After the past few months at home, one may say we’ve learned to enjoy our own company. While travel was on hold, imaginations ran wild—supercharged with wanderlust from behind a digital screen. Instead, travelers during quarantine—myself included—vowed to see the world, regardless if we had a traditional travel partner. But solo travel is intimidating, especially if you’re a woman. Do your homework before arriving, choose the right accommodation for you, and most importantly, trust yourself. If you’re looking to plan your next solo travel adventure or your very first, here’s why you should start with the Caribbean and base yourself out of Belize’s cayes.
The 1st Timer: Ambergris Caye
First solo trip? The best bet is to ease into exploring on your own by booking an almost-all-inclusive resort stay; bonus points for one with a 24-hour front desk. Technically, you won’t need to leave your accommodation if you’re not comfortable and if you are, you can book tours directly through the resort. Always wanted to learn how to dive? Do it! Feel like grabbing a bite outside the resort? Ask for the top recommendation for whatever you’re feeling, whether that’s street food or rooftop dining. Besides, as a solo traveler, referrals are everything. Ask the front desk for a local insight into the best of service (think trusted taxi drivers) and save that information. Maybe by the end of your vacation, you’re filled with a bit more ambition, and Ambergris Caye is perfect to explore solo. It’s larger than its fellow northern neighbor Caye Caulker and arguably Belize’s #1 destination, which means there’s a good blend of beach bars, live music hotspots, casual dining, and more. There may be closures with COVID-19, so be sure to double-check online before venturing out.
Comfortable and Confident: Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker tends to be more affordable than Ambergris Caye, which makes it solo-traveler friendly for those on a budget or even backpacking. There’s a wide variety of small and medium-sized accommodations that are local and family-run, like hostels to comfortable favorites like Jan’s Hotel. The smaller guest to host ratio has its advantages; this also makes them personally invested in ensuring you have an enjoyable (and safe) Belize experience; this is especially handy as you venture out in the morning, only to return at night. This way, it’s as if you have someone looking out for you. Caye Caulker is also smaller, which means getting from one end of the island to the other is a leisurely 15-minute bike ride away. Locals tend to go barefoot or by bicycle, and solo travelers are always advised to not attract extra attention. On my last trip to Caye Caulker, I secured my bicycle under lock and key with a padlock while I grabbed an iced coffee at Ice & Beans. I heard a warm smile, “You must be from Belize City or something inland; nobody locks their bicycles out here.” Well, the more you know.
Carpe Diem in Belize
After 192 days of border closures, Belize reopened for leisurely travel once more; inviting all travelers to explore their curiosity, safely—simply test negative for COVID-19. Heavily reliant on tourism, the country implemented a Gold Standard for Belize Travel with various certification programs and a Tourism Safe Corridor. Low occupancies at resorts despite reduced rates, plus a generally low population density, makes social distancing in Belize’s wide-open nature easy. With over 40% of Belize’s GDP reliant on tourism, U.S. dollars are so important right now. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few months is carpe diem: make the most of the present time. Too often, we put things off for a so-called special day that may never come; that includes a new travel destination or bucket list experience. Travel is still one of the greatest privileges—now so, more than ever. Don’t let solo travel hold you back from Belize!
Header photo of Ambergris Caye, Belize by Roeming Belize.