Embracing Eco-Travels As A Family in Belize

by Vivian Roe
Planning a family trip can feel like a big task. But what about when you want to also plan it as sustainably as possible? If your family loves to travel but you worry about the environmental, social, and economic effects of doing so, fret not: eco-friendly, responsible travel with children is possible. After welcoming our first child into the world, we endeavored to prove just that. As parents, it’s very important for us to use travel to inspire, educate and empower our children. To not only show him different cultures, lifestyles, and environments, but to also teach him how to travel responsibly. Essentially, making conscious decisions on how to bring positive impacts to the destination we visit. As a country that has long focused on sustainability, Belize offers plenty of opportunities to explore its incredible cultural and natural environments in a responsible manner. Moreover, many of these activities are family-friendly. From snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef to a history lesson at an ancient Maya site, here, we share our guide to responsible family travel in Belize, including where to go and what to do.

Where to Go?

children Hopkins school belize

Hopkins Village. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Responsible tourism encourages you to travel less and experience more. With one foot in the Central American jungles and the other in the Caribbean Sea, Belize offers families an abundance of diverse experiences in a relatively small region. Thus, this means families can forgo the traditional modes of transport like flights to get around the country. Choose a few select locations and travel slowly. This allows the little ones (and you) to settle into a base and some sort of familiarity.

Both Hopkins and Caye Caulker are great family-friendly options to consider for the sustainably conscious family. The former is a small coastal fishing village with a vibrant Garifuna population. Here, the entire family can immerse themselves into the culture participating in a traditional drumming lesson or learning to cook a local delicacy, like hudut. Do it all from a place like Hamanasi Resort, an eco-resort surrounded by tropical flora on hundreds of feet of Caribbean Sea beachfront. As the first beach resort in Belize to be Green Globe Certified and as a founding member of Regenerative Resorts, Hamanasi believes that thoughtful eco-tourism can make a positive impact on the environment and our community.

The latter is a laid-back island which in fact, boasts the motto ‘Go Slow’. Surrounded by the Belize Barrier Reef, the local mode of transport on the island is primarily on foot or by bicycle. Children can snorkel, swim and splash about from the island’s shores. In addition, the island heavily promotes the responsibility of protecting the marine ecosystem.

Local tours, like those with Belizean-owned and operated SaltLife Eco Tours, highlight the importance of the coral system and its connecting wildlife to the reef. A snorkel trip with them sees you leave with more knowledge about the sea, its intricate ecosystem, and what you can do to make it better – all whilst witnessing the beautiful wildlife that lies underneath the sea. Experiences like this not only are fun for the whole family but also teach our future generation the importance of preservation and conversation.

What to Do?

Maya women of Toledo District. Image courtesy Duarte Dellarole

Education through experiences is so important and Belize offers an abundance of these. Take a history lesson in the ancient Maya civilization – the first inhabitants of Belize. Of course, climbing to the top of the site is half the fun too. Or choose to learn about the indigenous practices with a Maya homestay. Predominantly based in Southern Belize, the programs are designed to promote foreign exchange and see visitors immerse themselves into modern-day Maya life. One to highlight in particular is the Toledo Ecotourism Association (T.E.A.) Maya Village Guesthouse Program.

The collective is owned by more than 200 members of the local community and endorsed by the Belize Tourism Board. Visitors stay with, eat and participate in everyday village life. In addition, all profits go towards the local economy and community.

blue morph butterfly

For the family of animal lovers, horseback ride through the jungle or visit a butterfly farm. In fact, simply walking in Belize can be wild. Birds, flora, fauna, and local wildlife are spotted everywhere. For an interactive experience with one of the region’s favorite reptiles, head to the Green Iguana Conservation Project in the Cayo district. Based at San Ignacio Resort Hotel, the venture aims to conserve and look after the endangered species by educating the public about the role Green Iguanas play in the ecosystem. Here, visitors of all ages are given the opportunity to mingle with these wonderful reptiles and also learn about the incubation, hatching, rearing, and releasing process done at the project.

Indeed, there is so much to see and do in Belize for both family-friendly and eco-conscious. The country truly does make a wonderful destination to make special memories as a family, as well as teach our next generation the value responsible tourism plays when traveling.

Our role as parents is to teach our children to become good global citizens. Having the opportunity to do so through travel is truly special and we hope to share many more adventures together.

Written by Vivian Roe-Rogers for the 2021/2022 Belize Gold Book.
Header image courtesy Muy’Ono Resorts. Article found on page 62 of the 2021/2022 Belize Gold Book. Read more articles from the #BelizeGoldBook below:

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