Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What to do in Belize

By Dave Bouskill

Belize City. Most people picture run down buildings, crime and remnants of hurricane damage. Very few take anytime to actually explore the town instead choosing to hop on a water taxi and head out to Ambergris Caye.

If you take the time to actually walk around the town and explore it a little, you will find that it is a fun place to be with friendly and welcoming people. Travel books advise people to skip Belize City if you can, but after all it is the countries largest urban hub, and by avoiding it you will miss a large part of what Belize is all about.

Cruise ships stop here regularly and whisk tourists off to Tikal in Guatemala, or to Amgergris Caye off of the coast. The port is well developed and you can spend time walking around the shops in the comfortable terminal. However, walking around the city is where you get the true Caribbean flare.

Explore the architecture from stilt houses to Colonial buildings left over from the English settlement of the 1500's. Make sure to stop for some food while out and about. Belize city offers local fare, seafood and international cuisine. Culture, food and even language is varied in this small Caribbean nation. People speak the official language of English, but are also fluent in Creole, Spanish and even Mayan and German.

Now that you have actually explored Belize City and realized that it isn't the big bad city that you thought it was, you can catch a water taxi with peace of mind. You aren't running away from anything, you are simply moving on to see the rest of beautiful Belize. From downtown, you can catch a water taxi for $10 to take you out to the Cayes on the Caribbean Sea.

The relaxed Caye Caulker is a popular place for the backpacker crowd. Far less touristy and quieter than Ambergris Caye, it feels as if you are relaxing in Jamaica. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island keeping noise and pollution to a minimum. You will see the odd golf cart or you can rent a bike to check things out. Rooms are cheaper and you won't find any enormous resorts desecrating the land.

Located just 1 mile from the Belize Barrier Reef, it offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. Hire a boat to take you out to Shark Ray Alley and you will swim with the sharks as manta rays brush up against you. A marine preserve for the past 12 years, the coral and marine life is second to none in the world. Dolphin sightings are commonplace and you will be sure to spot barracuda's, octopus, stingrays, eels and lobsters.

For experienced divers, The Blue Hole is not to be missed. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau, dive 150 feet into this collapsed cave as sharks circle above the hanging stalactites. If you are not already a diver, take an open water diving course.

Diving isn't for everyone and you may just want to see the sights. Walk down Caye Caulkers main drag and you will find your choice of tour companies waiting to take you out to see the islands. Hire a sail boat to take you around and explore the surrounding area.

Dining is high on everyone's list when traveling and Caye Caulker has its fair share of restaurants. There is jerk chicken, fresh seafood and western flare. After dinner stop in at a beach bar and enjoy a cocktail as you look out over the Caribbean Sea. You won't find crazy nightclubs, but you will find a great bar to listen to music while you relax in the islands.

There is so much more to do in beautiful Belize that you need at least two weeks to see it all. Jungles and caves, wildlife and sanctuary's Belize has something for everyone. Even Mayan ruins can be found in the country and beaches aren't only out on the islands, Placencia actually has the most beautiful beach in the country and it is located on the mainland.

Belize is not a country that most people think of when they decide to take off to a warm Caribbean destination, but it is growing in popularity every year. Book your trip soon to experience this untouched paradise. It won't be long until the rest of the world follows and it will never be the same.

About the Author:

No comments: