Tag Archives: Belize



I’ve never flown from town to town in Belize because I have always had the time and the inclination to take the bus and make the bus part of my adventure. Times have changed, however, and the next time we visit Placencia it will be by one of the two in-house airlines, Tropic Air and Maya Island Air.

Both flights take approx. 45 minutes and cost approx. 95 usd per adult, return.

Tropic Air takes off first from the International Airport at 7.50 a.m. Maya Island leaves shortly afterwards at 8.10. Tropic Air’s last flight out is 16.30. Mayan Island’s is 17.00

Have your host arrange for a pick up at the Placencia Airport. It will be an additional charge so make sure you know what it is before signing on.

The sun will be getting ready to set by the time you arrive in Placencia Village if you take the last flight out of the International.

There are two alternatives. One, rent a car and drive from the International to Placencia on the Western Hgwy to Belmopan, the capital of Belize. Take the Hummingbird Hgwy to Dangriga but turn off before Dangriga to the Southern Hgwy. Watch for signage taking you off the Southern Hgwy to Placencia, then down the Peninsula to the Village where you will have to stop to avoid driving into the Sea. What with travelling on new roads in a foreign country, I would guess at 4 hours +.

I have never rented a car in Belize and likely never will. Check out car rentals in Belize.

The other alternative is travel by bus. I used to take a taxi from the Airport to Belize Citdy, stay a day or two in my favourite hotel, the Hotel Mopan on Regent Street, and take an early morning bus to Dangriga where I got on a bus to Placencia, probably about 4 hours if the connections were good.

Can’t do that no mo. Hotel Mopan closed its doors and I don’t want to stay in Belize City till the cops take the City back from the robbers.

See my blog at briansbelize.com for the Travel Advisory that I posted 2013/01/10. You could stay at one of the hotels identified there, north of the City and ask your host where to catch the bus to Belmopan. I’ve never done it that way and I’m getting too old to try.

If you are on a 7-10 visit or even 2-3 weeks, check out the airlines.




Apart from swimming and tanning and eating and drinking and shopping and walking around and exploring the Village,  you can sign up for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing  or sailing. You can day-trip to Monkey River Village, a throwback to earlier times where you can tour the village, meet some of the locals, take a hike into the rain forest where you may encounter scat-throwing howler monkeys, or boat up the Monkey River for a refreshing swim once the crocs have been scared away.

We’ve snorkeled off Laughing Bird Caye, part sanctuary, part off-shore snorkeling. The boat trip to this Caye was fun and the lunch al fresco tasty, but the snorkeling was a disappointment because we had a lousy snorkel guide. You can’t do much about that except lodge a complaint when you get back to the Village. We’ve boated over to Independence, a small community on the mainland with a twin-town called Mango Creek. Many of the workers in the Village come from these twin-towns.

We went bird-watching to observe scarlet macaws in their natural habitat. After crossing the lagoon to Independence/Mango Creek, we squeezed into a van that took us inland to Red Bank, a small Mayan village. From there we hiked for about an hour along a river bank to a clearing from which vantage point we were supposed to see the scarlet macaws but we got there too late and there wasn’t a macaw to be seen! Too bad, but all was not lost. Our guides had brought along rubber inner-tubes and we tubed back down the river with the current, meeting the challenges of three rapids. Somewhat scary at times but exhilarating at same time. It was a trip that was deposited in the memory bank.

Picnic lunch on a deserted island? Wind surfing? Crewing on a catamaran? Check out the Tour shops in the Village and take your pick.

Placencia is a dreamy little Village and your spot on the shores of the Caribbean can be dreamy, too. Sun, sand and sea…a cold beer under a thatch roof…languid conversations…watching the moon glow in a clear night sky…watching the sun rise in a golden burst inthe early morning…go ahead, make your day…in Placencia.


Check out my Travel Advisory below issued early in this year.

Today,  August 19, 2013, I am changing my advisory to a Travel Caution.

We traveled through Belize City in March of this year (2013) and saw many signs of change for the better, especially regarding improvements in the infrastructure of the city’s core.

The vibe was better and the taxi drivers we talked to said that crime was down, except for gang on gang related crime.

So, it is still a city to be careful in. Don’t go out on your own at night. Definitely do not wander the streets after dark.. You don’t know the good areas from the bad so don’t take a chance. It’s no different from any city in the world.

Talk to your host about where you can enjoy yourselves and where you should stay away from.

You can enjoy Belize City for what it offers culturally and historically, just use your common sense. (See my blog on Belize City as a transition destination.)

Travel Advisory early 2013

Alarming News out of Belize City! The New Year has not begun well for Belizeans and visitors to Belize City. Gang warfare has plagued the City for years but recently erupted in violence with as many as 12 murders of rival gang members.

For that reason I cannot recommend visiting Belize City until law and order again prevails as it has before.

If you must travel to Belize City and are constrained by your shedule to stay overnight, I am idenifying (not recommending because I have never stayed there) the following mid-range hotels whose names were provided by a very knowledgeable former hotel-owner in Belize City:

D’Nest Inn in Belama, a quiet residential area 3 miles out of the City and 7 miles from the International Airport. 82-92 usd double occupancy.

Easy Inn on the Northern Hgwy, a few miles out of the City and 6-7 miles from the Airport. 65-75 usd.

Bakadeer Inn, in the City but not too close to the downtown near the Belize Museum.

Conningsby Inn, in the City, a well-established 12 room hotel in a relatively secure neighbourhood by the water front.

All these establishments can b googled. For higher end hotels, check out Best Western Biltmore between the Airport and the City, the Princess Hotel in the centre of the City and the Radisson Hotel by the water front.



Second In-Land Adventure – Orange Walk Town, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT

ORANGE WALK TOWN/ Hotel de la Fuente

In-land Adventure #2, One Week to 10 Days, 2weeks

Orange Walk Town, District of Orange Walk

We haven’t been able to visit the Hotel de la Fuente for a few years but we keep up-to-date by frequent contact with Cyndy and Orlando and sometime with their staff. If anything has changed since we last visited, we expect the change has been for the best and from all the reports from friends who have been there recently our expectations have more than been met. We are planing  a visit in 2016.


Depending when you land at the Philip Goldson International Airport outside of Belize City, you might be able to take a taxi to the Northern Highway and wait on the road for a bus headed north to Orange Walk, about an hour-long bus ride.

Or, you might want to take a taxi into Belize City to the main bus station and catch a bus there. There is a regular run from Belize City to Orange Walk town, so you should be able to get a bus without a long wait and still arrive in Orange Walk Town in an hour and a half.

Or if you have made reservations you can stay overnight at a hotel in the City, and set out in the morning after breakfast.  The main bus station in Belize City is easy to find; just ask your host.

Or you can rent a car in Belize City and arrange to have it waiting for you at the Airport. It’s not a long haul at all and the Northern Highway is well-paved.

Whatever you decide to do, you’ll soon find yourself in Orange Walk Town, a clean, colourful town of 17,000, on the north-east of Belize, nestled up against the New River.  Here the people are predominantly Mestizo, a mixture of Mayan Indian and European with a rich history that dates back centuries. Orange Walk Town is home to the once mighty Sugar Industry, until fairly recently the most important industry in Belize but now superseded by Tourism.


When you disembark from the bus, you will be almost directly across from the town centre and only a 10 minute walk from the Hotel de la Fuente, a magical family-owned hotel opened about seven years ago. Check out http://www.hoteldelafuente.com (a great web site) and info@hoteldelafuente.com.

This sparkling hotel is run by Orlando and Cyndi de la Fuente, or perhaps more accurately Cyndi and Orlando because Orlando also operates a thriving pharmaceutical business adjoining the hotel and Cyndi runs the desk.  Whatever the case, they are a charming couple and they and their staff have done an excellent job in meeting the needs of visitors who want all the creature comforts but don’t want to pay a king’s ransom for them.


Check in at the lobby which also serves as a meeting place for guests throughout the day.  The Hotel de la Fuente offers complimentary toast, peanut butter and jelly, fresh fruits and coffee every morning between 7a.m. and 9a.m. The lobby is also a nice spot to catch your breath after a day-trip or a long walk.

After being awarded the prestigious Small Hotel of the Year by the Belize Tourism Board in 2005, the de la Fuentes never rested on their laurels but steadfastly renovated, expanded and improved, always with the best interests of the traveler in mind. Construction of a bar and grill has been completed and cabins are now available on a newly acquired property 10 minutes upriver from the hotel on the banks of the New River. Daily tours to the Lamanai archaeological site will depart from this new property on the river. A spa, bicycles and canoes will be available for guest use.

Construction has been completed  on a courtyard between the main building and the new Riverside Cabins where you have a choice of Standard at $80 or Premium at $130.



Standard rooms in the hotel run from US$40 to 80, Premium rooms from $65-75 and Junior Suites from$65-85

Check out their website to determine which room suits your needs and budget.  We stayed on the second floor of the original hotel and were very happy with our accommodation—scrupulously cleaned every day, comfortable, quiet, screened and secure.  From the second floor, you can sit out on the verandah and sip a cup of coffee watching the shops below you open up for business as the locals parade by on their way to work or to school or to a rendezvous in a coffee shop. But that was then, this is now and you have many more choices than we had when the hotel first opened.

There are, of course, more hotels in Orange Walk Town, and many more in the vicinity. Search for hotels in Orange Walk Town, Belize or check out Trip Advisor.


What’s to do in Orange Walk? Well, it’s not Disney World, that’s for sure, but why would anyone look for Disney World in Orange Walk Town?  It’s what it is, and to discover what it is you’ve got to slow down and look around. The Banquitas House of Culture is five minutes down the road.  That’s a good spot to get a sense of the community, its roots and its future.

Or just do a walk-about when it’s not too hot.  Check out the town square, the market place, city hall and the business district.  Hire a cabbie to take you on a tour of the town and the outlying villages. (Ask your hosts to recommend someone.)

Catch a bus to Corozal Town. This is a town close to the Mexican border and worth exploring for a future visit. Hire a taxi for a couple hours to give you a guided tour.  Check out the nice public beach on the shore of the Caribbean. You can also cross the border to Mexico for some serious shopping. Ask you host for details.

Or, you can bus to Corozal, catch a water taxi to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, an island off the coasts of Mexico and Belize but inside the country of Belize. Spend a few hours kicking back before making the return voyage. San Pedro is very commercial and congested with gas-guzzling cars and trucks, but there are some good shops to browse through and many places to have a very nice lunch.


The highlight of our trip to Orange Walk was our boat ride up the New River and the tour of the Lamanai ruins.  We booked the trip through the hotel and fully recommend it. (The staff can also arrange cave tubing and a visit to a baboon sanctuary or the Belize Zoo and more.)  The guide was personable, very knowledgeable about the wildlife that calls the river home and about the vegetation that festoons the sides of the river.  We took two hours going upriver to the ruins but they were hours chock full of the contagious excitement of two of our companions on the boat who were full-fledged, unrepentant bird watchers.  That’s when we realized there are two kinds of people—those who watch birds and bird watchers.  We watch birds.  Under our companions’ tutelage for a couple of hours we became bird watchers.

It was a lot of fun.  Evelyn counted and recorded more than 30 different birds on the way up and another dozen or so on the way back. We also spotted a half dozen crocodiles and a few large turtles but they can’t fly so they don’t count.

Lamanai lived up to its reputation as an important Mayan ruin or archaeological site.  In the glory years of the Maya civilization, Lamanai was the last stop on a trading route which connected the Yucatan peninsula to Tikal in present day Guatamala.  As the centuries slipped by and the Mayan civilization began to fade into memory, the Mayans in Lamanai survived as they had before, meeting and greeting the waves of European adventurers that swept over Central America.  The ruins are well preserved and, though less dramatic than some of the other ruins we’ve seen, are in their modesty more manageable, more comprehensible and more fun.

Our trip back was faster (45 minutes) and proved that our guide and captain, Hilberto, could likely navigate the twists and turns of the New River at very high speeds with a blindfold on. We didn’t put him to the test.



Of course, if you stay in Orange Walk or day-trip the outskirts, you still have to eat.  We found some very good places to eat but to make sure we had covered the waterfront I contacted Cyndi de la Fuente and sought her advice. She recommended several places, some we haven’t have a chance to visit.

Take a 10 minute walk to Lee’s Chinese Restaurant with its air-conditioned ambiance, authentic Chinese décor and generous portions of good Chinese food.

3 km. south of town (a $12.00 bze cab ride) La Hacienda Steak House offers steaks and Mayan Fish, a cut of fillet baked in plantain leaves.

El Establo is 4 km. north of town. It used to be one of Cyndi’s favourite places to eat and relax.  She recommended the ceviche (shrimp and conch marinated in lime and served with fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro) and the salpicon (dry baked pork diced and soaked in lime juice and served over a bed of fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro).

You might also check out the Nahal Myab Restaurant and Patio and the Nohoch Ma’ac, the latter located by the market. Both serve good local food and both are recommended by the Hotel.

We got a good lunch on the patio at the House of Culture restaurant or you can take  breakfast, lunch and supper at the Lamanai Riverside restaurant where you can eat inside or on the patio.  Good menu.  Very, very pretty in the evening as the sun goes down.

Before you know it, it’s time to move on or go home.  You’ve had some good adventures, met some travelers like yourselves, had time to chat with locals about their lives, their hopes and dreams… regret will pluck on your heart strings as you leave Orange Walk Town and the Hotel  de la Fuente.

Inland Adventures, San Ignacio, How To Get There

An Iguana people watching

An Iguana people watching

Going Where?

Let’s say you have landed at the Belize International Airport and have cleared customs. Where do you want to go? Land or Sea? And how long do you plan to stay?

In the posts that follow I will be serving up well-seasoned and hearty  In-Land Adventures (2) and Coastal Adventures (3)  for a 7-10  day or a two-week(or longer) visit.


When you land at the international airport outside of Belize City you have to decide how best to get from the airport to San Ignacio.

You can arrange to be picked up by the hotel you are going to. It’s $90-100 usd for two but it takes the guessing out of how to get there and it gets you there the fastest, about an hour and a half. If you are vacationing on borrowed time, that’s significant. Try to plan your trip so that you land in Belize between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. That way you will be checking into your hotel before nightfall and looking foreword to supper. This is an option I resisted for years, preferring instead to taxi into Belize City and stay at a hotel and get an early bus in the morning. Much cheaper but you lose a day getting to your destination. Now that I have capitulated to common-sense (and my favourite hotel has shut down) we always arrange to be picked up at the airport by our host or someone our host has recommended.

Crossing the bridge to San Ignacio

Crossing the bridge to San Ignacio

You can rent a car, make the pick-up, and, as long as you are driving in day-light, head west on the George Price Highway (formerly the Western Hgwy). It’s a fairly easy drive and you’ll get there in a couple hours. Ask your host for directions. I’ve never rented a car in Belize, being more of a bus guy, and apparently it is fairly expensive, but if you want to be independent and day-trip on your own, it is a good choice.

You can hire a taxi, but it is prohibitively expensive, at least by for me.

You can arrange with your host to be picked up at the airport or arrange for your own shuttle service by contacting Tosh and Danielia at  http://www.cayoshuttle.com  Either option will cost you between $100-110 usd for two.

You can catch a bus, the cheapest way to travel, but you will have to take a taxi from the airport to Belize City, $25.00 usd. , have the taxi take you to the main bus station, and get a bus to San Ignacio. It will cost you about $5.00 usd per person and it will take between 2 and 3 hours or more but you really have to get to the bus station before 5 p.m. and you will get into San Ignacio at night.

If you take the bus,  ask at the bus station what bus goes to San Ignacio. Sometime the San Ignacio bus is marked Benque Viejo, which is the end of the line after San Ignacio. That’s the one you want. (You will have to stop at Belmopan, the capital of Belize. You may have to change buses. Beware the taxi driver who tells you you’ve missed the last bus to San Ignacio but he will take you there for $50.00 or $60.00 usd.. Check the schedules at the bus station and ask around before you make a rash choice.) Take the bus right into San Ignacio and get a taxi to take you to your hotel if you are not staying downtown. The fare should be between $3 and $4 usd.

At some point you will be comfortably ensconced in a hotel room or a cabana in or around San Ignacio and your inland adventure will begin.

A "Cool Spot" in  San Ignacio

A “Cool Spot” in San Ignacio

In my next post, I will introduce you to our favourite hotel in the area, the Aguada Hotel www.aguadabelize.com  and I will further describe San Ignacio and suggest some activities that should challenge you and fill your vacation days. In the meantime, you can do some home-cooking on the internet on your own and check out hotels and activities in the San Ignacio/Santa Elena area.