If you are a diver or thinking about taking up scuba diving, you must have Googled ‘the best places in the world for scuba diving’ at least once.
Belize is one of them, and unsurprisingly will make a top ten of most rankings, with the famous ‘blue hole’ image popping up on your screen.
Even if you aren’t a scuba diver, that image is certainly intriguing and inspiring enough, to expand the search about Belize. Let me tell you, don’t stop there. Explore more, because Belize is worth considering as your next adventure travel destination. From the rainforest, caves, amazing waters for scuba diving and snorkelling, archaeological excursions, to sun soaking and rum drinking, you won’t be bored in Belize.
A perfect escape for a holiday or a backpacking destination, offering more than one type of ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. And if you arrive to Belize from another Central American country, you will find a slightly different vibe here, more Caribbean than Latin American.
With half of the country covered by dense jungle, some of it still unexplored, a true adventure seeker would not have a problem to find a real ‘off the beaten track’ experiences. Solo travel, may not be the best option for Belize, as adventures are best shared, it's always good to have travel friends.
Belize has plenty of eco-lodges located in the rainforest, which is a great alternative of accommodation supporting sustainable tourism, not to mention, what a way to stay close to the nature!
If you are a true adventure seeker, and not a tourist, you probably would want to have a real jungle experience, in which case is best to head to the ‘Deep South’ of Belize – The Toledo District. It’s the most southern part of Belize, the least developed, ‘a forgotten land’, and an authentic off the beaten track destination. Surrounded by Maya Mountains, with traditional Maya villages, pristine jungle, rivers, caves and wilderness, you can experience a ‘non-touristy’ side of Belize and immerse yourself in an adventure activities.
You can’t go to Belize, and not visit the ATM cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal), located near San Ignacio, in Cayo District. The Cave of the Stone Sepulchre, is the epic ‘Bear Grylls’ experience, I was referring to in a previous blog, and deemed as no 1 sacred cave destination by National Geographic. Firstly, to get to the ATM cave, you will take a short, but spectacular ride and then hike through the jungle, including shallow rivers crossing, as the cave is located deep in the rainforest. Once you arrive at your destination, a dark, wet and ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure begins. You will have to swim through a spring-fed pool, to enter the cave (there is no other way), and then make a one kilometer long journey, through a tunnel with an underwater river.
Whilst in a cave, you will also have to swim in some instances, as you will be wading through water, which gets deep in certain places… but if Bear Grylls can do it, so can you! When you have successfully made your way through the cave tunnels, passageways and chambers, you have one final obstacle to cross – climb smallish rocks, before you can access a 1000 years old sacred Mayan sacrifice and a burial place at upper chamber, and hear the ancient stories of poor souls buried there.
Mayan civilization has a dominant part in Belize history, and visiting Mayan archaeological sides and ruins is something to experience while visiting the country. Two significant Mayan ruins to see are Xunantunich and Caracol.
Belize is best known for its Great Blue Hole, located just 100 km off the coast in Belize, made famous by an underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. It’s one of the largest and deepest in the world, and a part of Belize Barrier Reef System. Circular in shape, with over 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. If you are an experienced scuba diver, you probably have Blue Hole on your bucket list and would want to immerse the 130 feet dive. If you are not a diver, you can join scuba divers on the boat to Blue Hole, and will be dropped off by the reef. Although there are closer and cheaper options for a snorkeling trip in Belize. Blue Hole doesn’t look as impressive from close by, as in the aerial view photos.
Belize Barrier Reef is one of the worlds’ top places in the world for snorkeling, and the boats take you quite far from the shore, where you can explore the coral and sea life in crystal clear waters. Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley, Turneffe Reef Atoll, Lighthouse Reef Atoll (where Blue Hole is located), Gladden Spit are one of the best sites for snorkeling and encountering marine life, including nurse sharks, whale sharks, turtles, dolphin and colored fish, or swim among sting rays!
Even a true adventurer, must take the rest from all these activities sometimes. The best place to do so, and enjoy amazing sunsets and drink coconut rum, is colourful island of Caye Caulker. ‘No shoes, no shirt, no problem…’ is the vibe of the place, and Panty Ripper are the words you will speak often, whilst ordering from drink menu. In Caye Caulker it is time to slow down, enjoy the moment; watch life passing you by, listen to reggae, drink coconut rum, Belikin (the most popular local beer), or a fresh coconut, seating in a bar by the water. You never know, you may meet other people travelling solo and make new travel friends.
There are no cars in the island, and the time moves in slow motion, which makes it a perfect place to hit a pause button on the adventure for a couple of days, and just relax.
Imagine how life would be if you didn’t have to go back…
Travelling the world solo can be overwhelming and lonely at times. But you can always download Tribd on iOS and connect with other solo travellers with similar travel plans.
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