Belize, the only Central American country with English as the official language, has the longest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere and the world’s largest population of jaguars living in the wild.
The approach via Miami no longer bothers me; I arrive late in the afternoon, take a fixed price yellow cab for $ 35 and go to an Art Deco quarter on South Miami Beach. The hotels are expensive, at least in the first two rows along the beach. The further west and closer to the city center you go, the better your chances are for finding a room at the American standard rate (which is still excessive, especially for the lower quality). On international flights via Miami to Belize, you always have to stay a night before continuing your journey the next morning. Travel time from Miami to Belize City is 1h 45min – do not forget to apply for an ESTA to enter the US, but beware of forged ESTA websites! ESTA VIAS ANTRAG In Belize you get a residence permit for 30 days, which you can easily and repeatedly get extended in Belmopan (you can’t avoid the long waiting times though).
Happy landing in Belize City, 6 September 2016
Since I’d been to this country a few times already, I had booked myself a rental car in advance. The classic 4×4 Suzuki Samurai is good enough, and the cheapest option as well. JABIRU AUTO RENTAL Belize can also easily be explored by bus, which is still by far the cheapest mode of travel in the country. Of course, buses are always overcrowded and grotty, but they get you absolutely anywhere along the highway, as well as to small towns and villages. For those who want to go into the deep south or along off roads, a rental car is a necessity.
What to do in Belize?
Amongst other things, Belize is rather Americanised, overpriced, and lacking in decent education and the corresponding awareness about protecting nature. The cost-performance ratio is over the top, and apart from tourism, the country has no mentionable income. The locals are easy going and the crime rate is low (apart from Belize City). Belize also hosts the second longest canoe race in the world, a fabulous four-day event which draws local and international contestants and visitors. CANOE RACE BELIZE
The country’s problems are offset by its wonderful nature, its Mayan ruins and the local inhabitants living a life according to their own cultural values, in particular, the indigenous populations. But Belize offers a variety of diverse things. On one side it is quiet in Belize, lots to discover by yourself in the silence of the jungle but some need a bit more action and for those people, I can recommend Caye Caulker and San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Defiantly not my style but he… Ambergriscaye At Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker you find the night owls but for me I prefer to listen to the howler monkeys in there natural habitat.
Belize is an ornithologists dream come true; bird life here is magnificent and the viewing spaces are easy to reach.
It is also said that most of Belize’s Mayan ruins haven’t even been discovered yet. Personally, I find the smaller ruins in the far south of the country quieter and just as spectacular as the well know once in central Belize like Xunantunich or Lamanai.
Belize is most interesting for nature lovers, photographers, divers and people interested in archaeology; a comparatively unknown country with great freedom in regards to exploring it.
Next, to the Mayan excavation sites like XUNANTUNICH MAYA EXCAVATIONS the different regions offer countless places for watching wildlife. As mentioned, Belize has the world’s largest population of jaguars living in the wild, and there is much other feline and wildlife slinking through its mountains and jungles.
As mentioned, Belize is the only Central American state with English as its official language. It became independent in 1981. About a third of its population has African ancestors and its culture is strongly influenced by the Mayans.
There are about 330 000 people living in Belize, and with 14 inhabitants per square kilometer on average, the country is very thinly populated. It has many ethnicities: the Mestizos make up about 45% of the population, the Creoles 30%, the Native Indians (Mayans) about 10%, and about 5% are the black Caribbean, also called Garifuna.
The following link will connect you to the Sea Horse Dive Shop, which is important for everyone coming to dive for whale sharks in Belize. BELIZE SCUBA Many of the snorkeling and diving areas can be reached from the off coast islands by short boat rides. But if you’ve come exclusively to dive, I recommend you look for accommodation on one of the islands farthest from the coast like GLOVERS ATOLL or TURNEFFE RESORT and organize your diving trips from there. I was lucky enough to have seen whale sharks on many of my dives. Naturally, I had chosen the best possible time and place, but as we all know, whale sharks aren’t enthusiastic about us. Sometimes you’re just lucky enough, as in this short video of a whale shark encounter. Gladden Spit is a must for everyone wanting to see whale sharks, and the Blue Hole is, of course, the “dive to do“. The best thing about my own dive down the Blue Hole was the drop off – that transition from the beautiful sandy ocean floor into the deep Blue Hole. To let yourself sink head-first over that edge is a special feeling: weightless silence reigns as you drift by groupers and different species of shark. Beware of nurse sharks, though, they positively invite playful interaction but shouldn’t be underestimated.
Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to see numerous whale sharks on my dives between 35 and 40 m. Once, when diving on another occasion, an approximately 10 m long whale shark swam close to the surface … and I was so excited I just leaped off into the water to swim near it.
What remains from such a close encounter is the impression of indescribable grace, a feeling of respect and deep thankfulness. Every encounter with a whale shark was overwhelming, they are majestic and breathtaking in every sense of the word. It was an absolute privilege to meet those wonderful, graceful and peaceful creatures. It put things into perspective and let one’s own size and importance shrink into the nano-sphere again.
And then there’s bioluminescence!
Bioluminescence is massively impressive, a colorful spectacle production and emission of light by a living organism. You can see this natural phenomenon during the new moon, ideally between the months of December and April. BIOLUMINESZENZ There is a lagoon close to Sitte River where you can experience this grandiose play of colors. There are no tour operators offering visits to it, but if you ask around Hopkins, sooner or later you will hear of Live, whose most current contact number is +501 66 48 548. He will drive you down Sitte River, show you the crocodiles and safely ship you through a narrow shallow channel into the lagoon, where you can watch the bioluminescence.
Before the blog continues I like to write about a personal matter: The issue ‘drinking water’ became more than a personal request and a huge matter for me. Why? Because I got sick and tired of buying and throwing away, plastic bottles. Here is what I do to avoid that. The revolutionary drinking water system
Further Belize favorites of mine:
- Cockscomb / National Park and first jaguar sanctuary in the world
- Mayflower Bocawina National Park
- Mountain Pine Ridge
- Sitte River / old sugar mill
- Blue Hole / for swimming, situated along the first third of Hummingbird Highway
- Blue Hole / for diving, more beautiful from the air than in 40 m depth
- Glovers Atoll, Turneffe Island, Snaky Cay and Tobacco Cay/ for diving
- Xunantonich (Kay Witz) /easy to reach Mayan excavation
Investing in Belize – For/Pros::
If you’re toying with the thought of buying a second home in Belize for whatever reason, be it to invest or to spend a few weeks or months a year there yourselves, or to rent out the jungle or beach house, I can recommend the Eco-Community: ECO COMMUNITY BETTER IN BELIZE
Why? Belize is about 20 years behind the Western world in most regards, which makes many things very trying but also creates an excellent space for alternative lifestyles. I bought some land myself in this Eco Community in 2011 and can pass on much information on that subject. Belize isn’t just the only Central American state with English as its official language, but also the only one where you get an entry in an extract from the land register. Even though Belize isn’t cheap, the clocks run more slowly there, hence everything happens in a more relaxed way. “You better Belize it !”
Against/Cons: Belize has been in recession since 2006 (unofficially) and has no noteworthy income apart from tourism. It borrows money from other countries, and the uncertainty of ever being able to pay it back is higher than all the zeroes in the borrowed amount. For Americans, Belize is still cheap, for Europeans, the cost-performance is completely out of whack, so the people of Belize can do nothing but hold out their hands, into which the state puts money. The country is Americanised, integration processes and general principles are deeply rooted by the USA over the past years so the future will show if the Belizean will adapt or if the ale to hold on to the roots of there own culture. Once more: Belize offers exciting alternatives and a lot of freedom for individualists. It’s a cool place to discover an to hang out!
Belize, September 2016