Aug 052012
 
On the boat ride from Placencia to Monkey River in southern Belize.

On the boat ride from Placencia to Monkey River in southern Belize. WOW.

When Colin and I got engaged, we spent months agonizing over which country to travel to for our Honeymoon.

At the last minute (read: two weeks before our epic wedding) I impluse-bought us two cheap plane tickets to Belize, a country I knew very little about. It turns out, Belize was a PERFECT Honeymoon destination for us.

Bop through these 12 reasons why we loved Belize, and see if you might like it, too!

1. Belize travel is easy. I’ve voyaged all over the world, including destinations that are notoriously frustrating for tourists, and I declare Belize travel a smooth joy. It’s not just that English is the official language, it’s that Belize has invested real thought and effort into its tourist industry. Signs are clear, there’s plenty of travel guidance online, and employees that we met from all levels of Belize’s tourist industry were wonderful. Which leads to the next point…

Colin climbing the Xunantunich Mayan ruins with our great guide.

Colin climbing the Xunantunich Mayan ruins with our guide.

2. The people of Belize are great. How people treat you when you travel through a country can make or break your visit, and across the board, Belizeans made us happy. Everyone we interacted with was kind, knowledgable, and eager to help.

When we got stranded miles from our San Pedro hotel in a downpour, a woman and her husband who were driving by picked us up in their van and brought us to safety. When we got badly sunburned, an Ambergris Caye hotel employee gave us his giant bottle of aloe vera, saving our skin. And whenever we were curious about a historical fact, or a type of tree, or a statistic about Belize, we were able to ask whoever was nearby and get an informed, fascinating answer.

The people in Belize were also fun and friendly. More than one Belizean said to us, “I’ve been to America and liked it, but the thing that upset me was that no one in your country greets each other on the street.” In Belize, they do!

3. Belize is quite safe. Naturally, no country is 100% crime-free, but I’ve been to 11 countries in Latin America, and I felt safest in Belize, BY FAR. I love Latin America, but there has always been a feeling of tension there for me, as people warn you of this or that attack which recently happened, and shady characters skulk around, eyeing your bags and cat-calling. In contrast, I was able to totally relax in Belize, despite being a normally paranoid traveler. There were also hardly any street vendors or tourist hasslers (a HUGE and refreshing departure from my other travels). Finally, the people in Belize are so friendly that whenever we got in a pickle, there was someone around to help us.

Colin and me by the massive bamboo groves in the jungle surrounding Monkey River, Belize.

A Honeymoon pose by the massive bamboo groves in the jungle surrounding Monkey River, Belize.

4. Belize is a manageable size. Part of what adds to the feeling of safety of Belize is its sweet little size. Everyone knows everyone else. When we’d check in at one hotel hours from another, we would learn that hotel clerk was the brother of the clerk we’d just left. Or we’d say, “We took the shuttle here with a guy from Holland,” and whoever we were talking to knew exactly the man we were referring to. Originally, we were planning on Honeymooning in Tanzania, but to get from one part of that large country to another would have been a full day’s journey. In contrast, Belize is the size of my beloved state, Massachusetts, which is a 3.5 hour drive across at its longest point. This means you can really get a feel for different parts of the country in a short amount of time, without major regret that you’re missing out.

A stunning vista from Laughing Bird Caye, by Placencia.

A stunning view from Laughing Bird Caye, by Placencia.

5. Belize is interesting, unique, and has a fascinating history. Belize doesn’t feel, look, or act like America. It is not one of those countries where you arrive, see a strip mall, and grumble, “I could have seen this in Cleveland.”

That said, Belize has enough in common with our home country that we felt the perfect combination of comfortable and interested. We were never bored in Belize, and were fascinated both to explore close to our hotels, and to venture out on epic day tours.

Oooh, and those wonderful accents the people have! As my friend explained, “Belize is like Honduras plus Jamaica.” Unique, right?

6. Belize is close to America. We were looking into Fiji for our Honeymoon, but that flight would have been a full day and $1,500 each. Instead, we paid less than $500 each for our flights, left Boston in the morning, traveled for fewer hours than it takes to visit my brother in California, and were on the beach by 1pm.

7. Belize is beautiful. After 11 days in Belize, my computer now holds 1,000 photos, the majority of which could be sold as desktop screensavers representing “Tranquil Paradise.” We loved the variety of the beauty, too, from tropical beaches with azure water, to Mayan ruins in thick emerald jungle. The vistas were so perfectly romantic for a Honeymoon!

"Do Not Teach Your Trash to Swim." Belize cares about the Earth!

“Do Not Teach Your Trash to Swim” says Belize.

8. Belize cares about the environment. Throughout my travels, the sight of trash on the ground has been common, hurting the heart of this Earth-loving tourist. In Belize, however, signs abounded urging people to protect the environment by throwing garbage away properly, conserving energy by turning off lights, and so on. Yay!

9. Belize has options for many different budgets. Colin and I were staying and eating in high-end tourist areas due to my glamorous travel blogger connections, and prices were roughly equivalent to Boston. If we’d ventured out a bit more, however, we could have found budget food and lodging of all kinds.

Further, we were visiting during Belize’s “low season” (the rainy months in summer) when you can get even better deals, but I point out that Belize’s “worst” season was more than fine. It rained maybe an hour a day, but the majority of the time was sun-filled glorious.

Love that Belize celebrates racial diversity on its water bottles!

Belize celebrates racial diversity on its water bottles!

10. Belize is a melting pot of races, and embraces that. I have observed way too much racism on my travels. I didn’t realize how sickeningly accustomed I’d grown to races hating each other until I arrived in Belize and noted the complete absence of enmity. What a wonderful thing! Looking around a single street in Belize, you will see Latino, Black, Indigenous Mayan, White, Mixed Race, Asian, and Arab people (not to mention the Mennonites!), all coexisting happily. Even the bottled water labels sing the praises of diversity. LOVE IT!

11. Food and water safety are good in Belize. We drank bottled water our whole time in Belize, though we were told the country actually has all right water quality. That said, we never even got a stomach ache from the food and drink we consumed… except for the night one of us ate two bags of microwave popcorn and a jumbo bag of chips. (Can’t blame Belize for that.) Plus, the seafood is AMAZING!

12. Belize is uncrowded and relaxed. Exactly a year ago, Colin and I were traveling arduously through China, being jostled at every turn by the 1.34 BILLION people in that country. Truly, China feels crowded. Belize is the antithesis of that; it has only 356,000 inhabitants, total (Boston alone has double that) and most of the time when you look around, you see few people.

Most of Belize is this relaxed and natural: Green plants and blue water.

Most of Belize is this relaxed and natural: Green plants and blue water.

On our longest drive across the country (3.5 hours), we just passed far-reaching fields of green under blue skies (so unlike the mega-cities and thick smog of China) with a very small town now and then. Even the most bustling tourist beach town of San Pedro is calming and relaxed. Belize is a great Honeymoon destination for couples who want quality time together without crowds.

In sum, we were highly pleased with our choice of Belize for our Honeymooon destination.

Now what about YOU? Do you agree about these Belize perks, or would you modify any? Where did you go on your Honeymoon, or where do you dream of spending it? Do share!

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  34 Responses to “12 Reasons Belize is a Best Place for Honeymoon Travel”

  1. Wow! Belize seems to be the right place to stay for a vacation! Interesting, green, natural, and not many people (Until this article came out) there, I would love to go someday!

  2. I’ll add to this that the scuba diving in Belize is absolutely magnificent! For being so close to the United States, it is really nice to have a place with such great visibility and variety of fish.

  3. What a beautiful pictures :) would love to go there :D

  4. That amazing picture has been in the back of my mind for a while now. Looks like I captured something similar on the other side of the planet at a Buddhist temple in Bang Mun Nak, Thailand .. :)

    http://www.happinessplunge.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Beautiful-Scene-4.jpg

  5. For our full Belize travel itinerary and recommendations for where to go and for how long, read this follow-up article: http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2012/08/18/belize-travel-itinerary-for-couples-our-honeymoon-plan !

  6. I had no idea that (1) You’ve been to 11 Latin American countries (wow!) and (2) you only bought the tickets 2 weeks before the wedding?! So glad it all worked out!

  7. Lillie — your concise, refreshing 12 reasons included some I’ve never heard expressed before in spite of a fair amount of Belize travel research for The Ambler. I like “Belize is a manageable size” — of particular appeal to travelers who seek to truly know & experience their destinations authentically. Since Belize is a darling destination for adventure-seekers, I’d love to hear more about you & your now-husband’s honeymoon adventures. Snorkeling, diving, ziplining perhaps? — Rachel, editor of The Ambler

    • Rachel,
      Thanks for your comment! Tomorrow I will publish our full itinerary, but to summarize our adventures: 1) Snorkeling day trip by the reefs in Ambergris Caye, 1b) Scuba for Colin but not for me, 2) Hike-swimming the ATM caves in San Ignacio (AMAZING), 3) Hiking Xunantunich Mayan ruins by San Ignacio (see http://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2012/07/30/great-mayan-ruins-by-san-ignacio-belize-xunantunich/ ), 4) Swimming the inland Blue Hole (not the one in the ocean), 5) Snorkeling day tour and picnic in Laughing Bird Caye by Placencia, and 5) Monkey River and jungle tour by Placencia. These are the professional tours we took and don’t include the adventures we got into just wandering. Tomorrow’s post will go into more detail about the tours we wanted to do but didn’t have time for (Ziplining, Horseback Riding, Iguana Nursery, etc.). Again, thanks for connecting!

    • Just read your sunstroked account of San Ignacio — stunning images, great perspective. How often that fearful “how much farther?” feeling leads to the most rewarding arrivals. I’m sure the stories to come will be incredible.

  8. I thought Japan was 100% crime free – despite what some Japanese might say.

    But anyway, I’m glad you had a blast in Belize. Just wondering, did you visit Belize City and/or Belmopan?

    • Thanks! I agree with you that Japan felt SO safe. We did not spend any time in Belize City beyond the airport, which I will explain in my post tomorrow about why we chose our itinerary. We did drive through Belmopan and it is the tiniest, quietest capital city of a country you will ever see. Its airport is one tiny strip in the grass! They apparently moved the capital there from Belize City after a hurricane, but it’s been a challenge to entice anyone to move to “the middle of nowhere”! Are you interested in visiting these two cities in particular?

    • I can’t say I have a super strong desire to visit Belize City or Belmopan but if I did vist Belize, I would be very happy. I know the capital was moved to Belmopan after a natural disaster, but it’s a very small city. I know Belize City is the capital and the site of everything important in the country. You might have been able to experience another aspect of the country if you had spent time in Belize City.

    • I totally agree. If it weren’t our Honeymoon, we would have checked it out, but we were all about relaxation and luxury on this trip. :)

  9. Hi Ms.Marshall! I miss you! You’re so lucky. You get to go to a new place and explore their new culture and learn about their life styles.

    • Thanks, Sofia! Miss you too, but see you soon, and part of the aim of my website is so that people can “cyber travel” along with me! :)

  10. Amazing post. I had to share it with my blog readers.

  11. Great post Lillie! I have added an excerpt on Belize Hub, the official web portal of Belize!

    • So honored! Thanks! Your Twitter icon of a blue butterfly makes me remember the countless beautiful butterflies we saw all over Belize: blue, orange, yellow… amazing!

  12. You’re preaching to the converted here as I get married late next year and Belize is top of my honeymoon list! Great to see that you enjoyed it so much and have been enjoying reading about the places you stayed and getting some ideas!

  13. [...] Read the the other 9 reasons here 12 Reasons Belize is a Best Place for Honeymoon Travel [...]

  14. We visited Peru on our honeymoon in 1982: Lima, Cuzco, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Macchu Picchu and the Amazon. It was an awesome trip, not relaxing, but awesome. It was the only vacation on which I lost weight! It was probably more unrelaxing because: the Falklands War was raging and the US was letting Argentina use our weather satellites which annoyed the Peruvians; violence by the Shining Path Maoist revolutionary group caused several provinces to be closed to tourists; the Amazon region was experiencing the highest water in 30 years; our airline (Braniff) went belly up and ceased operations during our trip; and, our American Express credit card was useless—and it was still an awesome trip. I don’t want to blame Peru for our misadventures. Trouble seems to find us when we travel: http://www.boomeresque.com/you-might-not-want-to-go-when-were-there/

    Our one Belize experience was as a stop on a cruise. Even in a one day excursion to the ruins of Altun Ha, we experienced some of what you describe. Belize kind of sounds like “Costa Rica Light”—in a good way.

    • Very interesting! Amazing details. Funny luck you have!
      I lived and taught in both Peru and Costa Rica for months each, and found them very different from Belize. In particular, the African and Jamaican influence in Belize give it a distinct flavor, as does its history.

  15. Those are some pretty nice perks. I’ve been jumping back and forth on my decisions of where to go this upcoming off season and with such a tight budget was even considering not leaving the country… X-D. With flights as cheap as $500 bucks I’m going to really look into visiting Belize…that and it’s about time to have some decent sea food…haven’t experienced that since I left Costa Rica!

    • Woo hoo! Just be aware that prices once you arrive aren’t as crazy cheap as other Latin American countries, but deals still abound, and the benefits make it totally worth it.

  16. Okay, I’m sold – we originally ruled out travel to Belize because it sounded like there were safety concerns (drug trafficking/gangs etc), but you’ve changed my opinion :)

    • Woo hoo! It does seem that Belize City has issues (we were recommended by most people not to spend any time there at all), but everywhere else felt great.

  17. Great post! I would love to visit Belize one day!

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