YOU BETTER BELIEZE IT
The HUBS and I have been traveling a lot lately. Between moving and visiting family, our weekends have been packed, so naturally when we saw a great deal on a flight to Belize via Southwest we hopped on it. Literally.
We've travelled to several beach destinations (hello Maldives!) and always had a wonderful time. Belize didn't disappoint. The country is relatively small, with about 300k population total. But y'all these are some of the most generous, hospitable, friendly folk ever. Everyone was so nice and helpful. Our tour guide Lloyd even fed us home-cooked rice & beans during our explorations of the area. And almost everyone speaks english. In fact, the native language is "Kriol" which sounds something like really fast broken English.
Belize has several beautiful locations, but we decided to spend our time in Belize city and San Pedro Island. Belize city was this quaint bustling city with a village feel. Everyone seems to know each other. And much to our surprise there is a large Indian population because several of the natives are of East Indian/Caribbean Indian descent. We were walking down the street and passed a car playing Bollywood music. We went to a local Indian grocery store. In fact, our first meal was traditional Punjabi food at a local Indian restaurant called Sumathi!
The next day we took a ferry to San Pedro island. It was beautiful, serene, and perfectly charming. We stayed at Air B N' B's the entire time, which was the best decision we could have made. We were able to really absorb much of the local culture. We had our bellies fill of fried plantains, fresh guavas, custard apple and like most vacations, too much other food to keep track of.
Its hard to choose the most memorable part of our stay, but it is definitely a toss up between swimming with sharks or feeding wild howl monkeys.
HOL CHAN MARINE RESERVE
Hol Chan is a local marine park that is home to a beautiful coral reef and its corresponding eco system. It is always so fun to snorkel and see this magnificent world that exists beneath the ocean. The little kid in me felt like I was in Finding Nemo exploring the "drop off"! We saw eagle rays, eels, rainbow fish, swordfish and a ton of other species I couldn't even identify. Definitely worth the figurative trek out there.
SHARK RAY ALLEY
This was arguably the best part of our trip. The local tour groups take you on a boat to where the fisherman bait the indigenous sharks. You basically jump in to a school of barracudas and nurse sharks bigger than the HUBS. It was terrifying, exhilarating and incredulous at the same time. Definitely recommend this one. Its a once in a lifetime experience swimming in the barracuda, nurse shark and sting ray pit. Check out this video from our experience!
This one is somewhat of a misnomer. In the outskirts of the jungle go Belize city, there is a local monkey sanctuary. Rather than traditional zoos or sanctuary's in the US, this is a local Belizean's home. He spent 7 years befriending the wild howl monkeys (which the locals call "baboons") that live in the surrounding forrest of his home. Today, you can visit his home and feed these friendly creatures in their natural habitat. They are so friendly and apparently hungry for bananas! We had such a wonderful time feeding them and watching them as they swung through the trees. Another definitely see.
We definitely recommend staying with the AIR BnB hosts we stayed with. They were both amazing, offering to give us rides, feeding us - they redefined hospitality. While in Belize City, we stayed with Karim in his quaint home. He was such a wonderful host, feeding us breakfast, arranging rides for us, even giving us some of the best food recommendations! In San Pedro we stayed in Laura's adorable charming 1 BR/BA villa. It was so comfortable and was a great location right on the beach and walking distance to the main pier, the grocery store and several great restaurants. Oh, and it had a hammock which is perfection on beach trips!