Anybody up for an adventure? If you are, and you have more that a week, then this might be the place for you and your family. Belize is for scuba divers and/or the traveler looking for eco-tourism. The only drawback about a trip to Belize is actually getting there.
Picture of Laughin Bird Caye, Belize by Chuck Taylor
At the present time only one company offers charter service from Canada (Toronto only) to Belize. From Ottawa or anywhere else in Canada, you must make a double connection at least. Upon arrival in Belize city people tend to keep on going - but that's up to you. Belize city is not that great. Most people go on as soon as possible to one of the outer islands, or head inland or down south. This involves another flight or boat or bus ride - not ideal travelling arrangements for families with young children. For instance, I went on to Caye (pronounced "key") Caulker by plane. This last flight took only 15 minutes but was added to an already long (12 hour) travel day.
Editor's note: since this article was written, Warna travelled to (and was very impressed by) another small island - Caye Chapel - during her cruise adventure - see her article for details.
Jungle around Hopkins
Belize is mostly jungle and has only one main highway from the north to the south, it took about 20 years to build. It's a small country with only about 250,000 inhabitants, mostly concentrated along the coast and on the cayes, and oh yes it's English speaking.
As you may imagine the country is somewhat underdeveloped, so generally speaking not for the luxury/ comfort seekers. One major exception is the Caye Chapel resort mentioned earlier.
Most of the hotels are small. Reserving accommodation and ongoing travel arrangements before you go is definitely advised.
In Belize what can you do? When it comes to eco-tourism there are endless possibilities. You have the north of Belize with dense jungle and most of the farming communities, eco lodges and even spas.
You have the interior where most of the Mayans ruins are (Lamanai, Xunantunich etc.), along with more dense jungle. You can take tours of these sights, most of the tours are run by local Mayan families. Other activities offered here are rainforest walks, aerial trekking and cave tubing.
Then you have the south of Belize where you will find the best beaches - and more dense jungle. You may not encounter anybody else on the beach, except for a couple of local fisherman. Also in the south you have the world famous jaguar preserve where you can take a hike and try your luck at seeing a wild jaguar in its natural habitat. You can take kayaking tours on natural pristine jungle rivers, also sea kayaking and river boat tours.
Want to snorkel or scuba? Belize has the second largest reef in the world - next to the great barrier reef of Australia. Belize is probably one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to scuba dive. In Belize you can snorkel or scuba with the sharks and manta rays if you're a hardcore adventurer.
Snorkelling with sharks
Options for getting around in Belize include flying, renting a car or using the bus. The bus system in Belize is very good , dependable, and cheap. Of course to get to the cayes you must go by plane or boat. Ambergis Caye has the most hotels and is definitely the most commercialised with 4 and 5 star hotels - even all-inclusive hotels - with kids activities.
"Beaches and Dreams" hotel at Hopkins, Belize
Smaller and more laid back is Caye Caulker.
This Caye, good for families on a more modest budget, offers smaller hotels and less expensive restaurants and activities.
If you have a two week vacation, but don't want only Belize, we can also offer one week in Belize and the second week in Costa Rica or Guatemala. All these destinations are for open minded families with a sense of adventure.
For more information why not check out Belize's official tourism website - www.travelbelize.org