Belize, A Backpackers Paradise Part 1: The Cayes

Belize is the perfect place to get your feet wet in the world travel game. Cheap to get to , inexpensive to stay , and easy to get around with plenty to see and do. It doesn’t get any better than Belize.

Belize, A Backpackers Paradise Part 1: The Cayes

As a professor I always take the opportunity to tell my students the same thing, travel, travel, travel. With all the money and time students spend educating themselves, they owe it to themselves to take that time and money for at least one of those semesters and go see some of the world. Pick the place you always wanted to see and make it happen. Cars and apartments can be replaced and your bills will wait for you, trust me. If they don’t have a specific place they have always wanted to see, I always suggest Belize.

Belize is the perfect place to get your feet wet in the world travel game. Cheap to get to (about $500 round trip), inexpensive to stay $500 to a $1000 will keep you in style for months), and easy to get around with plenty to see and do. It doesn’t get any better than Belize. Belize is a small country with about 250,000 people and it’s located on the Caribbean Sea just south of the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America. They speak primarily Spanish but English is understood and spoken everywhere. The first place you go is Belize City, as that is where the airport is located, and it is not a tourist destination. Run down and rife with crime, it’s the only place you don’t want to spend any time and certainly not at night. The good thing is it’s not an issue. When you land at the airport you can immediately book a flight to the cayes (pronounced keys) they leave every hour. A twenty minute fight and you are in one of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean.

I suggest Caye Caulker. It’s not as big as Ambergris Caye but it is less traveled, less expensive and just as much fun. In fact, it’s one of those places in the world where you sit on the beach and truly consider whether or not you are ever going to leave. The hotels are clean and inexpensive, the restaurants are wonderful, if you are not in a hurry to eat, but why would you be. The clubs are small and local, beach bars mostly and the people who live on the island full time are as hospitable and friendly as anywhere I’ve ever been.

The scuba diving can be expensive. The main diving operations are mostly American owned and operated, so you end up paying American style prices. It’s worth the money, especially if you are going to dive the famous blue holes. Blue holes are the entrances to salt water caves that often have sharks in them, very exciting. However one of the best experiences I had was hooking up with a local who had a boat and took us out snorkeling. I saw some of the most incredible and pristine reef in only 15 ft of water. I spent hours swimming with all the animals and corals I could stand for a fraction of the price and hassle of the scuba trips. I went with the same guy to a small island called Golf Caye. It is literally the cartoon island, a few small trees and white beach all the way around. While he grilled fish on the beach we snorkeled all the way around it with 5 to 10 feet of untouched reef, incredible.

The cayes are just one aspect of Belize that makes it so wonderful. Check out Belize part 2: what to do inland.knoji.com/belize-backpacker-paradise-part-2-inland-activities/

For more of my travels both past and future check out my blog: onthemove819.blogspot.com/

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Posted on Sep 16, 2010