I am grateful for all of my vacations but the trip to Belize is definitely a highlight for me. There seems to be a magic there of raw nature and a simple lifestyle. We flew in to Belize City and then took a puddle jumper to Caye Caulker. This island is a gem. Golf carts are the mode of transportation which immediately tells you life is slower here. There is a wonderful mixture of tourists. We saw quite a few many backpackers who stay at a hostel on the island. They were so friendly and shared stories from some of their journeys. We stayed at the Iguana Reef Inn which is exquisite in its simplicity yet meeting all of our basic needs. The staff is friendly, laid back yet very attuned to making your stay enjoyable in every way. I have two family members with ADHD so this was the first time I really saw them both relax. Later on, we could tell the people who had just arrived on the island as they had yet to adjust to island time. This island is the perfect prescription for anyone who loves a busy lifestyle and wants a break from the hustle and bustle. The restaurants are filled with friendly people so dinner is a social event. The food was fresh and every meal was incredibly delicious.
My favorite part of the vacation was the cave-tubing excursion. We were taken first by water taxi to Belize City. We then were taken by our guide to the western part of the country and out into an orange grove where we then got into a large farm truck equipped with inner tubes. We were taken through the orchard to the river when we put on headlamps and got into our inner tubes. We floated in and out of caves all morning until we stopped for lunch that had been packed in a dry bag. The huge tropical rain forest loomed all around us and I truly felt like we were in paradise. We then got back into our inner tubes and continued for the rest of the day through beautiful caves with grottos lit by the filtered sun through the forest. Each part of the trip was filled with such beauty that it took my breath away. We eventually stopped at a predestined site where we returned our gear and found this amazing old temple that had been turned into a restaurant. Here it was in the middle of a rain forest yet it had linen table cloths and beautiful crystal glasses. It was such a contrast to spending the day in and out of caves.
The second part of the trip that won me over to Belize was our trip to the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich which is located near the town of San Ignacio. you arrive at the Mopan river where there is old ferry to take you across to the ruins. The village people are gathered there to sell their wares. A large iguana was hanging out on a log near the ferry. We arrived at the ruins and were so amazed at the size of the sight and the beauty of the land around it. We climbed El Castillo which is the second largest structure in Belize. You could look over the land and imagine how it must have been back in 600-900 AD. There was a true sense of history there. We could also look to the west and see the border of Guatamala which had army guards stationed for those who chose to cross the border. I have to say that all of the panoramic view was breathtaking.
My other favorite part of Belize was the Belize Zoo which is a nonprofit rehabilitation facility for the wild animals in Belize. It is set in a natural habitat which offers the most respect to the animals so it was very close to a walk in the rain forest. The howler monkeys add some excitement to the walk through the park as you never know when they are going to howl so it give you a bit of a jolt. I was impressed that you can rent a place to stay within the zoo for a very affordable price.
The other absolutely wonderful thing about Belize are its people. Everywhere we went there were happy relaxed people. We loved using the water taxi as it is filled with children, adults, and families. Everyone is friendly and we had some wonderful conversations with our companions. We passed several small islands on our way between Belize City and Caye Caulker.
We also took a sailboat out past the reef and snorkled near the reef. The water was such a beautiful turquoise and the fish such vibrant colors. It’s so magical to be in their world. the water was so clear that you could see everything so easily. Our guide was informative about the waters around Caye Caulker.
Our final adventure was to Ambergis Caye which was a short water taxi ride to the north. There are so many beautiful islands along the way. Ambergis Caye was much larger and more civilized than Caye Caulker. The streets were filled with activity. We found a restaurant on the beach and was served the hands down best snapper any of us had ever had. I wish I remembered the restaurant but I am sure I could find it if we returned. We wandered the streets and enjoyed all the local merchants, especially the craftsmen and women.
It was hard to leave Belize after such a relaxing fun vacation. I would have to say it was the most balanced vacation I could remember as we were seemingly busy yet the environment and people created a sense of relaxed fun and ease. I have referred so many people to Caye Caulker over the years since our trip and all have returned with a similar story. It is truly a gem in the travel world; book now!!!