clear” nod. Captain Chilo took my hand as I kicked off my slippers and boarded the gorgeous, 42-foot multi-hull Miss Faith.

Gold Standard Certified With Plenty of Elbow Room

Because this was a private tour with plenty of space to social distance, the crew went over Gold Standard protocols and offered the option to remove our masks if we were from the same household. Masks are not required on these sort of private tours, and XSite won’t blend guests from different households; after all, travel pods are arguably amongst the safest ways to travel right now. Licensed for up to 35 persons (including 5 for the crew), XSite continues to cap their tours at 15 guests max for more than enough elbow room. Eddie 1 asked us for song requests while Eddie 2 served up the inherently Belizean rum punch, a tasty cocktail blend of rum and tropical fruit juice.

“We all chatted about life, got curious about their most awe-inspiring island adventure, and even got recommendations for great pupusas on the island (Pupuseria Salvadoreno, if you’re wondering).”

Nominated Tour Operator of the Year 2019, it’s easy to see why. This family business feels just like that, and we couldn’t feel more comfortable in the expert hands of Captain Chillo. Seven total vessels make up the XSite fleet, with their three catamarans and two sailboats alongside Ocean Cowboy (their speedboat) and Little Miss Faith (their skiff). Eddie stressed their ‘boats for all budgets’ offerings; from Terresin Fin, their high-end sailing catamaran (and largest) yacht outfitted with all the bells and whistles, including glass finishing and air conditioning, to the strictly day-trip catamaran Toucan Play. Even more excitingly? XSite is working on their sailboat for an even richer experience against Belize’s warm trade winds.

Curious Seagulls & Shrimp Ceviche on Miss Faith

Light on their toes with years of perfecting their sea legs, the crew zipped around Miss Faith before dropping anchor; we were north, in full view on the setting sun. In Belize, there are evening shows that happen on cue, fiery ends to activity-filled days, unique performances that are different each night—with free admission for all. Ours was a bit different: the day was overcast, a bit gloomy, and the sun played coy before peeping out behind a few clouds. Impossibly fresh shrimp ceviche helped ease the sting, despite a “bad sunset” simply not existing in Belize. Cozied into the netted area above the multi-hull, gulls dipped low for a taste of ceviche, too. While Eddie and I jumped up for our best attempt of offering a chip, there were no takers. How else would we humblebrag on Instagram?

sailing seagulls xsite san pedro

Sunsets may mark the end of the day, but they also have a knack for sparking romance—whether that means falling in love with a person or a place. A mere 10 minutes after the sun set, an almost-full moon lit up the sky, turning it a beautiful shade of blue, with hues of pink along the horizon at true dusk. If this two-hour experience was only a snippet of what lies beyond the reef by sail, I can see why XSite boasts a 5-star review on TripAdvisor. Picture it: 14 of your favorite friends cavorting on an untouched shore — you’ll be the envy of everyone isolating in their wearisome apartments. At twilight, you cozy over to the requisite beachside bar and restaurant, dig your feet in the sand, and have a stiff rum punch before dining on freshly caught lobster, conch, and red snapper. Until I can experience an overnight sail for myself, I’ll keep micro-dosing daydreams of this beautifully muted sunset.

Two hours later in good company with rum punch in hand, I toasted to those very same magical sunsets. And as for the gulls? Maybe better luck next time. And trust me, I will be returning for a next time.

For bookings and more, visit XSite Belize Sailing & Adventures. All other photos not captioned, courtesy Carolee Chanona. 

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