Have you thought about a Belize vacation? Belize is a diverse country, with rainforest jungle on one side and spectacular beaches on the other. How to choose? We asked Kelly Stilwell from Food, Fun & Faraway Places to share how she saw both sides of Belize in one trip.
If you’ve been thinking about a Belize vacation, perhaps having a list of things to do will help you make a decision. Our vacation to Belize is definitely one of our favorite trips ever.
Planning Your Belize Vacation
Belize is a wonderful destination for a family vacation. With jungle on one side and beach on the other, there really is something for everyone. For those who want to relax, the beach is incredible, with the warm tropical waters. For a more active vacation, there’s fishing, snorkeling, caving, hiking, and so much more.
The weather in Belize is pretty temperate, with temperatures rarely getting below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. September is the wettest month, and April is the driest. We took our trip in July and had one day where it rained part of the day, and it was just enough to cool things off.
For the foodie, Belize serves up fresh ingredients in unexpected ways, like the popcorn ceviche at Rumfish in downtown Placencia. Whatever vibe you’re looking for in a tropical vacation, I think you’ll find it in Belize.
And who says you have to choose between the jungle and the beach? We managed to fit in both!
Lodging for a Belize Vacation
We started out in the jungle in Belize. Blancaneaux Lodge is a Coppola Hideaway property, owned by Francis Ford Coppola. When we realized there was a Coppola Hideaway property in the jungle and at the beach, we decided to split our time between the two, beginning at the Blancaneaux Lodge located in the Cayo district.
The Lodge is right on the Privassion Creek, in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Our cabana was right at the edge of the creek. We had two separate bedrooms and a family area that was open to the outside with a hammock right on the porch.
With a call on the shell phone, we could set dinner reservations, book excursions, and order the continental breakfast sent to our room.
This was not your everyday breakfast delivery!
The food was incredible at both lodges, but the breakfast service (included at both) was just such a treat.
The second part of our vacation was spent at the Turtle Inn on the Caribbean in Placencia, not far from the Belize Barrier Reef UNESCO World Heritage site. Though both properties are pretty spectacular, you’ll want to get out and explore!
Things to Do in Belize
Our hotel had tubing of the Privassion every day at 10 a.m., and it was included in our stay. A guide met us right outside our cabana and brought us inner tubes. TIP: The hike was a little more than we expected. Wear tennis shoes or water shoes! A couple of us had sandals on as we didn’t realize it would be such a long hike.
Go on a Cave Tour
There are many caves in Belize, but the mecca is the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, aka ATM Cave. It’s one of the top attractions in Belize. Truth be told, if I had known how difficult this trek was, I may have backed out. You will have to climb up rocks and walk through water up to your chest in the dark, with just a helmet light leading the way. Towards the end of your journey into the cave, you will see ancient remains, skeletons of people said to be sacrificed to the gods. This is not an easy trek, but our guide Luis was amazing. I did this with my husband and two college-aged daughters, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. Even if you’re nervous, I would tell you to find the courage and go for it! Photos are not allowed in the ATM Cave.
Eat Authentic Belizian Food
If you’re staying near Placencia, Auntie Luba’s Belizean restaurant at the Turtle Inn is fantastic. Most of the ingredients for this vegetarian menu come from their own garden. We even saw the chef go out and pick herbs for the dishes he was preparing. That’s fresh!
Also at the Turtle Inn, the Gauguin Grill serves up fresh Belize seafood. The Coconut Shrimp, whole fish, and other seafood specialties were incredible, and the view was pretty spectacular.
You can also go into the town of Placencia and try the ceviche with popcorn at Rumfish.
Rumfish has an extensive menu. Ordering several items to share gives everyone the chance to try the different flavors of Belize without being committed to one dish.
Barefoot Bar, also in Placencia, is a more casual beach bar. Order appetizers of Tostones with a local Belikin beer.
Take a Hike
You’ll find a lot of places to hike in Belize. Do take your fitness level into consideration. Victoria Peak is the highest mountain in Belize, so is a trek for more experienced hikers. Blue Hole National Park can be as short as a one and a half mile hike or could be made longer with a guide, even into the Crystalline Cave.
Go Horseback Riding
This is a great way to see the jungle in Belize! The Blancaneaux Lodge has a guided tour, so your guide will help with your horses, give you bags to keep your phones and other gear safe, and lead the way. It’s nice not to have to leave the property, too. You can also choose to see the Big Rock Waterfall as part of your ride, and even order a boxed lunch to take for a picnic.
See a Waterfall
There are quite a few waterfalls in Belize, including Butterfly Falls and Rio on Pools. It certainly makes it easier if you don’t have to get in a car and drive to where you begin the hike. You can begin right at Blannaneaux Lodge and hike to Big Rock Falls, or go on horseback as we did. Even on horseback, your guide will show you where to tie up the horses as you still have to hike to get to the falls, going down a fairly steep path of stairs and back upon your return. Keep that in mind for anyone who might not be able to make the trek to this particular waterfall.
Relax at the Pool
You are on vacation, so relax a little! The infinity pool at the Turtle Inn was pretty amazing.
Go to the Beach
Placencia is a lovely beach town. Many of the hotels have chairs right on the beach. In fact, several of the restaurants are right on the sand in front of the beach, too. Spend a day enjoying the clear turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea.
Go Snorkeling or Diving
A dive shop was within walking distance of the Turtle Inn. They can set up snorkeling, diving, or even fishing trips. If you enjoy snorkeling or diving, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Belize Barrier Reef!
Have a Belizian Beer or Cocktail
The most popular beer in Belize is Belikin. I read later that it comes in a few different varieties, even seasonal flavors, but I only saw the regular version. Jaguar Juice is made with local craboo liqueur, aged rum, and fresh pineapple juice. If you stay at Blancaneaux Lodge, a mini version is served as your welcome drink.
You’ll have no problem finding a birding tour in Belize. With close to 600 species of birds from the Masked Booby to the Emerald Toucanet, this is a birdwatchers paradise.
See the Belize Mayan Ruins
At one time, there were more than 2 million Mayas in Belize. The Xunantunich Mayan Ruins dates back to 600 AD. The name means stone woman and it’s believed she haunts the grounds. Touring these ruins will take you to the top of El Castillo for a breathtaking view.
Another spectacular spot is the Altun Ha Mayan City, where you can see the collection of pyramids dating back to the 10th century BC. Many of the tours can be combined with tubing, zip lining, and can even include a meal brought along.
Do I have you thinking about a vacation in Belize? Learn a handful of Belizean Kriol phrases before you go.
- Gud maanin – you probably guessed it. Good morning.
- Tenk you. Thank you.
- Cho? What on Earth?
- Ah pekish. I’m hungry.
- Mi love Belize! I love Belize!
Please let us know if you visit Belize. It’s the perfect destination for a family vacation!
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Kelly Stilwell of Food, Fun & Faraway Places is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity.
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