A chunk of years ago, now-hubby and I had a hankering to go to Belize. But it was the recession and everything was more spare, so we opted for a relatively budget friendlier Hawaii trip. There, he popped the question on a hike in Maui, which is an absolute setup for romance. (Try playing your “We just got engaged!” card for free dessert in Hawaii — then look around and see that every last dude in the restaurant is on bended knee.) Obviously, no complaints about our destination pick for that trip. It was the magical stuff of dreams. (Followed eventually by a Tahitian honeymoon that was like, the stuff of dreams’ dreams. I mean — gulp. Speechless.)
But the idea of Belize remained under our skin, and now that we’re open-water dive certified (which readers of this blog know is a whole other dramatic story), we knew we had to get there, where the diving is supposed to be some of the best in the world.
So! We’re flying United partner Taca (thanks, Mileage Plus credit cards!) to Belize City, BZE, from which we’ll hop a cartoonishly cute-looking Tropic Air puddle jumper to the island of Ambergris Caye, SPR. (Fun fact: The town on Ambergris, San Pedro, is the “Last night I dreamt of San Pedro…” in Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita.” And now you know!)
I angsted (the fun, first-world kind of angst) over whether to stay at the long-established beauty Victoria House, south of San Pedro, or the chic new boutique El Secreto, north of San Pedro, which is a Conde Nast Traveler Hot List pick — and I admit I’m heavily influenced by such things. In the end, we’re going with the Victoria House and I’ve heard only marvelous things about the service and the grounds.
Of course, my idea of a relaxing beach vacation is quickly — and totally characteristically — evolving into an adventure-packed itinerary. I’m excited about diving one of the top scuba destinations in the world — although not the spectacular Blue Hole, pictured above. We’re beginner divers after all — and that thing is 124 meters (!!!) deep.
And I’m totally pumped (and a little scared) to check out the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave (a.k.a. the misleadingly abbreviated ATM cave), which seems to be an experience plucked from Indiana Jones, involving swimming, climbing, dealing with small, pitch black spaces, and gazing upon calcified skeletons of Mayan sacrifices without any tourist-deterring barriers to gunk up the authenticity of the experience (or prohibit people from dropping cameras on ancient skulls). We’ll have to plan the timing carefully, because the cave tour will likely involve a flight back to the mainland in the middle of the trip — and air travel and scuba must be coordinated unless you want to get yourself really messed up. (No, thanks.)
Stay tuned for updates of our next adventure!
And please, Belize experts: Chime in in the comments! Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about our itinerary and the best things to do in Belize.