Friday 19 January 2018

5 Reasons to Travel to Belize, Central America

Belize beach
Image, thanks to Luxury Retreats

Belize, it might not be a destination you are too familiar with but after spending a few hours trawling the web, reading about it, watching videos and drinking in its beauty I can safely say I want to visit this small Central-American nation.

In fact I now have big future plans for a second-honeymoon trip for my husband and I, and there are certainly some vacation rentals in Belize that would make our time there super special. The amazing Belize coastline is just 630KM along the Caribbean coastline from Cancun and Playa del Carmen in Mexico. So you can be assured of a stunning white or golden sand beach if this is what you are looking for.

Belize is rich in culture too and shouldn't just be mistaken for a place to visit and sunbath. Yes, you can do that if you so desire and you'll find luxury rental properties and hotels that are unique and outstanding. Whether you fancy being on a private island, staying out on the sea on a stilted property or having a private infinity pool, these are all possible in Belize.

1.  Explore the Maya Culture
The Maya occupation of Belize began as early as 1500BC and during the classic period, between 250AD - 900AD it was thought the Maya population was as high as 1 million people. Compare that to the current population of around 378,000 and it must have been very busy. There are many temples and ancient ruins that you can visit whilst in Belize, including Caracol, which is one of the most grand. A lot of mystery still surrounds this ancient civilisation, making this is a really interesting place to explore.

Caracol, Belize
Maya Temple Image, thanks to Shutterstock

2.  Marvel at the Belize Barrier Reef
Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world, which is home to over 100 different kinds of Coral (Lonely Planet). The Hol Chan Marine Reserve at the southern tip of Ambergris Caya is a must visit for all, and divers and snorkelers alike will enjoy exploring the Blue Hole natural monument. Its cave walls drop 407 feet into a natural ocean funnel, so have your underwater camera at the ready for this truly unique experience.

grand blue hole, belize
Blue Hole, Belize Image, thanks to Shutterstock

3.  Swim with Sharks at Shark Ray Alley
So how does that sound? I have to admit I'm a bit of a wimp and the idea of swimming with a shark makes me a tad worried but I know many of you are far more adventurous than I am and would love this. The area is full of Nurse Sharks and Southern Sting Rays who turn up daily as they know they will be fed. The sharks are docile but of course they are still wild animals and if they feel threatened they would attack so the attraction of an amazing experience and some unique photos does come with a caution warning. One for thrill seekers only!

4.  Believe You're One of the First to Discover it
Of course you won't be but Belize is still relatively un-spoilt. It maintains its local charm and has kept the big hotel chains at bay. The natives are relaxed and friendly and you'll find pockets of activity in the small towns as you travel about. Belize isn't a commercial mecca and that slow and lazy pace of life is to be treasured and enjoyed.

The busiest place you'll come across is San Pedro town on the biggest island, Ambergris Caye. here you'll find a good selection of bars, restaurants and nightlife if that is what you fancy. Otherwise just enjoy the slow pace of life and some of the islands are even vehicle free.

5.  Take a Jungle Hiking Tour
Over 50 percent of Belize is covered by dense jungle and 80 percent of the rainforest is protected, meaning it has some of the most accessible jungle in the Western Hemisphere. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a 155 mile square reserve that was established to protect the local jaguar population and it is a very popular destination to hike.

You can easily find a tour to join if you are not a confident hiker and you'll get to enjoy the outstanding biodiversity in this amazing area formed of two distinct basins. There are thousands of types of flora and hundreds of fauna, including around 500 different bird species. I think the part I'd like best though would be enjoying the waterfalls and deep pools that naturally occur.

waterfall, belize
Bathing in Waterfall Image, thanks to Shutterstock

Useful Information
  • Where is it? - Belize is bordered to the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala and to the east by the Caribbean Sea.
  • Official Language - The official language is English but you'll mostly hear Kriol (which is Belizean Creole)
  • Best Months to Visit - December to April, the rains are more frequent on the other months and June to November is classed as hurricane season
  • Temperature - The average yearly temperature is 84° F (29°C) but there is always a nice coastal breeze of the cap of the rainforest to keep you cool
  • Currency - Belize dollar, although the US dollar is widely accepted too and the exchange rate is set at 2 US dollars to 1 Belize dollar, so it is easy to know what you are spending.
  • Flight time from Heathrow, UK - around 14 hours
  • In Country Travel - You can good value internal flights, buses and water taxis
  • Driving - You can use your UK or International driving licence for up to 3 months in Belize
  • Entry Requirements - British Nationals do not require a Visa but you should have at least  months left on your passport from the date of entry to Belize
  • Vaccine Requirements - At the current time you should just be up to date with your MMR and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine when travelling from the UK. if you enter Belize from a country with a risk of Yellow Fever you'll need a certificate. Check Travel Health Pro at the time of your travel. 
  • Healthcare in Belize - The healthcare system is limited in Belize and if you become seriously ill you'll be evacuated to the United States, so make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance in place. 
  • Check out the Belize Travel Forum on Trip Advisor, it is an amazing resource of information
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