By: Malcolm Mayhew
If you’re looking to kick back and relax in the kind of place where the adventure is watered down by the standard resort agendas and confined to the edges of a beach towel or maybe an oversized group charter, then perhaps you should look elsewhere. Pack your bags with adventure in mind because we’re headed just south of the Yucatan to Belize, a place that redefines tropical vacation and renews your sense of what it means to get away from the daily routine.
Belize offers miles of pristine beachfront with limited crowds, making for an intimate sandy stroll or a quiet nap beneath a palm tree, but further out, adventure beckons beneath the surface of the Caribbean. The Belize Barrier Reef, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, stretching 185 continuous miles, is a colorful underwater paradise, attracting a multitude of vibrant aquatic life and opportunities for world-class snorkeling or scuba diving. An endless selection of unrivaled dive sites, including the world famous Blue Hole, makes Belize a bucket list essential for any diving enthusiast no matter their level of expertise.
Opportunities for fun multiply above the surface of these turquoise waters whether you’re riding in an airboat through a mangrove forest, tracing the coastline in a catamaran, or riding the current and dodging cayes in your privately chartered sailboat. Fly high above the crystal waters, gaining a not-so-common perspective of the reef from the seat of a parasail, or kick back and slow the pace as you view the lagoons and offshore islands from the middle of a lazy inner tube. Belize is also a fisherman’s paradise where almost anywhere along the coast is a guaranteed hotspot for fish. Sport fishing aficionados will appreciate the chance for a grand slam—catching bonefish, permit and tarpon in a single day.
Hike, bike, horseback or even canoe through endless lush green jungles flooded with exotic flora and wild fauna sure to make your jaw drop. And, like the waters off the coast of Belize, there’s more beneath the surface here. A vast network of caves lies beneath southern and western Belize. While many are accessible by foot, one popular means of exploration is cave tubing.
Visit Caracol, deep in the Maya Mountains and Chiquibul Forest Reserve, to see ancient Mayan ruins. Here you’ll discover a 140-foot pyramid known as Caana, ruins of ancient ball courts and a host of smaller structures. And don’t miss the sprawling Lamanai temple complex, which consists of three massive temples—Jaguar, Mask and High Temple with its towering 360-degree view of this far-reaching, ancient landscape.
Belize offers plenty of top tier accommodations at which to recharge. Inland, Chaa Creek is a Belizean rainforest eco lodge that sits on a 365-acre private nature reserve and maintains unmatched lodging from within an equally unmatched setting. Allow Chaa Creek to plan and execute your many inland excursions while you take advantage of a full range of treatments at the resort’s professional spa. Along the coast, you may find it difficult to choose from all the resort options; however, it’s hard to go wrong with a private villa at Belizean Dreams Resort in Hopkins, a penthouse overlooking the Caribbean at Las Terrazas Resort in San Pedro, or a master suite created with romance in mind at San Ignacio Resort Hotel in San Ignacio.
By: Malcolm Mayhew