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Belize

Belize

Curious what backpackers do in Belize? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day139

    After a relatively short and comfortable journey (6.5 hours yay!) We made our way to our main destination of Belize, an island just off the coast called Caye Caulker.
    As we arrived the water changed colour to a tropical turquoise and we saw palm trees lining the edge of the island. We started walking north up the island on the main road towards the direction of our hotel. There are no vehicles allowed on the island except for golf buggies and bicycles, so we started seeing them everywhere, along with lots of dogs. Everywhere you looked were lots of fun coloured bars, restaurants and hotels, often with swing seating and adverts of happy hour everywhere.
    After dumping our stuff and getting changed we went for a stroll and enjoyed exploring the island. It's not big at all so very easy to get around. We wandered up to the famous 'Split' where the south island is separated by the north after a hurricane divided the two. There was always a small channel for boats but the hurricane made it much wider, although still easy to swim across at roughly only 15 metres wide.
    By now we were very hungry after an early start (5am bus) so had lunch with a sea view and on some hanging swing seats. The food was delicious and we could feel ourselves relaxing and settling into island life! The day flew from here and we went and booked ourselves onto our full day snorkeling tour for the following day. Some of the snorkeling in this area is considered amazing as it's the second largest barrier reef in the world, so we were eager to get out in it. After booking our tour the man we booked it with said to stay with him on the beachside benches and have a beer or two. We ended up staying with Gerald for several hours and had a few rounds and great conversation. He is the brother in law to the owner ' Caveman' (of Caveman tours) and does all the bookings. He used to be a policeman but was medically signed off for a heart condition - which could be operated on but it won't be as it would cost him $10,000 dollars (!) So he just has to take each day as it comes. He also told us his wife was sick too, and she could also 'drop down any moment' because of her condition, a hynea. How incredibly humbling to us to hear conditions that could be treated for free at home are life threatening there. We didn't say of course, we couldn't be so unfair. Anyway it was a great evening and learnt lots about their island life. They also could not believe we don't really have guns in the UK. Culture differences are fascinating sometimes.

    The next day we went on our full day snorkeling tour. We were on the small boat of 8 people. Us and a group of friends from Israel. Firstly we went out to where the manatees graze and within minutes saw one coming up for air. It was so cool to see these large majestic animals. Sadly we couldn't get in with them but we enjoyed seeing one.
    Next we went through some choppy water and went to an area where fisherman clean their catch, because of this it attracts some larger marine animals such as stingrays and turtles. And I can tell you it really does! I jumped in and immediately I saw a giant stingray glide it's way through the sea grass under me, in fact every minute I'd see another large stingray. Amazing! Yet it got better, as I swam up to a fisherman's boat right there was a giant loggerhead turtle, it was huge! And so beautiful. It couldn't care less about me or the other people in the water and kept swimming around so close. At times I had to try and move to get out of it's way. In fact in one moment I had my head out of the water looking for Phil, when I felt very clearly the shell of the turtle touch my stomach...the turtle had swum right under me. I let out a little squeal in surprise and awe. That stop was a real bucket list moment.

    From here we went on to another well known spot called Shark Ray Alley. Similarly this is where fisherman used to come to clean their catch and this attached rays and sharks to the area, to which they rapidly grew and now live there permanently. As we arrived we started to see the tell tale signs of sharks with some fins out of the water. Lucky for me and my fear I had been reassured there are only really nurse sharks here which have no teeth, instead they use some sort of sucking motion to eat their food. One of our deckhands threw in some sardines and they went crazy sliding all over each other for it, then they told us to jump in! So we did it and got fairly close, it was very exciting to see from under the water. As they started to disipate it was quite a thrill having them swim underneath you as they swam away. We swam on to some nearby reef where we were told we'd see them more naturally, asleep on the reef. We found several and every time it would make me jump. Not from fear but surprise, as you'd be exploring coral and then a huge still shape would appear. Another marine creature we've seen wild and up close to tick off the list.

    From here we went straight to the Hol Chan marine reserve which is an area of protected reef to see more underwater life. We stopped on the boat for lunch then shortly after dived back in. Now this area has a channel that leads out to a deeper reef and waves crash close by. This in turn causes a strong rip tide so it was important we stayed with our guide and snorkeled as a group so not to get dragged out there. He did tell us people had drowned out there so they took the risks very seriously (that incident happened with a man who said he was a marine guide but had only ever done land tours... he had no idea what he was doing, very bad). Anyway some of our group were not very confident swimmers or snorkelers and decided to use life jackets. Even then they struggled and one girl had a freak out. At this point the guide said she should probably go back to the boat and she agreed. She was very slow and we were all tredding water waiting for her to be seen safely back. She didn't manage it and thankfully another boat came and picked her up. We were understanding, however she never said she was a poor swimmer when asked at the beginning of the tour, which was frustrating to the guide as it obviously it caused these problems. Finally we got moving and the guide was excellent, constantly diving down to show us things, tell us the names and guide us round. He even 'snake charmed' a moray eel out from it's lair for us to see, awesome!
    We snorkeled for around 45 minutes to an hour and really enjoyed still seeing so many new things.

    From here we went to our final snorkeling spot called Coral Gardens. I was the first one in and practically landed on a nurse shark! Eek. Thankfully it swam quickly away but was very cool to see again. From here only us and another couple got back in and we explored close to the boat. By the now the sea was a little rough so we didn't want to venture far. We still saw new corals and things of interest so it was a nice way to end.

    Finally the tour stopped on the other side of the island to see a seahorse reserve and some Tarpon fish. At the reserve you could look down into the water from a pier, and see both brown and yellow tiny seahorses clinging onto ropes and debris purposely placed in the water. They are adorable and we loved looking at them. Back on the boat just upstream is where Tarpon fish live, huge fish that were about 3 foot long, but can get big enough to be 300 pounds heavy. We had some sardines to feed then and they leap out of the water to snatch it out of your hand. I did it once but it made me scream so let Phil do it several times instead. I think you could easily mistake these fish for small sharks. We also fed some greedy pelicans who stopped by.
    This marked the end of the tour and we returned back to land exhausted but thrilled with the range of wildlife we'd seen that day.

    Over the following days we took the time to wind down and 'go slow' as the Belize people say. We slept, ate and swam the next few days away. Also enjoying meeting up with some fellow travellers we'd meet on route. One evening we found a secret spot of the other side of the island to watch a fabulous sunset. As we were sat with our feet in the water we saw movement. Right there was a small striped stingray gliding around. The water was so clear you could see everything, and not long after the ray we saw more aquatic life including a very large hermit crab (which Phil tried to pick up but chickened out...it did have big claws) and other crabs and fish. It was awesome to have found this spot and have this underwater display all to ourselves.

    On our final day we went kayaking with a lady who'd lived on the island for 20 years and knew all about the mangrove habitat, that Phil was particularly keen to learn more about. We hopped on to our kayaks, including a tag along in the form of her adorable dog who sat on my lap most of the way. Very cute. We learnt about the algae, and even ate some (!) As well as all there is to know about mangroves. Again we saw the Tarpons and looked at the seahorses again. This time seeing many more including some pregnant ones up close. We continued to kayak including crossing the Split, and seeing some of the more wild north island and hearing about how the island has changed.
    Truthfully the island doesn't have the charm it once did years ago and we felt that even when we arrived. We really enjoyed it, but the very high expectations we had were probably more appropriate for some years ago when the island was more quaint. Suddenly big hotels are popping up and the island is growing too fast. Hopefully it won't loose all it's charm in the upcoming years.

    Before long it was 7am one morning and it was time to get the water taxi to Mexicos border and say goodbye to this unique and beautiful island.

    Beth
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  • Day5

    Go slow is het motto van de mensen op Caye Caulker in Belize. Hoe langzamer je gaat hoe meer complimentjes je krijgt van deze vriendelijke mensen :-) De vriendelijkheid van deze mensen zit in hun aard, maar ook een beetje in een plantje genaamd marihuana ;-)

    We sliepen in een huisje op het terrein van Louise de meest actieve 65+er van dit eiland. We mochten fietsen lenen waarmee we over het hele eiland slowly zijn gefietst. Je kan geen asfalt vinden op dit eiland. Je kunt met een bootje over naar Koko King Beach, het paradijs op aarde 😍 Hier kun je overdag in banden op het water dobberen, schommelen met het meest fantastische uitzicht, chillen in een hangmat, volleyballen en 's avonds cocktails drinken bij het kampvuur.

    We hebben ook gesnorkeld tussen de nursing sharks, sting rays en Dora's. Er wonen ook Nederlanders op dit eiland en 's avonds hebben we gegeten bij Monique en haar Beliziaanse man echt een succes verhaal van grenzeloos verliefd :-)

    Ook hebben we de lokale rum en sports bar met de locals ontdekt. Helaas moesten we na 2 nachten dit eiland weer verlaten en zitten we inmiddels in Flores Guatemala dit verhaal in de bus te schrijven... Belize was unbelizeble. To be continued... xxx M & L & L
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  • Day197

    Nachdem wir wieder mal früh aufgestanden sind ( ja ja ich weiß , aber wir sind doch im Urlaub !) und eine Busfahrt hinter uns gebracht haben und mit dem Wassertaxi übergesetzt haben sind wir endlich endlich im absoluten Paradies angekommen 😍😍😍 Auf der Caye Caulker in Belize 🇧🇿
    Drei Tage relaxen, endlich wieder Sonne und Wärme genießen ! Die letzten Tage war es ja doch mit um die 20 grad immer bisschen kühler 😬.
    Den absoluten Flash haben wir heute bekommen. Wir waren einen ganzen Tag lang segeln und Vorallem Schnorcheln 😍. Und ja ich habe vernünftigerweise nur zwei von vier Gängen mitgemacht . Meine Ohren sollten ja geschont werden. Aber auch diese waren einfach der Hammer 😍.
    Hier auf der Caye Caulker ist das Motto : Go Slow, Easy living . Hauptsache langsam und entspannt ! Und so fühlen wir uns jetzt nach zwei Tagen schon !
    Ein Tag haben wir hier im Paradies noch vor uns
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  • Day178

    I dreamt of San Pedro..."

    San Pedro ist wirklich schön. Kann man verstehen, dass Madonna von der Isla Bonita singt. Heute gehen wir Schnorcheln. Belize hat nach Australien das zweitgrößte Riff der Welt. Wir fahren drei Spots an und sehen Haie, Rochen, eine Schildkröte und natürlich auch Fische. Vom Riff sehen wir eher wenig. Abends gibt's Pizza und Rum Cola in der Hostel Pizzeria.

    Es ist ja nicht so, als hätten wir gerade Entspannung nötig, aber eine Massage am Strand haben wir nachmittags dann doch noch mitgenommen 😄Read more

  • Day13

    Early departure from Caye Caulker and a boat, taxi and public bus later we arrive at San Ignacio.

    Not much to the town but it is a base to explore nearby ruins, caves, waterfalls and reserves.

    We have lunch at the town's market - $2 for a quasadia and 10 cents for 2 bananas.

    Then we catch a bus to the Xunantunjch ruins. And I am pretty sure the bus driver had his foot flat to the ground - at one stage I thought we were going to take off! After crossing the river on a barge its a 15 minute walk we are told. A 15 minute walk uphill in the sun! You can see the photo of my view at the back of the pack!

    The ruins are in a lovely quiet setting with few tourists.

    You can see the pyramid I didn't climb!! You can also see my red face! I lay under a tree in the shade minding the bags! But as there was no one around it was lovely and peaceful.

    Bus back to town early dinner and bed! The hotel doesn't have air conditioning included in the price and its $20US extra a night. There are two fans though so they should blow any mosquitos away!

    Usually I crank the air conditioning up to artic temperatures and sleep in long soaks, long pants and a long sleeved top. Pretty sure no mosquito is going to get through that!

    In the evening we strolled around the very busy town centre. We ended up sitting on the stage in the park in the centre of town eating our yummy street food. My tacos were $1.75 and my friends has a chicken and rice dish for $4.00. Then we found an ice cream place and had 2 scoops for $4.00.

    A very nice day.
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  • Day14

    Today we are doing a guided tour of Actun Tunichhil Muknal cave (ATM for short). Numbers are restricted and you can only do it with a registered tour guide.

    We had to swim across a few rivers then when we got to the cave we swam into it. Then with our helmuts with flashlights we waded right into the cave. There was alot of climbing up and down through the water. The cave was fascinating and the crystallations sparkled. Although alot of it has died due to a lack of rainfall. In mayan times there was no water.
    But it was hard going!!

    The footwear was socks and crocs and mine were a size too small and they basically had no grip! And with my foot still healing from the ruptured ligaments I don't have the balance and strength that I did pre injury.

    So I had to tread carefully and take my time so the guide took me up the front and held my hand which gave me the extra stability I needed.

    Then we got to this huge rock which we had to climb up. So the guide tells me to basically do the side splits as the first part of getting up the rock! Couldn't do it and as I thought they were just going to walk over the limestone in soaks and the guide said they would be back soon I stayed behind.

    So at first it was quite nice being in the cave by myself and I found a nice rock to sit on with my feet in the water but as time marched on I thought something isn't right. I watched a group go up and their guide showed them a much easier way up. There were two vital steps our guide missed which meant no side splits!

    Then I watched another group go back the way we came and I thought OMG the main point of the tour is up there!!!! So I was one cranky $95US out of pocket person on a tight budget.

    Anyway thank god one of guides offered to take me up and I was up that rock very quickly and we speed climbed deeper into the cave!

    And there was the highlight! The site of the maya sacrifices. It was incredible.

    A huge space that is called the Cathedral and it really looks like one. Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and lots of simmering.

    Lots of pots everywhere that would have contained offerings to the rain gods. And then the saddest part is seeing all the skeletons of the human sacrifices including seven children the youngest 18 months. The way they died was kept a secret and it was violent. They could be disembowelled, their beating heart pulled out, skull mashed or mutilated. It was all about letting as much blood as possible as an offering to the raingods.
    It was a great honor to be a sacrifice and supposedly they were volunteers.

    The 18 month old had its skull smashed and the axe is laying next to the skeleton. Another skeleton is laying on its back which means it was probably disembowelled.

    The mayans thought the cave was full of evil so going into it showed the gods how brave they were.

    No cameras are allowed after a French tourist was leaning over the rope getting close to a skull (he obviously had never heard of zooming) and dropped his camera smashing the skull!! Clearly he had not heard of a safety strap either. The Government then closed the caves. The guides then lobbied for them to be re opened with camera restrictions. They tell you if you try to sneak a camera in their jobs are on the line.

    So a long trek back and an early night for me. Exhausted!

    No photos of the cave so random Belize photos attached. The little guy did a fine job of trying to sell me things! The little girl is his sister and was in the stall having a great time swinging away! Under the sign saying no alcohol is where the town drunks hang out! And Zuly's had some great food.
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  • Day98

    The sun is shining when we wake up (finally!) and we head to the pier for our snorkeling trip at Silk Caye. Silk caye forms part of the barrier reef and we were promised sightings of manta rays and sharks.

    Alas the seas are too rough so a change of plans and we head to the closer Laughing Bird Caye instead. Once on the boat we can see why.. its a bumpy trip out! Suki somehow ended up in the worst seat and gets drenched.

    We spent a nice day on the Caye snorkeling and pigging out on the delicious barbeque chicken and cheesy potato meal Tipa cooks for us. The snorkeling is not as good as we had hoped but we do see some giant lobsters and 4 big baracuda.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Belize, Beliz, ቤሊዝ, بليز, بيليز, Belice, Wilisi, بلیز, Белиз, Belisa, Беліз, Belizi, বেলিয, བེ་ལིཛ།, বেলিজ, Belise, بەلیز, ބެލީޒު, Belize nutome, Μπελίσε, Belizo, Belici, Beliise, Belis, An Bheilís, Beilise, Mbelise, बेलिझ, બેલીઝ, Yn Veleesh, בליז, बेलीज़, Բելիզ, Belís, ベリーズ, beliz, ბელიზი, បេលីហ្ស, ಬೆಲಿಜ್, 벨리즈, बेलीज, Beliza, Belizɛ, ເບລິຊ, Belizas, Белизе, ബെലീസ്, बेलिझे, Beliże, ဘေလီဇ်, Berij, Huēyicopan, Bhelize, बेलिज, Beliiz, ବେଲିଜ୍, ਬੇਲੀਜ਼, Beles, بیلیز, بېلیز, Bilisi, Belîzi, Belėzos, බෙලීස්, Белисе, IBhelizi, Bélis, பெலீசு, బెలీజ్, เบลีซ, ቤሊዘ, Pelise, بېلىز, بیلائز, Bê-li-xê, Belisän, Beliis, 伯利茲, Белсин Орн, בעליז, Orílẹ́ède Bèlísẹ̀, 伯利兹, i-Belize

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