A Destination in Belize for Every Decade of Your Life

by Carolee Chanona
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As we grow as travelers, our tastes naturally evolve—meaning that a spur-of-the-moment weekender trip that spoke to you as a 20-something might not be right for you in your 40s. So, to get you started on your next great Caribbean adventure in Belize, it’s time to outline where to go (and what to see and do along the way) with a destination during each decade of your life. But please, do not get me wrong: there is absolutely no age limit to either of these destinations. Instead, I hope you’re left with a spark of inspiration for your next getaway adventure. The truth is, you’ll never outgrow the liberating feeling of packing a suitcase and personifying a true globetrotter, stopping on a whim, or even making a detour when something catches your eye.

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Hiking Bocawina National Park. Image via The Belize Collection

After all, a Caribbean getaway isn’t just for Spring Breakers or retirees — it’s for every traveler in every decade of their life, and all paths lead to Belize.

For the teens and toddlers: Cayo District

Little legs fatigue quickly, which is why the Cayo District’s vast playground is the perfect destination for family travel with little ones in the first and second decade of their life while visiting Belize.  Eager to get into the saddle, horseback riding is a non-physical ‘sport’ the kids can get into while parents take in dramatic landscapes, like the towering Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve if riding with Blancaneaux Lodge. Sand in-between-toes with soft and fragile castles,  the ‘beach’ at Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge is a low-key way to spend the day too; cool off beyond just a dip by hopping into an inner tube and floating downstream, exiting at the next resort, like Black Rock Lodge or The Lodge at Chaa Creek.

In San Ignacio, grab the kiddos and head to the only jungle in town for one-on-one time with the chartreuse-colored, miniature dinosaurs of San Ignacio Resort Hotel; animal lovers in the family will learn about the ecology and longevity of the Green Iguana Conservation Project while also supporting their conservation. Cool off at their onsite pool, or head further inland to the St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park just outside of the City of Belmopan—an aquamarine, spring-water-filled cenote with a temp that’s always refreshing after fun in the sun.

For The 20-Somethings: Ambergris Caye

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Step into Ambergris Caye’s energy with San Pedro Town. Image courtesy Roeming Belize

Measuring about 25 miles in length, Ambergris Caye’s white sandy beaches melts into an eclectic yet vibrant island vibe; resorts line its shores, while the second largest barrier reef in the world sits off its east coast. It’s rum and sun on Ambergris Caye’s, which rightly brags as the country’s top destination. Particularly perfect for the 20-somethings, the island’s San Pedro Town is the closest remnants to nightlife in the country that’s found any day of the week. On Thursdays at Wahoo Lounge, try your luck with the uniquely Belizean game, Chicken Drop—essentially, you’re betting on chicken poop while a DJ hypes a beachside crowd.

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Already checked snorkeling and diving off your list? Then rent a golf cart and head to Secret Beach, which is probably the worst kept secret on the island (but for all the right reasons) just 4.5 miles north of San Pedro. The deceivingly named spot’s beachside bars line the coast, with thatched mini huts for in-the-water, waist-deep lounging. Hoping to stick to the town instead? Set up shop in a floating innertube at the famous Palapa Bar for beer by the buckets, served straight into the water as live music bounces off the Caribbean Sea’s soft ripples. At nightfall, live it up for the ‘gram at Sunset Lounge, a trendy rooftop patio, for cocktails and dancing; Alaia Belize’s Vista Rooftop Pool & Lounge on their sixth floor offers the same, but it’s a bit more upscale for a more luxury experience.

Find where to stay here, which includes favorites like SunBreeze Hotel, Matachica Resort, Alaia Belize, and more.

For the 30-Somethings: Caye Caulker

A bird’s eye view of The Split.

Easy-going and balmy, Caye Caulker sticks to its strict schedule of island time. Blissfully absent of cars and to the naked eye, stress, 30-somethings can take it easy at The Split or just beyond on the opposite end beyond the narrow channel. At just about 5 miles long, Caye Caulker has an allure that tugs on an artist’s palette; colorful houses are a signature, bicycles are the main mode of transport (where I—a born and raised Belizean—gave away my mainland roots by ‘locking’ my rental), with a slew of beachside BBQ pits.

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Caye Caulker, Belize. Image via @veveordie

At dusk, drink in the sunset with a sundowner in hand: pelicans sweep low, docile Southern stingrays cozy close to the coast, and a fiery ball melts into the horizon behind anchored sailboats.

Favorite stays on Caye Caulker include Weezie’s, Jan’s Hotel, and Blu Zen.

For the 40-Somethings: Placencia

Recently hailed as the best beach in Central America for those seeking peace and quiet, the Placencia Peninsula is a thread of destinations along a 19-mile stretch of the softest sands of the mainland. It’s laid back in the Village, and the beach-holiday strip is nicknamed “the Caye you can drive to” as a fully paved 27-mile road from mainland to tip. Roaming the cement and coral sidewalk that cuts through the village is custom, before stopping into beachy boutiques with tongue-in-cheek names (like Sunova Beach on the Tipsy Strip) or grabbing a cone on the cusp of melting, which is the perfect vessel for arguably the best gelato you’ll ever taste.  If Tutti Frutti owner Tiziana has her way, you’ll order her favorite—banana.

Not to mention, Placencia is also the perfect destination to pick up authentic Belize art from sidewalk artists, where there’s a taste/gift for every decade. However, the best part of Placencia may be its direct access to some of the most pristine islands in the country. Head out on a fishing expedition, or go day-tripping to favorites like Moho Caye, Laughing Bird Caye, or even Ray Caye Island Resort.

Find where to stay here, which includes favorites like Naia Resort, Turtle Inn, Itz’ana Resort, and more.

For the 50-Somethings: Hopkins

Eight miles south of Dangriga and four miles off the Southern Highway, luxury in Hopkins Village comes in the form of authentic stays, unspoiled beachscapes, and quaint enclaves. For those in the fifth decade of their life visiting Belize, Hopkins Village is the perfect destination for easy-going nature tours with access to both the islands and jungle adventures. Kayak or SUP (stand up paddle) through the Sittee River, witness glowing marine life from January through May for a pontoon bioluminescence safari, or leisurely river tube to take in the sights and sounds of the world’s first jaguar preserve at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

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The Big Dock Ceviche Bar at Jaguar Reef Lodge, a beach chic resort of The Belize Collection. Photo courtesy property.

These days, there’s a vibrant Garifuna population in Hopkins but also a growing North American ex-pat community. Pursue the former with a drumming and cooking lesson, Warasa Garifuna School’s specialty. Historical dancing, all the warmth of this tight-knit coastal community, and a coconut-milk-based seafood stew? Sign us up. That evening, head to the attraction-in-itself, over-water Big Dock Bar for Rum & Coke Ice Pops and languid sun-worshipping. The Lodge at Jaguar Reef‘s ceviche bar paints a perfect picture of Belize’s duality: ceviche, a stronghold darling for Central American foodies, and citrusy jolts to tried-and-true rum-based, lime-wedged cocktails against the Caribbean Sea.

Find where to stay here, which includes favorites like Hamanasi Resort and The Lodge at Jaguar Reef.

For the 60-Somethings: Punta Gorda

Go a little further to the southernmost district of Belize, Toledo; this magical corner is warm with hospitality and quiet escapes. Bordered by the Caribbean Sea and dotted with the most Maya villages inland, its towns are tranquil and inviting with deep fishing roots. And while there may not be beaches like its Stann Creek counterpart, the charm of Punta Gorda in Toledo runs far deeper. Retirees and 60-somethings love visiting the Maya ruins of Nim Li Punit near the village of Indian Creek; the site is known for its 26 stelae discovered in the southern Plaza of the Stelae, with four of the finest housed behind the visitor’s center.

Wake up above the jungle canopy at an agrotourism chic destination like Copal Tree Lodge for a morning birding tour on property, or venture off to the edge of Belize’s southernmost territory with the pristine, white-sand beach Snake Cayes. Also in Punta Gorda, the Belize Spice Farm and Botanical Gardens offer a multitude of options to awaken the senses through fragrant spice, sharp flavors, and an arch of color with a tractor-led tour. This way, you can sit back, relax, and take in your natural surroundings. And if you’re still searching for another form of therapeutic decompression, then try your hand at fly fishing. After all, you’re staying in the heart of Permit Alley and can be put on the fly within minutes from the coast.

Copal Tree Lodge is a crowd favorite to stay.

Header image via ROEming Belize.

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