Belize offers a wide variety of experiences for the intrepid traveler. For many eco tourists, the rainforest is a huge attraction. It teems with exotic flora and fauna. Some species, such as the Green Iguana, Jaguar and the Howler Monkeys, are protected. Others, such as the Maya Mountain frog, the White-lined Toadfish and the Coral Clingfish, as well as about 40 unique plant species and a variety of insects, can only be found in Belize.
It is therefore no wonder that many tourists come to Belize just to explore nature in its pristine state. Adrenaline junkies will also thrill as they zip-line over the forest canopy or rappel down the side of a waterfall. Others will explore subterranean depths through vast underground caverns while floating on tubes.
Culture and history buffs will enjoy climbing the towering stone pyramids found at many ancient Maya sites through the country. These sites often include dwellings, courtyards and artifacts as well.
For scuba divers – Belize offers some of the best diving in the world thanks to the Belizean Barrier Reef. It is home to the Great Blue Hole, located in Lighthouse Reef. This remarkable site is over 1000 feet wide and 400 feet deep and was made famous by Jacques Cousteau back in the 1970s. In addition to diving, visitors can snorkel, go deep sea fishing, or sailing. There are even glass bottomed boat tours for those who need a more sedate adventure. Foodies will love Belize thanks to the local organic produce found in the markets along with super fresh seafood. Music lovers will find there are many types of live music options, particularly during festivals.
From Film Director to Award-Winning Hotelier
Of course, you aren’t the first person to discover how amazing Belize is. No less a luminary than Francis Ford Coppola, the famous film director, producer and screenwriter who notably created The Godfather, visited Belize in the 1980s.
He fell in love with the abandoned Blancaneaux Lodge. It was a private hideaway in paradise for the busy producer until 1993, when he opened his family retreat to the public. Now, it is now a 20-room luxury hideaway. Located in a corner of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the Cayo District, the resort features thatched dwellings surrounded by waterfalls, exquisite tropical foliage and proximity to wildlife.
Within a one-hour drive of the resort, it is possible to visit up to 14 protected areas. These comprise the 1.2 million-acre Maya Mountain Massif and are a wonder for Eco tourists to explore. Cabanas themselves are fairly rustic, but beautifully decorated. Special amenities include an amazing spa with a huge variety of options, an organic garden that produces much of the food served at the on-site restaurant, and a riding stable.
Other amenities include a sunrise guided bird watching tour, the complimentary use of bicycles and river tubes for guests, the use of all hiking trails and guided river tubing expeditions.
While Blancaneaux Lodge was the first of Coppola’s properties in Belize, it was not the last. In 2001, he and Eleanor Coppola created an idyllic seafront getaway on Placencia. Turtle Inn resort is set on the peninsula’s beautiful beaches so guests simply walk to the Caribbean Sea. Guests stay in individually thatched cottages decorated with Balinese handcrafts.
The on-site restaurant specializes in freshly caught seafood, while the on-site spa has a wide array of treatments. Two infinity swimming pools can be enjoyed by guests, and sailboats, snorkeling gear, kayaks, paddle boards and bicycles can all be rented for a nominal fee. However, one of the most attractive amenities is the on-site dive shop.
As Placencia is only a short distance from the Belize Barrier Reef, it makes a perfect home-base for diving adventures. At the Turtle Inn, the professionals offer not just equipment and tours but also a wide range of PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification courses. All Turtle Inn dive trips are led by a licensed guide who is also a PADI Divemaster or certified instructor. Each boat is led by a licensed captain. The equipment used is always state-of-the-art and regularly inspected, though if you have your own you are welcome to bring it.
Finally, for those who want a time of exquisite isolation, there is the resort on Coral Caye. It’s a completely private island just an 8-mile boat ride from Turtle Inn. You and your traveling companions can enjoy an island to yourselves, though your meals will be catered. The 2-acre island features a small coral sand beach and fascinating mangroves, and you’ll stay in a rustic cottage where you will be lulled to sleep by just the sound of the ocean.
You may choose to live like a castaway (though with chef prepared meals!), or you may incorporate a few activities, such as a massage or a guided fishing trip, into your itinerary. Your options are open-ended and flexible, making for a truly indulgent vacation. As you can see, the three Coppola resorts provide three different, wonderful experiences. You might need to try them all!