Belize – Second Vacation For Me
After Guatemala, I thought it could hardly get better.
But Belize was the cherry on top.
Belize was the second country I kind of had a vacation in this year.
I spent less than a week in Belize, but my time there was almost as terrific as it was in Tonga.
Getting To Belize
From Flores (my last stop in Guatemala), there are two buses going to Belize City every day. I limited myself mainly to the island of Ambergris Caye and its capital San Pedro for my vacation. And it was definitely a great decision. There is another famous island called Caye Calker, but in my opinion it was more touristy than Caye Ambergris.
Moreover, you have the choice to stop in San Ignacio on the mainland in Belize to take extraordinary cave tours (with skeletons from the Mayan time) or to visit Mayan ruins. Or Belmopan, the capital of Belize. The city is a good starting point to many tours on the mainland.
But I just wanted to spend my time near the ocean again. As much as I love hiking and trekking in the mountains and volcanoes, nothing can compare to my love for the sea and the mysterious and vast ocean.
I met a great woman from Taiwan called Gwen on my bus to Belize City. So it was a good start to Belize. She then went to Caye Calker, but we took the same bus back to Mexico later.
Thank you for all the meaningful and funny conversations, Gwen!
I don’t think Belize City is dangerous, but this time my gut feelings may be wrong for many others. Generally speaking, do not stay in Belize City for long. There is nothing to do, and it is boring and dangerous.
Although I had to listen to stupid comments on the street by some silly men when I passed by, I had fun strolling around the shady streets of Belize. The people were brutally honest, which I appreciated very much. And I just liked the multicultural aspect of Belize City. From Asians to Europeans and Africans. And for the first time after 2 months, I finally ate some Asian food. I had such a craving for Asian food!
Later that same day, I took a water express taxi to Caye Cambergris, which was 90 minutes, and only 45 minutes to Caye Calker. The water taxis are very comfortable, much better than in the Maldives. And even better if you have the chance to watch the sunset. A really good start.
By the way – buy your return ticket to Belize City at the same time, it will be cheaper.
The Island I visited is the largest island of Belize, located in the Caribbean Sea. It is not a huge island (I am not a big fan of big islands anyway). And the places not yet modified by man on this island are mostly white sand beach with mangrove swamps.
Snorkeling, Biking, Swimming
Let me tell you one thing, Belize is definitely not a cheap travel destination. For me, it was as expensive as my travels to Scandinavia. In total, I spent more than 90 US Dollars per day for a hostel accommodation, a LITTLE BIT of food and my tours. That’s why I would call it my second vacation after Tonga this year. I didn’t care much about the money in Belize and just wanted to snorkel every day and enjoy life to its fullest.
The Great Blue Hole
You’ve probably heard of the Great Blue Hole in Belize, right? It is one of the best dive sites in the world for many divers.
Here is some information from Wikipedia: “The Great Blue Hole is a giant marine sinkhole off the coast of Belize. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 70 km from the mainland and Belize City. The hole is circular in shape, 318 m across and 124 m deep. It was formed during several episodes of quaternary glaciation when sea levels were much lower. Analysis of stalactites found in the Great Blue Hole shows that formation took place 153,000; 66,000; 60,000; and 15,000 years ago. As the ocean began to rise again, the cave was flooded. The Great Blue Hole is a part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.”
I really wanted to dive there at 130 feet deep but I failed this time because of the money. Even a 40 minute helicopter flight would cost me 8 months of my travel budget. So I decided to snorkel at two popular snorkeling spots: Mexico Rocks and Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
Mexico Rocks is a shallow patch reef complex located in the Belizean Barrier Reef. In fact, the biggest Barrier Reef System in the northern hemisphere is the Belizean one. The reef is not deep at all, it is pretty easy and even good for someone who has never snorkeled before. I got to see a lot of marine life. But I hated myself because I compared it with the Maldives, Philippines, Australia etc. Anyway, I still enjoyed it because I met three amazing girls on this trip: Tina, Sarah and Lizzie. Thanks for being such good company girls! And my guide – Andre, was so professional and adorable. I had an amazing day for sure!
Biking To Secret Beach
Basically all my days on this island I snorkeled, then biked and swam at Secret Beach and then went out at night. People tend to rent golf carts on the island and drive around, but I definitely prefer biking.
Biking is so much more fun, I can do more exercise and I could see a lot of the island. The way from San Pedro to Secret Beach is only a 12 km/ 50 minutes bike ride. Also it is super flat, almost no one else is biking, therefore it is not crowded. But I have to admit half the way is filled with pot holes. Fun for me, but maybe not for others.
Once you sweat enough, you deserve a swim at Secret Beach. You could walk a mile out in the sea and still stand. Don’t stay until the sunset though, if not you will be attacked by mosquitos on the bike back to San Pedro. Or do whatever you want to. I am not your mum.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Surely, these dive sites didn’t disappoint me at all. And I promise you it will be worth every single penny you are paying. Amazing marine life!! Gosh, it was the perfect cherry on the top after Volcan Acatenango in Guatemala. If I am not the luckiest girl on Earth then I don’t know….
Imagine to swim with sea turtles, HUGE stingrays, beautiful eagle rays, southern stingrays, nurse sharks and brain coral. What a dream for every diver and snorkeler. There are even caves which I am proud to have snorkeled through because they were 30-40 feet deep.
The whole marine reserve covers approximately 18 km² of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forest.
Shark Ray Alley
And on our second stop we went to Shark Ray Alley.
Back in the day, local fishermen used this area to clean their catch, located just inside of the reef. Due to this, it attracted a lot of Nurse Sharks and some Southern Sting Rays. Nowadays, it is a bonanza for every free diver and snorkeler.
As soon as your boat arrives at Shark Ray Alley. The sharks and rays start to approach the boat in search of a few scraps of fish.
When we arrived, some of us hesitated to jump in the water because there were SO MANY nurse sharks – you can’t even imagine!!
It was the highlight of my Belize trip, such a majestic animal and so harmless and beautiful. They had to pull me out of the water at the end because I never wanted to leave this piece of heaven.
Short but Sweet Vacation
My short vacation ended too early, and I didn’t want to leave this paradise island with all the amazing dive spots.
But everything comes to an end. I guess?
It is very safe in San Pedro and tons of foreigners (especially Americans) have been living on this island for more than a decade. By the way, Belize is an English-speaking country. And before you leave Belize, you have to pay a fee of 40 Belize Dollars (20 US-Dollars).
The weather is not very humid on San Pedro and generally island life is the perfect vacation for me.
I hope to come back to Belize one day to dive at the Great Blue Hole.
Now I return to Mexico to celebrate one of the most important days in Mexico – Dia de los Muertos!!
Have you ever watched the movie “Coco” from Pixar? If not, do it and then you might understand my hype right now. And HOW excited I am. You will see more pictures and read more about it in my next blog post.