Experience laid-back island life and explore the Belize Barrier Reef from Ambergris Caye

Photo courtesy of Belize Tourism Board

San Pedro, the bustling tourist town on Ambergris Caye—the largest and most visited island in Belize—is said to be the inspiration for Madonna’s 1986 hit, “La Isla Bonita.” In the song, she sings of tropical island breezes, sunsets, siestas and falling in love with “the beautiful island.” Indeed, somewhere between that first kiss of humid air as you step off the water taxi from Belize City and the bliss of an afternoon snooze in a hammock, you’ll become enamoured with Ambergris Caye’s many charms. Snorkel in turquoise Caribbean water, drive a golf cart to a secluded beach, explore mangroves that trill with birdlife and consume your fill of Belizean treats.

Day 1

Morning

Head out to the Belize Barrier Reef with Suya Tours on a snorkel trip. You’ll anchor at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, just south of San Pedro, where an amazing diversity of fish—from tiny electric-blue damselfish to graceful moray—glide through a deep cut between vibrant coral walls. Then, motor over to Shark Ray Alley and prove your derring-do by snorkelling among the many nurse sharks and eagle rays that gather here.

Afternoon

Explore San Pedro, where the streets are lined with a mix of coffee shops, restaurants, bars and boutiques that cater to a tourist’s every need. Pop in to DandE’s for a homemade frozen custard cone in island flavours such as coconut or soursop, which is a tropical fruit that tastes a lot like Starburst candies.

Evening

Dine on the beach at Caliente Restaurant, part of the Spindrift Hotel, where the menu mixes Mexican and Caribbean flavours. Snack on addictive coconut shrimp served with a citrus sauce, and then dig in to tender Jalisco chicken, which is marinated in tequila, spiced with chili chipotle and served with fried plantains.

Day 2

Morning

Visit Celi’s Deli to load up on hot-from-the-oven johnnycakes—cornmeal flatbread patties that are a Belizean breakfast staple. Later, walk to Carts Belize to rent a golf cart for the day (reserve in advance during busy periods such as Christmas or Easter). Your destination: Secret Beach, a gorgeous stretch of calm, shallow water that shimmers aquamarine over white sand. It’s located on the sheltered west side of the island, over the bridge that separates San Pedro from the lesser-developed north side. Drive north along the main road until you come to the Secret Beach billboard. Turn left onto the bumpy dirt track and follow the signs.

Photo by Kim Karpeles/Alamy

Afternoon

After you’ve cooled off in the Secret Beach “infinity pool”—from the sea, it’s almost impossible to tell where the water ends and the sky begins—point the cart back toward town. Not far from the bridge, pull in at The Truck Stop. This colorful collection of food trucks, anchored by an open-air bar, forms a lively, alfresco food court serving up everything from Asian noodle soup to arepas, which are South American corn-bread pocket sandwiches stuffed with meat.

Evening

Back in San Pedro, enjoy a Belikin beer or soft drink from the comfort of an inner tube while bobbing gently in the sea below Palapa Bar and Grill. If you can tear yourself away from the novelty of crushing cold ones while afloat in the Caribbean, dry off and feast on fish tacos and conch fritters on the restaurant’s spacious patio.

Day 3

Morning

Get your sea legs on a full-day boat tour to Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve with Seaduced by Belize. This park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located at the northern tip of Ambergris Caye and boasts a diverse geography of sinkholes and cenotes, lagoons and mangrove forests and, to the east, Rocky Point, where the Belize Barrier Reef touches the shore. At the visitor center, learn about the area’s historical importance as a Mayan trading area before hiking along a nature trail to look for tropical birds, termite mounds and crocodiles.

Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, photo by Tony Rath

Afternoon

After your hike, the tour heads east to the beach and reef, where you’ll dine on a filling barbecue lunch of chicken, roast potatoes, pasta salad and brownies, followed by opportunities to snorkel with sea turtles and the chance to walk upon a fossilized reef at Rocky Point.

Evening

You can’t leave San Pedro without a supper of barbecue or jerk chicken with a side of coleslaw, coconut rice and beans (a traditional Belizean dish). The very popular Robin’s Kitchen, little more than a shack on Coconut Drive just south of town, has perfected this simple but delicious dish. Robin’s doesn’t serve drinks, so be sure and bring your own to toast this sublime taste of barbecue heaven.

“Good Morning! Beautiful Belize coastal waters, where Central America meets the Caribbean Sea,” stated NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams in this ultimate shoutout to Belize from outer space. He included six pictures of Belize on his Facebook post from his spaceship on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Jeff commented that spotting coral reefs is a fun past time of his.

“Fantastic Belize barrier reefs, find your favorite region,” he continued stating on one of this images. No doubt about it, he has the BEST views for spotting coral reefs; no one can beat that. Jeff also posted a great video that shows the entire Belizean coastline as he passed above the region.

Wouldn’t you love to have his views too!?

A press release from the Ministry of Health this morning, Thursday, May 5, 2016, indicates that although new and compelling factors may indicate the presence of Zika in Belize, the Ministry is still NOT able to declare that there is a first local transmission case of Zika in Belize.

This week the Ministry received results from Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on an initial case that was of significant interest in the ongoing investigation to determine the existence of indigenous transmission of the Zika virus in Belize. The sample from that case came back with a negative result for Zika.

As a result of the investigation and heightened surveillance, Belize sent an additional seven (7) samples for testing during the weeks following April 12th, 2016. The results for six of the seven additional samples were all negative for Zika. The samples from this subsequent batch also tested negative for Dengue and Chikungunya. The Ministry will ensure that any pending result that is of interest to the public as it relates to Zika will be reported forthwith.

The Ministry of Health is still not able to confirm the presence of Zika in Belize but we remain vigilant as we continue to thoroughly investigate any potential case. The Ministry also take this opportunity to once again ask the community to take measures to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and McNab Publishing Ltd., hosted a mixer on April 25, 2016 at Belize Biltmore Plaza to unveil the NEW Destination Belize magazine theme and the winners of the ‘Capture the Cover’ photo competition. The business community, members of the BTIA and other key stakeholders and industry partners gathered as representatives from BTIA, BTB and McNab Publishing Ltd. uncovered the signature publications’ rebranding strategy, industry updates and developments for the upcoming Destination Belize publication.

As President of the BTIA, Mr. Osmany Salas opened the event by welcoming all in attendance and highlighting the future of the NEW and improved Destination Belize signature publication. The Belize Tourism Board’s Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, Ms. Karen Pike shared insight on the growth and importance of the tourism industry and the great significance of marketing Belize using the best marketing platforms.

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme

Ms. Tanya McNab, Creative Director at McNab Publishing Ltd. accentuated the key objective of the publication’s new digital marketing tools: “From its eBook versions, to the use of QR codes and the introduction of the country’s new Travel App the new Destination Belize offers a package that will suit the needs of travelers, distributors and the needs of the ever-changing technology landscape. The relationship between travel and technology has become closer than ever as consumers rely more on smart devices when travelling. As statistics show Travel-related apps rank as the 7th most downloaded type of apps, with 6 out of 10 mobile users downloading travel apps relating to the country they are visiting. Digitally marketing is no longer an optional add-on, it is an absolute must and the new Destination Belize is no longer just a print publication.”

An online campaign to include local artists in the creative process for the creation of the NEW Destination Belize magazine, a ‘Capture the Cover’ Photo Competition was launched earlier this month. Eight photographers were acknowledged and recognized for the following categories:

  • In the Sea Category: Juan Carlo Menzies
  • In the Sea Category: Wesley Witt
  • On the Land Category: Monica Gallardo
  • On the Land Category: Scott Houston
  • Heritage Category: Melvin Diego Jr.
  • Wildlife Category: Hannah Montero
  • Wellbeing Category: Cynthia Giovagnoli
  • Publics Choice: Scott and Jody Harnish

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme

On the Land Category: Monica Gallardo

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme

In the Sea Category: Juan Carlo Menzies

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme

Heritage Category: Melvin Diego Jr.

To conclude the event, the unveiling of the theme for the new Destination Belize followed and was presented by Mr. Osmany Salas, Ms. Karen Pike, and Ms. Tanya McNab as Mr. John M. Burgos, Executive Director of BTIA described the new theme:

“Belize is a destination full of quaint and thrilling experiences. From its lush jungles, pristine beaches, large cave systems and rich diverse cultures; travelers are always left wanting more. Travelers are naturally eager to see, have a thirst and desire to learn more and gain more from their worldwide travel experiences. Whether you call it wanderlust, a love of travel or regular old curiosity, ones interest and quest for adventure can be met in Belize. Belize offers authentic and wonderful adventures leaving travelers in awe as expectations are exceeded…give all, the trip of a lifetime. In essence, the new Destination Belize theme speaks directly to you our audience and the world!”
 

“Travel Curious…this journey will change you”

The BTIA, BTB and McNab Publishing extend their appreciation and gratitude to all stakeholders who support and continue to contribute to this exciting NEW and improved signature publication of Belize.

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme

Destination Belize Reveals New Magazine Theme