In this series of posts we share the highlights of our visits to the countries in the Central America Grande journey. It’s hard to put everything that impressed you about a country in a single post, but we’d love to give you some good and brief introduction. If something sparkled your interest, let us know that you want more details and we’ll do our best to elaborate on that in a separate article.
So here it is, let us introduce you to the second country from our CA grande journey, the only English-speaking in Central America, the unbelizable Belize!
The journey took us to some of the most lovely islands and reefs on Belize. We started right in San Pedro (Ambergis Caye) and then sailed to Lighthouse reef, its atolls and the Blue hole. We went slow in Caye Caulker. Returned to mainland to Belize City only to hop on a chicken bus to San Ignacio. We explored the town to the max, then explored the ATM cave. We visited the ruins of Xunantunich and we were ready to move to Guatemala.
Weather and nature
We always associated Belize with the Great Blue Hole. It may have become the symbol of the country, but there’s so much more to it! So don’t limit yourselves with the islands, the atolls and the reef only. We’re so glad we didn’t make that mistake and ventured inland.
Belize is kissed by the Caribbean Sea and gifted with rich underwater world. We explored a bit the mainland and found that the country has its dense jungle, and even some mountains too! It’s so nice to ride a road which is surrounded always by so much green!
Weather was good to us – no tropical storms, just one heavy rain and we were wet already by exploring a cave and crossing rivers by swimming, so no big deal. We had the perfect timing – the day before we arrived in San Pedro there were heavy thunderstorms. When we were sailing to the Lighthouse reef the open ocean was nice and calm.
We spotted many idyllic little islands perfect for placing a little cabin (in case you had the millions to buy it first). But this may not be the best idea as a light storm, or God forbid a hurricane , can wipe out everything on your dream private island.
We didn’t suspect that people are the country’s greatest asset! There’s a story. Our pickup from the ferry terminal was getting delayed so some taxi drivers were worried we won’t get a place to sleep and offered to drive us to a hotel. We politely refused. Then we remained the only people at the terminal so the workers from the immigration office got worried and offered to call to our host and check if everything was fine. It was OK after all.
There’s another story – we were walking the main street of San Ignacio when a tour guide approached us. He gave us tons of information about everything but he insisted that we visited the ATM cave. At first we didn’t plan to visit it but after his educational talk we knew we have to visit it. And we don’t usually get convinced easily by street vendors. The best part was that he advised us to skip another tour as it wouldn’t fit our adventurous style.
Everyone on the street, literally everyone would wish us a great day/night and welcome us! Many people were giving us free advice even if that wouldn’t help their business at all. And everyone seemed to be so proud with the diverse mixture of people and cultures in the country, and the direction it goes, especially after becoming independent! They keep proudly repeating and showing they can live together in harmony being all from different origin, race, religion and speaking different languages – English, Spanish, Creol or you name it.
We sailed in from Chetumal, Mexico and arrived in San Pedro. San Pedro is the dominating town on Ambergis Caye, but the whole island is much more famous as Isla Bonita. Although Madonna never really confirmed she sang about this island in her song, Isla Bonita is a trademark for San Pedro.
The town has its charm with the thousands club carts running everywhere, the many piers and hotels, the boats circling around reefs. We snorkeled the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and it was time for the Great Blue Hole. We spend a day on a boat sailing through the open ocean to get to the Lighthouse Reef, the Blue Hole and charming atolls.
We finished exploring the water kingdom of Belize by moving to Caye Caulker. The island slogan is “Go slow” so we indulged in relaxation, Caribbean vibes and music. We enjoyed the lack of cars on the island, club carts were everywhere though.
We sailed to Belize City and after a short walk in what seemed to be a casual street shopping area we headed to the bus station. We got on a chicken bus (the good old Blue Birds) and together with tens of people, their luggage and stock we rode to San Ignacio. Chicken buses are experience not to be missed in Central America!
San Ignacio was a nice provincial town we stayed for few days and we knew everyone by the time we had to leave. It was a good base to visit the ATM cave which is not only amazing outdoor adventure but also the coolest museum ever. Contains remains from Maya people and few-hundred-years-old ritual artifacts.
Xunantunich – yes, we eventually remembered the name of the Maya archaeological site very near the border with Guatemala. To get there, you have to cross a river by hand-cranked ferry. Adorable! And the ruins were just at our very own disposal…
A quick colectivo taxi ride took us to the border with Guatemala. After we settled the exit fee of 40BZ per person (this time it was clear what we have to pay, unlike when leaving Mexico), we were ready to say goodbye to Belize.
In a few words
- the word caye (means island) is part of the essential vocabulary for Belize. And there is a good reason why everyone falls in love with the cayes. They are unbelizable!!!
- Belize has so much to do and see inland! You have experience its charming little towns, dense jungles and amazing vistas. Mahogany brought the British here but we bet they stayed in love with the place. You betta belize it!
- Belize it or not, we’re gonna miss the people of Belize the most! Chill, smiling, always ready to help you fall in love with their country! We’ve met so many friendly people around the world but Belizians are definitely something special!
So that were our highlights from a week in Belize. We will remember the positive Belizians for long time. Hope to see you soon, Belize!
Have you ever been to Belize? What surprised you the most? Do you have a favorite spot?