To Belize or Not to Belize?
Is Belize your next travel destination? It should be…
There are lots of things to consider when choosing a vacation destination. I’ll assume you’ve already decided on a warm and sunny beach destination. With no shortage of beautiful, tropical hot spots in the Caribbean, how do you narrow it down? I’d like to explain why you should consider Ambergris Caye, Belize.
There are no major fast food chains!
That’s right folks, no McDonald’s, Burger King or Starbucks here! You will however find the most amazing food and drinks! Sure, processed junk food like chips and candy bars are available here (although pricey) but why eat that crap when you can have awesome, freshly prepared, local food? Although seafood is readily available and as delicious as you’re hoping, there’s also local dishes such as: stew chicken, rice and beans; jerk chicken, plantains and slaw, tamales, ceviche, salbutes, fry jacks, tacos, papusas, paletas, etc. You’ll also find all the typical pub foods, delicious burgers, cheese sticks, wings, pizza, etc. There is something for everyone. The “street food” is just amazing and my absolute favourite food. You’ll find 3 chicken tacos for $1, an entire BBQ chicken dinner for less than $5, and so much more! With so many options available, I assure you, you’ll be posting Instagram pics of your food to make your friends jealous! (I do!)
The most amazing accommodations!
If you’re like me, you’re tired of the huge, mega resorts typically found in the likes of Cancun, Mayan Riviera, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Ambergris Caye has a couple of beautiful larger resorts if that’s your jam (Grand Caribe, Victoria House, Mahogany Bay, etc) but the real gems are found in the smaller boutique style hotels like Mangata Villas (opening in Summer 2019). Yes that is a shameless plug for my own boutique hotel, BUT there are many other lovely, smaller, more intimate options as well. The point is – this is something different, and quite frankly – a breath of fresh air. You’ll often have a kitchenette available to save money on eating out, and you’ll never have to fight to get a pool or beach chair or to wake up at 6am to “claim” one (come on, we’ve all done it!) The hotel owners often live on site and are eager to please. You’ll have personalized and above average service here.
Diving and Snorkelling are second to none!
Seriously, the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world is visible from just about anywhere on the island. Some people even swim to the reef every day. There’s no shortage of tours that will take you diving or snorkelling or even just a catamaran tour drinking, eating and dancing the afternoon away, if that’s your preference. There are plenty of reputable dive shops on the island for the experienced diver or beginner (certification is readily available). Need I point out the Blue Hole? This is on many diver’s “must do” lists across the globe. If you don’t know what that is, do yourself a solid and Google it immediately!
There’s also “Shark Ray Alley”, a popular snorkelling destination where you are literally surrounded by Nurse sharks, stingrays and sea turtles waiting for you to feed them! How amazing is that? If that’s a bit too up close and personal for you, there’s also great snorkelling at Mexico Rocks, a patch reef, teeming with schools of colourful fish, rays, lobster, conch, and many other friendly sea creatures. The odd nurse shark may swim by but they don’t care about humans and won’t come near you at this location. Bring your underwater camera – this is NOT like other snorkelling experiences.
The National language is English and the local currency is easy
If you don’t speak Spanish, you may find it comforting to know that almost everyone in Belize speaks English. It is taught in school, along with Spanish. Kriol is another dialect you will encounter here, but again, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who does not speak English. I didn’t think this was such a big deal until I came here and realized how much more convenient it is to communicate easily with everyone. Also, for those who do watch some TV while on vacation – it’s nice to have English programming!
The currency is the Belizean dollar (BZD) which is tied directly to the American dollar (USD) at 2:1. In other words, $1 USD = $2 BZD. Easy, peasy! You’ll be able to use your credit cards at some locations here, but I strongly recommend you bring USD or BZD with you. You can certainly get cash from bank machines here, but why pay all the fees? Bring cash with you – it’s accepted everywhere! Don’t bring other currencies and try to exchange it here, you won’t get a good deal.
No shortage of fun things to do!
Other than lounging by the pools and beaches, and eating (my fave things to do!) there’s so many activities available! To name a few:
- Deep sea fishing
- Fly fishing
- Fishing off the docks or boats
- Mayan Ruins
- Cave Tubing
- Jungle hikes
- Crocodile Tours
- Paint classes
- Food tours
- Cooking classes
- Live music and dancing most, if not all, nights
- Markets and street vendors
- Secret Beach and other beaches
- Caye Caulker
- Exploring the island by golf cart, bicycle or electric scooter
- Movies outdoors under the stars or a rustic, but totally great, indoor movie theatre
- Gymnasiums, including Crossfit classes
- Walking groups
- Hermit crab races and chicken drops (pick the fastest hermit crab to win OR guess which square the chicken will eventually poop on…..they both draw crowds – people love this!)
I could go on and on about the many reasons why a vacation to San Pedro should be on your shortlist, but who has time for that?! Bottom line: there’s no good reason NOT to visit Belize. These are some of the friendliest, most accommodating people I’ve ever met. You’ll be welcomed warmly and you’ll enjoy a different kind of vacation with nobody haggling you at the airport, no time share stalkers, and a simpler, calmer type of vacation than the busy, bustling, typical herding cows, type of all-inclusive Caribbean vacation and – it doesn’t have to cost any more! You can have an affordable vacation here or an extravagant one – your choice!
For more information and to answer any questions you have, please join my Facebook group called “Ambergris Caye Visitors“. This page is for you to ask anything at all to locals and other vacationers who’ve visited. Join today!