Years ago, Belize became an important seaport sanctuary as renegade British sailors raided Spain’s substantial gold coffers. Today’s visitors aren’t typically after gold, but instead relax on the beach, snorkel and scuba dive in Belize’s world-class diving spots, swill rum-rich concoctions and hike rain-forest trails. Staying at one of Belize’s many beach hotels is a convenient way to access marine attractions, and most hotel staff members willingly arrange off-site explorations or guided tours for guests who'd like to venture inland.
Belize’s Almond Beach Resort & Spa caters to tropical lovebirds with romantic packages featuring complimentary champagne welcomes, candlelit dinners, fresh flower arrangements in hotel rooms and private verandas. Beachfront accommodations include mahogany furnishings, indoor and outdoor showers, and thatched roofs. Breakfast includes fresh-baked banana bread, and guests sample the locally popular seafood pie for lunch or swim up to the poolside bar for piña coladas or fresh fruit daiquiris. At the on-site spa, visitors book couples massages that wind down with a soak in a flower-filled tub.
With its beaches, hiking trails and gentle waters, Belize seems like a tropical playground for kids. Staying at family-friendly hotels lessens the burden of keeping children occupied -- the best venues offer enough activities to wear kids out in time for bed. The Inn at Robert’s Grove offers one-, two- and three-bedroom suites equipped with air-conditioning, hammocks and TVs. The resort helps book diving instruction, fly-fishing trips, or visits to the rain forest and nearby Mayan ruins. On-site, families canoe or kayak down the river, swim in one of the hotel’s three pools or try sailing. Breakfast is free, and the Inn at Robert’s Grove serves up larger portions of adult meals to facilitate sharing with kids -- there’s also a children’s menu. Kids under age 12 stay free.
Belize’s primary attractions are outdoors at the beach, so travelers looking to save money stay in budget accommodation and reserve funds for preferred activities. The family-owned Ruby’s Hotel opened in 1978. Basic rooms with simple amenities including a ceiling fan are pretty cheap, and guests pay more for air-conditioning or private bathroom. Staff members help arrange fishing trips, visits to the Mayan ruins or other tourist attractions.
The Phoenix Resort in Belize, located along the world’s second-longest reef at Ambergris Caye, helps guests access the 175-mile barrier reef. Spot stingrays, nurse sharks and sea turtles while snorkeling or SCUBA diving. The beachfront hotel refers interested guests to area dive shops for three-day certification courses, or points experienced divers toward more challenging spots.
- belize aerial image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com