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  • khdeutmeyer

The tranquility of Belize with warm water, sunny skies, beautiful birds and big sharks!

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

All, I can say is, WOW! Belize is awesome! The Caribbean water is the warmest I have snorkeled and the fish, coral and sea life were amazing! Definitely worth a return trip!

Welcome to Belize! We visited the southern region of Belize where there is jungle, birds, and beautiful beaches! We also visited Ambergris Caye in the northern region of Belize and loved the calm water and snorkeling! Belize has something for everyone looking for a relaxing vacation!

“When I think of the perfect location to relax and enjoy the beach, sun and water, I think of Placencia, Belize at Maya Beach. The Maya Beach Resort was a little piece of heaven! The water is crystal clear, the sun is warm, the beach is lovely, and the tranquility is perfect for the soul!”

Maya Beach and Placencia, Belize

We flew into Belize City and rented a small SUV and traveled 3 hours south to Maya Beach, just north of Placencia. Our experience renting the vehicle was is a bait and switch! We rented a car online through and was to pick up our car at Enterprise. When we arrived, the young man at the counter said they were out of cars and were going to find us a car at a neighboring rental company. It seemed very odd because there were cars all over the parking lot! The young man walked us a few doors down to a local car company, Pancho's Auto Rental, and indicated they would rent us a car for the same price. We rented a car and were on our way but it was not a new SUV, had over 80,000 miles on it. Definitely a bait and switch. I am sure the young man at the Enterprise counter received a "finders fee"; the chain rental company lost our businesses; and the local company had a win! All was good. But next time I travel to Belize, I will definitely rent from the locals and avoid the hassle!

We traveled during the COVID-19 pandemic so it was very quiet at both resorts we stayed at and in Belize in general. Honestly, a perfect time to visit! Placencia was quite a long drive from the airport and we didn't want to take a commuter flight because we wanted to see and explore Belize. Our biggest concern was our luggage and making sure the airlines moved it three hours south to Plancencia. We were fortunate and the luggage was delivered to the airport in Placencia the next afternoon.

The photos below are from the Maya Beach Resort in Placencia. The single cottage rooms were decorated perfectly with a kitchenette and air conditioned. They had a small restaurant on site with several other restaurants close by. The water was perfectly warm with opportunities to float and see sand dollars on the bottom of the ocean floor. The owner lived on site and worked daily making sure all of the guests were content with the accommodations. There were parrots on site in the trees that could be heard in the mornings. The sunsets were gorgeous too. I would stay there again without hesitation and want to plan a trip back to there soon.

Staying in Placencia gave us great access to the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. We could drive to both in search of Toucans and Scarlett McCaws. The Toucan is the national bird of Belize so we had to see the Toucan or we couldn't leave Belize! We were fortunate to see Toucans and Owls at the Mayflower Bocawina Park. We had three Speckled Owls in two trees high above us for at least an hour and a pair of Toucans flew in to chase away the owls so we were fortunate to get up close to the Toucans too! The young park ranger at Mayflower was very helpful and did bird calls with his cell phone app to call the birds. We laughed and thought it was a long shot for a toucan to fly in or an Owl but sure enough, we saw both!

We had a very special experience driving to Red Bank to find the Scarlet McCaw birds. We are used to seeing the Scarlet McCaw birds in Costa Rica high up in the palm trees but typically near the beach and pretty easy to find. So, we assumed the same for Belize but that is not the case. We drove to Red Bank about an hour from our resort at Maya Beach and found this small village with a sign to a house that said "Scarlet McCaws". We stopped and asked and were told that we had to take a "tour" to an area in the jungle to see the birds and it was better to come back earlier the next day for the tour. We also had to pay for the tour and again, not something we expected. We left and decided to drive the area down a few dirt roads looking for the Scarlet McCaws on our own. We didn't find the McCaws but we came across a family deep in the jungle cutting wood. They were collecting the wood and carrying it on their bikes back to the village to their straw huts where they lived. They used the wood for cooking and for heating water. I was shocked needless to say. It was very hot and there was a mother and her three kids and a cousin. We helped them with the wood, loading it into the back of our SUV and gave the mom and one of the kids a ride back to the village. The mother could not speak English but the kids spoke some English. Sure enough, they lived in grass huts and they collected wood every day. The kids told us that the Scarlett McCaw typically flew over every day when they are cutting wood. Meeting this family was a wonderful experience and added to the authenticity of the way of life of Belize.

We ended up going back the next day for our Scarlet McCaw tour and picked up the guide at his house. He spoke fairly good English and come to find out...his family owns the land where we did our hike up the mountainside to view the Scarlet McCaw. It is a good thing it was in the morning because it was hot and the climb was steep. It was not what we expected at all and after seeing McCaws so close in Cost Rica, this was definitely disappointing. The birds were there but flying high above us between mountainsides across the valley. We paid $100 for the tour and I would not do the tour again. But I would go back to Red Bank to try and find the McCaws on our own and to the village to visit the family we met.

We took one snorkel tour while in Placencia to Silk Cayes, a very tiny island with white sand beaches and from Silk Cayes we visited Turtle Alley and snorkeled with the sea turtles. Silk Cayes was gorgeous and while snorkeling we saw the reef and sting ray. Turtle Alley was just that, lots of Loggerhead Turtles that were amazing to snorkel with. The water is turquoise blue, warm and calm. Perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The day we went out it was cloudy at first and a little cool and did sprinkle but it cleared off the longer we were out on the snorkel trip. They fed us lunch on the trip and it was well worth our time.

Pelicans have always been one of my favorite birds. Since I started traveling to Florida as a young child, I loved to watch the Pelicans. Well, Maya Beach had pelicans! Lots of Pelicans! Just up the road from our resort, we had come upon a pelican frenzy! Pelicans everywhere! We also had a few seagulls too! I find it relaxing to watch them.

The second leg of our trip was five nights on Ambergris Caye. We drove back to Belize City and returned our car to fly to Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. The flight was on a small twin engine plane and the views of the island from the air was amazing! Gorgeous doesn't even do it justice. It is beyond gorgeous! We stayed at a small resort Bella Vista Guesthouse and Cabins. It was a lovely resort locally owned with very large clean rooms, nice pool, beach access, free made to order hot breakfast daily, and tours leaving right from the dock on site. No cars are allowed on Ambergris Caye so we rented a golf cart to get around. The rental company meets you right at the airport to drop off the golf cart when you arrive. The resort had a very nice beach to walk with gorgeous palm trees and access to snorkeling right from the dock. The iguanas were everywhere and some of them were very large...almost the size of a puppy! There were also crocodiles on the island living inland in the lagoons and along the dirt roads in ditches. The crocodiles made me a little uneasy wondering if they live in the ocean but the locals assured us that they only live in the swamps inland.

Birds, Birds and more Birds on Ambergris Caye! We love to bird watch and Ambergris Caye is full of tropical birds at least 60 different species live on Ambergris Caye. Our goal was to see the pink Spoonbill and we did see it several times. We made the golf cart trip every day to Secret Beach, a popular tourist beach area on the island. On the way to Secret Beach there are marshy areas with birds and crocodiles.