VACATION GUIDE TO RELAXING & UNWINDING IN BELIZE: GO SLOW
Unwind & Relax ...
Although Belize is primarily known as an adventure destination, it also sets the perfect backdrop to unwind and relax. In our fast-paced and high-information society setting aside some free time to do nothing is very healthy for your mind, body and emotional life. There’s a local joke in Belize that if someone says “right now”, it really means “sometime during the day, if you’re lucky!” This loose concept of time should give you an idea of the laid-back atmosphere you will find here. Wake up to the sounds of birds chirping or waves crashing on the beach, instead of a screeching alarm clock. In fact, you will probably have little use for a watch during your vacation. Furthermore, the country’s natural settings create a soothing atmosphere to relax. There’s something about looking out into the vastness of the sea that makes one’s daily problems seem so insignificant. The sound of water (whether its waves, a river or waterfall) also puts one at ease. Grab a good book and just let the hours slip away lounging under a shady coconut tree. Indulge in various body treatments at your resort spa or order a cold drink from the bar. Whether you want to relax for your entire vacation or just take a break between your adventure tours, Belize offers many ways to do nothing at all.
Some destinations have charming towns which are particularly known for their laid-back atmospheres. Of the islands, Caye Caulker stands out for its relaxing ambiance. A sign on Front Street reads “Go Slow”, despite only a meandering flow of bicycles and pedestrians. Stroll over to The Split for a cool swim, a cold beer or to take in the sunset. Quaint restaurants can be found along Front Street and the shoreline. After dark, enjoy some music at relaxed bars like I&I where you will find swings instead of bar stools. San Pedro Town, on Ambergris Caye, is Belize’s most popular destination for good reason. It offers a wide array of dining options and arguably the best nightlife in the country. Take in some live music at Fido’s, named “best bar in the Caribbean” by Caribbean Travel & Leisure magazine or choose from an array of gourmet restaurants. On the coast, Placencia has its own blend of nature and people to make one unwind. To start of with, it has some of the country’s nicest beaches which stretch for 16 miles down this peninsula. Hammocks seem to be ubiquitous here, often found slung between coconut trees on the beach. The sunsets over the Placencia Lagoon are spectacular as the sun melts behind the Maya Mountains to the west.
Remote jungle resorts and private islands immerse you in a natural backdrop far removed from the stress of your daily routine. Heading into the jungle, Mountain Pine Ridge and the surrounding forests create a backdrop of green in which to immerse yourself. The silence of the pre-dawn is broken by the songs of birds while the terrain of rivers, mountains and valleys create beautiful vistas. Enjoy a good book or indulge yourself with a spa treatment. In Orange Walk wildlife abounds. Lamanai Outpost Lodge is nestled along the New River Lagoon, where the flat water reflects the sky making for spectacular sunsets. It’s not unusual to see a toucan or a group of howler monkeys outside your room balcony. Chan Chich Lodge lays nestled in the central plaza of unexcavated Maya ruins. Birds abound in the trees throughout the property where you might also see a wild deer or turkey. Off the coast of Belize City is Caye Chapel is a luxurious private island with sprawling villas and views of the Caribbean all around. Behind Ambergris Caye is another private island, the ultra-exclusive Cayo Espanto, where you will receive immaculate privacy and service, which even includes your own butler.
Where to Go
The country in itself is an escape from the routine of daily life, a place where you can kickback and simply enjoy the natural surroundings. Below is a brief description of the laid-back atmospheres in these different destinations that should help you in choosing where to go.
Ambergris Caye: The island motto “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” says it all. It’s the country’s most popular destination characterized by a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. San Pedro Town has grown a lot over the years, but there are many quaint bars to kick back and relax. However, the resorts that stretch along the shoreline north and south of town offer more seclusion and privacy; some have nice stretches of beach as well. The exclusive private island, Cayo Espanto, offers the ultimate in privacy and service.
Caye Caulker: A sign on Front Street that reads “Go Slow” sums up the laid-back atmosphere of this island. Bicycles and pedestrians meander along this main street, which parallels the shoreline. The island and village are small, with sandy streets and plenty of quaint bars to kick-back. The Split, a channel that divides the island in 2, is a favorite hang-out spot for travelers and locals. Nobody seems to be in a rush here, so this is the place to go if you are looking for a very low-key and relaxed atmosphere.
Placencia: The motto here is “Barefoot Perfect”, a place where you can really kick your shoes off and relax. Placencia Village is on the tip on this peninsula, with laid-back locals and quaint bars. It features 16 miles of beaches, some of the nicest in the country. Most of the resorts are lined along the beaches north of the village offering more seclusion and privacy. Hammocks seem to be the preferred means of lounging back here. Randevous Caye (managed by Robert’s Grove) is a small private island resort for those looking for true escape.
Belize City:Off the coast of Belize City is Caye Chapel Island Resort, a private island with an acclaimed 18-hole golf course. It exudes luxury with sprawling villas lined along its beach and a massive clubhouse. The service is on par with its luxurious surroundings. Lounge by the pool with a cool cocktail, enjoy a spa treatment, lounge on the beach and indulge in gourmet dining. All surrounded by views of the Caribbean.
San Ignacio: There is no shortage of activities in this area, from Maya ruins to caves. However, the beautiful terrain sets a soothing natural environment with rivers, waterfalls, mountains, valleys and endless green. It’s a good idea to free up 1 or 2 days during your stay just to relax and take in the fresh air. Most of the resorts are nestled in the jungle, offering seclusion and privacy where you can enjoy the natural surroundings and relax. Wake up to the sounds of birds, listen to the flow of the river or treat yourself to a day at the spa.
Orange Walk: Heading deep into the Orange Walk district, into the jungles of the west, is a destination primarily known for its diversity and abundance of wildlife. However, taking 1 or 2 days to enjoy the natural surroundings and relax is a good idea as well. At Lamanai Outpost, you can read a book by the New River Lagoon or take in a spectacular sunset, where the calm waters mirror the sky. At Chan Chich, a resort nestled in the central plaza of some unexcavated ruins, you can lounge on your balcony as birds chirp on the trees and the mystery of the Maya envelopes you.
Dangriga: This area is primarily known as an adventure destination, where you can fill your days with land and sea tours. However, most of the resorts are nestled along the beach south of Hopkins Village, offering seclusion and privacy. After a morning of hiking or diving, you can take a stroll on the beach or relax in a hammock under a shady coconut tree. Relax by the pool with a good book, order a drink from the bar or treat yourself to a soothing massage.