Highlights from our visit to Belize

with 10 Comments

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!

 

We are dancing on the beach in San Pedro, Belize

 

 

The region

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.

 

Swimming with the nurse sharks at the Hol Chan maritime reserve in Belize

 

 

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.

 

Bistra is admiring the Great Blue Hole in Belize

 

 

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.

 

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View from the pier at Half Moon Caye in Belize

 

 

The people

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. 

 

Tourist walking in the water at the ATM cave in Belize

 

 

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.

 

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Looking at the main pyramid in Xunantunich. Belize

 

 

The experience

Water Belize

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. 

 

 

 

Inland Belize

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?

 

10 Responses

  1. yashajoy
    | Reply

    I have been to Belize – back in 2007. I remember the relief when we crossed from Mexico, after 5 months of Spanish, the border officials all spoke English. We also enjoyed the ‘Go Slow’ of Caye Caulker. It is a very beautiful and hospitable country.

    • Nace Sapundjiev
      | Reply

      It is a hospitable country. The people there are always smiling and try to help you and make you feel welcome 🙂

  2. Elaine Masters
    | Reply

    I’d love to dive around Belize. That Blue Hole has been on my radar for a long while but I had no idea how much more there was to do in the area.

    • Nace Sapundjiev
      | Reply

      We were just like that before we arrived and saw for ourselves the country is so much more than Blue Hole (which is great and totally worth diving and snorkeling)!

  3. Laura Lynch
    | Reply

    Belize has been in the back of my mind as a destination for a while, but not being scuba divers I thought it might not have much to offer us. Clearly I was wrong. It look really lovely and glad to see there are even things to do that don’t include the water.

    • Nace Sapundjiev
      | Reply

      Belize has so much to do and see inland indeed! Next time when we return we’ll allow more time for the charming villages, amazing archaeological sites and the friendly locals!

  4. Sol Solntze
    | Reply

    Those beaches look lovely, but I agree it would have been a shame to limit yourself to that. And how wonderful to be so welcomed.

    • Nace Sapundjiev
      | Reply

      We hope so much that locals will remain so friendly and welcoming for many years to come. 🙂

  5. jillian
    | Reply

    Oh, what a great trip! I just got SCUBA certified, and diving in Belize is definitely on my list. The colors are amazing.

    • Nace Sapundjiev
      | Reply

      You should definitely scuba dive around the Belizean part of the Mesoamerican reef! The Blue Hole, the Lighthouse reef, but also the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which is our favorite for snorkeling and diving!

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