Ziplining in Belize

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Many of the visitors to Sweet Songs Lodge try zip-lining and cave tubing adventures.  Our favorite place for zip-lining is Calico Jack’s.  It’s also the closest one to Sweet Songs and can be combined with one of these other activities –  canoeing through Barton Creek Cave, Xunantunch or Cahal Pech Maya site, a swim in Big Rock Falls, Green Hills Butterfly Ranch, a Chocolate making demonstration, or a stop at the Green Iguana project.

To combine a Cave Tubing adventure with  ziplining in Belize, Cave’s Branch is the place to go because both are right there. A half hour’s hike through the forest with your guide takes you to the cave entrance to start your float downstream. This cave is more like a tunnel as you can see the light at the end.

We've been out cave tubing frequently, the water was always just right – not too shallow and not too fast.  As we drifted leisurely downstream, we recovered slowly from the adrenaline rush of  the ziplining experience. This varies a bit depending on the weather so sometimes the ride is fast and exciting and at other times slow and quiet, giving you time to enjoy gazing at the cave walls with their many stalagmite and stalactites.

If you have a waterproof housing for your camera, this is a great place for photos.

For more information about our tours and excursions, visit our Activities page.

5 Facts About Barton Creek Cave in Belize

Barton Creek Cave  forms part of a large riverine system, which is easily accessed and the least difficult of all caves, since it allows its visitors to wonder the Mayan Underworld on a canoe.

  1. Barton Creek Cave is the longest subterranean site in Belize. The natural process of the cave allows visitors to go in for about one kilometer only.

  2. The ceramic remains suggest that the Maya were using the cave from Early classic to Late Classic Period.

  3. The Osteological analysis of the human remains found, revealed that at least 28 individuals were buried inside Barton Creek Cave including kids.

  4. Fire hearths with little evidence of cooking were found inside the cave, which suggests that the main functions of the hearths were for providing light/burning of copal incense for ceremonial purposes. Only royalty, such priests and the sacrificial virgins, were allowed inside the cave.

  5. Some areas in the cave appear to have been purposely modified by the Maya to improve access to other locations within the cave, that may have been difficult to reach.

    After hundreds of years, little was left and archaeologists continue to look at cave materials that can give a clearer depiction of how, why and when the Maya utilized the cave.

On Owning An Island

I blame Jimmy Buffett for many of the questionable things I have done in my life: running away to Mexico at seventeen, moving to Hawaii at twenty-one, buying several boats, surfing in hurricanes, and, buying an island in Belize. Finding Margaritaville has been a life-long obsession.

As an avid SCUBA diver, I had been to Belize many times. My kids learned to dive there. We explored caves, hiked to waterfalls, climbed Mayan ruins, sailed the atolls, and fished the reef. We made friends in the country and fell in love with the diversity of the culture…and, especially, with the ocean.

There are over 400 cayes (pronounced “keys”) in Belize. A beautiful barrier reef runs the entire 190-mile length of the country and it is home to the only coral atolls in the western hemisphere. The turquoise colored seas, abundant ocean life, and white sand beaches make it a water sports paradise. We love it.

A few years ago, I started surfing Belize real estate sites on the Internet looking for a little place that would serve as a home base for a thorough exploration of the country. We were looking for something simple, easy and inexpensive that would not be a burden and, most importantly, would not interfere or prevent us from enjoying travels to other destinations. That is when I first saw a listing for Royal Belize. “Own an Island,” the ad said.

Book a flight, build a spreadsheet, talk to banker, negotiate with wife, listen to Marley, dream rum-fueled dreams, make an offer, and get handed the keys (actually there are no keys because there are no locks.) Margaritaville is mine. Seven and a half acres of sand and palms with luxury accommodations, a few well-placed hammocks, a fleet of boats, a competent local staff, and year-round warmth and sunshine. The backyard has a coral reef and lobster can be picked out of the water for dinner. 

Royal Belize is the only luxury private island in the country rented exclusively to one guest party at a time. There are five bedrooms across three separate villas, a bunkhouse for kids or adventurous adults, a large open-air palapa for lounging and dining, plenty of lounge chairs, and acres of sand and water for all to enjoy. The island combines the benefits of an adventure destination with luxury accommodations in an exclusive setting. When we are not SCUBA diving the barrier reef, we are fishing or enjoying the jet skis, kayaks, standup paddle boards, beach games, kite board, and catamaran. Or maybe just laying around in the sun or shade with a cold beverage. We have found it is the perfect place for adventure travelers and lay-around loungers alike.

Most people come for the amenities of an all-inclusive, private island vacation, but wind up falling in love with the caring staff that anticipates their every desire. The team does whatever it takes to create “WOW” and seeks to make every visitor’s dreams come true. Their mission is to create unforgettable experiences while making new best friends for life.

The past few years have involved a tremendous amount of work. In addition to revamping the marketing and management of the resort, the team has converted the island to solar and wind power, renovated the villas, upgraded the infrastructure and the boats, expanded the kitchen, and replaced most of the furniture and equipment. Herman Wouk’s novel Don’t Stop the Carnival has been our how-not-to guide. It is the story of a guy from the states that sells his business, moves to the Caribbean, buys a resort, and learns many lessons the hard way. It is an eerily prescient book that everyone with this dream should read. We are still alive and have quickly developed an ability to remain calm in the face of each new catastrophe.

The Royal Belize brand stands for luxury, exclusivity, adventure, sustainability, and philanthropy. In 2018, we helped non-profit organizations raise over $150,000 at charity auctions by consigning trips at large discounts and allowing the organization to keep the profits from the sale. We also support a number of youth libraries in different villages throughout Belize. As a member of the Getaway2Give Collection (G2GCollection.com) the resort generates additional charitable contributions when G2G members vacation on the island. The entire Royal Belize team is committed to fulfilling the philanthropic mission.

For our family, owning an island in a tropical paradise feels like living in a fantasy world. We have enjoyed taking friends, colleagues, and family members down several times over the past several years. We love it so much and want all of our friends to share the experience. Please come for a visit. Let us know when you plan to arrive. We may be out fishing or diving. There are margaritas in the blender. Help yourself.

By Bill Poston, President of Royal Belize

Big 5: Marine Animals in Belize

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The Big 5 Marine Animals in Belize

1. West Indian Manatees

Manatees can be seen at river mouths, in coastal lagoons and around the cayes. And sitting on the deck from our over the water bungalows, our guests have often seen them swimming slowly around the island. Manatees are the only vegetarian sea mammals in existence. Just a few hundred survive in Belizean waters. They are threatened by increased boat traffic (you’ll see some with scars from propellers) and erosion that threatens their feeding areas. Typically 10ft long and weighing 1000lb, adults eat 100lb to 150lb of vegetation, especially sea grass, daily.

2. Whale Sharks

Belizean waters are home to whale sharks – notably Gladden Spit, about an hour away from Thatch Caye.  Between March and June, most commonly during the 10 days after the full moon, these filter-feeding behemoths come in close to the reef to dine on spawn. These are the world’s largest fish (yes, they’re sharks not whales), growing up to a whopping 60ft (although the average length is 25ft) and weighing up to 15 tons. Whale sharks can live up to 150 years. They’re gray with random light-yellow spots and stripes, and are quite harmless to humans.

Other sharks – nurse, reef, lemontip and hammerhead – and a variety of rays often make appearances around the reefs and islands. They tend to leave divers and snorkelers alone.

3. Sea Turtles

Long-lived reptiles, sea turtles do not land for any purpose other than to lay eggs.  Though air breathing, they remain underwater for long periods of time.  One loggerhead turtle in captivity was seen to surface for air about once every three hours.  Front limbs have oarlike flippers.  Sea turtles range over hundreds of miles in warm waters they inhabit.  International agreements and the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibit taking sea turtles or their eggs dead or alive, or disturbing their nests.  All are classified Endangered or Threatened.

4. Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, Manta Ray

Rays are sometimes referred to as the birds of the sea. They are amazing disc-shaped creatures that gracefully swim about the ocean. Three rays inhabit Belize: southern stingray, spotted eagle ray, and manta ray. All rays are characterized by a unique spherical body shape with a raised head and eyes set to the sides. Their nostrils, mouth, and gill slits are located on the underside of their body. They are completely composed of cartilage; they have no bones. The most striking feature of rays, however, is what is known as cephalic fins, the wing-like appendages that allow them to "fly." Rays are also equipped with a whip-like tail; tails of southern stingrays and spotted eagle rays carry barbed spines, capable of inflicting a painful wound. The largest of the three species is the manta ray, with a wingspan reaching a width of 20 feet and weighing up to 3,000 pounds. Ironically known as the "Devil Ray", this species has no sting and is completely harmless to humans. Seeing a manta ray leap out of the water is an amazing sight; there are reports of manta rays leaping 15 feet out of the water! The Spanish meaning of "manta" is blanket, describing the unique spherical body shape of this animal. Rays learn to evade predators by spending much of their time on the sandy bottom, flapping their pectoral fins to throw sand on that body.

5. Dolphins

Two kinds of dolphin inhabit Belize: bottlenose and spinner. Both dolphins are mammals, are silver / gray in color, are large (up to 12 feet long and 1000 pounds for the bottlenose), are very intelligent, communicate well with each other and have streamlined bodies. Dolphins have long beaks and long, pointed flippers. They are capable of extremely fast swimming and leaping through the air. But, these agile creatures do not jump through the air simply for fun, sometimes they are avoiding predators or trying to impress potential mates. Dolphins are also skillful divers, reaching depths of 1,640 feet in search of food (dolphins consume 6-8 kilograms of fish each day). To breathe dolphins use the blowhole located at the top of the head to empty and refill their lungs with air. To communicate they often whistle to each other, with each dolphin having a signature whistle. Spinner dolphins are distinguished from other dolphins in their ability to leap out of the water and twist their bodies into elegant curves and spins. It is not known why they do this, but some scientists believe this is one of many forms of communication these dolphins use.

6. Lionfish

We couldn't stop our list of the top five marine species in Belize at just 5 and technically the lionfish shouldn't be on our list as it is not native to Belize.

The lionfish invasion was first documented in coastal waters near Florida in the 1980s, thought to be a result of deliberate and accidental releases from private and public aquaria. First officially recorded in Belizean waters as recently as 2008, their population has expanded rapidly throughout the country. With voracious appetites for juvenile fish and no natural predators to control them, they are now considered one of the biggest threats to the coral reef life in the Caribbean.

We monitor and report lionfish on each dive that we do.  Our Divemasters are properly training in the handling and culling of lionfish and may remove them from our local sites during your dive.  

Birding in Belize

Visiting Birds arrive year round in Belize (most prominently in the fall) and Birding in Belize offers chances to see a diverse array of species.  Come join us at Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge for a crash course in bird and plant ID, check out our speciality Birding Package, or even just spend your time with one of our expert bird guides who will help you find the birds you are looking for on your list.

There’s no better place for Birding in Belize than Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge!

Planning a Family Vacation to Belize

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Getting the whole family to agree on something is tough, but planning a family vacation doesn’t have to be. Luckily, Belize has something for everyone just a short drive or boat ride away. The jungles of Belize are home to amazing adventures you can’t get anywhere else: tubing though the mysterious Maya Underworld, hiking the ancient steps of Xunantunich, ziplining above the rainforest canopy, and much more awaits you. Along the Caribbean coast, visitors enjoy golden beaches with the largest living barrier reef just a short trip away. No matter where you are, expect delicious food, friendly faces, great company, and unforgettable experiences. Everyone, from toddlers to teenagers, will fall in love with beautiful Belize.

If the jungle interests your crew, you’ll be in for an adventure. Belize’s system of caves, known as the Maya Underworld, is the perfect setting for river tubing - float gently atop the water as you witness ancient skeletal remains, awe-inspiring rock formations, and natural views you’ll never forget. 

 

Top Belize Family Jungle Adventure 

 A country-wide favorite for this unique adventure is Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) in Cayo District. Along the western border with Guatemala lies the capital of the ancient Maya empire: Xunantunich. The intellectuals among you will be left speechless by the history displayed among its steps, chambers, and buildings. Everyone else will have their breath taken away at the peak of El Castillo, where they will enjoy 360° views for miles in every direction. Other can’t-miss Maya sites include Altun Ha, Lamanai, Caracol, and many more scattered across Belize. Families typically choose to stay in the Cayo District for easy access to all of Belize’s best jungle adventures.

 

Beach Family Activities in Belize  

If your family is more of the beach bum type or one with the fish, Southern Belize may be more your style. The coast of Southern Belize, particularly Hopkins and Placencia, is a favorite destination for families. Many hotels offer multi-room accommodations, allowing the whole family to stay together just steps from the beach. Families enjoy fly fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, island hopping, and a host of other marine activities. Visit the famous Maya Beach for some lazy days lounging in the breeze or take a swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. For the more adventurous souls, grab your goggles and snorkel along the second longest reef in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef. The saltwater flats around the reef also provide an abundance of fish, perfect for the amateur or experienced angler. While you’re out on the waves, visit one of the hundreds of islands and cayes of Belize, where you enjoy the Caribbean views to their absolute fullest.

If you’re looking for the perfect vacation destination for the whole family, look no further than the jungles and beaches of beautiful Belize. With amazing adventures for all ages - hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling - there’s adventure for everyone here. Whether it’s the lush rainforests of Cayo District or the golden beaches of the Southern coast, there’s a destination for everyone to enjoy. From the moment you arrive to when you (sadly) depart for home, you and your family will be welcomed like a true friend and guided through the vacation of a lifetime. When you’re settled in, be ready to experience the vibrant, storied culture of the Belizean people. Pack your bags, grab your passport, get the whole family together, and come have the vacation of a lifetime! 

Your Heavenly Honeymoon in Belize

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Unforgettable sunsets, delicious food, long walks on golden beaches - romance

has found its perfect getaway in beautiful Belize. Cure your wanderlust and ignite the

flames of love with one of the country’s amazing adventures, all while indulging in

comfortable accommodations and taking in timeless views. There are a multitude of

activities, tours, and locations for you and that special someone to do together, from

snorkeling along the Belize Barrier Reef to enjoying candlelit dinners on private islands.

Come experience all this and more with the person you love most, and fall in love

beautiful Belize while you’re at it!

Caribbean Island Honeymoons

If you’re searching for a secluded island getaway, Thatch Caye Resort should be

at the top of your list. From its Digital Detox Zone to its world-class overwater

bungalows, this piece of paradise is the perfect place to unplug, unwind, and make

unforgettable memories with one another. For the intimate occasion, book a seaside

dinner for two, complete with private service and of course, plenty of champagne.

Looking to catch some rays under the bright Belizean sky? Head to Serenity Point,

where you can view the Caribbean Sea in all its splendor, unwind with overwater yoga,

or just kick back with a good book. Adventurous souls won’t be bored here either, as

the island offers everything from snorkeling to fly fishing to land excursions. To cap off

your perfect stay, go on a stargazer’s cruise to witness the natural beauty of Belize in

its purest form.

Honeymoon in the Belizean Rainforest

Is a romantic stay in a verdant jungle more your speed? Then Copal Tree Lodge

is the perfect place for you two lovebirds! The Lodge rests among the majestic Maya

Mountains, offering sweeping views of Punta Gorda that are sure to captivate both of

you. Farm-to-table dining is a hallmark of Copal Tree Lodge, as they produce 70% of

the food they serve guests at their nearby farm. Curious travelers are encouraged to

take a guided tour of the farm, which is led by Elon Ranguy, a farmer with over 15 years

of horticultural experience. For honeymooners that want a spirited taste of Belize, visit

the Copalli Rum distillery for an immersive look at a rum making process that utilizes

only three organic, locally harvested ingredients. Right by one of the two pools, you’ll

find the Jungle Spa, the perfect place to get pampered on your perfect honeymoon.


Belize is the perfect destination to plan your romantic getaway, providing vivid

views, fantastic food, amazing adventures, and endless experiences you’ll never forget.

Islands with white sands and sapphire waters or jungles with captivating views and

abundant wildlife - the choice is yours! Romance abounds in beautiful Belize, in every

nook and cranny you’ll explore and every delicious dish you’ll taste. Whether it’s on an

island like Thatch Caye Resort or in the jungles surrounding Copal Tree Lodge, you’re

sure to find pure passion in Belize. The country has something for every honeymooner,

so all you need to do is come explore it for yourselves.


Top 10 Reasons Belize is Best for Honeymoons

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1.     There are many price points for Belize vacations

There is a large range of types of accommodations available in Belize. You can stay at huge, luxurious hotels, rent an entire private island, or look into the many economy-lodging options. Over-the-water bungalows are a very popular choice in Belize. During the low season, you can find great deals.

2.     Belize is great to visit year-round  

The temperature in Belize varies by 10 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Even during the rainy season, it is common to see less than an hour of rain daily. The weather is essentially perfect. Even if you’re staying at a resort without air conditioning, you will be comfortable sleeping with the nighttime temperatures and the ocean breeze.

3.     Belize has a fascinating history with rich culture

Belize is a melting pot of many cultures. A wonderful variety of people, cultures and civilizations have called Belize home. This includes immigrants from Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia, India, the Mediterranean, Africa, Spain, the Americas, and the Ancient Maya.

4.     Belize cares about the environment

The environment in Belize is widely celebrated. There are signs everywhere urging locals and visitors to conserve water and energy.  The ecosystem can be very fragile, but the people who live and visit Belize take special care not to harm it.

5.     Belize is BEAUTIFUL

Belize is truly a paradise. Belize is home to the bluest water I’ve ever seen, expansive beaches, lush jungles and Mayan ruins. There is something for everyone in Belize. Not to mention, all of the destinations are picture-perfect.

6.     The food in Belize is delicious

I mentioned the melting pot of cultures, right? The years and years of mixing cultures have created some of the most interesting and delicious dishes. There is an abundance of fresh seafood that can’t be matched. Some resorts even let you catch your lobster dinner! Dining is definitely an experience here.

7.     Belize isn’t crowded

You’re on your honeymoon – you deserve some privacy! While it is possible to make friends during your vacation in Belize, it’s always nice to know you can have some privacy when you need it. Many resorts in Belize have villa style accommodations. Instead of having rooms on every side of yours, you can stay in your own private house.

8.     There’s so much to do in Belize

The combination of the Belize Barrier Reef and the Ancient Mayan ruins make for top-notch excursions. Whether you prefer to go scuba diving, fishing, hiking, riding, or site seeing, you will find your perfect adventure in Belize.

9.     Belize is relaxed

Yes, this might contradict my previous point, but your Belize vacation can be whatever you want it to be! There are many destinations with beautiful pools and expansive beaches that allow for an extremely relaxing vacation. It’s actually a rule that every resort has to have enough hammocks for everyone. Just a joke, but they really are everywhere! Especially if you are staying on one of the Cayes, you'll feel like you're living the "island life."

10. Belize is close to the U.S.

This means reasonable flights for those that live in the US! Once you land in Belize City, there are many commuter flights, as well. That way you can quickly get to your final destination and not have to spend a ton of time traveling.

Belize is one-of-a-kind. It’s the perfect solution for those newlyweds who can’t decide between an adventurous honeymoon and a relaxing honeymoon. 

A Summer in Belize

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Captivating jungles, unforgettable adventures, fantastic food, local culture - all this and more can be jam-packed into a summer vacation in Belize. Fit for the wayward tourist or the discerning traveler, the myriad destinations waiting in Belize are accessible to everyone hoping to explore its wonders. Hike the many steps of Xunantunich, discover a new world in the Belize Barrier Reef, or enjoy an adults-only summer camp on a private island - whatever experience calls to your wandering soul, you’ll find it right here. Sound like the summer of your dreams? Then grab your passport, pack your bag, and come enjoy the adventure of a lifetime!

It’s Ancient History 

The ancient Maya were a vast and culturally complicated empire that were known for their intricate rituals, ornate weaponry, and ceremonial sacrifices. One can truly appreciate these fascinating events in all their historical context with a trip to Xunantunich, the capital of their ancient empire. Situated in the picturesque Cayo District along the western border, the top of the site’s 130 foot-tall pyramid offers breathtaking views of the Belizean and Guatemalan countrysides. While this is an adventure on the inland, the coasts and seas of Belize offer more spectacular experiences of their own. 


Discover a Whole New World

Just a short boat ride from any point on the Belizean coast lies a true wonder of the world - the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world. Playing host to more than 100 species of coral, 500 species of fish, and the world-famous Great Blue Hole, this is a destination worthy of any bucket list. Adventure abounds in these waters, and it can be explored by everyone from the casual summer snorkeler to the seasoned SCUBA diver. Atop the waves above the Reef, you’ll find the more than 200 islands or cayes of Belize that are entirely new adventures unto themselves.

Adult Summer Camp 

On one such island called Thatch Caye about 10 miles off the coast, a unique event you can’t experience anywhere else in the world is coming this August. Playfully coined the Adult Summer Camp, 30 travelers will enjoy an adults-only playground on a private island filled with all your favorites from summer camp, with an adult twist, of course. Better yet, the accommodations on this rustic island paradise include picture-perfect overwater bungalows pristinely perched atop the Caribbean Sea and a luxuriously appointed penthouse suite. If you’re looking for a unique, relaxing, once-in-a-lifetime summer vacation in Belize, look no further than this!

It goes without saying that the endless adventures of Belize make it an ideal destination for any summer vacation. And with direct flights to Belize from more than a dozen cities in the United States and Canada, getting here is easier than ever before! Whether it’s the Adult Summer Camp at Thatch Caye, the ancient steps of Xunantunich, or the natural wonder of the Belize Barrier Reef, there’s something in Belize that’s sure to take your breath away. Don’t end your summer in regret - take a trip to Belize and make memories you’ll never forget!

31 Epic Ways To Have Fun With Your Kids At The Beach

1. Play Hopscotch

This is a simple, fun one for all ages to play on the beach. Find a stick or shovel to mark out the game. Get some rocks or shells for throwing, and your kids will have a ball.

2. Make a Construction Site

Bring your child’s tonka trucks along and create a construction site that will blow their mind! Gather rocks, shells, water, and obviously sand. Let their creativity do the rest.

3. Play Sand Darts

Mark out a dart-board in the sand, and see who can land their shell closest to the bullseye. It takes so little time to set-up, but you’ll be playing for hours.

4. Dig a Hole

You can make just about anything fun when you make it a competition. There are various ways to make something a simple as digging a hole into a fun contest. Who can dig the biggest hole? Who can dig the biggest hole in 5 minutes? Who can hit wet sand first?

Your kids could even incorporate their hole into their castle’s property. It could be a pool for the royal residents.

5. Find Animal Habitats

Here is a way to teach your kids while vacationing, and best part is that they won’t even realize they’re learning. Walk around the beach finding various animal habitats. Teach them about the habitats they’re surrounded by: grasslands, water, and the dunes. If your kids ask you questions you don’t have answers to, look up the answers on Google and it’ll be a learning experience for the entire family.

6. Collect Seashells

Don’t forget the simple pleasure of searching for seashells at the seashore. Kids love this sort of scavenger hunt, and it requires no work on your behalf! They also are perfect for arts and crafts if you bring them home.

7. Design Seashells

What do you do with the piles of seashells that are now indispensable to your kids? Get out the sharpies you packed, and let them go to town designing their own shells. Granted if you have toddlers, you’re rolling your eyes right now. But this is a great creative outlet for older kids.

Additionally, after you’ve decorated the shells you can place them around the beach you for future beach-goers to find.

8. Play Trains

If your little ones are obsessed with trains, you can create an entire series of tracks in the sand for them. They very well may spend hours chugging Thomas the Tank Engine along the sand tracks.

Using the same concept, you can make roads for matchbox cars. Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t leave the cars at home!

9. Limbo

Limbo is a classic beach game that will get everyone involved, moving, and laughing. Find a jump rope, pole, or stick, turn up the music, and let the games begin.

10. Pictionary in the Sand

This is a clever spin on a classic, beloved game. The prime time to play is when the tide is out and the sand is prime for drawing. Use the cards that come with Pictionary or make up your own beach-themed ones.

11. Be a Mermaid for a Day

Are your kids obsessed with mermaids? Make their dreams come true. Dig a hole, bury them, and then draw a mermaid body and tail in the sand. To make this even more fun, let them bury you too!

12. Story Time

You can only go, go, go so much. Take a breather and gather round your kids for story time. Pack your favorite family read-aloud or a beach-themed one. Granted, you’d rather be wrapped up in your novel, but it’ll make sweet memories for your kids and ingrain a love of books in them.

13. Build a Sandcastle

Build a creative sand castle with your kids with minimal toys using what’s around you: rocks, shells, sticks, and leaves. If your kids are older, have a sandcastle building contest. Who can make the tallest castle? Who can make the most creative castle?

14. Save the Planet

Picking up trash along the beach with your children is an excellent way to teach responsibility to children. It’ll help ground them and remind them that even at the beach it’s not all about them. It will also provide an opportunity for you to serve alongside them and talk with them about the importance of protecting our earth.

15. Build A Snowman

Do you wanna build a snowman? Come on let’s go and play! Sound familiar? Olaf couldn’t survive in summer, but you can build snowmen in the sand with your kids who will thrive in hot climates. Use shovels for arms and legs, hats, sunglasses, whatever you can think up!

16. Melt Your Sandcastle

There’s always the tried and true helter-skelter 3-second method of destroying the castle you just spent half an hour building. Or you can slowly destroy it  with water. Your kids will be riveted as they watch it slowly waste away as you pour water from a cup or small bucket over the castle slowly.

17. Take a Picture

One picture that is great to take each year is one of your entire family’s footprints lined up underneath the year drawn out in the sand. It’s meaningful to accumulate a new photo year after year and see how much they’ve (or rather their feet) have grown.

18. Host a Relay Race

Divide the kids into teams, and at one end line them up with a bucket of water. At the other end place an empty bucket. The goal is for them to run back and forth with shovels or small cups, seeing who can fill their bucket with water first.

19. Have a Foot Race

If you don’t have enough kids for a relay race, do a good old-fashioned foot race. Mark the starting line and finish line in the sand. Once the kids tire of this, have them run the distance individually and try and beat their personal best records.

20. Do Yoga

This is going to take a little brain-storming if you want to avoid getting covered in sand, but it’ll be a welcome calm, relaxing exercise in the middle of an exhausting day in the sun. Lead your kids to strike poses that keep you all from rolling in the sand.

21. Make New Friends

Encourage your children to make friends with those near your tent. It will instill kindness in them and also teach them valuable social skills. Maybe they’ll have a chance to get to know someone who is different from them, someone who isn’t in their daily social circles.

22. Play Musical Towels

Bust out some music for a lively game of musical towels. Set up towels folded in squares the same way you would set up chairs for musical chairs. Same rules apply but for this version you’ve got a pretty sweet view.

23. Create a Shoreline Masterpiece

Once the tide is low and hard, wet sand in is left in its wake, it’s time to get artistic. Have your children draw their own picture in the sand with a stick. Encourage them to use items they find around them in their masterpiece: flowers, rocks, shells, and leaves. Why not join the party? They’ll love having you participate.

24. Build a Tent

Go on hunt for large sticks and gather the towels and beach blankets for this activity. Work together to make a teepee-style hideaway where they can relax and enjoy the shade.

25. Host an Art Contest

Challenge your kids to draw in the sand with a stick, each round being a different theme. Who can draw the scariest monster? Who can draw the prettiest flower? Who can draw a flying car?

26. Go on a Beach Scavenger Hunt

For little ones who may be afraid of the water, this is a fun activity that doesn’t involve the big, scary ocean. Create a list of objects for them to find around the beach. Kids of all ages love a good scavenger hunt. Winner chooses where the family is going for dinner!

27. Organize a Beach Ball Relay

Organize everyone into two teams, and two people from each team carry the ball to the finish line. Here’s the catch: you can’t use your hands. First one to cross the finish line wins!

28. Play Tic-Tac-Toe

Sketch a tic-tac-toe board in the sand and use creative beach treasures for the xs and the os. Use the shells from your seashell hunt or little rocks to mark your place. Three in a row wins the game!

29. Balance on a Boogie Board

Line up all the kids at the water’s edge, everyone standing on their own boogie board. As the waves come and go see who can stay on their board the longest. Last one standing wins.

30. Re-Create the Olympics

This is an entertaining activity that will get everyone moving and laughing. Organize family-friendly beachside olympic games. Here are some ideas to get your gears turning. Make a balance beam in the sand, set-up hurdles, use a shell for a discus throw, play beach volleyball, or have a 20-yard dash.

31. Beach Ball Toss

This is sure to get the little ones laughing. Everyone holds a corner of a blanket. Place a beach ball on top and get it bouncing. See if you can work together to keep it from falling to the ground.

Conclusion

I’m sure as you read through this list a few of these fun activities jumped out at you! Sometimes it can be difficult to keep kids occupied at the beach, but with this list in hand, you’ll never run out of ideas.

See the original post HERE.

Planning a Belize vacation? Read this list.

Discover unforgettable adventures when you explore the lush jungles of Belize 🇧🇿
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📸: @nadirprice

If you’re like most North Americans getting ready for a tropical paradise escape, deciding what to see can send you scurrying for the aspirin bottle. We don’t blame you. It’s wise to consider all manner of Belize experiences (since this nation has more choices than most) so you wind up with an itinerary that balances down time and leisure with adventures that have no rival in the Caribbean.

To help you plan the perfect trip, we are delighted to share nine facts that can help morph your Belize visit from great to sublime. You will want to thank us for the following advice, but don’t bother. Our reward is bestowed when you find yourself planning your next Belize trip on your return flight home!

Fact #1

Don’t let anyone tell you that the Blue Hole, the deep dive made famous by Jacques Cousteau, is the only place to get your dive fix in Belize. Experienced divers reveal their favorite alternatives and you should know about them too: Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Gladden Spit (off the Placencia coast) where you can even scuba dive with whale sharks.

Pro Tip: Go see the Blue Hole from above in a fly over tour, then go diving or snorkeling with our favorite scuba shop.

Fact #2

It’s true that Ambergris Caye gets a lion’s share of publicity because once upon a time, it was the only town with a nightlife, cultural spots and tourist attractions. But you do yourself a disservice if you don’t discover destinations like San Ignacio Town, HopkinsPlacencia and Orange Walk, because there’s a chance one of these towns are more to your liking—and in fact, they can be less expensive and less crowded, too!

Pro Tip: The cayes off the coast are some of the best islands in Belize. Split your vacation between Thatch Caye and Hopkins or Placencia to get the best of both worlds.

Fact #3

Belize’s culinary scene is one of the biggest secrets in the Caribbean. Tempt your palate with choices of foods that range from European gourmet dishes prepared by international chefs to Belize-style tamales, salbutes, sere and escabeche, plus traditional rice and bean combinations. Belize is fast becoming an epicenter of exotic wine and beer production and we would be remiss if we didn’t add this hemisphere’s best chocolates.

Pro Tip: Put Marie Sharps on everything!

 

Fact #4

You don’t have to spend a day outside in the sun or on the ocean if you don’t want to because lots of people come here exclusively for the burgeoning international music scene. The sheer variety of music genres you’ll find here delights those who have no clue there’s this much diversity. If you’ve never heard Garifuna, reggaeton, island-style percussion and other types of Caribbean music, you’re in for a treat. The year-round Belize music festival scene is, in fact, sensational.

Fact #5

While our national language is English, the linguist in you will enjoy hearing so many tongues being spoken in this metropolitan land, you might think you landed at the United Nations or The Hague. We may be a small country, but our linguistic diversity is big and includes our national dialect, Garifuna, Maya, Spanish and even German thanks to our large Mennonite population.

Fact #6

Who says you have to rely upon shuttles, buses or rental cars to explore every inch of Belize? Tropic Air and Maya Island Air, are safe, popular and convenient regional system, can transport you everywhere to maximize your time in country and their fares are surprisingly affordable. Triple or quadruple the number of places you visit simply by using this convenient method of transportation to get around. Frequent visitors say that the reason they selected the place in Belize they return to again and again has to do with using Tropic Air to sample lots of places in a short period of time so they could decide which felt like home!

via @belizehub

The Most Incredible Private Islands in Belize

via Belize Hub

Belize has hundreds of islands that dot its coastline and many of them are underrated spots that are great destinations for scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing and beach combing. Here are some private islands in Belize that remain untapped by the masses.

Experience the best of Belize 🏖
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📸: @livelikeitsthewknd

Thatch Caye

If you find beach resorts too crowded and need a respite from chattering heads, sand-kicking kids and vast expanses of humanity, a private island located just nine miles off south-central Belizeshould suit your fancy. Specifically, Thatch Caye Resort. This private island may be small, but here you can find everything you desire for a memorable stay on this 11-acre paradise, including peace and quiet.

Water Foot Caye

Water Foot Caye is a 3 acre private island that is just 8 miles away from Dangriga Town in Stann Creek District. The island is home to the famous Yok Ha Belize Resort and is a perfect base to go fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing.

Visit www.yokahabelizeresort.com for more information on visiting Water Foot Caye.

South Water Caye

South Water Caye is one of the most beautiful and exclusive islands in Belize and is the off- the- beaten spot for reef diving and snorkeling in a tropical setting.

The resort is home to Blue Marlin Beach Resort which offers sea and reef adventures that are literally just a few steps from your room.

Visit www.bluemarlinlodge for more information on visiting South Water Caye.

Tobacco Caye

Tobacco Caye sits on top of the Belize Barrier Reef and is a favorite island for young travelers who are into snorkeling and diving. The island is on the northern tip of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve and is home to Tobacco Caye Lodge which offers comfortable accommodations and great food in the island.

Visit http://www.tclodgebelize.com/ for more information on visiting Tobacco Caye.

St. George’s Caye

St. George’s Caye is not only a national landmark but also home to the luxurious St. George’s Caye Resort. The island is a perfect destination for reef diving and snorkeling.

The island is about 20 minutes from Belize City.

Visit http://www.belizeislandparadise.com/ for more information about visiting St. George’s Caye.

Silk Caye

Silk Caye is one of the most beautiful and secluded islands in Belize and is only 40 kilometers off the coast of Placencia Village.

The caye is perfect for diving and snorkeling.

Visit https://www.travelbelize.org/the-snorkeling-adventure-silk-caye for more information on this beautiful caye.

 

All Ah We Da Won

Belize is the true melting pot of the Americas. The harmonious diversity of the country is a natural wonder. There are eight main ethnic groups in the country with a range of skin tones that are difficult to categorize. The founding father of Belize, George Price, was fond of saying, “All ah we da won.” That sums up the attitude of Belizeans of different races and ethnicities. All of us are one.

The team of employees, service providers and suppliers at Royal Belize mirrors the diversity of Belize. In addition to the naturalized Hawaiian manager and Vietnamese concierge, there are Q’eqchi Mayans and Garinagu working on the island. The Garinagu (or Garifuna) are descended from renegade African slaves that blended with native Carib Indians. We have Creoles and Mestizos that keep the books, handle legal matters, and service the boats. Mennonites supply us with hardware and produce, while the Chinese market on the mainland is our source for kitchen staples. The caye is a multi-cultural mélange.

Then, of course, there are our British, American and Canadian cousins that work as SCUBA diving guides, import agents, mainland resort partners, and drivers. They are generally pretty easy to spot on the skin tone spectrum. The easy acceptance of people of all colors (or no color at all) is a defining characteristic of this wonderful country.

The national motto of Belize is Sub Umbra Floreo, meaning, “Flourish in the Shade.”

They may have been referring to Mahogany trees back in the day, but in modern Belize all shades flourish together. 

10 Reasons to Visit Thatch Caye

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If you find beach resorts too crowded and need a respite from chattering heads, sand-kicking kids and vast expanses of humanity, a private island located just nine miles off south-central Belize should suit your fancy. Specifically, Thatch Caye Resort. This private island may be small, but here you can find everything you desire for a memorable stay on this 11-acre paradise, including peace and quiet. Here are 10 reasons to visit soon.

1. It’s private. Sorry to repeat the obvious, but that’s the draw of this island. This is not your cup of tea if you prefer a hectic schedule of places to eat, things to see and do. Find like-minded people here; if you don’t want to talk to any of them, that’s your prerogative.

2. It’s gorgeous. Even jaded island hoppers are impressed by the lush scenery within the 11 acre marine park sprawling across the island. Treat your eyes to a feast of wildlife and picture-postcard vistas within this 117,878 acre marine reserve that’s located just a kayak away from a world-famous bird sanctuary.

3. It’s ecologically unique. Thatch Caye was carved out of a wilderness without using a single piece of heavy machinery or equipment. Auxiliary to tourist amenities, the island uses off-grid power generation methods like solar and wind so nothing disturbs the quiet.

4. It’s temperate. Gentle ocean breezes offer Mother Nature’s finest air conditioning, so whether you book your trip to Thatch Caye in June or January, you can anticipate avoiding extreme, stifling heat found elsewhere.

5. It’s boat-friendly. Dock your sailboat, cruiser or other boat at the island marina for a day or a stay. Five moorings await sailors and even the marine entrance to Thatch Caye forms a protected waterway.

6. It’s provisioned. Local chefs at Thatch Central, the resort’s eatery, prepare everything from Belizean to international cuisine. Find a full Belizean breakfast, light lunches and dinner plates heaped with seafood paella, roast pork tenderloin and other enticing dinner entrees. Need a people fix? Head for the Starfish Bar.

7. It’s sporty. Even if the lack of humanity on this private island beckons, you might want to interact with others to take advantage of kayaking, paddle boarding or shore snorkeling. The gear you need to engage in these activities is complimentary.

8. It’s cozy. Accommodations are coffee table book-worthy and utterly romantic. Choose between thatch-roofed casitas, bungalows, cabanas or family villas. Each has comfy beds, ensuite baths, private balconies and hammocks. Built at the water’s edge, there’s no charge for lullabies made up of gentle, lapping waves.

9. It’s bilingual. This private island gets plenty of English-speaking guests so you won’t need translation apps or books to enjoy this gorgeous place. Whether you need a guide for your saltwater fishing expedition or help identifying marine life, there are no “lost in translation” moments at Thatch Caye.

10. It’s heaven. If you’re eyeing Thatch Caye because it’s away from the madding crowd, you’re going to leave thinking that the folks with whom you interact on the island aren’t half bad! From the aquarium gracing the marina to one-of-a-kind sunsets, connecting boardwalks and the peace you crave, this private island has it all!

10 Best Luxury Resorts in Belize

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1. Thatch Caye Resort
Find five unique “over the sea” bungalows, four island cabanas and a family-friendly villa at Thatch Caye, nine miles off south-central Belize. Privacy is so paramount, you may have to browse several hammocks if you require human company. That said, Thatch Caye is in close proximity to every dining, excursion and water sport experience you seek.

2. Yok Ha Island Resort
Seeking the quintessential place to chill out? Yok Ha’s five deluxe cabanas seduce vacationers by offering the ultimate in privacy. The food on premises is delicious, so leave only if you must. What’s unique? Grab a bar stool and sip a cocktail while contemplating the Barrier Reef below.

3. Chabil Mar
Privacy and luxury abound at Chabil Mar where 400 feet of private beach front attract repeat visitors who like the idea of jumping out of bed and into the surf. Dine al fresco at Café Mar after laps in one of two infinity pools. Walk to Placencia Village to experience the town’s flavor.

4. Victoria House
Named for “that Queen,” if you check into this 42-room complex, you will be treated like royalty. Located in San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Belize, this island getaway pairs comfort and relaxation with water sports, nightlife and sightseeing. Want to know what Victoria House has in store just for you?

5. Turtle Inn
Visit the Turtle Inn website and you’ll be treated to the sound of waves crashing on beaches to introduce a 25-room seafront hideaway built by Hollywood legend Francis Coppola. What’s unusual? Hand-picked Balinese furnishings and extras only the Hollywood player and winemaker was clever enough to add.

6. Portofino
If Bali is your dream but you’ve no time to go, Portofino can scratch that itch. On the other hand, there’s nothing primitive about the resort’s amenities that include flat screen cable TVs and Wi-Fi connections. Portofino’s treetop suites and the Mansion’s 2,000 (total) feet of splendor could leave you speechless.

7. El Secreto
Picture yourself floating in the hot tub attached to your private villa’s thatch-roofed bedroom. Frequent visitors adore the tropical scenery and the El Secreto Restaurant menu. Your masseuse can meet you at the couples massage cabin or come to your villa. This might be the only decision you’re required to make during your visit!

8. Robert’s Grove
Interior designers created charming, Hacienda-style interiors at Robert’s Grove, a luxury destination that encompasses 22 acres along the Placencia beach. World-class dining at four eateries on premises plus recreational activities, a spa, dive center and marina are guaranteed to satisfy the pickiest tourist.

9. Laru Beya
Laru Beya’s well-appointed decks, beaches and balconies are only three miles away from fine dining and nightlife in Placencia, but the two worlds never collide. Laru Beya means “on the beach” in Garifuna dialect, but you may wish to call it “ultimate luxury” after experiencing the resort’s roof-top Jacuzzi, designed for intimacy and romance.

10. San Ignacio Resort
The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is called “the only jungle in town” because the former private estate was built on a hill along the Macal River, and the trees and plants remain. Inside, find marble floors and exotic hardwood décor plus swimming, dining and more. Stroll to town if you like, but if rumors are true, returning to your digs will remain the highlight of your stay.

11. Copal Tree Lodge

Managed by Muy’Ono Hospitality, Copal Tree Lodge is built on lands that date back about 1500 years to the classic Maya period. In only a few short years Copal Tree Lodge has grown from pioneering ideas of sustainable food production and agritourism to an award-winning, world-class destination welcoming discerning travelers from around the globe. As one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, we offer a luxurious look at the culture and cuisine of beautiful Belize in a pristine jungle setting. Read more about this fantastic piece of paradise and the ecologically conscious values it was founded upon below.

There's a Fire in the Sky

For a few moments, it seems like the entire day might turn out to be gray.

Water hangs on to the shadows just a little longer; it still smells dark outside and the pelicans haven’t yet left their roosts.

The palapa is quiet, there’s coffee waiting for you on the dining table and you’re reading that book you’ve been meaning to start. Maybe you get lost in the words for a moment, look up, and wonder if it’s twilight.

And then at about 6:35am, the sun appears over the eastern waterline like curious little fingers reaching over the kitchen counter.

Before you know it, the frigate birds have found their wind stream above the island. You’ve finished your plate of fresh papaya, traded in coffee for a Bloody Mary and you’re on the search for somebody to get that one spot on your back.

The best thing about sunrise here? It happens every day. 

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Whale Shark Diving Season is Coming Soon!

At the top of almost every divers bucket list is a whale shark sighting.  Hearth pounding, exhilarating, amazing and perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.

There is a lot of information on line about where to go to swim with a whale shark; it is a bit overwhelming. But we have some tips to help you maximize your chances of having an awesome encounter.

Most people who have seen the whale shark have been blessed with dumb luck and the coveted curse of being in the right place at the right time. I did not think I possessed either of these qualities until I stumbled upon the holy grail of the whale shark world; Gladden Spit, Belize - 3 days after the full moon in May. This is when the mutton and cubera snapper are spawning. The whale shark follows to feed off the eggs. 

I arrived a couple days before the full moon in May and upon arrival was educated on the likelihood of seeing a whale shark. I had to stay. It is best to wait until the dive boats start seeing whale sharks before going out. Once the whale sharks start migrating into Gladden Split, they grow in numbers, generally stay there for a week and the number of sightings increases. I had to be patient; the longer I waited the better my chances were of swimming with the largest fish in the sea. Generally, the best day to see the whale shark is the 3rd or 4th day after the full moon. One day after the full moon there was the first whale shark sighting of the month, but only one boat saw it. Two days after the full moon, there was nothing. Three days after there were two separate sightings of whale sharks. Four days after the full moon I went on my first scheduled dive trip.  At Thatch Caye, we stay in touch with all of the diving operators in the area to track the sightings and maximize our guests chances.

It is a bit of a trek out to Gladden Split and once we got outside the reef, the waters were rough. I was thankful for my rock gut and small breakfast as I watched a fellow diver lose her breakfast, and possibly her internal organs, over the side of the boat.   It helps if you take some anti-nausea medication before you leave the resort  We saw our first two whale sharks from the boat. Seeing a whale shark from a boat is amazing, but not as amazing as dropping in and seeing the whale shark face to face. The largest fish in the ocean and polka-dotted to boot. The shark’s slow movement and tranquil aurora balanced the natural fear of being so close to a creature of that size. The desire to touch the fish was offset by the fear of a $5,000 USD fine, but when one of the sharks almost swan right into me my only thought was that they couldn’t fine me if it’s not my fault, right? Ok, my first through wasn’t even conscious, it was an absurdly unjustified yet paralyzing fear that I was going to be eaten by a harmless filter-feeding shark. My second thought was that it wouldn’t help to try and swim away because the whale shark can swim faster. Then calm followed by excitement that I might get to ‘accidentally’ touch the whale sharks polka-dotted ridges or smooth belly. He swam right over the top of my head. Slowly, gracefully and beautifully. I did not reach up to touch his belly out of respect for the shark, but I could have. He was that close.

For more tips on how to see whale sharks and the best dates to head out diving, visit the Thatch Caye Resort website.