With more than 500 different species of birds found in Belize, it is clear that this Central American destination is a dream for birdwatchers. Whether you are a casual observer or a serious enthusiast, you won't have trouble spotting magnificent birds and beautiful plumage.
Growing up in a northern suburb of New York City with no sidewalks or public transportation, driving a car was a necessity. It was also something that I avoided as often as possible. So arriving on Ambergris Caye and seeing only a few cars, most of which are taxis, I couldn’t have been happier. The two most common methods of transportation on the island are golf cart (!) and bike. Golf carts are treated in the same manner as cars in the sense that each has a Belizean license plate on the back and needs to have insurance. When 16-year-olds are ready to drive, they take their road test in a golf cart! Tourists are able to rent a golf cart with their regular license, but I decided that this summer I would be biking on Ambergris Caye -- my favorite method of transportation.
In many ways, Belize is a true melting pot of cultures. Although the nation is relatively small, occupying just under 9,000 square miles, Belize is home to a mixture of traditional Mayan people, those with roots in Garifuna heritage, Kriol residents, Mestizos and plenty of immigrants from China, Lebanon and India.
One of the biggest challenges that travelers and expatriates alike have is finding a destination that balances culture and comfort. Essentially, the perfect destination offers all the amenities of home, letting you feel comfortable and relaxed in the environment, but also gives you plenty of opportunities to dive into the local culture and explore something new.
Hungry for a snack and thirsty for fresh juice, my friend and I decided to venture up north for a snack prior to kayaking. After riding around on our bikes for a half hour or so, we arrived at Rojo Beach Lounge – a waterfront bar/restaurant located approximately 5 miles north from the heart of San Pedro. (I still smile at the fact that no one uses addresses, just distances from downtown San Pedro.) We took a seat at the bar, ordered some Caribbean-inspired food, and pinched ourselves. Nope, this is not a dream. The azure waters and sandy beaches still continue to awe me. After a few tasty drinks and a good chat with our bartender, we decided to continue our exploration up north.
With a black garbage bag in my latex-gloved hand, I joined the ‘front’ street team in the weekly San Pedro Beach cleanup. Although my travels to Ambergris Caye were not motivated by “voluntourism” (a vacation focused on a community outreach project), I have always been active in community service. Feeling settled on the island, I wanted to get involved in the community that has so graciously welcomed me with open arms. With the help of the Internet and after speaking with locals, I discovered there are many ways to become involved in the community, each of varying levels of commitment.
Belize is an exciting destination to visit or even to call home, and there is no shortage of fantastic things to do throughout the country. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, a serious water sports enthusiast or a lover of culture and international history, you will find a bit of everything in Belize.
Since what you want out of your retirement is a uniquely personal decision, the best retirement destination can also vary from person to person. However, there is no question that some spots around the world are incredibly popular with retirees.
Altun Ha, an ancient site whose name translates to Water of the Rock, is one of the most fascinating destinations in all of mainland Belize. It is believed by historians and archeologists that Altun Ha was first established as early as 900 BC, but it was only rediscovered in the 1960s.
Whether you are planning a vacation to the scenic country of Belize or you are considering full time residence there, one of your primary concerns may be travel.