A lovely childhood friend of mine wanted to escape the Canadian cold winter and join me for a week of traveling. Awesome! Pick the country, I told her, and I’ll meet you wherever! Belize was the lucky winner. Being Central America’s youngest nation (it got its independence from the UK only in 1981), Belize does have a different vibe than its surrounding neighbours: its official language is English, they accept American dollars and it’s a popular holiday destination (especially among Americans), making it one of Central America’s pricier destination. Belize still has a lot to offer culturally, historically and entertainingly. We did have a wonderful girl time exploring mayan ruins and caves, snorkelling with nurse sharks and drinking rum punch over stunning sunsets. Here’s a brief summary of our itinerary.
We started our journey in the heart of the Belizean jungle, in San Ignacio (a two hour bus ride from Belize City). Day one was spent exploring the Xunantunich ruins, one of Belize’s most accessible and magnificent Maya archaeological site. For a reasonable entrance fee of BZ10$, you can explore and climb structures dating from the 7th Century AD. The endless jungle view from the summit of El Castillo was quite impressive. The next day we were off to San Ignacio’s major attraction: the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave, an 8 hour underground adventure that takes you deep into the ancient Mayan world. The ATM cave was used by the Mayans to make rituals (including human sacrifices!) to the Gods of rains in order to save their crops and people. We were able to see an abundance of artefacts (including skeletons!) as well as magnificent stalagmites and stalactites formations. The tour is a little pricy (BZ180$) but we both really enjoyed the experience and learned significantly about the history of the Maya civilisation.
After spending three nights in the nature, we were ready to hit the beach. We took a chicken bus (local transportation) from San Ignacio directly to Belize City (BZ10$) and then a ferry to Ambergris Caye (BZ40$). We spent two days in San Pedro, the main town on the island. Ambergris is a more family-friendly and relaxing island (if compared to Caye Caulker). We spent a day cycling to the Secret Beach (about 45 minutes) where we swam in the beautiful pristine water and drank coconut rum on the white sand. The next day we were off to Belize’s backpacker central: Caye Caulker.
Save the best for last they say. Well, Caye Caulker was definitely my favourite spot in the country. My three nights quickly became one week. Caye Caulker was definitely the busiest, but the liveliest place of all three (we were there during the American’s spring break, hence the number of young festive tourists). The major activities on the island are all about water sports and underwater world: snorkelling with rays and nurse sharks in a colourful coral garden (we did a half day for BZ70$), kayaking along the coast through mangroves to spots pelicans (our hostel, Bella’s Backpacker, offered free kayaks and canoes), scuba diving to the famous Blue Hole (about US300$; unfortunately I didn’t have the budget to do so), as well as kitesurfing, paddle boarding or simply just sunbathing on Koko Beach. I also enjoyed a few yoga sessions at RandOM Yoga studio (donation based classes), thanks to the lovely Jessie. Our evenings were usually spent drinking a sundowner Belikin (local beer) at the Split, eating fresh fish by the beach and shaking our bon-bon to reggae beats.
Although a little expensive for a backpacker, Belize was worth a visit. It’s a safe country and it’s easy to travel. I recommend visiting both the inland as well as the islands to get a full insight of the culture, history and scenery of Belize. Merci pour ce merveilleux voyage ma belle Mel. Tu as été une super partner! À refaire n’importe quand! 😉