30 Jan 2018

In Search of the Winter Sun in Belize

With the February half-term holidays looming and Manchester still firmly in the grip of winter, can you blame me for dreaming of a luxury holiday in the winter sun? It would be marvellous to pack my bags and jet off to somewhere warm for some much needed rest and recreation. The sunny beaches of the Caribbean look particularly inviting at this time of year. Beautiful Belize, with its rich cultural heritage, abundant variety of flora and fauna and alluring azure waters would make the ideal getaway.

Beautiful Belize, with its rich cultural heritage, abundant variety of flora and fauna and alluring azure waters is the perfect winter getaway whether you are looking to relax or are seeking adventure.

I can picture myself putting up in one of several gorgeous Belize beach rentals with the sun shining on my face as I lounge by the pool or venture further afield in search of adventure. 

With so much on offer, it is difficult to narrow down on my dream itinerary for Belize. But I will try. Here are some of the things I would absolutely not want to miss on a holiday in Belize.

Pristine Beaches

If you go seeking the winter sun, relaxing on pristine sandy beaches while gazing out over the crystal clear turquoise blue waters of the ocean have to be top of the priority list. There is no dearth of spectacular beaches in Belize, white and golden, thanks to a magnificent coastline hugging the Caribbean Sea and more than 200 of-shore islands. The Placencia Peninsula houses the longest stretch of beach in mainland Belize, stretching over three villages. The quieter northern areas around Seine Bight contrast the tourist hubbub in the south, with its restaurants, cafes and bars.

Belize Barrier Reef

No trip to Belize would be complete without exploring the spectacular Belize Barrier Reef. It is the world’s second largest coral reef system and home to an astounding variety of marine life. Choose to snorkel or scuba dive. If you are feeling more adventurous, go further afield on a whale shark encounter or the Belize Blue Hole dive.

Nature and Wildlife at the National Parks

If adventure with land beneath your feet is more your thing, there are plenty of protected National Parks and Nature Reserves in Belize where you can enjoy the great outdoors. The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is home to the Hidden Valley Falls. With a drop of 1500 feet, these are considered amongst the best waterfalls in the world. Just make sure you are well prepared when you set out on a family ramble.

Food and Drink

Trying out traditional local cuisine is a fantastic way to get a feel for any new place. Johnny cakes for breakfast followed by Ceviche, Belize rice and beans with potato salad and a Belize rum-soaked fruit cake sounds like my idea of food heaven. And I couldn’t refuse a drop of cashew wine or rum on holiday, could I?

Ancient Mayan Ruins

No visit to a place will be complete without a walk through its historical past. The Maya Civilisation was thriving in most of Central America including Belize before the Spanish and British invasions. The majestic Mayan sites at Xunantunich, Lamanai and Altun Ha are but three of the many around the country. All three boast spectacular scenery and rich wildlife in addition to the ruins hence make my shortlist of sites I would like to visit.

This is a wish-list of things I would like to see and do if ever I get the chance to go on holiday to Belize.

And here is some essential information to know before you go to Belize.

  • The high season to visit is from December to April. This is the ‘dry’ season, when idyllic temperatures of around 25 C and a low risk of rain make it just right to seek that elusive winter sun.
  • There are no direct flights from the UK to Belize. Most will involve transiting in the United States. Most British passport holders can get an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) through the Visa Waiver Programme, which allows travel to the US for up to 90 days (exceptions apply – check www.gov.uk for further information)
  • If you travel from the US to the Caribbean you can usually re-enter using the ESTA and admission stamp you were issued when you first arrived in the US, although the time you spend outside of the country is included in the 90 days allotted for your visit. Make sure you’re clear about the length of time the immigration officer has authorised you to remain in the US if you re-enter under the same ESTA.
  • British passport holders do not require a separate Belize visa to enter the country.
  • Belize dollars is the official currency of Belize. £1 will get you about 2.8 Belize dollars at current conversion rates. Most credit cards are accepted in the country.
  • Belize law requires all travellers to declare funds on entry to the country. Make sure to fill out the disembarkation card correctly to avoid hefty fines.
  • Up-to-date vaccinations are recommended before travelling to Belize. Tetanus boosters, rabies and typhoid are additional vaccines to consider. Strict mosquito bite avoidance is strongly advocated for all travellers. Check www.Fitfortravel.nhs.uk for more information.
  • Don’t forget your travel insurance as medical facilities in Belize are limited and serious cases are evacuated to the US for management.
  • Cars are driven on the right-hand side of the road in Belize. Something to remember if you are thinking of renting a car.

Have you been to Belize? Would you like to visit this culturally diverse and fascinating tropical country? What would you like to see and do when you visit?

*Collaborative post

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