It took Tara, Shauna, Carolyn and I no time at all to decide that we wanted to do a girls trip to Belize this fall…and you better Belize it…it was amazing! Ok ok, enough play on words…here’s what we got up to.
For the first five days of our trip…we headed from Belize City (via a headache inducing fuel smelling water taxi) for the 1 hr boat out to the island.
“Go Slow!” – I must have heard this island slogan about 5 times while we were on Caye Caulker…and they really do live by it…it just took me a bit to get into the pace :). For those unfamiliar…Caye Caulker is about half a km wide and 3 miles long. It’s an amazing little island with no vehicles (everyone travels by foot, bicycle or golf cart).
Highlights (in no particular order):
1. Snorkeling – Caye Caulker provides tons of great little day trip options for those looking to explore the sea. We spent an entire day snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark-Ray Alley and Coral Garden. If you’re interested in snorkeling in the area…definitely check out Carlos Tours & Snorkeling Shop…he’s awesome…and has a great tincture (should you have an upset travel tummy).
2. Random Yoga – Shauna and I took part in a “random yoga” session put on by Belize Yoga. Belize Yoga hosts sunrise and sunset yoga sessions (by donation). 6am yoga seemed a bit daunting…but we couldn’t pass up doing yoga on the roof of a hotel – welcoming the sunrise. What a way to start the day.
3. Sea kayaking – it’s super easy to rent kayaks and zip around part of the main portion of the island (takes about 2.5 hrs). Alternatively, you can head out for a 6 hr kayak around the entire island (the island was separated into two islands by a hurricane in the 1960’s). The separation of the islands is called the “Split”…it’s a great hangout for afternoon bevies and a dip in the water! If you go sea kayaking – find Chocolate…he created the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary and is just an amazing guy to talk with…oh, and he rents kayaks too :).
4. Good eats – we had sooo much good food in Belize and we never ran out of tasty options on Caye Caulker. If you are there…here are a few that you should try:
Rose’s Grill – this was our first dinner out on the trip and it may have been one of the best. Fresh out of the sea you choose what they throw on the ol’ bbq for you.
Bambooze – a great little restaurant right on the water…oh and they happen to have swings that you can sit on while you eat…and really big drinks.
Sid’s – They are well known for their stewed chicken…so if you’re in town…pop by.
Don Corleone – This Italian inspired restaurant is definitely the fanciest on the island and has a great atmosphere.
Amor Y Cafe – Great little breakfast place.
These are just a few of our faves…we found a fantastic little milkshake and banana pancake place too…there are tons of gems all around the island.
5. Great people and night life – everyone was so nice on Caye Caulker. With it being such a small island, we ran into the same people all the time. Special shout outs to our new fave Irish blokes (James and Padraig) and our fave new American (Justin). It was really good fun faffing around with you guys.
We had plenty of good laughs at I&I Reggae bar (which is really like a jungle gym for adults) and shook a serious tail feather at the Oceanside night club. Too much fun.
6. Great accommodations – you better Belize it, we really lucked out…using VRBO, we snagged a steal of a deal at Weezie’s Cabin. This place was a total gem. Definitely worth booking if you can!
From Caye Caulker, we were headed on our way to San Ignacio. We needed a ride (and didn’t feel like taking the full day bus)…so we called the guy who drove us from the airport and he kindly offered to drive us (for a small fee) across the country (stopping on the way at Jaguar Paw for cave tubing and zip-lining). It was an adventure. Check out our ride for the day:
We stayed at Martha’s Guesthouse (thanks for the recommendation Uncle Keith) and really liked the colonial style accommodations.
While there isn’t a whole lot to do in San Ignacio itself…it is a great hub for activities in the area. San Ignacio does have a neat little market on Saturdays, an iguana sanctuary, and (of course) some great restaurants (Martha’s, Hanna’s, Cenaida, and a great little Sri Lankan gem). We also were able to hunt down a local night club “Blue Angel” (well we couldn’t really miss it…we could hear the music from our accommodations :))…we had a great time trying to pretend we could move as good as the locals.
From San Ignacio, we did a couple of really amazing trips before heading back to Belize city and home to the snow…
We all had wanted to pop over the border to Guatemala but had read that travel wasn’t recommended. Luckily we were able to find a fantastic Brit who runs Pacz Tours (Bob) – he was amazing and hooked us up with our tour guide Juice (dual Belizean and Guatemalan citizenship) and we had no problem crossing the border. We teamed up with another gal (Jess) from Martha’s and were on our way.
Tikal is well worth the trip. What awe inspiring ruins.
Actun Tinichil Muknal (ATM) Caving
As our last “kick at the can” before heading back to cold Calgary, Shauna and I decided to tackle the ATM cave outside of San Ignacio. You can only do this cave expedition with one of about 20 tour guides who are certified. ATM is a fairly “untouched” look at the Mayan underworld. It’s a 45 min drive from San Ignacio followed by 3 river crossings and 3 hours of cave exploring (at some points swimming) before you come to a short rock climb that brings you to a Mayan sacrificing chamber…it was truly amazing.
What a great girls trip. I think we’re ALL already planning our next one ;).