A client recently mentioned that it seemed like ‘everyone’ was heading to Belize for vacation these days. I would have agreed with him based on the number of clients Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters alone seems to be sending there however I found the opposite to be true when I took my family to Belize this summer. The interior of Belize, it turns out, is still one of those rare, accessible travel destinations that remains a place ‘less traveled’. This was a wonderful surprise and I wish it would stay that way- although it’s clear that Belize is poised to grow.
In this tiny country, the combination of jungle life, Mayan ruins and unique culture paired with the world’s 2nd largest coral reef and a laid back island scene makes for an excellent and exotic travel experience. For the first four nights of our trip we went inland, near the town of San Ignacio, and stayed at the exquisite Chaa Creek, one of Belize’s first eco-lodges. From our base at Chaa Creek we explored the interior- zip-lining through the jungle at Calico Jack’s (where our guide introduced my boys to snacking on termites, which I’m told taste like carrots and mint mixed together), hiking to the top of the Caana temple (the tallest man made structure in all of Belize) at the Mayan ruin called Caracol (where on average there are only about 30 tourists per day), canoeing the Macal River, and enjoying the Green Iguana Conservation center, which is housed behind the San Ignacio Hotel. For most of these activities we were completely on our own with a driver and guide. It was as if we had the interior of Belize all to ourselves and it was wonderful.
After our stay at Chaa Creek we were driven to the Maya Flats Airstrip, a mere 10 minutes from the lodge and located in a farmer’s field. We hopped aboard a 10 passenger TropicAir flight with one other family and were flown over the country on a short and scenic flight to Ambergris Caye.
The same sense of ‘the road less traveled’ was not to be found on Ambergris Caye, where it seems that almost everyone on the island is an expat or a tourist and nearly every part of the island is developed or being developed. It’s a somewhat typical island experience, where people are zipping around in golf carts, soaking in the sunshine, and hanging out at pools, beaches and bars. However, the hook for me is the incredible underwater life. I have never seen so many rays, turtles and sharks in one location and could have spent the entire day in the water at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. My boys and I touched the velvety soft belly of an eagle ray, tagged the fins of 6 foot long nurse sharks, held a prickly sea urchin and swam through large schools of black jacks. It was magical. –Julie, October 2014