Are you ready for an exotic vacation? Have you thought about visiting a destination with more diversity? Belize is about the same size of Massachusetts, with over 300 miles of Caribbean coastline. Whatever you expect, Belize has more than you’ve thought possible.
On the northern tip of Central America, Belize borders Mexico and Guatamala.
Non-stop air on American Airlines from Miami to Belize City is an easy two-hour flight; as accessible as most Caribbean islands. Flights on Continental from Newark traditionally connect through Houston and take five-and-a-half-hours.
Belize City is the international airport of arrival. Commuter planes connect north to San Pedro Town or south to Dangriga, while water taxis cruise to several cayes (islands) within the country.
When should I go?
Belize has two distinct seasons: dry and wet.
Annual rainfall is the highest in Toledo, starting early May.
Vacation deals are more common during rainy season, which is between June-November.
Dry season runs February through the end of April.
The warmest weather: May-September, averaging 85F. Expect a sub-tropical climate, with high humidity. Southeast trade winds cool the coastal regions.
When is Belize in hurricane season? The end of October could be of concern.
The coolest weather: November-January, averaging 75F. Temperatures vary by region. Example: In November, temperatures inland can drop to the mid 40s in the mid-west region of Cayo.
The Belizean people share a diversity of customs and traditions from 10 cultures: Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo,Creole, Mennonite, East Indian, Chinese, Arab, European and American.
Once part of the Mayan, and very briefly the Spanish empire, Belize is the only Central American country to belong to the British Commonwealth. English remains the official language of the country while Kriol is the universal dialect spoken.
Archeologists estimate that Mayas lived within the borders of Belize as early as 2,000 years BC. Their civilization peaked to an estimated two million before 900 AD.
The Yucatec, who originated from the Yucatan in Mexico; Mopan, indigenous to Belize; and Kekchi people maintain their Mayan lifestyle in the dense forests of the Toledo region.
What can I do there?
How about a jungle horseback riding tour or zip-line experience across a canopy rainforest? Soft adventure seekers may prefer exploring abundant birdlife and exotic wildlife.
Discover magnificent Maya temples and regional history.
Devoted to preservation of eco-tourism? Half of Belize is covered in rainforest, 80 percent of which is protected. Belize has seven UNESCO world heritage sites containing exceptional beauty and significant habitats for threatened species.
Just a half-mile off the coast is the world’s second largest barrier reef at 174 miles long. And, with over 400 islands those who have a passion for aquatics and world-class diving will be in heaven. Kayak between islands or admire the tapestry of colors as you snorkel along the reef.
Certified diver? Between February and May, dive or snorkel with whale sharks. The most whale sharks recorded in one dive is 23, at one time.
Marine biologist? Anticipate 100 types of coral and hundreds of species of fish.
Brave and adventurous? Canoe or go tubing along the extensive network of mysterious underground caves and caverns. Bring a good flashlight and have one on your helmet, too.
Homeopathic remedies and herbs – Follow a self-guided path along the Rainforest Medicine Trail, outlining the jungles natural cures in the village of San Antonio. Formerly Panti Rainforest Trail, the founder lived until 103 years of age.
Prefer to drive? Stay on the major highway, which is in good repair. Secondary roads can be especially bumpy. If it rains, you may get in an impassable situation.
Beauty and the beasts – Along with the vibrant butterflies and flowers of perfection, there are creatures. Take insect repellent and watch out for tarantulas, iguanas and other uncommon sights here in the Capital Region.
Ambergris Caye – This popular resort location can be reached within a 20 minute flight or one-and-a-half hour boat ride from Belize City.
Placencia – A perfect base for a variety of activities. Take a day trip to beautiful Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Covered in coconut trees and mangroves, green heron and pelicans are among the inhabitants. Discover an abundance of coral and marine life, including bottle nosed dolphins.
Dangriga – The largest town in Southern Belize and nearby Hopkins are the perfect hubs for those who embrace unspoiled adventure.
Take an excursion to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary which includes 128 acres of scenic waterfalls and winding rivers. It is the home to the only known Jaguar Refuge in the world.
Looking for a special honeymoon spot in Belize? A new luxury reef and jungle resort opens next month, just south of Dangriga. Jungle and beach tours leave directly from the resort. Nesting toucans, agoutis, crocodiles and other wildlife can be discovered among its’ 300 acres. Kanantik Resort translates from the Maya Mopan language, meaning “to take care of”. There are only two dozen private thatched roof, air-conditioned cabanas on property, fringed by hammocks and the Caribbean Sea. I admit, this is my preference for ‘roughing it’. How about you? For more information visit www.kanantik.com or www.belize.com.
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.net.