By Irene Aviles
When you mention the word Belize most people have heard of it and yet are not sure where it is. Caribbean? Mexico? Somewhere the water is insane! Formerly British Honduras, it is a country on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.
If Belize City is your first expose, you might run. It’s a dingy, creole town that feels somewhat deserted and corrupt but don’t despair. Similar
are Hopkins and Dangriga as they are Garifuna settlements; the people are a distinct ethnic group emanating from the intermingling of West African slaves and indigenous Amerindians from South America. However, if you want to immerse yourself in a different type of culture you might get lucky and even experience an impromptu music and dance party in the street! Not too far from the cities you can visit Mayan temples and ruins, various types of beaches, hike and bike in the rain forest, canoe or kayak down the rivers, cave tubing, helicopter over the Blue Hole (the ocean’s largest sink hole) or visit a Wildlife Sanctuary to see Belize’s famed, largest cat – the jaguar!
For those who want to experience the world’s second largest coral barrier reef for amazing diving and snorkeling experience, choosing one of the 200 islands to explore would be a dream come true! The islands vary from uninhabited to commercialized with accommodations, dining and clubbing etc. It depends on what you want to find. Our family loves to snorkel so our visit to Belize was mostly about finding snorkeling spots. One of the most memorable was snorkeling at an uninhabited island that we took a small boat to, and upon arrival, realized it was going to be a different experience because it wasn’t the calm blue waters we expected. Instead, we had to swim and snorkel in what seemed like an upstream current within a sea of small waves. The water was warm and beautiful (and the exercise was no doubt good), but it was choppy to say the least. Nevertheless, with some focus and more submerged snorkeling (not floating at the surface), we saw amazing schools of fish, beautiful sea plants and even a sea turtle and a sting ray or two. Our kids, at ages 7 and 9 at the time, were mesmerized, and it began a love for snorkeling that continues for them today, as teens and young adults. Belize, although a small country, has an amazing amount of natural beauty to enjoy so it may require more than one visit.
Finding your way to a private island accommodation would be the most ideal for the best overall experience. Royal Belize, as featured on The Travel Channel’s Island Show, offers this type of experience. With the ability to rent the entire island you have 3 villas available that accommodate up to 12 guests. Additional guests can also be accommodated on the catamaran. As an all-inclusive experience, you don’t have to worry about meals or drinks, water or island activities. Even transportation to the sister property Thatch Caye Resort is included, where additional accommodations for larger guest parties can be arranged. And don’t think of Royal Belize as your typical “all-inclusive” with pre-made, mass produced meals. No way! The food is made to order at your request! Want lobster for breakfast? No problem! Full concierge service is also available to coordinate your off-property excursions. You are basically on a deserted island catered to by an amazing staff to accommodate your every whim! Either engage in lots of activities or enjoy the solitude of the sand just steps from your villa; a hammock in your front yard, or a swim around the island, Belize presents an unforgettable, relaxing and heavenly vacation!0