Belize is small, very small: about the size of Hesse, with only around 450,000 inhabitants. It is also very different: English is spoken as the only country in Central America, the US dollar is accepted as an official means of payment alongside the Belize dollar, and the entire country feels much more as being part of the Caribbean than Central America. So, we are excited!
The Mexican customs when leaving the country are a bit annoying: twice they want to see our quad Shujoo in its entirety including the vehicle identification number and even making photos of the entire quad bike. To do this, the rear lift must be lowered, the tailgate opened, and the quad lowered onto the ramps using the winch. We’ve never experienced an interest like this in our Quad before… and we’ve already visited 50 countries on our trip around the world with corresponding border crossings! So, with Belize we have an anniversary with Shujaa. We notice that Belize is super relaxed not only at immigration and customs (nobody here would even think of checking vehicle identification numbers or even taking photos of the quad), but also in the first km in the country. Compared to loud, hectic Mexico, it is quiet and relaxed. The roads are good, the traffic is light, and the driving style is very defensive.
Our first destination is the town of Orange Walk, from where we explore the Mayan ruins of Lamanai by boat. A great experience: especially the river trip on a wild jungle river is an adventure in itself and the journey across a large lake towards the mossy Mayan ruins in the deepest jungle has something special. The ruins themselves are impressive and, above all, the jungle backdrop (including the midday tropical rain shower) creates a very special ambience.
Belize City is unspectacular, we only briefly stock up on supplies – at very expensive prices – before we continue to southern Belize. Hopkins Beach is primarily home to Garifunas (former West Africans from the Caribbean) and the whole atmosphere here is correspondingly very chilled. We find a great parking space right on the beach which, as a certain “extra,” also has a beautiful sun protection deck (palapa) made of tropical wood and palm leaves. Including a great view of the sea and the palm trees that are abundant here. We stay here for four days in a row (longer than ever before on our North/Central America trip), enjoy the reggae bars and the beautiful beach, take a day trip to Placenica in the south, which is also very chilled out, but a bit busier and more touristy.
Karin always wanted to take a trip to a small, lonely Caribbean Island to go diving, snorkeling and enjoying a bit of Robinson Crusoe lifestyle So, we set off from the nearby harbor town of Daringa on a small boat to Tobacco Caye – only us and a few of the island’s residents are on the boat. What a contrast to our more touristy island excursions in Yucatan! The small coral island – in the Caribbean they are called Cayes – is located on the second largest reef of the world and promises excellent diving and snorkeling experiences. The journey there by small boat over high waves and then through the turquoise water of the reef is spectacular. Then we approach our booked stilt water bungalow from the water side… the excitement keeps growing! The accommodation is simple (no windows) but nicely decorated and clean. In general, the people there are all super nice. We spend the afternoon snorkeling and intensively exploring the 300 meters long and only 100 meters wide island 😉.
Unfortunately, on our way back from a bar at the other end of the island at night, Karin falls over a protruding concrete slab and seriously injures her toe, meaning that the planned diving trip the next day is no longer an option. The storm that arose during the night and the associated background noise caused by the whipping waves in our windowless stilt bungalow did not allow us to sleep and ultimately led to us leaving our paradise the next day with a heavy heart. It’s a shame, we would have liked to spend the three days we planned here, but unfortunately everything doesn’t always go according to plan, and we don’t really enjoy hanging out here in the wind, with a cloudy sky, without any water sports options.
Instead being back on the mainland, we drive to the Maya Mountains of Belize and visit various beautiful waterfalls in the Pine Ridge National Forest. It is a completely different landscape compared to the coastal region. At the end of our eight-day stay in Belize, we visit an iguana breeding station in San Ignacio and look at the ruins of Xuantunich, another impressive Mayan site. Maybe we liked Belize so much because the country is so small and relatively unknown… or it reminds us a lot about our travels through Africa!