So please, whatever you do, read my post and know Belize is fabulous, but don't rush to get there.
|There's a lot to see while walking along the shoreline of Ambergris Caye.|
Let's begin with ease of travel, five hour flight, everyone speaks English and Spanish, the currency is a 2 to 1 exchange rate so you can spend Belizean or American money without going through hoops or paying fees. The country is pristine, the waters off the coast so clear you can see the bottom while you fly overhead to your resort on Ambergris Caye.
|The view from our puddle-jumper flight to the island.|
You might feel initially inconvenienced by the lack of all-inclusive lodging, but a closer look at that model of vacationing will convince you of the absolute violation of human rights incurred by exploiting people's labor for crap pay, so you'll appreciate that people in Belize, while generally quite poor, have better opportunities compared to people in neighboring countries who offer all-inclusive resorts for a cheaper rate. The accommodations in Belize are clean and range from adequate to luxurious, depending on what you care to spend. Plus, everyone knows that when you leave a resort for meals or entertainment, you stand a better chance of getting the local flavor. Each member of my family tried new things--from fried plantains to red snapper to soursop. (I became addicted to soursop juice and have not been able to find it here in America.)
|Typical dinner scene, complete with Belikin beer and Hawaiian shirts.|
I spent the week there blissfully hot (not uncomfortably, ocean breezes were lovely) and barefoot because Belize is a laid back place where you'll eat all of your meals outdoors on the beach and notice that your waiter is barefoot, too. The tourist crowd tends to be older or families, so the beach isn't overrun like some sort of MTV Spring Break event with obnoxious music and debauchery. It's easy to find a peaceful spot by a palm tree and feel your soul soothed by the sound of surf and the salty air. (If given the choice, I'd spend my life by the water.)
|Your standard beach chair with ocean view.|
Belize offers adventures. We snorkeled and saw an incredible range of sea life by the barrier reef. Stingrays, nurse sharks, coral, moray eels, tuna, grouper, sea anemone, starfish--we swam with all of these things. The boys found conch shells and we even discovered a baby octopus washed into our kayak (we replaced her into the ocean after admiring her for a moment). We hiked in the rain forest, astonished by the racket howler monkeys make while establishing their territory. We explored Mayan ruins a mile from the Guatemalan border. We learned about all sorts of flora and fauna, dazzled by the myriad of ways the rain forest provides for us. We zip-lined over the canopy and rode in rubber tubes down a rock-bottom river as clear as glass. We floated through caves filled with Mayan artifacts, stalactites and mystery. Team Testosterone went deep sea fishing, far past the edge of the reef, and caught barracuda and grouper and even a shark. (The fish tasted wonderful, we brought it to a restaurant down the beach and enjoyed it family-style, prepared in a variety of ways by a creative local chef.)
|Belize from above!|
|From a high perch at the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins|