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What Do You Know About Belize?
Today Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com and bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as a guest Joshua Berman, co-author of Moon Handbooks Belize. Joshua is a travel expert in Belize, and recently chose the small Central American country for his honeymoon; He has also written extensively about Nicaragua and Honduras.
Welcome to Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com Joshua and thank you for accepting our invitation to be interviewed.
Please tell our readers something about yourself and your expertise in Belize.
I have lived, worked, taught, and traveled in Central America since the US Peace Corps sent me to Nicaragua in 1998. I have been returning to the area since then to write guidebooks, lead service trips, and visit friends and adoptive families. Last year, I was asked by Avalon Travel Publishing to cover Chicki Mallan’s Moon Handbooks Belize, which, when it first appeared 15 years ago, was the first and most popular book in the country. I gladly accepted and continued to research and write the sixth edition, which was released in early 2005.
Where is Belize?
Belize is located in northeastern Central America, bordered by the Yucatan Peninsula in northern Mexico, the Petén Desert of Guatemala in the west, and the Caribbean Sea in the east. Culturally, Belize and its hundreds of cayes (islands, pronounced keys) are more Caribbean than Latin. English is spoken everywhere (along with seven other languages). The diversity is amazing, especially considering that there are only 260,000 people in the entire country.
Would you consider Belize as a good choice for a romantic getaway or honeymoon? Why?
Absolutely. The Belize tourism industry quickly markets the country as a romantic destination, and there is no shortage of unique vacation and romantic packages to choose from:
They can rent their own waterfalls for the day at the Hidden Valley Inn.
Couples can get a Mood Mud Massage at the Maruba Resort Jungle Spa.
They can reproduce in a vertical cave, below which they find a flower bed near an underground spring in Ian Anderson’s Branch Caves. The list goes on and on.
Belize’s size (smaller than Massachusetts), easy accessibility (just a two-hour flight from Miami or Houston), and an amazing selection of small resorts and accommodations seal the deal. To further my endorsement of Belize as a romantic destination, I took my bride here for our honeymoon (ah, the work never stops).
When is the best time to visit Belize based on weather, money, crowds, and availability of flights from the USA, Canada and Europe and Australia, etc.?
Some resorts distinguish the holiday season from the normal season, with higher prices and less availability during Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter so be sure to book during these times. High season (re: more tourists and higher prices) is usually between December and April; This is also the summer season in most years, although December, January, and even February can play for cold weather that blows or stays for a few days.
Your best bet – be prepared, it’s all about clothes and ideas! A weekend of hurricanes can ruin a vacation planned around a snorkelling hike, but it can also provide a great place to explore the rainforest or enjoy a hot tub and fireplace at Mountain Pine Ridge.
June, July, and August technically fall in the rainy season, and travelers during this time are rewarded with cheaper prices in many places. August is a big month for European carriers and travelers, while December and February are dominated by North Americans. Some tourist businesses close completely during the months of September and October, the height of the hurricane season.
Can you give our readers an idea of the cost if the trip is from the USA, Canada and Europe and Australia?
Popular travel wisdom calls Belize the cheapest destination in the Caribbean and the most expensive destination in Central America. There are many mid-range and high-end accommodations throughout the country, ranging from US$25 to hundreds of dollars per night. Exact hotel prices are a tricky thing in Belize; seasonal fluctuations are compounded by various taxes and service charges, sometimes as much as 25 percent more. Always make sure that the price you are quoted is the same as what you will be asked to pay. And, of course, the best deals are plentiful in the low season (May to November), when room rates drop significantly.
For food, budget travelers can get by on less than US$20 a day, but you’re on vacation, right? Admission ranges from US$5 to US$25, depending on where you are; In San Pedro’s top restaurants, a fancy dinner can cost as much as US$75 per person. A few resorts include food prices in their nightly rates, which can be a good thing.
Don’t forget to budget an extra US$40-80 per person per day for activities such as scuba diving, cruises, and tours of Belize’s rainforests, ruins, and fascinating caves. Experienced, independent travelers can travel a bit, but transportation can be difficult.
US$10 per person per night is the base of the budget, and will get you anything from a small, crowded concrete box in most towns to a generous wooden cabin at the Trek Stop (in Cayo) and other backpackers.
If you had to choose 5 incredible places in Belize for your romantic getaway, honeymoon or honeymoon destination, what would they be and why?
First of all, remember that choosing a place to stay has a lot to do with where you want to live and what activities you want to do during your stay: beach or forest? Swimming or hiking? Ruins or ruins? Do you want to get pampered with a massage or get sweaty and muddy with your partner on a jungle adventure? Find out what kind of trip you and your honey are looking for, then sign up and save. The following are just a few of the most romantic places in Belize that I still remember for their quality and friendliness. For more information on the benefits of a Belize budget, check out my book, Moon Handbooks Belize.
Starting on Ambergris Caye, just offshore from Belize’s barrier reef and three miles north of the village of San Pedro, you’ll find Capricorn Resort, located near the beach in one of three bright and cozy cabins. The Capricorn restaurant is one of the best (considered the best) on the island.
Hidden Valley Inn is located on 7,200 acres in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. in front of their cabin fire, listening to the birds chirping outside (especially good in cold, foggy, rainy weather). The area includes evergreen forests and pine trees. These two distinct ecosystems are divided by a geological fault line, which sits along a 1,000-foot ridge. Many streams originate in the mountain and then flow down the steep slopes, often into deep, impressive pools; The Hidden Valley Trail runs through the entire trail.
On the Placencia Peninsula, Kitty’s Place is one of the best and most unpretentious places on the beach. Be sure to plan a day or night trip to Kitty’s secret island, French Louis Caye, 12 miles from the mainland with great snorkelling and upscale accommodations.
Two of the most romantic, beautiful and expensive places in Belize are the two beautiful places of Francis Ford Coppola: Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge, located on the Placencia Peninsula and Mountain Pine Ridge, respectively, and offer several packages. Both locations feature impressive architecture and art from around the world, as well as high-quality workmanship and materials.
The Maruba Resort Jungle Spa, located about an hour north of Belize City, is a delight for the body and soul, as evidenced by its fitness center and unique on-site facilities: A small room decorated with glass; a stone chess table made of palapa; two ponds that seem to emerge from a forest full of waterfalls. These rooms are kept secret and are named after the Moon, Fertility, and Bondage, to name a few. All boast decorative neo-primitive motif carvings, tiled floors, candle stands, cement fountains, tiled tubs, window coverings and fresh flowers on large feather beds and bathtubs.
What should people know about celebrating a wedding in Belize in terms of requirements, different hotel activities, etc.
Belize is gaining a reputation as a great place to tie knots. More and more resorts are hosting weddings of all kinds, some of which are elaborate (such as underwater parties or on top of the Mayan pyramids). If you are in Belize, you must be in Belize three business days before submitting your marriage application to the Registrar General’s Office (tel. You will receive the documents the next business day for your ceremony. If you are divorced or widowed, bring a copy of your death or divorce certificate. The Government of Belize charges US$100 for a license and you will need a birth certificate or passport.
Should couples plan in advance for a vacation, vacation or wedding in Belize?
Wedding entertainment and getaways are easy and do not require much time to book, except during the holidays and at popular resorts. If you are planning a wedding in high season that will require more guest rooms, book a year in advance if possible. Otherwise, a few months is usually enough.
What resources are available online for weddings and honeymoons in Belize?
A number of wedding professionals can handle the paperwork, ministers, flowers, book hotels, celebrations, and more including Katie Valk anywhere in the country, Iraida Gonzales in San Pedro, and Lee Nyhus in Placencia.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers that we haven’t covered?
Yes, check out my WEBSITE for new links and updates on dating in Belize and beyond; I have the most popular Belize forums and articles posted on my links page. Also, MY TEACHING BOOKS will soon have travel examples and other information from my book, to make planning your trip to Belize even easier. Finally, remember the words of Kurt Vonnegut’s prophet, Bokon: Strange ideas of movement are dance lessons from God.
Good ways, everyone, Joshua
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