Why Belize is the perfect retreat for families, and can make kids smarter

Belize City, Belize  – While summer vacations are known for being a great opportunity for families to bond, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Education shows that a family summer getaway can actually make kids smarter, too. In fact, according to the study, kids who went on a vacation scored higher in academics in the areas of reading, mathematics and general knowledge. And, since this is the perfect time of year for families to start planning their summer retreats, destinations like Belize are increasing in popularity because of their diverse experiential learning opportunities.

This English-speaking Central American/Caribbean destination provides the perfect environment for boosting brainpower, with hands-on opportunities to experience Belizes cultural varieties, pristine natural environment and delicious ethnic cuisine. And, arguably the best part – affordable stays can be found for as low as $75 or less per night.

1. Hands-On Education
Belize serves as an extraordinary platform for education, and is perfect for getting kids excited about and developing an appreciation for Mother Nature. Although most wont typically have the opportunity to learn a new language in Belize, as its (fortunately) English speaking, the country is plentiful with other fun opportunities for families to learn:

Ancient civilizations are brought back to life with Belizes Maya Village Homestay program. The cultural exchange experience gives families the opportunity to stay with a Maya family and learn the customs of their ancient culture. Currently, over 20 families participate in the program, scattered throughout three local villages near Punta Gorda in Belizes southern region.

Families are able to explore exotic habitats under the surface at Belizes Southwater Caye Marine Park. Studied by the Smithsonian Institute for the past 30 years, the park covers approximately 62 square miles of azure Caribbean Sea and vibrant barrier reef. Families can scuba dive or snorkel along the unbroken stretch of the reef, which includes 10 major cayes, stalagmites, stalactites and a wealth of marine life at each turn.

Kids can play tag with a crocodiles during Lamanai Outpost Lodges Crocodile Encounter. A two-hour guided tour after sunset allows families to cruise by airboat across the New River and experience crocodile catching and tagging with local researchers. The skilled guides even allow guests to assist with the data collection, used to enhance our knowledge of the Morelet crocodile.
2. Picky Eater Transformation
Though Belize is only about the size of Massachusetts, the cultural variety found in the country rivals any large U.S. city. The eclectic fusion of Central American and Caribbean nationalities forms a culinary melting pot that is uniquely Belizean. And, experiential culinary tours and events are plentiful, and are a great way to give kids a fun, hands-on introduction to new, unfamiliar foods (hopefully eliminating that picky mentality):

Families can enjoy a chocolate experience unlike any other through a hands-on workshop Mayan chocolate. Kids and parents work their way through the entire process, from scratch, starting with the cacao fruit on the tree and ending with the chocolate in their mouths. If one day just isnt enough, a package that revolves around the Cacao festival in Toledo is also offered, during which visitors learn local Mayan chocolate preparation techniques, meet members of the Toledo Cacao Growers Association and attend a chocolate making workshop.

As some of Belizes largest and most popular events, the Lobster Festivals , scheduled for June 14 – 20, 2010, celebrate the commencement of lobster season. The festivals take place in Belizes beach towns of San Pedro, Placencia and Caye Caulker, and are a great venue for a lot of family fun. Besides serving up exquisite lobster cuisine, tournaments, music and entertainment are also featured throughout the events. And dont take Belizes word for it; San Pedro Lobster Fest was named one of the 300 greatest events in the world by Frommers and Whats on When.

3. Absolutely Affordable
Belize features family friendly accommodation varieties to fit all tastes and budgets. And hotel deals are easy to find, too. A selection of more than 150 affordable options, at price points as low as $75 per night, is available at Belizes Toucan Trail web site. Plus, amazing travel deals catering to all types of families are consistently updated on the Belize Tourism Boards Travel Deal Finder.

About Belize

As one of the last unspoiled places on earth, Belize offers travelers the richly rewarding authenticity they seek in a Caribbean getaway. With direct flights from the U.S. and Canada, this tropical paradise is nestled between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a commitment to preserving the countrys unique charms. Belize offers a land rich in natural beauty and steep in the history and culture of its Maya past. Renowned for having the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belizes pristine waters, exotic marine and wildlife, lush unspoiled landscapes and superb diving truly make it Mother Natures Best Kept Secret. For more information on how you can be one with Belize, visit www.travelbelize.org

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