When visiting Belize, Caye Caulker is a unique location that must be experienced. A short 30 minute water taxi ride from San Pedro, this quaint little island is the perfect place to spend a few extra days. It’s easily accessible from both San Pedro and Belize City and well worth the trip. Leaving San Pedro, Ambergris Caye; a roundtrip ticket is $25 US, with several departures daily.http://belize express.
As for accommodations, you will have numerous choices. From budget savvy hostels for $20 per night to high-end beach rentals for $200, finding the perfect fit should be easy. VRBO and Airbnb have lots of listings! I checked on-line before arriving but decided to “wing-it” and just find a room when I arrived on the island. Needless to say, traveling with Floyd, my 4lb Chihuahua tends to complicate things a little. However, I did find three “pet friendly” hotels. I settled on Popeyes Beach resort http://popeyesresort A great location directly on the beach with pool, air conditioning, tv and internet. Yes, this may seem basic to many people, but in Belize…..if you need air conditioning, internet and TV….you should verify before booking!
When comparing San Pedro and Caye Caulker, you’ll find many similarities, but also many drastic differences. The water is crystal blue, the people are amazingly friendly and the beer is ice cold. Most locals will tell you this is how San Pedro was 20 years ago….no cars…sandy streets….bikes and golf carts. Having much less tourism (for now) than San Pedro, Caye Caulker allows for a more relaxed island feel.
My last visit to Caye Caulker was nearly a year ago and it’s easy to see the changes. After suffering some significant damage from Hurrican Earl las fall, many businesses have expanded, rebuilt and upgraded. The beaches have been repaired and many sea walls installed. This is providing some great areas for beach volleyball, sun bathing or a lazyday laying in the hammocks
New tour shops have opened for fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and sunset cruises. Paddle boarding, windsurfing and kayaking are becoming increasingly popular. The calm waters that surround this little island provide the perfect conditions for these watersports.
As for food….choices are unlimited. From beachside restaurants, local taco stands, streetside BBQ, coffee shops, fresh juice bars and ice cream…you will not leave the island hungry. (The key lime cheesecake at Popeyes beach grill at 10 pm is highly recommended…probably not smart, but recommended!)
Breakfast was at an awesome little crepe restaurant.. Crepes & Dreams. This place deserves a separate blog post coming tomorrow! Awesome…check it out on http://trip advisor
This being my first full day on the island, I already have tons of pictures! My latest Lesson in Belize…..
After spending an extended period of time in the states visiting kids and grandkids, I returned to Ambergris Caye this week. Anyone who has traveled to Belize is well aware there may be a few of your favorite things you cannot find here on the island. Knowing I will stay for at least a few months before returning to the states, I checked the additional bags, filled to the brim with my favorite things. By the time I arrived, I was second guessing this decision. My first sign should have been the need to sit on the suitcases to zip them, as I desperately wanted to bring my favorite bamboo pillow. Packed, zipped and headed to the airport, I thought the most difficult part was over. Bags were checked, boarding passes printed and we breeze through customs. Two carry-ons and a dog carrier with my “baby” Floyd, my 4lb Chihuahua, I’m feeling pretty confident at this point. Just praying he does not have to pee before we get to Houston.
My first sign should have been the need to sit on the suitcases to zip them, as I desperately wanted to bring my favorite bamboo pillow. Packed, zipped and headed to the airport, I thought the most difficult part was over. Bags were checked, boarding passes printed and we breeze through customs. Two carry-ons and a dog carrier with my “baby” Floyd, my 4lb Chihuahua, I’m feeling pretty confident at this point. Just praying he does not have to pee before we get to Houston.
Stepping onto the escalator, I feel my earring slipping out, as I struggle with the carry-ons, try to keep my balance on the escalator, and desperately trying to hold on to my 4lb Chihuahua I see it fall at my feet. ( these were a special birthday gift, so I’m going for it) As I regain my balance, I desperately bend over and grab just as it disappears into the revolving steps! Frustrated, but realizing with a knee replacement impeding my mobility, and thankful I did not smash Floyd into the escalator, I laughed it off and headed to the gate. Sign number two!
Flying Southwest allows us to pick our own seats. I take middle and aisle seats, hoping no one wants to squeeze into the window seat, providing extra room for Floyd. Wrong! A very nicely dressed man, I’m sure was headed to a business meeting in Houston, decides to chance it. I’m thinking, “Sir, you really look smarter than this!” Nonetheless, he chooses to sit next to us. Just as we prepare for takeoff and I’m putting Floyd back into his carrier, the stressful day of traveling hits him. His nose is running and he starts to heave. Oh mother of God, No! Having six children, I recognize these symptoms. My first reaction was to try catching it, obviously not my first choice, just a reaction. Yes, I try catching it while attempting to keep my own breakfast down. I avoid eye contact with the nicely dressed businessman next to me as I search for the airsick bag. Sign number three!
We arrive in Houston with just enough time to rush outside to find some grass, back through customs and board for Belize city. Taking a pet to Belize is fairly simple and only requires some minor paperwork and a visit to our local vet for a health checkup. Paperwork was completed, he has a “pet passport” and a quick stop at immigration to submit the forms. We’ve done this before, no problem.
Feeling confident there would be no more issues, we land in Belize City, present the paperwork from our vet, only to be told it is the wrong paperwork! Feeling certain this is the exact paperwork we submitted on our last trip. but a different agent at the airport. We are told we can not enter the country without a wellness checkup and correct paperwork. We are now on the Belizean side of customs and they are not going to let Floyd into the country. I was not surprised at the next comment: ” Yes, we can do the correct paperwork and wellness check here for an additional $50! Into the small room, yes, he looks healthy. I pay the money and head for the last leg of the trip to the island. Sign number four!
Once into Belize city, it’s a short 12-minute flight on “puddle jumper”. I’ve done this several times with no issues. We check in just in time to be told a smaller plane is boarding with room for only two more, or we can wait for another hour for our scheduled flight. My first thought was how much smaller can you get than your typical 12 seater? But OK, we’ll go now. I soon realize smaller translates to only six seats. As we board, or actually squeeze in, we are told, “one get in, the other wait, as we have to flip the seat down.” What?? The last seat flips down, as we try to buckle, uncertain whether these last two seats are secured to the floor. We are all laughing, well aware that in 12 minutes this long day will be well worth the hassle, and it was!
Welcome to Belize!
After spending some extended time in Placencia and being able to explore this beautiful area, I pray I never take this for granted. I love the peacefulness of the ocean, the kindness of the people, the small town, slow down and smell the flowers mentality that is apparent when you visit. When on vacation. you automatically notice the beauty of an area. It’s new, it’s refreshing and unique. You take the time to notice the sunrise and sunsets. You are amazed at the beauty and serene feelings of watching the boats slowly pass by in the early morning hours.
Granted, common sense will tell you that in all things there is eventually a sense of familiarity. Will I get use to the breathtaking sunrise? Will I stop noticing the boats slowly drift by as I sip my morning coffee on the patio?
Will the large iguana that crosses the dirt path in front of me as I walk to the store, suddenly ceases to impress me?
Will I no longer stop to pet the neighborhood dog that walks with me down the path to the village? And my biggest fear….will I stop taking pictures?
While on vacation, it’s a common practice to grab as many photos as possible. We want to share the beauty and uniqueness of this beautiful little country. We snap pictures of the beach, the sunrise, the sunset, your frappe at the coffee shop, your breakfast, your lunch, your dinner, ….. you get the point and know what I’m talking about! You Facebook, tweet, snapchat, instagram every vacation photo you can grab. You’re on vacation, this is what you do.
But, when living in a tropical paradise, you experience this on a daily basis. Yes, the flipping sunrise is absolutely breathtaking almost every morning. The sunsets are on most evenings, postcard perfect. The people are kind, the breeze is gentle and the water is a sparkling crystal blue.
So as I enjoy these aspects of everyday life in this beautiful little country, I pray that I wake each morning as though it’s my first time experiencing this beauty and to enjoy each day as though it were my last!
Here are some of the reasons I truly love Belize!
So, my Lesson in Belize is to cherish each day in this beautiful piece of paradise!
I first visited Belize four years ago on vacation. Having never traveled to this quaint little country, I was not certain as what to expect. All the research reinforced the fact that you must visit the different regions to get the “real feel” of Belize. On my first visit, I booked three days in Caye Caulker, three on Ambergris Caye and one in Corozal.
Of course, all the travel magazines and recent tv commercials made it look almost too good to be true. Could the waters really be this blue? Is the fishing that good? Yes, Belize does look like this! Arriving first in Caye Caulker, I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the quiet, peaceful ambiance. I loved the few beach bars, quaint little hotels, the friendly people and the beautiful crystal blue water. Many people say this is a reflection of how San Pedro was 20 years ago, before the influx of tourism. As I left Caye Caulker, heading to San Pedro on the water taxi, one local laughed and said, “ah….you’ll take the slow boat to San Pedro and the fast boat back, San Pedro is full of golf carts, busy streets and lots of people.”
Exactly what I found when we arrived in San Pedro. Golf carts buzzing by, busy streets and tons of tourists. But who said that’s bad.? We loved San Pedro too, just for different reasons. More people means more options for stores, more restaurant choices and probably more secure investment. On my initial visit I was intrigued with the island and the people. Always something fun to do, lots of light hearten tourist enjoying a few days on the island, or retired expats loving their well deserved retirement days.
After a few days in San Pedro, I fly Tropic Air to Corozal, on the far northern border. Having heard this area was great for retiring expats, with the major advantage being the proximity to Mexico. I land at the airport, hire a taxi to look around for a few hours and soon realized this would not be a long term option. Corozal is attracting many retirees for the location and quiet, peaceful community, but it seemed a little too remote for what I wanted. With it being more so on the bay, it is hard to compete with the crystal blue waters of Ambergris. Prices and general cost of living are more reasonable being on the mainland and property seems cheaper, but for me….San Pedro was a better fit. Although it was definitely a tourist area, it still seemed to check many of the boxes in my search requirements. Back to San Pedro!
So, fast forward four years. Owning in San Pedro has provided a great experience and wonderful options. But now at retirement age, I had to ask myself; do I stay on the island or is it getting too busy? There is a difference between “vacationing for a few weeks”, staying as “snowbirds” for a few months and “living full time”. You question yourself about living permanently in a “vacation spot”….are there too many tourist….too many golf carts….?? Many friends in San Pedro said, “oh, don’t move to Placencia, they roll the streets up at 8 pm…. it’s too slow down there.” Well, that doesn’t sound too bad; quiet, peaceful fishing village on the coast, nice restaurants, accessible shopping and markets. Just another testament that people choose different locations for different reasons and what best fits your needs at specific periods of your lifeI spent months looking at options in Belize. Placencia continued coming up in articles, real estate listings and travel blogs as a peaceful, quaint village on the mainland coast. I had not ventured to this southernmost region of the country, but felt it was worth a short trip after reading about the beauty of the beaches and uniqueness of this small fishing village. After the first visit, I have to say, I loved it! Yes, I loved Caye Caulker….but a little too slow. Yes, I loved San Pedro….but a little too crowded and fast. For me, I’ve found Placencia to be “just right”. Its apparent the core values and kindness of the Belizean people are what makes this little country so appealing, regardless of which region you choose.
As you venture from the pier you’re on the infamous Placencia Sidewalk. It winds thru the village, passing shops, restaurants and beach bars. Local fishing guides can be found near the pier for easy access to daily fishing trips or snorkeling at some of the local cayes. Taking your time to visit the shops, chat with the vendors and have lunch at the numerous restaurants that line the sidewalk is a day well spent.
I’m amazed at the number of restaurants in this small village. I am trying hard to visit them all and I have to say, I have not been disappointed! I’m learning the best spots for a great happy hour with awesome service, drinks and appetizers.
Mojos lounge and restaurant on main street, near the pier, has quickly become a favorite. Half-price drinks and appetizers make this a favorite spot in late afternoons!
The Pickled Parrot just off the sidewalk is a favorite of expats and tourists alike. Providing an atmosphere of beach bar and local hangout and their lunch specials are a draw to this great little hangout in Placencia.
Ricks Cafe is great restaurant located on the Peninsula sidewalk. Whether it’s pizza, ceivche or some awesome fresh sushi….this place is a must while visiting Placencia.
For retirees who spend extended periods of time here, it seems to be working well. I live in the village, so there is no need for a car, or golf cart. There are several fruit and vegetable markets throughout town, a few larger grocery stores, as well as a few small grocery stores. If I decide to take a weekend trip inland, I rent a car for a few days. Getting around the village with my bike is perfect, it gets me wherever I may need to go and helps to stay healthy in the process.
I’m finding another great advantage of living on the mainland is the accessibility to other areas of the country. A recent trip inland to San Ignacio was a short three hour drive. finding a great Jungle Lodge, Maya Mountain Lodge & Wellness Center for a reasonably affordable trip to the ruins, waterfalls and infamous San Ignacio Saturday Market.! Having the airport just of the edge of town makes it easy to fly in from Belize City International or Municipal airports, about a 25 minute flight. Both local airlines of Tropic and Maya island make several flights per day.
An issue of conversation is the upcoming docking of Norwegian Cruise Lines on their private island of Harvest Caye. The island is located just off the coast of the Placencia Peninsula and from the reports and photos, it is going to be huge. From my condo, I can watch daily as the boats go back and forth to the island, many transporting heavy equipment. Speaking with a village resident who says there are around 300 local working on the island to meet the November deadline. Reading the cruise lines reports, the first ship will dock mid November, with several ships per week to follow. Although they will tender guests into the designated areas in nearby Independence/Mango Creek area. The question is whether these tours and cruise customers will venture into the Placencia Village. People are watching closely as to how this will affect the area.
I seem to have a better fit in Placencia. I love the small town feel, people greeting you good morning, kids walking to school, and riding their bikes in the afternoons. Small, simple pleasures that we took for granted as kids, and wish our grandkids could enjoy back home.
Here’s how you spend the afternoons in San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye:
Here’s how you spend the afternoons in Placencia:
It’s really difficult to compare Placencia and San Pedro, as it’s similar to asking a parent which child is your favorite If you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. You love them both, don’t want to say anything negative about either one, as they each have such great qualities.
Placencia would be the “mild mannered middle child” that was so easy to raise, made good grades, a little quiet and calm , peaceful loner, never caused a problem and came home on time. San Pedro would be the “wild child teenager” who never had a dull moment, had some crazy wild ass friends, maybe bailed out of jail once or twice, stayed out too late and caused you to worry and age increasingly fast. You still love them both!
However, as we age, there comes a time when we must answer the critical question;,” Which of these children do you want to live with when you are old?” For me, I love my “wild child” characteristics of San Pedro. The hustle and bustle of golf carts. There is always a beach BBQ, a Sunday Funday, Poker Run, party catamaran or happy hour at your disposal.
Stores are easily accessible and restaurants are on every corner, but……..for me, I need the calm, peaceful slow nature of the “mild mannered middle child”and that is Placencia! Enough stores, but not too many, great restaurants everywhere, several beach bars, and a few expat hangouts.
So coming to Belize was to seek a slower pace of life, lead a healthy lifestyle and to enjoy the intense beauty of this small quaint country. I have found that here……in Placencia! I’m loving my Lessons in Belize!
(However, I reserve the right to return to visit my “wild child San Pedro” when I get bored)!!!
As much as you may be enjoying the beautiful ocean and country of Belize, when you receive “that” call, you immediately know you must drop everything and head back to the states. For me, that call was when my four year old grandson called from Oklahoma and screamed into the phone, “WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO MY HOUSE|?” I booked a flight the following day!
Many of the conversations at the local ex-pat hangouts immediately revert to , “Where are you from…..have any grand kids back home….what do they think of your moving to Belize? Grand kids are probably the #1 reasons most retires get a little emotional about relocating to this tropical paradise. I’ll admit, some of my children thought I was crazy when I told them about buying a condo in Belize. However, as soon as they were able to visit, I was suddenly a pretty intelligent mother after all, they loved it! Obviously as you approach retirement age, spending time with the grandkids is a top priority. With so many blended families and living in different areas in the states, many retires see their children and grandchildren as much or more often here in Belize than we did back home. Who wouldn’t want to go to grandma’s house when she lives in Belize!!
My experience of moving to Belize is finding the balance to spend time in this beautiful little country, but still being able to see the grandkids. For the ones that were able to visit this year, it allowed for some great one-on-one times and provided them with a much needed vacation.. Experiencing the fishing trips, snorkeling and lobster season has been the highlights of their summer trips. So as they return to the states to resume their busy lives, we remained here for a few months.
I’ve been in Belize four months this time and I admit, I was needing a serious “grand kid fix”.
Although my grown children are all in their 20-30‘s, they’ll always be my babies. I’m looking forward to seeing them again and catching up on what I so clearly recall as the hectic lives of young adults and parents. What use to be fun trips to the zoo and amusement parks, will be replaced with the casino, sports bar, or shopping, but all fun stuff when getting to see what great adults your children have become.
As much as I’m looking forward to visiting the kids and grand kids, I am not looking forward to the weather! Returning to the states in late fall can be tricky at best and sometimes unbearable when winter hits the mid west. I’ll be digging out the sweatshirts, sweatpants, coats and boots.For months on end, my wardrobe consisted of flipflops, t-shirts and baseball caps.
I’ve been back in the states almost two weeks now and have had some great times with the kids. We’ve gone to the pumpkin patch with a very energetic four year old. Watched our nine year old score the winning touch down at his football game in Oklahoma, lost a little money at a couple casinos with the “older children” and that was just in two states. Headed from Texas to Oklahoma, then to Kansas City has provided a very busy couple weeks. Now headed to Michigan to visit other family members…..I have made a pit stop at Old Navy for winter wear! Sweats, hoodies and a jacket…..things I have not worn in a while, but from the crispness in the air this morning…..I think I’m going to need them.
Although, I’m missing my home and friends in Belize, it’s great to see the family and do some traveling throughout the states……..however, I could use some warmer weather!!
Our “roadtrip” from Placencia to San Ignacio was definitely an intense and exciting four days. There were attractions we knew we wanted to visit and others that just happened to be along the road as we traveled. The drive alone was a wonderful experience. The beautiful mountains, banana plantations, orange groves and lush farms along the way made the drive well worth the time. From the intense and at times “painful” experience of the waterfall in Bocawina National Park to the peacefulness of the Maya Mountain Lodge, we truly enjoyed every minute of the trip.
Whatever region of Belize you choose, you will not be disappointed at the options for adventure. Whether your idea of a vacation is swimming with the nurse sharks off the coast of Ambergris Caye, or wandering the peaceful sidewalk of Placencia village, Belize will not disappoint!
Most visitors come to Belize for a weeks vacation. Belize Tourism Board reports that 75% of all visitors go to Ambergris Caye/San Pedro. The beautiful little island that provides nearly every imaginable option for a funfilled weeks vacation in a tropical paradise. You can snorkel, dive, boat, fish, parasail, …you can rent a golf cart, rent a bike, rent a wave runner, rent a scooter…..you can eat at a five star hotel …..a beachside bar…or a local taco stand…. Nearly every vacation adventure can be experienced in this beautiful little country.
One of the observations I’m making as we have been in the area for a while, is the kindness of the people. Whether it’s the locals that you may see on a daily basis, or a tourist that’s just in town for a few days. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the awesome views of the beautiful water, but there’s a sense of relaxation and peacefulness.
After returning to Placencia this week, we have met some awesome people, both interesting and inspiring for what they are doing and how they too enjoy coming to this beautiful little country. One family we met has been coming to Placencia for 20 years, typically a couple times a year on vacation or long weekends. Living in Guatemala, they travel the three hours up the coast in their boat….(they called it a boat….I called it a small yacht….very nice!!) They spoke about how this area has gradually changed over time, but still embodies the quaint village feel that keeps them coming back year after year.
This time of year is definitely slow season. Many places are closed to prepare for high season and allow their employees some time off. So the village can be especially calm and quiet and tourist are few and far between in September. With that being said, it was interesting and unique that we met this awesome couple traveling with their three children. They explained how they are taking a year off and are currently six weeks into their year journey that started near Portland Oregon. Driving through the states, through Mexico, then Belize and ending in Peru. I was so impressed with the family and the awesome opportunity they are providing their children with this experience.
Having the opportunity to meet these awesome and interesting people makes this journey even more exciting. I am loving the area, the people and this wonderful little country! Life is good…..Belize makes it even better!
On a recent visit to San Ignacio for my son to explore the Cayo district, he fell in love with that region of Belize. His interests in health, nutrition and wellness is a perfect fit for all that this area of Belize has to offer.
As we spent a few days at Maya Mountain Lodge and Wellness center, he immediately connected with the owners and staff of the lodge. Sharing the upcoming organization and development of a pro-organic co-op in the Cayo district, it was apparent these programs fit perfectly into the fields he plans to pursue. After being offered an internship, he returned to the lodge and is so excited for this opportunity.
Currently spending three months in San Ignacio and working with local organizations to establish an organic co-op, he is documenting some awesome experiences in this beautiful area of the country.
For some great blog posts on this area of Belize…, authentic Belizean cooking, organic food and farming techniques, health and wellness and how they are establishing Pro-Organic Belize in the Cayo district……..check it out at www.wearegrassfed.com
As you settle into a new area such as we have, you begin to fall into the “local” status. You are no longer a tourist or a “snowbird”. I recently realized I have reached that point; as my mind is now processing some great little tidbits of info that everyone in town just obviously knows. When I mention this epiphany, I receive blank stares…. “duhhh” yes Einstein, everyfone knows you get the best peanut brittle at the pharmacy!
What the hell! I can now consider myself a local, realizing this as I organized a list of things I needed to purchase while out in town today. Having no Wal Mart, yes, I know that may be a hard reality for some to accept, but it’s not something I miss in the least.. However, this reality forces you to strategically plan when you head out shopping. Here is a sample of my shopping agenda based on my recent Lessons in Belize!
Peanut Brittle at the Pharmacy!
Yes, a recent trip to the local pharmacy to refill some prescriptions, a great one in town and so helpful with transferring my scripts and answering any questions. In addition to obvious items you’ll find in any pharmacy, they have a few extras! A great little display of homemade peanut brittle. Neatly packaged and sitting on the counter. Yes, you know, arranged in the perfect place to stare you in the face as you wait for your script to be filled. Just as back in the states and the checkout isles are filled with last minute items that are hard to resist. Ok…so here you wont find Snickers Bars, or Hershey chocolate, as these imports are really expensive and the heat does a job on a chocolate candy bar! But you will find the best homemade peanut brittle I have ever eaten.
So, yes, we visit the pharmacy often, not so much for scripts to be filled…..but definitely for the peanut brittle.
Coffee from the Hardware Store!
If I were stranded on an island with only three items …..the first two would be coffee…the third would be a great coffee mug to enjoy it in! Being in this area, the coffee is wonderful and all the local grocery stores have a wide variety to choose from. There are a few great coffee shops who also sell some unique varieties. However, to ensure its fresh, I like to grind the beans, to me it just seems fresher. I found that the local hardware store, Wallens, has a room in the back of the store with tons of great wines and “adult beverages”, but also a large variety of fresh coffee beans and the machine to grind it fresh. So, when I need my fresh ground coffee, I head to Wallens Hardware on main street in the village, I venture through the tools, pipes, nails and paint….to the back room and grind my coffee! Now, off to the grocery store for my Avon!
Avon at the grocery store!
I know this seems outdated, as yes, Avon was something my mother used 40 years ago when the Avon lady use to come by the house for the order. You loved the Avon books and could shop for hours organizing your order. We grew up in the country and the nearest store for major shopping was 30 minutes away. So this was back before you could run to the local mall, visit “Bath & Body Works” and stock up on your favorite lotions. There are no malls, no Wal Mart, Target or Victoria’s Secret. So when you see anything resembling a decent lotion, especially one with a fragrance other than coconut oil, you have hit the jackpot. Exactly what happened this week in the grocery store. I’m shopping for chicken and rice and there, all neatly stacked across from the frozen chicken breast…..a large display of Avon! ( “duhhhh…” I’m not sure why I was surprised!) Your sense of smell is one of the strongest senses to trigger memories. Did this ever bring back memories… the scent of Sweet Honesty lotion. For a brief moment I was 16 and back in high school. Yes, thankfully for only a brief moment, I then realized I was in the grocery isle with my frozen chicken, my rice and beans, favorite hot sauce in one hand and sniffing jars of Avon lotions!
No this beats the hell out of high school…. I’ll take 56 and Belize over 16 and high school any day.
Snap out of it, I still have to get my vitamin supplements and teas from Omars restaurant!
We are on the third day of this trip to the Cayo district. We have climbed waterfalls, toured Botanical gardens, walked through the rainforest medicinal trail at Chaa Creek, toured the markets, shops and Mennonite farming area in Spanish Lookout. Such a beautiful area, and I’m so happy my son was able to explore this area of Belize. However, my body is say…” Are you really going to try to climb to the top….are you forgetting.you are closer to 60 now and you do have a knee replacement.” Again, the little voice of “What The Hell??”
Having visited this ruin site a couple times, I really wanted him to experience this unique area. It did cross my mind to sit at the bottom and watch him climb, but I tried, I made it and so glad I did!
This is one of the local attractions that is easily done on an independent tour if you want to out on your own. There are numerous tour operators that offer packages to tour the site, however, if you are renting a car, it’s very easy to do the self guided option. If taking a guided tour, another option is tour on horseback through the adjoining property. Hanna Stables offers guided tours of Xunantunich area, as well as small cabanas for overnight stays. http://www.hannastables.com
Just a short distance outside San Ignacio, you will arrive at the river entrance you will cross the small river on a cable drawn ferry, a short half mile drive and you are at entrance gate for parking, then proceed up the hill for the walking tour into the ruins.
The ruins are breathtaking and several degrees of difficulty. Smaller ones can easily be navigated by most people, but there are lots of narrow stairs if you attempt to scale the larger site. You’ll observe many people venture to the peak, others stay back and take photos. It’s worth the work for the priceless view from the top. On a clear day, the views into the Guatemalan jungle are unbelievable.
When deciding to tour the country, there are tons of options on where to go, how to get there, is it safe, is it a good tour, is it worth the price?? If you are visiting the area for a week, as most people do. Typically, you will want to explore the Placencia village, enjoy the great restaurants, beach bars and soak in the atmosphere of this wonderful community.
You may also want to enjoy a couple of the day trips that leave from the village and explore the inland areas. What amazes most people is the vast difference from one region of this country to the next. So, yes, enjoy the village, take a couple trips, whether its guided fishing, river rafting, Maya ruins, snorkeling or touring the farms and jungles of the Cayo & Toledo district, this can all be done through tour operators while staying in Placencia. There are several great operators who can customize the trips to fit your needs.
So, if you are here for a few more days and really want to get a feel for all this country has to offer. Take the extra time, rent a car and see where the road takes you! You can go from beach to farm to rainforest and jungle in a short few hours.
Saturday Farmers Market
Day two into our trip to the Cayo district, we knew San Ignacio Saturday market was a definite “must-do.” We arranged our trip to ensure we would be in town on Saturday. With this falling on Sep 10th and being the country’s celebration of St. Georges Caye day, it was especially busy.
The market is packed with vendors from all areas in the Cayo district selling fruits, vegetables, spices, fish and some of the best food vendors you will find anywhere in this diverse area of the country. Fresh grilled authentic Belizean dishes all in the unique atmosphere of this wonderful Saturday market. Many vendors are from the local Mennonite communities of nearby Spanish Lookout, providing home baked breads, cakes, granola and a variety of cheeses.
We were amazed at the number of food vendors and the variety of food they offered. Papusas, tortillas, quesadillas, meat pies and fry jacks, just to name a few. ( Yes, we tried most of them…I justified it as “research”)
With September 10th being St George’s Caye Day and September 21st the country’s Independence Day the celebrations will last all month. It was apparent this weekend marked the beginning of the festivities. Not only in San Ignacio area, but in every small village we visited this week, cars and houses were being decorated with Belizean flags and colors, events are scheduled throughout the month. People were preparing for the afternoon parade, children were enjoying the ice cream vendors and local musicians were performing throughout the town.
For anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the true culture of this area, this cannot be missed!
After a few hours at the market, it’s hard to believe, but yes, we were starving and ready for lunch!
The Guava Limb Café
Having visited the area last year we remembered a cozy little organic restaurant on the edge of town, with great food. A perfect place for a relaxing lunch after a few hours at the hectic market. The Guava Limb. What a great surprise when we easily found it, but even more so, to see the transformation that has occurred since our last visit. What was once a tiny quaint little cafe, has expanded outside into a beautifully landscaped patio area, overlooking the park.
Upstairs now has additional seating both inside and out, expanded the kitchen and added a beautiful dessert case and larger bar area.
We arrived about 15 minutes before opening time, but they gladly seated us on the shaded patio until the kitchen was ready to open. What a great surprise with the food choices, the service was first class and the food was some of the best we have had anywhere in the country. Salads, lettuce wraps, Hibiscus herbal teas and fresh squeezed orange juice made for the perfect lunch in the perfect atmosphere. The staff went above and beyond with service, ensuring we were enjoying our meal and our afternoon.
As we left, the manager mentioned they were having drum percussion music for dinner and invited us back. By 5 pm….when choosing where to go for dinner, we knew we couldn’t go wrong with The Guava Limb Cafe!
We had no idea the elegant meal and impeccable service we would receive. In addition to the music, which topped off the evening as the absolute best of the trip. Pesto Pasta, Steak Burger, and one of the biggest T-Bone steaks I have ever seen served for dinner. We were amazed the dinner meal was even better than the lunch!
After speaking with the manager, she explained the five guys in the kitchen are all under the age of 25. Unbelievable for such a young staff to provide this level of top quality dishes.
I cannot recommend this place more highly if you are anywhere near the San Ignacio area, you must visit this place for a guaranteed delightful experience. With the atmosphere, the employees and the five star food offers, you will not be disappointed at The Guava Limb Cafe in San Ignacio!
This being our second full day in San Ignacio….. the Saturday Market and Guava Limb Café will be hard to beat!