As of October 1st, Belize is open again for travel! There aren't too many places around the world where you can have a beach vacation and a jungle experience all within a couple of hours, one of the reasons we hear at Nani Nalu love Belize.
The best time to travel to Belize is during their dry season; January through May. It can be an affordable location in the Caribbean if you are a smart traveler, so if you're looking for a last min tropical getaway to escape the snow and grey skies, this is the place for you! We have been reminiscing on our Belize girls trip at the announcement of the borders reopening. We did our 5-day adventure for under $600 per person, and this included flights.
Our Caye Caulker accommodation was amazing - a tiny treehouse facing the ocean with a second cabana (notice the little blue hut) below. This rental is currently off the market - but boy are we glad we were able to stay at least once!
Ambergris Caye is the most known and visited beach area. But Jenn (Nani Nalu owner and #dametraveler) tends to seek out more of an off-the-path adventure. So we headed to Caye Caulker, a sleepy little island glittered with local feels and 360 ocean views. The only way to get around is by golf cart, which you can rent or just taxi. We stepped off the ferry and bought fresh plantain chips and pineapple slices... what more do we need? The town strip on Caye Caulker is a small dirt road with beach huts and wooden cabanas that serve as shops and juice stands. Plenty of tourist attractions including snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and fishing along with tours to the mainland.
Caye Caulker highlights:
Snorkeling Tour: http://www.cavemansnorkelingtours.com/
On this tour, you will see giant sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, and beautiful coral reefs. They take you out to multiple drop points and do lunch at a local barefoot restaurant on the beach that usually has live music!
Lazy Lizard is located at the Split on this island. They have a large beach area with built-in tables and chairs in the water so you can enjoy a beverage and stay cool in the ocean! They also have beach volleyball amongst other outdoor games.
The cutest little coffee shop that's right on the beach overlooking the ocean. Lots of yummy baked goods too - we highly recommend the doughnuts!
We spent two days on the island and then took the ferry back to the mainland to rent a car. This did not go as planned, apparently car rentals close when they feel like it and despite having a reservation we were stranded. No fear! We had a taxi to bring us to a bus stop. We took a public bus to our next destination, but this involved transfers on and off the bus, as well as a breakdown and engine fire in the middle of nowhere. Okay. Okay... this is so not normal - but we had to remind ourselves that this is the jelly of the bread and butter travel sandwich. You know, the sweet stuff you remember. Needless to say, some dude offered to drive 3 of us to our destination for a price and called his friend to drive the other 3 of us. We serviced up our cells to remain in contact with one another and we were off. Of course, the car got a flat and the hotel was closed when we arrived. But luck worked in our favor and the owner's daughter returned from Guatemala about 15 minutes after we arrived. She gave us the key to the lodge and sent us down the path with a few guard dogs to protect us from the local jaguars. This is real people. And it ended up being a highlight.
Only a couple of hours inland from Belize City is a luscious jungle full of adventure and delight. Between touring old Mayan Ruins, exploring caves (maybe even cave tubing), zip-lining, and hiking to waterfalls - you will definitely not be bored. And the best part is that the hotels and places of lodging in this part of the country are all deep within the jungle either on the cliffside or in the trees. You will really feel like you are living the jungle life. When you wake up in the morning you might catch a monkey or a beautiful toucan, heck, you might even hear the roar of a jaguar in the distance! (We did!)
We stayed in a cabin that was deep (deep) in the jungle. Rustic, but yet luxurious and very spacious for our group of 6. It even came with a screened hammock room on the second floor with jungle views! We took turns sleeping the night in the hammock! Just a short walk down a cobbled path through towering trees was their "clubhouse" that had the main dining area that overlooked the beautiful landscape of the jungle where you were often visited by tropical birds.
These Mayan Ruins tours leave from Crystal Paradise. There are a few different Mayan Ruins tours you can go on. If you stay here, personally I would recommend the Xunantunich tour. Caracol and Tikal are the bigger sites, however, they are further away from this particular resort. Some people find it worth the 2-hour drive (each way) but if you want to go on a tour that's just 45 min away then Xuanantunich is the best spot to check out. No matter which site you choose, it will still blow your mind as you are able to climb and explore all the pyramids. The tour guides will give you a lot of info on the history of the Mayan people and you will likely see old carvings, burial sites, and tools they used. Checking out one of the Mayan ruins is a must while visiting this country!
The ATM cave tour is a must-see if you are in good health, into exploring caves, wading through the water (much like Indiana Jones) and checking old old Mayan skeletons, tools and artifacts that have been untouched for centuries. You will do a hike through the jungle and swim through the caves to see all of these wonders.
If you want to explore a cave but aren't quite into the intensity of the ATM tour then a tubing tour might be the ticket. You will float on tubes with a small group through the caves with a headlamp to see everything inside as you float on by. A very cool, and a little more relaxing, way to explore!
COVID KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Belize requires a 72-hour negative PCR test to gain entry.
-Make sure to book a hotel that complies with their 9-point initiative entitled, the Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program.
-Online Check-in and Check-out has been implemented for all hotels
-It is mandatory to wear a mask in public spaces
-Guests and employees at each hotel will have to do daily health checks. Isolation rooms have been set aside for anyone that contracts COVID-19.
-All visitors must download the Belize Health app at least 3 days before travel
-When you touch down in Belize, you will walk through a thermal scanner to prove that your temperature is below 100 degrees and you will verify it through their app
-All tourists will be transported to their hotel via an approved form of transportation
-Tours are limited to smaller groups
-All national parks require an appointment via a tour in order to be let in