What do you know about Belize?

Today Norm Goldman, editor of sketchandtravel.com and bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as a guest Joshua Berman, co-author of Moon Handbooks Belize. Joshua is an expert in traveling around Belize and recently chose this small Central American country for his own honeymoon; He has also lived and written extensively about Nicaragua and Honduras.

Welcome to Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com Joshua and thank you for accepting our invitation to be interviewed.

RULE:

Tell our readers something about yourself and your experience regarding Belize.

Joshua:

I have been living, working, teaching, and traveling in Central America since the United States Peace Corps sent me to Nicaragua in 1998. Since then I have returned to the region to write guides, lead service trips, and visit adoptive friends and families. Last year I was asked by Avalon Travel Publishing to take over Chicki Mallan’s Moon Handbooks Belize, which, when it first appeared 15 years ago, was the country’s first and most acclaimed tour guide. I gladly agreed and proceeded to research and write the sixth edition, which was published in early 2005.

RULE:

Where is Belize?

Joshua:

Belize is located in the northeast corner of Central America, bordering Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to the north, the Peten Desert in Guatemala to the west, and the Caribbean Ocean to the east. Culturally, however, Belize and its hundreds of cays (islands, pronounced cays) are more Caribbean than Latin. English is spoken everywhere (along with seven other languages). The diversity is staggering, especially considering there are only 260,000 people in the entire country.

RULE:

Would you consider Belize a good option for a romantic getaway or a destination for weddings and honeymoons? Why?

Joshua:

Absolutely. The Belize Tourism Board actively markets the country as a lover’s destination, and there is no shortage of special honeymoon and romantic packages to choose from:

They can rent their own waterfall for the day at Hidden Valley Inn.

Couples can receive Mood Mud massages at Maruba Resort Jungle Spa.

Together you can recall a vertical cave well, at the bottom of which you will find a flower bed next to an underground spring in the Ian Anderson Caves Branch. The list goes on and on.

Belize’s size (smaller than Massachusetts), easy access (just a two-hour flight from Miami or Houston), and a staggering selection of small, intimate resorts and hostels seal the deal. To solidify my endorsement of Belize as a romantic destination, I even took my own girlfriend here for our honeymoon (ah, the work never stops).

RULE:

When is the best time to visit Belize from the point of view of weather, costs, crowds and availability of flights from USA, Canada, Europe and Australia etc.?

Joshua:

Some resorts distinguish the holiday season from the normal peak season, with even higher prices and less availability at Christmas, New Years, and Easter. Be sure to make reservations during these periods. The high season (with respect to more tourists and higher prices) is generally from mid-December to April; This is also the dry season for most years, though December, January, and even February can play to house cold fronts that blow or sit around for days.

The best thing you can do is be prepared, both with clothes and with attitude! A week of stormy weather can ruin a vacation planned solely around snorkeling, but it could also provide the perfect setting for exploring the rainforests or enjoying a hot tub and fireplace at Mountain Pine Ridge.

June, July and August technically fall into the rainy season, and travelers during this time are rewarded with significantly reduced prices on most accommodations, the rain during these months can mean just a quick shower every afternoon, or it can last days. August is the big month for backpackers and European travelers, while December and February are dominated by North Americans. Some tourism businesses closed completely during the months of September and October, the peak of the hurricane season.

RULE:

Could you give our readers an idea of ​​the costs involved if the trip originates from the US, Canada and Europe and Australia?

Joshua:

The conventional wisdom of the traveler says that Belize is the cheapest vacation spot in the Caribbean and one of the most expensive in Central America. There are plenty of mid-range and high-end accommodations across the country, ranging from $ 25 to hundreds of dollars a night. Exact hotel rates are hard to come by in Belize; Seasonal fluctuations are compounded by various taxes and service charges, sometimes up to an additional 25 percent. Always make sure that the fee being quoted is actually the same amount that you will be asked to pay. And of course, great deals abound in the off-season (May through November), when room rates plummet across the board.

When it comes to food, budget-minded travelers can survive on less than $ 20 a day, but you’re on vacation, right? Tickets cost between US $ 5 and US $ 25, depending on where you are; In San Pedro’s trendiest restaurants, an elegant dinner can cost up to US $ 75 per person. Some resorts include meal prices in their nightly rates, which can be a good deal.

Don’t forget to budget an additional $ 40- $ 80 per person per day for activities like scuba diving, sailing trips, and guided tours of Belize’s rainforests, ruins, and fascinating cave systems. Seasoned, independent travelers can get around for less, but transportation can be a hassle.

$ 10 per person per night is the bottom line for budget accommodation, and will provide you with anything from a narrow, stuffy concrete box in most cities to a generous log cabin at Trek Stop (in Cayo). and other hotspots for backpackers.

RULE:

If you had to choose 5 unbeatable places in Belize for a romantic getaway, honeymoon or wedding destination, what would they be and why?

Joshua:

First of all, remember that selecting a place to stay has a lot to do with where you want to be and what activities you would like to do during your stay: beach or rainforest? Diving or hiking? Reef or ruins? Do you want to be pampered with massages or sweat and get muddy with your loved one on a jungle hike? Get an idea of ​​what kind of trip you and your partner are looking for, then dive in and book it. The following are just a few of the luxurious Belize romantic accommodations that stand out in my mind for their quality and intimacy. To learn more about Belize’s extensive budget options, browse a copy of my book, Moon Handbooks Belize.

Starting in elegant Ambergris Caye, just off the coast of Belize’s famous Barrier Reef and three miles north of the town of San Pedro, you’ll find Capricorn Resort, offering intimate beachfront seclusion in one of three bright cabanas. and elegant. Capricorn’s restaurant is one of the best (considered the best by many) on the island.

Situated on 7,200 privately owned acres in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Preserve, Hidden Valley Inn is a tranquil haven for hikers and bird watchers who will have fun exploring the resort’s 90+ miles of walking trails and old forest roads and then snuggle up in front of your cabin fireplace, listening to the birds chirping outside (especially nice during the cool, misty and rainy season). The property encompasses lush broadleaf forest and pine habitat. The two diverse ecosystems are divided by a geological fault, which marks the edge of a towering 1,000-foot cliff. Numerous streams gush from the mountain and then cascade down the steep slopes, often into deep, inviting pools; The Hidden Valley trail system cuts through it all.

On the Placencia Peninsula, Kitty’s Place is one of the best and simplest resorts on this long stretch of beach resorts. Call it “low-key luxury” and check your shoes at the front desk. Be sure to schedule a day or night excursion on Kitty’s private island, French Louis Caye, 12 miles offshore with great snorkeling accommodations and luxury.

Two of the most romantic, beautiful, and expensive options in Belize are Francis Ford Coppola’s handsome pair of resorts: Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge, located on the Placencia Peninsula and Mountain Pine Ridge, respectively, and offering a number of group packages. . Both venues feature impressive architecture and artwork from around the world, and world-class services and facilities.

Located approximately one hour north of Belize City, Maruba Resort Jungle Spa pampers the body and soul, as evidenced by its acclaimed spa treatments and unique focal points dotted throughout the grounds: a small glass-decorated chapel; a palapa-covered stone chess table; two pools that seem to spring from the jungle with waterfalls. The rooms are laid out for privacy and are named Moon, Fertility, and Bondage, to name a few. All feature an eclectic neo-primitive motif, carved masks, mosaic floors, standing candles, cement fountains, tiled bathtubs, screened windows, and fresh flowers on the chunky feather mattresses and in the bathrooms.

RULE:

What should people know about having a wedding in Belize from the point of view of the requirements, the experience of the different hotels, etc.?

Joshua:

Belize is gaining quite a reputation as the perfect place to get married. A growing number of resorts are catering to weddings of all sizes, some quite creatively (such as ceremonies underwater or on top of Mayan pyramids). If you run away, you must be in Belize three business days before submitting your marriage application to the Registrar General’s Office (tel. 501 / 227-7377, not open on weekends or local holidays). You will receive the paperwork the next business day for your ceremony. If you have been divorced or widowed, bring a photocopy of the death certificate or divorce decree. The Government of Belize charges US $ 100 for the license and you will need a birth certificate or passport.

RULE:

How far in advance should a couple prepare for their honeymoon, romantic getaway, or wedding in Belize?

Joshua:

Honeymoons and getaways are easy and don’t need a lot of advance booking time, except during vacations and in popular resorts. If you are planning a peak season wedding that will require numerous guest rooms, book a year in advance if possible. Otherwise, a few months are usually sufficient.

RULE:

What resources are available on the Internet related to weddings and honeymoon vacations in Belize?

Joshua:

Various wedding specialists can facilitate procedures, ministers, flowers, book hotels, celebrations, etc. including Katie Valk for any part of the country, Iraida Gonzales in San Pedro and Lee Nyhus in Placencia.

RULE:

Is there anything else you want to tell our readers that we haven’t covered?

Joshua:

Yes, keep an eye on my WEBSITE for new links and developments related to romance in Belize and beyond; I have the most popular forums and news from Belize posted on my links page. Additionally, MY EDITOR’S SITE will soon feature sample itineraries and other excerpts from my book, to make planning your trip to Belize even easier. Lastly, remember the words of Kurt Vonnegut’s prophet, Bokon: Quirky travel tips are dance lessons from God.

Happy trails, everyone, Joshua

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