April 2014. Semana Santa.
“With one foot in Central America and the other dipped in the Caribbean Sea, Belize is home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world, jungles that teem with wildlife and mysterious Mayan ruins”.
Lonely Planet Writer
Yup, that just about covers it. Our time in Belize was absolutely amazing, on so many levels. For this post I’m going to write a few words about each step in our adventure and include some recommendations / links for anyone else who is interested in traveling to Belize (which I would highly, highly recommend). This trip is definitely in our top 5 ever.. it’s up there with Bali, Thailand and many of the incredible places we’ve visited in Mexico.
We took the overnight ADO bus from the Cancun – Belize City. You can’t book the ticket in advance, so we went to the bus terminal with hopes that there was space on the bus. No problem. We used this website to get all of our information about transportation to and within Belize.
Arriving in Belize City was a bit insane. Actually, a lot insane. We waited in the bus terminal (which was sketchy) to catch a local bus to San Ignacio. It’s very unclear which bus to get on, you don’t pre-buy tickets (you pay on the bus), and it feels like there are 1,000 people trying to get cram into the same bus. It took a while for us to successfully get on a bus, but with some patience and help from an American local, we finally made it. It was so crazy that I didn’t even take pictures!
San Ignacio: We stayed at Rainforest Haven Inn for four nights (booked through http://www.booking.com, which we use religiously). This gave us ample opportunity to explore this beautiful little town, some delicious restaurants, and some of the unique excursions in the area.
ATM Caves: An absolute MUST do. The caves are a Mayan archaeological site, with preserved skeletons and ceramics. We weren’t able to take pictures on the tour (apparently someone dropped their camera on one of the skeletons and cracked the skull a few years back), but check out these photos that I borrowed from Trip Advisor. Hands down, this was the coolest thing we did in Belize! (It was much more physically demanding than it looks, and not a trip I would recommend to just anyone).
Tikal (Guatemala): It’s a long day trip from San Ignacio, but worth it if you have the time.
Green Iguana Exhibit: A place where iguana eggs are hatched and iguanas are released into the wild. Amazing opportunity to learn more about iguanas in Belize and see the reptiles up close.
Cahal Pech: Up high on a hill, looking over San Ignacio. We took a taxi to get here and then walked back into town as the sun set over the city.
We really liked the taxi driver who took us to Cahal Pech, so we asked him if he would drive us to Belize City the following day. For 100 USD, he said he would pick us up at 7:00AM, take us to a few places along the way, and drop us off at the dock where we needed to get a boat to the Cayes.
Xunantunich: The best views!
Belize Zoo: I’m not someone who enjoys zoos, or usually supports zoos, but I had heard that the Belize Zoo was different, and it was. All 0f the animals here are from Belize. There is a strong sense of genuine care for animals and their habitats. There was so much information about the many species in Belize, how to protect them and conserve their natural habitats.
After leaving inland Belize, it was time for some R&R, ocean breezes, scuba diving, seafood, and cocktails.
Ambergris Caye, San Pedro: We stayed at Ocean Tide Beach Resort. Rooms were nice and spacious, it was right across from the turquoise ocean, and had a swimming pool! There were busy beaches near the main ferry dock, gorgeous waters (not the best for swimming from shore), and beautiful jewelry for sale. I couldn’t decide on on one, so I bought two.
One afternoon I decided to take my camera and capture some shots around town. These are some of my most favorite travel pictures ever. Such a beautiful place.
Scuba Diving: We did our first dive with a company called Amigos del Mar Dive Shop. We weren’t impressed with the lack of instruction and everything felt rushed and hectic. We decided not to dive with them again. Instead, we took our business to Ecological Divers and didn’t regret it one bit! We dove with this company for 3 days and loved it!
Hol Chan Marine Reserve:
Food & Drinks:
One of the best things about San Pedro was the food. Lonely Planet has rarely let us down, so we took on the challenge of eating at as many restaurants listed in our guide as possible. They were all incredible! We stumbled upon this place one night when we went for a stroll. It was amazing! We had the most beautiful sunset view, the owner kept bringing us free food (which was delicious beyond words), and her son loved chatting with us. So lovely!
Overall, an amazing trip to Belize. As always, it wasn’t long enough and there was so much more to see, but we loved it and can’t wait to go back!