Chilling by the beach in Caye Caulker
north america,  travel

Why You Should Visit Belize

Belize is a great place for culture, foodies, history buffs, divers, fishing, and beach lovers. If any of those interest you, then that’s why YOU should visit Belize!

And don’t forget that the weather is great almost all year round.

Below is a four day overview of my trip during the month of January.

 

THINGS TO DO IN BELIZE

San Ignacio

1) Horseback Riding Tour to Xunantunich

Rode on the horse through the farm and jungle for an hour at a slow pace. Our guide pointed out fruits, birds, and medicinal plants along the way. The weather was perfect and I felt so tranquil.

I don’t know about you, but I love riding horses!

Cost: 110 Belizean dollars

Visit Belize - Horseback Riding and Xunantunich tour in San Ignacio

Horseback riding in San Ignacio
To cross the river, you must go on the hand-operated ferry. Takes like 30-45 seconds to cross over.
Xunantunich ruins
Xunantunich is one of several Mayan ruins in Belize. From the top of this structure (El Castillo), you can see Guatemala.

 

2) Chocolate Making Class by AJAW Chocolate (@cacaobelize)

I opted for the last demo of the day, which was 5 pm. The demonstration lasted an hour.

It includes an explanation of how cacao nibs are processed starting from the form of a fruit to the bean itself, grinding cacao nibs using a metate (see the first photo below), sampling of chocolate drinks (see the second photo below – different spices are added), how mass-produced chocolate is made, and so much more.

I was the only one present, so I got to go at own my pace and ask many questions. At the end of the demo, you will receive leftover cacao paste to take home.

You can buy fermented or raw cacao nibs. I purchased both.

They also sell chocolate candy made from 100% cacao, which is sooooo good! No bitter taste. Nothing like Godiva or any popular chocolate candy. Taste much better, in my opinion.

With all that being said, I highly recommend going to this class, especially if you like dark chocolate or cacao. You won’t regret it!

Cost: 26 Belizean dollars

Grinding Raw Cacao Beans
Grinding raw cacao beans

Mayan Chocolate Drink

 

3) The People

Belizeans are friendly, down-to-earth, and easy to talk to. Not just in San Ignacio, but in Caye Caulker as well. They would greet me as I walked down the streets. A lot of locals assumed I was Belizean.

Bullet Tree Road in San Ignacio, Belize
Bullet Tree Road in San Ignacio

 

Caye Caulker

1) The island itself is beautiful

Why You Should Visit Belize
Who doesn’t love white sand and pristine water?  My favorite photo of Belize

 

2) Snorkeling at Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

Signed up for snorkeling with French Angel Expendition. But on the day of, because it was me and someone else, we had to join Mario’s Tours. They had 8 people.

Frustrating experience at first, but it got better by the third stop. What was frustrating was there were 3 men on the boat and only one of them was the ‘assigned’ snorkeling instructor. Everyone, except for 2 of us, understood how to snorkel during the first stop and looked comfortable in open water. (I’m not a great swimmer.)

I struggled at stop 1 (shallow water) and got upset. The water was SALTY AS HELL. I couldn’t figure out how to breathe properly using the snorkel. My mask was initially fogging up. I felt so uncomfortable! The instructor tried to help, but to no avail.

At stop 2, not much improvement. At stop 3, I nailed it somehow. I was comfortable with the snorkel gear underwater. Cannot explain how or why, but boy was I elated. From frustrating to incredible! I was amazed to see colorful fishes and coral reef.

Cost: 35 Belizean dollars per person (half day)

Stingray in Caye Caulker
YAY, a stingray!

At Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

 

3) Cave tubing at Caves Branch Outpost (Nohoch Che’en Reserve)

This is off the island. Never gone tubing down a cave so I was super excited for this.

This activity was arranged by French Angel Expendition. The package included ziplining, lunch, and a tour guide. The driver (tour guide) was waiting inland. Awesome guy!

The cave tubing experience felt therapeutic. The tour guide did all the manual labor while I relaxed on the tubes. No swimming or kicking needed.

Nohoch Che'en (Caves Branch)
Caves Branch (Nohoch Che’en Reserve)

Cave tubing at Nohoch Che’en Reserve

 

LODGING

I did Airbnb for all my lodging. Click here for a discount!

For Caye Caulker, I highly recommend Picololo.

Why Picololo? Well, first, the hosts are great people (married couple). Anything advice or tips you need, they are willing to help. They have lived on the island for several years; so you can ask them just about anything you need to know about Caye Caulker.

Second, you will be picked up from the water taxi terminal and given a bicycle to get around the island. You will quickly realize that the bike is a great convenience factor.

Third, the property is a 3 unit building. They live upstairs and you will be in one of the bottom flats. The flat I was in was clean and had all I needed. Came with great Wi-Fi, an equipped kitchen, TV, a private bathroom, and hot showers.

They provide a towel for the beach and for showering. The bathroom has a shampoo and conditioner dispenser.

If you prefer some other accommodation, book using the tool below.



Booking.com

 

GETTING AROUND

  • From Belize City to Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye
    • There are two water taxi companies you can use: San Pedro Belize Express and Ocean Ferry. Belize City to Caye Caulker is a 45-minute ride.
      • Price: $15 to $25 per person
    • You can fly via Maya Island Air
    • When you are on either island, you either walk, ride on a bicycle, or use a golf cart. No cars.
  • From Belize City to San Ignacio
    • If you want a private shuttle, I recommend William’s Shuttle. I used them from the international airport (BZE) to San Ignacio. Fully air-conditioned van and free wifi in the car.
    • An alternative option is to use their public buses or you can hitchhike.
  • Visiting neighboring countries
    • There are public buses to Mexico and Guatemala departing daily. I think it’s best to find a local who knows the exact times or figure it out when you arrive.

 

FOOD

San Ignacio

You have to try Stewed Gibnut. Gibnut is a rodent (sounds gross, but it’s not). It is also known as the ‘royal rat’ after the Queen of England ate it. 

If you eat meat, then trust me when I say it’s SCRUMPTIOUS. This dish came with rice, beans, potato salad, and fried plantain. Served at Benny’s Kitchen near Mopan River.

Cost: 17.50 Belizean dollars

Gibnut - dish from Belize

Other Recommended Restaurants: Ko ox Han nah, Cenaida’s

 

Caye Caulker

If you love seafood, Caye Caulker is perfect for you! Most restaurants serves fresh seafood. Shrimp, lobster, and a variety of local fish. Just a heads up, the sides are sometimes not the greatest.

Be sure to look out for a Black Belizean man selling Dukunu. It’s the Belizean version of tamale. Taste nothing like Colombian or Mexican tamale. Great for vegans and vegetarians.

Grilled Lobster at Rose's Grill & Bar
Freshly Grilled Lobster from Rose’s Grill & Bar
Fried Conch at Belizean Flava
Fried Conch (crispy brown thing) with 2 sides and an alcoholic drink at Belizean Flava

 

SAFETY

As a female solo traveler, I never once felt unsafe in San Ignacio or Caye Caulker.

As for Belize City, I did a little bit of walking on the outskirts of the water taxi terminal area. It doesn’t appear to be “sketchy” as most tourists and bloggers say it is.

If by “sketchy” you mean a place that feels creepy or unsafe, personally I did not feel unsafe or creeped out. Sketchy is relative.

I will say it isn’t a visually stunning city by any means. I saw people who appear to be impoverished, but I’ve seen that in the United States all the time.

Read: Why Solo Travel Isn’t As Bad As You Think

 

COST BREAKDOWN

EXPENSESPRICE (IN US DOLLARS)
One-way flight from Houston to Belize$126.90
Private shuttle from airport to San Ignacio$55
Lodging (San Ignacio)$67 (2 nights)
Lodging (Caye Caulker)$236 (3 nights)
Horseback Riding Tour to Xunantunich$55
Chocolate Making Class$13
Dinner in San Ignacio$17
Taxi ride from dinner (above) to lodging$2.50
Lunch: Stewed Gibnut$8.75
Taxi to Benque (border town by Guatemala)$2.50
Cave tubing & ziplining$115.41
Half day snorkeling$35
Ocean Ferry water taxi (Caye Caulker to Belize City)$19
Water taxi (Belize City to Caye Caulker)$25
Dinner in Caye Caulker$17

 

TIPS

  • For Blacks, wear sun protection. My dilemma is I haven’t discovered a hypoallergenic sunscreen that leaves zero white residue; therefore, I went without sunscreen. Became darker and my skin started peeling 3 weeks later on my arms, face, and legs.
  • English, Kriol, and Spanish are some of the main languages spoken throughout Belize.
  • Currency rate: $1 = 2 Belizean dollars
  • Cards are accepted at some places, but I used mostly cash. ATMs are available. You can also use US dollars.
  • If you go cave tubing at Caves Branch Outpost, use a bug repellant. I left with bites all over and now I have scars. Also, there is cave tubing in San Ignacio, which is farther from Belize City.
  • If you traveling solo and interested in cave tubing, bear in mind that there is a two-person requirement. It is also dependent on weather. So if it rains, they will cancel.
  • For first-time snorkelers: There are too many tour operators to choose from in Caye Caulker. Trust me, I had a hard time picking one. I recommend a guy named Richard (his shop is located near the ferry dock). I did not use him, but he was patient with answering my 1,001 questions. Everything he said about the snorkeling experience with other vendors was 100% accurate. I chose not to go with him due to price.
  • If you are based in the US or use electronics with US plugs (2 prongs), you won’t need power adapters in Belize. All the devices I used were 2-pronged flat type plugs.
  • If you have extra time, visit Mexico or Guatemala. Belize is a good starting point to see other countries. Southwest Airlines flies non-stop from Houston.

 

WHAT I’D HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY

  • Spend a few more days in Belize and visit the Garifuna Community south of Belize City.
  • My goal for this trip was to see 3 countries. I later realized that it would have made sense to start my trip in Guatemala first or Mexico for easier travel.
  • Wear sunscreen!
  • Try the fishing and snorkel combo in Caye Caulker. Learning how to fish is one of my bucket list items.

 

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you do book through my link, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!


Have you been to Belize? Comment down below!

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