We started planning our trip to Belize in the spring of 2021 … you all remember that time, full of hope, right after the COVID vaccines were made available? We were going to travel to Placencia with our good friends Jamie and Karen in October 2021 … and then came the COVID variants. So, we pivoted, decided to travel in the US in 2021 (see I Like Big Buttes (in Sedona) and I Cannot Lie) and delay our trip to Belize until October 2022. And nothing was going to stop us!
Belize is a not an island, but bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the south and west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Less than 500,000 people live in the country. We flew into Belize City from Dallas, and then took a 30 minute puddle jumper to Placencia. The other option is to hire a driver or take a bus from Belize City, and I had visions of the bus ride from the movie Romancing The Stone, so we took the plane. I later heard it is not a bad ride at all, and in fact part of the trip is on a road known as The Hummingbird Highway.
On to Placencia! We were staying at the Caribbean Beach Cabanas (CBC) for the week. Several of our friends have stayed here and loved it – and now we are part of the crew! We were picked up at the airport by Emer and taken to the resort, which is right on the beach. There is a sidewalk behind CBC that runs the length of the beach with easy access to the beach, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops, and other hotels.
We were welcomed by Jasmine and treated to rum punch while we checked in. It was so good and refreshing after our flight! After that we were shown to our rooms and given a tour of the grounds. We had reserved the two front cabanas closest to the ocean – Luna and Sol. I was literally gobsmacked when I saw how close we were to the ocean! The views were amazing!
Before I go on, I want to emphasize how amazing the staff at the CBC were – they bend over backwards to make sure you are enjoying yourself! Lucas, Leo, Emer, Jasmine, and the entire staff made us feel at home from the moment we stepped on to the property. If for no other reason I would go back to CBC just to see these guys!
Our first morning there we decided we would treat ourselves to a good breakfast in the village, even though breakfast is available at the CBC (not only is it delicious, but they bring it to your room). So we set off around 9 am, and we weren’t too far into our walk when Karen and I were both wilting. It didn’t seem that hot temperature-wise, but high humidity and no breeze made it stifling. And when we were almost to the restaurant we were informed by a local that it was closed for renovations! We walked back into the village, a hot and sweaty mess, and had a traditional Belizean breakfast at Strange Brew. Tim and I ended up at Strange Brew later in our trip, for drinks, and met a bunch of American expats living “la vida loca” 😂
The afternoon consisted of pool time and beach time. And this sounds crazy, but it actually felt a lot cooler in the afternoon than the morning! A nice breeze would come in every day around 3:00 PM, maybe a slight sprinkle of rain, and it would really cool things down.
So most of our days were like that – breakfast/lunch at CBC, lanai time, pool time, beach time, and then dinner in the village or on the beach. I brought some makeup and stuff to do my hair, but didn’t use any of it. It was something I could get used to!
We did take a few excursions, so I will start with one I highly recommend – Taste Belize. Our friend Nancy has been to Belize several times, and while we were in Placencia she texted us that Taste Belize was looking for a few more people to join their lunch-time Placencia Village Food Tour. This was a highlight of our trip! Lyra was our guide, and she was wonderful! Her passion for organic and sustainable food, as well as the history of Belize, made this a tour not to miss! We took it towards the end of our trip, and I wished we had taken it the first day.
One of the days we rented a golf cart to scoot around the peninsula. Note to self – next time make sure all of the seats are facing forward. Our golf cart had four seats, but two of them were rear facing. Traffic on the peninsula is light, and consists of golf carts, bicycles, and motorized vehicles. It was a little alarming for me and Karen to see a car or pickup truck come barreling up to our little golf cart! Plus the road has several speed bumps, and if you are riding in the back, there is a chance you could get bumped off if the driver doesn’t take it slow 😜 We ended up having lunch at the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro – can anyone say lobster grilled cheese?
The last excursion we took was quite an adventure. Let me start off by saying we visited Belize in between two hurricanes. Hurricane Julia hit Central America about 10 days before our trip, and dumped about 30 inches of rain on Belize. Something I should have thought of when we booked the Monkey River Tour.
When we booked the Monkey River Tour, we were told it would be a nice excursion on a boat through the Monkey River, with an easy 15-minute walk through the jungle to look for howler monkeys. Lunch was included at a small village on the river. Something fun and unexpected was that all of the guests staying at CBC booked the same excursion, so we were able to meet and commiserate with our fellow lodgers.
The boat itself was pretty small, but the ride to Monkey River was fun – it took us about an hour to reach the small village at the mouth of the Monkey River, where we stopped to stretch our legs, use the facilities, and pick up a local guide. We then glided along the river for several minutes, and saw some howler monkeys and iguanas in the trees.
We beached the boat along the edge of the river, and had to jump off the boat either into the river or into the mud. This should have been my first clue to stay on the boat! The trail was completely muddy and flooded from the rains received from Hurricane Julia. It was worse than an ice rink! I wore the only tennis shoes I brought on the trip, which were also the shoes I would be wearing later in the week on the plane ride home. One of the girls on the excursion wore wedge sandals, and another one wore flip-flops! So I guess I should be thankful that I at least wore tennis shoes.
Due to the muddy and flooded trail, our 15-minute walk turned into over an hour trek through the hot, muggy, and buggy jungle. I couldn’t look up into the trees to see any wildlife because I was trying not to fall! All I could see were the killer ants on the floor of the jungle, just praying that I didn’t fall and get eaten in a swarm.
Well, I ended up falling anyway! Three of us on the trip fell – me, Karen, and another guy – and Karen was almost to the boat when it happened. So not only were we sweaty and buggy, but now muddy, and Karen had turned her ankle. And we had to climb back into this boat!
Lunch in the village was delicious – a traditional Belizean lunch with chicken and rice.
We got back to CBC and our guys Leo and Lucas took care of the whole crew – many drinks were drunk that afternoon! 9/10 WOULD NOT recommend this tour – unless it was completely dry. Jamie actually enjoyed it – he’s weird like that 😂😂
Have I mentioned the staff at CBC? Lucas and Leo were THE BEST! After our tour with Taste Belize, I asked Lucas if he could cut down one of the coconuts from the trees on the resort property so we could have some coconut water (Lyra suggested this, and it was a great suggestion). He not only cut down coconuts for us, he had us taste the coconut water, then made it better by adding coconut rum! And Leo, he offered to do our laundry after the Monkey River excursion 🙂 And I can’t forget Emer – the television in our cabana wasn’t working, and he figured out it was the cable. We saw him digging up the cable in the hot weather just to make sure we could watch football.
But just in general the people of Belize are awesome, kind, and want to make sure you have a great time. Our first night in Belize we went out to dinner at The Tipsy Tuna, which is just a short walk from CBC. Our server was Dani, and she was really good! We ended up coming in the next night as well, and as we walked in she’s shouting “Hi Dora! Hi Karen!”. Such a sweetie!
It was a great week – and you better “Belize” I am planning on going back there 😉