2015 is starting out with a BANG! Bearfoot Theory is going international for the first time since I started this blog. On January 8th (this Thursday!), I’m headed down to Central America on a travel writing assignment where I will be spending a month road tripping around Belize.
When this opportunity first came about, I really didn’t know too much about Belize. I had been to Belize once prior on a cruise. However, I didn’t get to venture too far out of Belize City, and I have to admit I wasn’t all too impressed with the city itself. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the rest of the country.
Once my Belize travel dates were set, the first thing I did was pick up a copy of the Belize Moon Handbook. I began to map out my route and made a list of the must-see spots. Now that I’ve read the entire guidebook cover to cover, I couldn’t be more excited. For being such a small country, Belize really does pack a punch.
Here’s a glimpse at my Belize travel plans & the 5 things that I’m most looking forward to.
1) Chilling out on Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is a tiny limestone island off of the Caribbean coast where the only way to get around is by foot, bike, or golf cart. It boasts a chilled out, backpacker vibe where the beaches are lined with hammocks, reggae bars, and fresh BBQ stands. But sipping on sunset cocktails isn’t the only thing to do. On Caye Caulker you can partake in almost any water sport you can think of from kayaking to stand up paddling boarding to diving. And those willing to pedal up the coast will find untouched mangroves home to a crazy variety of bird species, crocodiles, and manatees.
Photo: Matt Champlin
Who knew Belize had so many caves. In fact, Belize has the most extensive network of caves in all of Central America. While cave tubing is one of Belize’s most popular activities, many of these caves are also sacred Mayan archeological sites containing ancient pottery, skeletons, and sacrificial artifacts. I can’t wait to don my headlamp and go down in the depths inside these fascinating geologic wonders.
Photo: Thomas Shahan
3) Touring Belize’s Mayan ruins
You often hear about the Mayan ruins in Mexico and Guatemala, but Belize alone has hundreds of Mayan sites, including 11 large ruins with protected status. The site at Caracol is home to the largest pyramid which towers over the jungle floor at 136 feet. Another site, Lamanai, can only be reached by boating through a lagoon and features several temples with large masks carved into the sides. By exploring these diverse ruins throughout Belize, I think I’m in for a pretty interesting history lesson.
Photo: Daniel Mennerich
4) Getting up close with marine life
Almost 200 miles long, the Belize Barrier Reef spans the length of the entire country and consists of several small reef atolls. Many people know Belize from the spectacular aerial images of the Blue Hole, a super deep dive site where the reef walls consist of massive limestone stalactites. Even though this is the most famous dive site in Belize, you won’t actually see much marine life here. Opportunities to get up close with beautiful Caribbean reef fish, rays, turtles, and possibly even sharks are much better around one of Belize’s many protected marine reserves.
Photo: Ryan Greenberg
5) Exploring the jungle
Jaguars, monkeys, pumas, hundreds of bird species, and butterflies are just a few of the species you can encounter in the Belize rainforest. Top that off with hiking to waterfalls, soaking in natural warm pools, and swimming in lazy rivers, and you have tons of options for exciting times in the jungle.