What do I mean by spoiled and authentic? There are only a couple chains of hotels in the whole country on Ambergris Caye and Belize City, no where else – everything else is run like a small mom and pop place or boutique hotel. Many restaurants and tour groups are run by families, and the overall experience is the small town, personal feel people seem to pine for, that barely exists in most of the US tourist places.
2.) Natural beauty – If you check out a map, you will be intrigued to see how much coastline Belize has, and then just try to count how many islands (cayes) Belize has! Not to mention the jungle inland, the mountains, waterfalls, reef (see below), and the charming little villages that you will see as you ride through the country. You drive past farms that look straight out of the 1950’s, tropical foliage that has every color of the rainbow, tropical plants and palm trees, and it is the least population dense place in the western Hemisphere, which means you never feel crowded! This is not even mentioning the tropical birds, the amazing sea views, beaches, mangroves….
3.) World-class fishing – While this is not an area of expertise for me, what I do know is that a great deal of Belize tourism is for fishermen. If you do a quick google search for Belize fishing, you can get pretty amazed by the stories and pictures you will see. Our tiny village of Placencia is well known for its fishing, and people come here for world-class fishing, with a ton of local fishermen who run amazing guided fishing trips.
4.) 2nd biggest reef in the world – Belize is well known for having the 2nd biggest barrier reef in the world, and then there’s the Blue Hole. This fact alone makes it one of the top places in the world for snorkeling and diving. The number of excursions you can take for these adventures is practically endless, and divers repeat their trips here again and again.
5.) Combining an island/jungle adventure – many guests say that they love how they can spend half their trip in the jungle, and half on the beach. Belize has a history of attracting adventurous spirits who want to have challenging excursions while they are here. The caving is also a factor as caves like the ATM cave tour are considered some of the best in the world. Then, after the adventures, guests can also go relax on amazing beaches with just a tiny commute in the middle.
6.) English speaking, US money accepted, and you can drink the water (in Placencia) – I combined these because these are all often repeated. While not any one of these is enough to place a country on top – when you combine all three, what happens is guests feel comfortable here, and find that it takes some of the stress of traveling out of the equation. In places similar to Belize – you have to come prepared with SOME bits of other languages (every tried checking out of a store where you don’t speak the language? You have no idea what you owe and you have to get a pen to have them write it, then have the correct local currency!) When you compare travel to other places to these comforts – and experience waking up thirsty in a place where you just ran out of bottled water (or make the awful mistake of drinking it!!), or having bad exchange rates, or not finding someone speaking enough English to help you – you certainly appreciate these comforts.
7.) Short easy flight – more flights are opening up every year to Belize. We get a lot of Floridians and Texans because they have a super cheap, easy flight and can be here in about 2 hours!! Even from the Northern US with a connection, you can leave the US at 6am and land in Belize City by 10 or 11am. While people love exotic tiki places – compare this to getting to Tahiti or even Hawaii!
8.) Wanting an alternative to the all inclusive gig – when you have visited places on a cruise ship or an all inclusive hotel – it can feel a whole lot like being anywhere in the US, even if you are somewhere exotic. Everything is catered to be comfortable to the North American traveler, and while this is sometimes perfect for what you are looking for, other times, you can feel like you already can predict the whole vacation before you even leave. I can promise you….Belize will NOT be that experience 🙂
9.) Diving with whale sharks – although many places near us are places you can see or even swim with whale sharks, many places do not allow you to scuba dive with them. This sets Belize apart as this is one of the world-class diving experiences that you can do this, and people come from all over the world for this dive.
10.) Repeat guests – read our reviews, people often say they don’t like returning to a place again and again, but they come back to Belize – a lot. There is something about the warmth of a small village, where people get to know your name, and you can call a beach dog your own after a few days, where you are still treated as a special guest (not one of a million!) that make Belize feel like you stumbled on a secret!