Tag Archives: belize

Three Best Reasons to Go to Belize Now

What You Need to Know About Belize Before You Go

If you’ve decided on Belize for your next adventure, you need to know several things:

Belize is tough to get to.  Air schedules are not kind to the Belize-bound nor are the fares in the cheaper range.  American Airlines routes you through Miami, even if departing from the West Coast.  One friend took a cheap flight to Cancun, Mexico and drove to Belize.

Even though reasonably priced flights from Los Angeles to Belize City, via Houston, on Continental Airlines, can be found, you may have an inconvenient 6:30AM departure.

Belize is a Caribbean nation stuck inside Latin America.  The former British Honduras (pop. 300,000), Belize’s Creole population is English-speaking and identifies with its Carib Indian, African, Rasta/Jamaican and Spanish bloodlines with a splash of Mayan.  And the country exists (sometimes warily) next to its Latin neighbors, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.  In fact, squabbles over borders and access to the Caribbean Sea with Guatemala only recently calmed with a solid treaty.

Expensive to get there but reasonable once you are in country.  The Belize dollar is tied to a valuation of half of the American dollar.  So transportation and tours are reasonable, such as the 45-minute, $20 water taxi from Belize City to the Caribbean isle of Caye Caulker.

 

Best Reasons to Go To Belize Now

Belize offers so much for explorers.  Here are the three best reasons why you should go now:

  1. A wondrous array of Mayan ruins, many recently discovered within the jungle growth, with astounding histories.  In the inland Cayo District town of San Ignacio, you can explore the Cahal Pech Archaeological Site or ride horseback to Xunantunich, another Maya archaeological site.

 

  1. Eco-tourism hostelries and jungle lodges in Belize offer abundant hiking and butterfly farms in preserved rainforest, tube caving adventures, or canoeing rivers teeming with toucans and jaguars.  Wander the Rainforest Medicine Trail at Chaa Creek to learn about the herbal medicines growing in the rainforest called “bush medicine,” used by local healers still today.

 

  1. Home to the second largest reef in the world, Belizean cayes and clear water are prime for all ocean sports, sailing, diving, snorkeling.  San Pedro town on popular Ambergris Cayeis the dive and water sports capital.  Some, such as tiny Caye Caulker, have no cars, using bicycles and golf carts as transportation.

 

So explore this different corner of Latin America, where the people are Creole, your rice and beans arrive with coconut shavings and the sun washes massive Mayan plazas.

 

5 Surprising Discoveries About Belize

As I crisscrossed this Latin American natural wonderland, I made some surprising discoveries about adventurous Belize as an optimal destination for women travelers.  Read on.

Sleepy Caye Caulker on the Caribbean Coast of Belize

Belize is Safe for Traveling Women

1. Belize lacks the machismo culture of Latin America, identifying more with its Creole identity and British pedigree as the former British Honduras.  On Caye Caulker, I met a young Australian woman traveling alone who marveled at the difference as she traveled overland from Mexico to Belize.  From the adventure center of the Cayo District in eastern Belize to the Caribbean cayes on the coast, I felt perfectly safe, night and day, using a traveler’s necessary sense of caution, of course.

Avoiding Belize City at any time of day is a good idea as there’s no tourist infrastructure there anyway.  Most travelers ride cabs between the international airport and the water taxi landing or come in or out by shuttle from the inland.

Belize Is An English Speaking Nation in Latin America

2.   A traveler who only speaks English pointed out to me how much easier it is to get around, read signs, or strike up conversations with locals, making Belize an easy destination if you lack Spanish skills.  Though English is officially spoken in this British Commonwealth nation, you’ll also hear Creole, Low German from the Mennonites, Chinese from the shopkeepers, and even Mayan.

Jamal from Pacz Tours in San Ignacio, a typical kind-hearted Belizean.

Belizeans are Kind-Hearted, Friendly and Helpful

3.  After I dropped my digital camera into the drink before canoeing into Barton Creek Cave, I was devastated.  Back at Pacs Tours, my tour arranger, Jamal, heard my plight and simply said, “I know who can fix it.”

He headed next door to a clothing store in downtown San Ignacio where a fix-it man sat at a card table, tinkering on the town’s electronic devices and computers.  Mr. Fix-It deftly popped open my camera’s housing, wiped off the droplets and dried the interior with a borrowed hair dryer.  Disaster averted.  Thanks to the kind-heartedness of Jamal, a typical Belizean.

An Amish Mennonite Homestead in Lower Barton Creek in eastern Belize

The Mennonites Grow Belize’s Food

4.  Is watching an Amish Mennonite buggy negotiate San Ignacio’s unpaved roads or observing a barefoot Amish woman working in a long dress and white cap in the tropics seem incongruous?

Yet these are the scenes of everyday life in rural Belize.  Low German-speaking Mennonites feed Belize from their organic homesteads, producing most of the country’s eggs, dairy and produce as well as building most of its furniture.  After migrating in the 1950s, the Mennonites still remain insular and the government honors their refusal to pay taxes or serve in the military.

Belize is a Tropical Rainforest and Caribbean Wonderland

5.  Where else can you explore Mayan magnificence in monuments and history as well as chill to the sounds of reggae on a white sand Caribbean beach?

Belize offers two kinds of vacations.  In the Mayan Mountains, fall asleep to jungle chatter in an eco-lodge after exploring crystal caves full of Mayan artifacts or climbing a pyramid.   Then head to the Caribbean coast where white sand cayes, such as Ambergris Caye, offers island resorts, mojitos at sunset and snorkeling the Hol Chan Marine Reserve on the Belize Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest.

Got any more ideas about surprising Belize?  Let everyone know in the comments section below?