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Must See Places in Belize

lisa1Hi! I'm Lisa, I communicate with all the Property Owners here at QA. I hope you enjoy my tips following my family holiday to Belize.

After a long 11+ hour day time flight to Cancun, boy were we relieved to arrive!  The minute we stepped off the plane, a familiar and welcome feeling hit us – the heat!  Boy did it feel good.  Travelling with my husband and 2 teenagers – 16 & 13 years is a different experience to my travelling days with friends through South-East Asia and Central America, but bring it on.

To become acclimatized to the new time zone and heat, we had a couple of nights in

Playa del Carmen.  This experience got us into the travel groove straight away, lazy breakfasts, a day at the beach club with music blasting out over the beach and amazing Mexican dinners.

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On our third morning, we were excited and apprehensive as to what lie ahead, we were booked onto a Tropic Air flight from Cancun to Belize City.  A single prop plane, 2 pilots and 4 other passenger made this journey the MOST amazing flight I have ever been on (and I have been on quite a few!)  The 45 minute journey went over the skyscrapers of Cozumel with the wooden docks stretching out into the ocean like ladies fingers, incredible views of the reef, following the coastline down, leaving Mexico and into Belize with swamp land on one side and the world’s second largest reef to the other, I was enchanted.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Black Rock Lodge – just outside San Ignacio, Cayo District

No trip to Belize is complete without a stopover in the Belizean jungle.  A 2 ½ hour

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road trip from the airport and we were now off-grid and had arrived at Black Rock Lodge.  We were welcomed with a rum punch, fruit punch for the teens.   Black Rock is an eco-lodge nestled in the dense rainforest above the Macal river, they produce 100% of their own energy and organically grow the majority of their own food, and this is to be our home for the next 4 nights.  We had opted for a River Front Suite which came complete with 2 hammocks (a must for chilling out and listening to those incredible jungle sounds) and was a stones throw away from the river rope swing – a big pull (forgive the pun) to all ages!  The rooms here are au naturel – no TV, no Wi-Fi (though available in the restaurant area if you’re really desparate), no phone, no hairdryer, no Air-conditioners – just a fan and the gentle rainforest breeze.  Waking up and embarking on my morning yoga asana’s was awesome!

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There is a long list of activities to do in the area which include visiting Mayan ruins, a guided night hike, a day trip to Tikal in Guatemala, river kayaking, guided mountain hiking, river cave tubing, zip wiring, star gazing at night, visit the local market, a day trip to the ATM cave & bird spotting to name a few.

We opted for the ATM caves (challenging & incredible), cave tubing, a night hike and river kayaking, which was a favourite for us all with two amazing guides Fernando and Diego.  The highlight of this river trip must be Nic “nearly” catching an iguana in the river – a momentous memory!

 

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I cant let this piece of the blog end until I have mentioned the wildlife to be seen in this area, red eye tree frog, tarantulas, scorpions, snakes all 3 species of toucans (I didn’t realize there were 3!), flycatchers, hummingbirds, parakeets, kingfishers, bats to name a few.  I always had my eyes open for the “lesser-spotted” leopard but we were awoken by the howler monkeys strangest sound in the darkest of the night; very like that of the now extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex!

 

 

 

 

2. Caye Caulker

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Arriving into Caye Caulker (an island I had first visited way back in 1989) we were greeted with Reggae music echoing from funky colourful beach bars and as soon as our feet hit the soft sand, we knew this was going to be a cool place to hang out.  We were here to soak up the sunshine and to slow down….

 

In 1961 Hurricane Hattie struck Caye Caulker and divided the island into two, the point where the hurricane hit is now known as the Split.  It is deep enough for boats to pass through but also a small man made “beach” area, well sand with a beach volleyball pitch and a mix of backpackers and tourists sunbathing and enjoying beers from the popular bar called the Lazy Lizard.  An alternative is to take bicycles and go and explore the rest of the island (it’s only 5 miles long!) – to see the real Caye Caulker, local homes and the real people.

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We had opted to go slightly more luxurious and stay at the Iguana Reef Inn and the

penthouse suite beckoned…nestled on the top floor of a small hotel, the balcony had the most amazing sunset views.  After sunset lazy evenings were spent eating from various street stalls selling hot food, notably the most amazing lobster!

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Caye Caulker is a short boat ride from the barrier reef and we took a snorkeling trip and experienced some amazing snorkeling at three different sites: the Coral Gardens, Hoi Chan and then Shark Ray Alley, filled with nurse sharks, sting rays and even a barracuda came to see what the fuss was about.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Ambergris Caye – Tranquility Bay

San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is a marmite destination – you either love it or you hateLisa 9 it.  We didn’t stay long enough to make our minds up and instead headed north, after our short boat ride from Caye Caulker, on a private 35 minute, 12 mile speed boat transfer to paradise.

Tranquility Bay Resort has 10 colourful cabanas, they were basic, tired and in need of some TLC but what the interior lacked, the exterior more than made up for.  What makes this place special is a mixture of a Robinson Crusoe beach with palm trees, hammocks and a resident iguana (we even had hermit crab races!); the water is crystal clear, warm and there is an abundance of fish. 

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A vibrantly decorated building is home to the reception, dive shop and restaurant/bar where breakfast is served – a special mention must go to a Fry Jack, the Belizean equivalent of a doughnut.  Staff are excellent and the early evening happy hour cocktails were a must. 

At night this area is lit and is incredible, huge tarpon, stingrays have a feeding frenzy on smaller fish and shrimp.

There are huge advantages of staying here – the only resort on Ambergris Caye with access to the reef from the beach.  There is very little boat traffic and therefore it safe to snorkel either by kayak or swimming.  There is an area in the reef where manatees are known to frequent – alas we only caught sight of the tail end of one.

We completed our journey with a couple of nights in a rather fantastic hotel just outside of Playa del Carmen…before boarding the long flight back to the UK.

 

Thanks for reading! Here's some quirky places to stay if you ever go!

https://www.quirkyaccom.com/parrot-nest-lodge

https://www.quirkyaccom.com/cotton-tree-lodge

https://www.quirkyaccom.com/the-funky-dodo-backpackers-hostel

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