Hey there, friend! I’ve had so many questions about our Belize vacation and I’m super excited to share the photos with you here! Ben and I have done a lot of exploring together – all domestic though. So this was our first time traveling internationally together and it was an incredible trip.
This trip had been on our calendar for 18 months and it did not disappoint. People often ask why we chose to travel to Belize. It’s a funny story actually, and kind of silly. About two years ago, we were laying in bed, surfing Facebook on our phones, when we came across this Buzzfeed article, entitled “Dude, You Can Actually Rent These Entire Islands on Airbnb”. We were intrigued… we had just moved to Virginia from Hawaii and we were craving the island life. And so we decided to click to learn more.
There, listed as number one, was Bird Island. It looked charming and so relaxing. But let’s be real, the thought of actually renting it never crossed my mind as we scrolled through the list. It was just something to look at. You know, casual reading material. Until it wasn’t. Ben popped open his maps and searched endlessly to see if he could find the island. And when he finally did, apparently an idea also popped into his head: we should plan a trip to Belize and rent this island.
So we decided to look it up on Airbnb and it was booked SOLID until March of this year. That’s 18 months in advance, guys. But before booking, we had to figure out a few logistics. Could Ben travel to Belize (being in the military can restrict your travel locations)? Could we save up enough? What would the rest of the trip look like? How do we get there? All the questions – and a good majority weren’t really even answered until a few weeks before we left.
We thought about it and thought about it some more and waited for approval from Ben’s work. And when they finally let him know that he could indeed travel there, we decided that now, while we’re here in Virginia and Ben has flexibility with his time off, is the time to do it. So one afternoon, I booked the first available three nights, which just so happened to start on our three year wedding anniversary!
Let the planning commence. We both needed updated Passports, all the paperwork from Ben’s work, flights to book, hotels to book, transportation to book. All the booking.
So here’s how it all went.
On March 21, we left the snowy east coast and flew out of Raleigh to Atlanta and then on to Belize City. The flight from Atlanta to Belize is only 2 hours and 40 minutes – basically it’s a quick hop across the gulf. When we arrived in Belize, it was 82 and sunny and pretty much amazing. Now, Belize is a pretty small country, but the airport is in the northern part of the country and we were staying in the southern part. So before we left, we booked a shuttle through Roam Belize to take us the three hours south to our hotel.
You’re probably thinking that that sounds terrible. It really wasn’t. The shuttle drivers are licensed tour guides and Ian, our driver, was happy to answer any and all of our questions. So we learned SO much about the country in such a short time. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, the land is just beautiful. We arrived at our hotel, Laru Beya Resort, on the Placencia peninsula in the late afternoon. Guys, I’ve NEVER experienced customer service as good. The concierge was SO kind and welcoming when we arrived.
Our hotel was right on the beach, and our first floor room had a balcony that lead right to the pool and had a view of the ocean. The best part: every balcony had a hammock to sway in. But first things first, we explored our new surroundings before heading to the hotel restaurant for a bite to eat. I regret not taking a photo of our food, but it was great. In fact, while we’re on the subject of food, Belize has some of the best food that I’ve tasted. And they even brew their own beer, Belikin beer. They’re pretty proud of it, as they should be. It’s tasty.
After dinner, we were exhausted. And so I read in the hammock on our balcony and listened to the waves.
Belize is two hours behind Virginia so we were up with the sun every single morning. It was nice to be up early. It felt like we had extra time to relax. I had coffee on the balcony.
Because of our island stay (which was in the middle of the trip), we really only had two full days to explore mainland Belize. So we chose a half day tour up Monkey River to see the howler monkeys. It was a beautiful day on the water and lunch was provided at Monkey Village… and again, the food was phenomenal.
We passed through Manatee grazing ground on our way back. That was cool to see.
When we returned from our tour, we decided to head into town for a few reasons. First, we wanted to explore. The village at the end of the peninsula is where everything is at. Shops, restaurants, markets, etc. And we also needed to grocery shop for our stay on the island. So we rented a golf cart at the hotel and road in. They also had complementary bikes, but well, obviously that’s man-powered and it’s about a 25 minute ride.
At the beginning of the village, there’s an airport. We could have flown into Placencia and saved the time it took us to drive… but you’ll never catch me in one of those small planes, much to Ben’s disappointment.
Placencia Village. At some point the paved road ended and it became a dirt road. But seriously, there’s something about it all that reminds just a little bit of Hawaii. We stopped at a coffee shop and met a little friend.
There were a lot of stray dogs in Belize… but I’m pretty sure he belonged to someone.
We continued our walk down to the pier. On the other side is a beautiful beach and a little bay where people were sunbathing and swimming.
And then there was the world’s smallest street – or so they say. It was a sidewalk lined with shops and homes that ran the length of the village.
We had lunch at Wendy’s. Funny story… when we were looking at maps of the area before we travelled, Ben saw Wendy’s and thought of the American fast food joint. But we learned on our shuttle ride down that there are zero corporate stores or restaurants in the country. Through the archway, you’ll see the coffee shop on stilts.
The tortillas there. Oh. My. Gosh. If I could have brought a bunch home I would have.
Lunch was followed by their popular gelato place, Tutti Frutti.
Golf cart selfie. Because why not.
So the next day, we checked out of our hotel and took a taxi with all of our luggage into the village, where we met Fred’s stepson for the boat ride to the island. Fred owns Bird Island and he was a pleasure to meet and work with. I don’t have any photos of the trip out. It was choppy and we were wet by the time we arrived. I’m glad I put my camera away before we left.
When we arrived, we met Fred and his family (they were cleaning and making a few improvements before heading back to the mainland). We received the grand tour and then hopped on another boat with Fred’s brother-in-law, Thurmond, for a little fishing trip. We spent the afternoon trolling for fish and eventually caught 3 mackerels and 1 barracuda. I left my camera behind – because water – BUT we brought the GoPro with us and I’ll be editing a video of everything soon!
When we got back to the island, Thurmond cleaned the fish and then headed home, leaving us behind for a quiet three night stay.
Up again at sunrise. And holy incredible. The island sleeps 4-6 people. It has a main house (where we were), a guest house, and a cabana. This is facing the main house. Behind this house is the guest house. The island is built on a coral reef in a quiet atoll. So the houses were partly over the water (only a few feet deep).
It was a little windy throughout the duration of our stay, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Breakfast was outside at the picnic bench.
We spent hours in the cabana with the windows open, reading and listening to the waves. It was pretty much bliss.
The view from the cabana. There were neighbor islands, but not too close.
And when we were bored with reading, we played Farkle. The funny thing about being out there is that we lost track of time. We rarely looked at the clock. And we read, napped, kayaked, snorkeled (Ben did), and just enjoyed the serenity.
We kayaked out to this little coral island twice. There’s a grill out there and a picnic bench. I imagine if you wanted to bring everything with you, you could have a nice lunch out there.
I found it hard to sleep a little… the wind picked up every night and it just howled through the house. So one night I got up and tried to take a photo of the stars.
I also tried to do a star trail… I’ll need to practice that one.
Ben fell asleep one afternoon, so I decided to take some self-portraits.
And on the last night, I wanted to get a photo of us at sunset.
Part of me looks back and wishes I took more photos. But then I think about how awesome it was to do absolutely nothing. So I don’t feel guilty about it.
On day three, we were picked up and taken back to the mainland. We checked back into the same hotel and biked into town to shop for souvenirs. The next day we booked a tour to see Xunantunich – Mayan ruins on the Guatamela border. It was fascinating. And the view was amazing.
The only way over to the ruins is to cross the river on a hand cranked ferry.
And that my friends, is all I took. I know… it’s a pretty abrupt ending. The drive to the ruins was long – 3 hours there and 3 hours back. So when we got home we went out to dinner in town. And we had an early pick up time the next morning. We needed to leave in the shuttle by 6 am in order to make it to the airport and through customs for our 12pm flight. But stay tuned for the GoPro video… since it’s smaller and easier to access, we caught a lot more on video.
And if you made it all the way through this post, thanks for staying. I had to cull 450+ photos into 150 and that was hard!
So here we are, back to the grind. And already trying to decide where we’re headed next. Got a suggestion? Send ’em our way!
Interested in seeing where we’ve been?