Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tips When Visiting Belize...

Most vacationers who are looking at Belize as their destination, and have never been before, struggle a bit with deciding about the many locations and activities available in this small country. They also are sometimes put off by the warnings about the roads and driving that still are prevalent in much of the (now outdated) guide books and online forums. The highways, although not of the four lane divided variety, are mostly well paved and easy to navigate. Highway directional signs are much improved. A four wheel drive vehicle is really only needed by those doing more adventurous back road destinations.

Try to figure out broadly what you might want to do as a group or family during your stay. Is this a mostly "kick back and relax" visit? Or will you be doing a bunch of tours and excursions? It's not critical that you decide before you come, but it does make it somewhat easier to decide your location and plan your strategy. 

Many of us tend to think and plan their vacation in a week long chunk. And that may well be all that is available. For those with some flexibility in their plans, we have clearly seen that a stay of 8 to 14 days allows for much more leeway in planning for and enjoying all that is available. A seven day visit, with two days of airline travel, really means only five days to "vacation." So if you can, try to stretch it a bit... make those airline tickets really count!

When you are deciding whether to rent a car, you should think through your plans. Tour companies will transport you to the tour sites. This cost, of course, is reflected in the per person fee. If you transport your group via your rental vehicle (ie. to the cave tubing site or Mayan ruins) you will save a fairly significant amount... and not be a part of a larger group. Many Maine Stay guests rent a vehicle on arrival in Belize and drive to Placencia. Also, having the vehicle gives you greater flexibility and allows for much more spontaneous activity. And, by the way, driving is on the right hand side (as in the US) and all that is needed to rent is a valid US or Canadian driver license and passport. An International Driver License is not necessary.

This brings us to your "vacation location." Will it be the mountains of the Cayo District, the night life of San Pedro, the wildlife of northwestern Belize, or the beach and reef delights of the coast? If beach and ocean activities are a significant part of your group plans, then finding a happy medium to coordinate seaside and inland excursions is an important issue. The Placencia Peninsula offers a great location as well as excellent roads. The nearby Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve is a great example of a wonderful day trip the group can do on its' own... or on up the Hummingbird Highway to Caves Branch for tubing and zip-lining, or to the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich and Cahal Pech.  

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