For just the right balance of adventure and relaxation, rainforest exploring and beach lounging, this Central America country is a find, and a great value.
When planning a recent winter holiday for our family, my husband and I were seeking just the right balance of adventure and relaxation, rainforest exploring and beach time lounging. After researching our options, Belize came up the winner, and lived up to every expectation we had of a fantastic family destination.
Belize, located in Central America, shares borders with Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west, stretching in length along the Caribbean Sea to its east. Composed of many cultures speaking a variety of languages, Belize, once under British rule, is oddly the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Although it’s a small country, roughly the size of Massachusetts, getting from place to place can take the better part of a day. So with an eight-day trip, we narrowed down our visits to two different regions, one in the western part of Belize and one in the southeast.
Chaa Creek, a Civilized Eco-Lodge
With our three kids, Nicole, 15, Emily, 13, and Simon, 8, in tow, we flew into Belize City. We were met by a staff member from the Lodge at Chaa Creek, who drove us two hours to the resort outside the town of San Ignacio, not far from the border with Guatemala. Despite the beauty of the rainforest suddenly surrounding us, our children’s eyes grew wide when they saw the lodge’s enticing new infinity-edge pool, which just opened this past December. It was the perfect respite after a long day of travel.
Spread out above the banks of the Macal River, each of Chaa Creek’s 23 timber-decked cottages has a thatched roof with large screened windows and doors. Designed to bring guests as close to nature as possible, our cottage allowed us to see and hear it from nearly every angle — we searched for iguanas each morning after being woken up by the singing birds. The property also has a campsite, where guests stay in wooden structures with tented ceilings — a great way for a family to experience Chaa Creek at a much lower price.
Chaa Creek is lovingly cared for by its owners, Mick and Lucy Fleming, a charismatic couple who built the resort’s first cottage, with their own hands, 28 years ago. From its inception, the lodge has been dedicated to ecotourism and local culture, and is just the type of place, with no phones or televisions in sight, where we love to stay as a family. Upon checking in, a staff member brought us a little box house with a pupa, which would hopefully hatch into a butterfly during our stay, and which we were instructed to set free (while reading a Shakespeare poem).
Meals are eaten in the lodge’s centrally located, open-air restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious food. I can still taste the morning’s huevos rancheros, the evening’s fresh chimichurri-marinated chicken, and the best coffee, from neighboring Guatemala, I’ve had in a long while. All of the vegetables and fruit served are grown on the nearby Maya farm.
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