The Best Belize Communities To Visit If You’re Truly Looking For Total Relaxation
Anyone who has been to Belize, or seen Belize on a map can easily tell you that we’re a little country nestled on the edge of the Caribbean sea and cradled on the west of Central America. Despite being modest in terms of square mileage, Belize doesn’t suffer the population density issues that many other small countries seem to face.
Many of our communities remain familiar and tight-knit, and we’d like to tell you about 5 quaint Belize communities that you’ll never want to leave:
Hopkins, in Stann Creek Bz, is a small seaside village heading south in Belize. It is mostly, if not exclusively, populated by the Garifuna people who call this land their home and is regarded by many as the cultural capital of the Garifuna people. Lonely Planet describes it as “…friendly, slightly scruffy…” which is an oddly accurate description, the village itself is an unassuming “no frills” type of place. Hopkins is a great place to kick off your hiking boots, dig your toes into the sand, and soak in the Caribbean sea while Garifuna drums resonate in the background. Its also a wonderful place to sit back and have a drink with locals and meet fellow travellers, the down-home, no assumptions made attitude to this little fishing village make it easy to unwind and be yourself with just about anyone, a quality that has faded from many destinations already. In addition to the rich culture (which you really must experience to understand) the Garifuna food available in Hopkins is phenomenal, hearty, fresh traditional and made with a lot of love.When you’ve grown weary for all the lounging around the coastal location and seafaring nature of the locals make it a breeze to take you on aquatic adventures be it to the reef, southern atolls, or any of the islands as your next destination. What’s almost guaranteed, is that you won’t want to leave Hopkins and you’ll remember the friends you made there always.
If after Hopkins you’re yearning for more beach driven enjoyment then look no further than the famous Caye Caulker (or Caye Corker, depending on who you ask). This island community is the original “Go Slow” destination in Belize. Their catchphrase has since then gone viral among locals who now use it to describe the entire country, perhaps it’ll someday trump “Belizeit!” as our go-to phrase. Not for a while though as we are all still too enamored by the clever pun to let it rest. Caye Caulker, much like Hopkins started as a fishing village, and as one would expect of a small island, the long-time residents are quite avid sea goers, fishermen, and tour operators. The Lazy Lizard bar also calls this place home and is famous among locals for their enjoyably intoxicating Lizard Juice that turns your tongue green as you drink and tastes like nothing other than a lime slushie. Situated right next to the Lazy Lizard is yet another famous Belizean landmark called simply The Split, it’s a beachy swimming area that was created in 1961 by a powerful hurricane that just swept away a chunk of the island, leaving in its wake a large split where travelers now go to take a dip. A short way off the island is the Belize Barrier reef, the longest, healthiest reef system this side of the world and from Caye Caulker you can board a boat and go snorkel with nurse sharks and sea turtles for the day. No one ever gets tires of going slow the CC way unless of course, you have another charming community in Belize to visit.
The village of Sarteneja (Ser-ten-eh-ha) is a little coastal village on the northern tip of Belize near the entrance of the Corozal bay. This tiny shipbuilding community has an economy based on catching lobster, conch, and finfish. It’s certainly not your typical tourist destination being populated mainly by families who make their living nearby. The sea water that fills the Corozal bay is some of the most beautiful sea that Belize has to offer. It glows a seaspray aquamarine color year round, and the teal hues stretch for miles out as far as your horizon reaches. The seafood is always exquisitely fresh in Sarteneja, much of what you eat on a daily basis was caught the night before in traps, or fished fresh in the dawn hours of the day. The geographic location of Sarteneja put it amidst jungle as well and the villagers hunt local game to supplement their fish diet, deer, gibnuts, and armadillos are common fare and a culinary delight if your palette is adventurous enough to try them! You’ll come to feel right at home in this small community, even though it is the second largest village in the country it has still maintained that close-knit, homely feel that’ll keep you coming back, or not leaving at all.
Taking a departure from the seaside villages brings us to San Ignacio, the hub of mainland travel, and considered by some, especially the locals to be the food and tourism capital of inland travels. There are a plethora of things to do in and around San Ignacio, and the tour companies will take you to just about any landmark or attraction that you’d like to go. San Ignacio residents are very proud of their town and are commonly very friendly and helpful to travellers and locals alike which help to make it a very pleasant town to be in. Saturdays in town are especially lively – it’s the day that the farmers and villagers from the surrounding communities come to town to sell their produce or wares and buy supplies for the week ahead of them. The San Ignacio Market day is one of the most colorful and bustling in the country with fresh vibrant fruits and veggies on display from a recent harvest. San Ignacio also boasts its fair share of unique restaurants, that range from home-style Belizean cooking to cafe dining and even Belizean-Indian cuisine, each establishment has its own specialty and indeed their own personality that’s uniquely theirs. Moving along from the topic of industry, San Ignacio is a lively town where you’ll almost always bump into someone cheerful and willing to share a smile or a story with you, a town that never outgrew the feeling of closeness it started out with.
Progresso is a small lagoonside village in the interior reaches of the Corozal district in northern Belize, it’s not much unlike Honey Camp Lagoon save for the “exponentially” larger population. Set alongside the Progresso Lagoon, it is unclear whether the village is named for the lagoon or the lagoon after the village, but like any community situated near a body of water, swimming seems to be one of the preferred activities in the area. Situated across the lagoon from Progresso is a community of conservative German Mennonites called Little Belize, Mennonite communities are not typically “open” for accommodation’s but day visits are possible and the locals are always happy to share some of their retained culture with anyone who passes through. Progresso is a sleepy little village who’s calming breezes and inviting lagoon will almost make you want to drop everything and move there.
There are so many dreamy locations in Belize that it’s hard to list them all out.
Do you live in a charming, quaint little community? Tell us about it in the comments below!