Belize: Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret
In many ways, the small country of Belize is much like Minnesota in the spring. I make this comparison not because of the weather (average highs are in the upper 80s in Belize in May), but rather because Belize and springtime in Minnesota have something big in common: potential. Just as the Twins are emerging from baseball’s winter hibernation and tulips are emerging from the thawing ground, Belize is emerging as one of Mother Nature’s best kept secrets and an incredible travel destination.
Belize in particular offers a travel experience unlike anywhere else in the world, where visitors have the opportunity to enjoy three very unique destinations (and an abundance of activities) in one visit. Mountains? Check. Rainforest? Check. Beach? Check. Belize has it all. Here’s why…
VAST PRIVATE RESERVES & PROTECTED WILDERNESS
Imagine spending your vacation exploring private reserves and nationally protected wilderness areas in a country where 40% of land is protected from development. Deep within are the ruins of ancient Maya civilizations, lush tropical rainforests, flowing rivers, vast mountain ranges, immense cave systems, and the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. All of which provides a home for some of the most unique wildlife on Earth, including the elusive jaguar whose last refuge in the Americas is this protected land. So when we say that Belize is Mother Nature’s best kept secret, we mean it.
ANCIENT MAYA CIVILIZATIONS
The foothills of the Maya Mountains in Belize were once home to ancient Maya civilizations, some of which date back as far as 2,000 B.C. As part of a visit to Belize, guests will journey into these foothills with a local Maya guide. During their exploration, guests will not only tour remote archaeological sites, but also learn about the culture and history of the Maya people. A visit to one of the many thriving Maya villages in the area will also provide a rare opportunity to see the interaction between modern life and ancient culture, language and tradition.
LUSH TROPICAL RAINFOREST
Linking the foothills of the Maya Mountains to the clear waters of the Caribbean is a lush tropical rainforest. Flowing through the heart of the rainforest is the Golden Stream. A canoe or kayak trip down the stream affords visitors with an opportunity to glide peacefully through the jungle while enjoying the sites of colorful flora and the sounds of tropical birds and monkeys swinging from tree to tree.
Let’s face it, part of the reason most of us vacation to exotic locales is to disconnect from the “real world” and simply relax. While there are plenty of opportunities for while exploring ruins and rainforests in Belize, nothing says vacation and relaxation like a quiet beach, endless sunshine and the sound of gentle waves lulling you to sleep.
Compared to the many busy tourism hubs scattered throughout the Caribbean, Belize offers a one-of-a-kind beach getaway without the crowds. With an entirely new ecosystem to explore, visitors to any of Belize’s islands, called cayes (and pronounced keys), can enjoy some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving during full-day expeditions to the Great Belize Barrier Reef. Visitors to Ambergris Caye, Belize’s most popular beach spot, can explore the quaint town of San Pedro by foot, bicycle or golf cart, the most common way to get around town. Or, if you prefer a more leisurely beach experience, spend your days lounging on the beach of one of the many boutique hotels that dot Ambergris Caye’s shores.
TOP FIVE REASONS TO VISIT BELIZE
1. Unique experiences: Diverse wildlife, unique cultural experiences, and unparalleled adventure abound in Belize.
2. Diverse Flora and Fauna: Belize’s wide range of climates and habitats, low human population and vast areas of undistributed land provide an ideal home for more than 5,000 plant species of plants, and hundreds of species of animals.
3. Mouth-watering cuisine: The unique mix of Maya, Kriol, Garinagu, Mestizo and British influences in Belize have inspired mouth-watering cuisine that is a “must try” experience in itself.
4. Customizable Adventure: Whether you’re looking to plan your next family get-away, intergenerational trip or your honeymoon, the Trans Habitat Experience in southern Belize can be customized to fit your unique tastes and travel preferences.
5. The happiest people on Earth: Known as one of the happiest and peaceful countries in the world, travelers to Belize are greeted by friendly faces at every turn.
Written by Jayme Madson and Molly Demmer for Tonka Times Magazine.