This guest post comes courtesy of Joshua Berman, author of the recently updated Moon Belize travel guidebook.
- 1. If you find yourself on a tight budget after the plane fare to Belize blew most of your wad, choose a budget accommodation from the Toucan Trail, an association of small, often family-run hotels in Belize that charge less than $60 per night. Despite Belize's reputation for being an expensive Central America destination, there are over 100 of these budget options, located throughout the country. Saving money on your hotel every night means you can devote more cash to tours, activities, and restaurants.
- 2. Go on a cave trip in Cayo. The jungle-draped pyramids of Xunantunich and Caracol archeological sites are the most obvious above-ground attractions in Belize's western highlands, also known as the Cayo District. But to get a peek at Xibalba—the Maya underworld—grab a headlamp and sign up for a trip to one of the area's numerous caves. Each is different—some caves, like Barton Creek, you float through in canoes; others, like Actun Tunichil Muknal, force you to hike, swim, crawl, and climb to reach its treasures. Most caving companies are based next door to each other on Burns Avenue in San Ignacio, the area's main town.
- 3. The Blue Hole dive is worth the hype. Some scuba divers have disparaged this famous underwater cenote, a spectacular limestone sinkhole, as nothing more than a macho deep dive without much wildlife. Don't listen to them. I was accompanied by a dozen reef sharks and several massive turtles when I dived the Blue Hole. It can be a long boat ride (two to three hours each way from most tourist spots), but the dive companies make a great day out of it, including a stop at Half Moon Caye National Monument, part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System.
- 4. Get married—by yourselves or invite the whole family to takeover a beach resort or jungle lodge. In Belize, you can tie the knot barefoot in the sand, aboard a boat, in the rainforest, atop a pyramid, underwater, or anywhere else you can dream up. Belizean laws recently made it even easier to obtain the paperwork and there are several Belizean wedding planners who can help you with the details, down to the flowers.
- 5. When booking your trip, use the services of a Belize travel specialist. Belize travel specialists are not quite travel agents; they're more like having an in-country buddy telling you the best places to stay for your personal budget and needs. The best part? The advice and booking services you receive do not cost you anything. The best of the bunch is Katie Valk at Belize Trips. --Joshua Berman
An award-winning travel writer and former Belize resident, Joshua Berman is the author of Moon Belize (Avalon Travel Publishing, $17.95), recently updated for its eighth edition. The guide features recommendations for the must-see sights, unique trip ideas, local insights, and practical information for navigating hotspots such as Belize City, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and Placencia.
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