Winter in Belize: Your Guide to Food, Festivities and Fun
Winter is coming. Though not exactly in the way you may think. For one, there’s no snow or frost. Moreover, the leaves don’t die and fall to be replaced by new ones in spring. In Belize, things evolve a little bit differently, and the seasons, we call them either ‘wet’ or ‘dry’. By December, the ‘wet season’ subsides and the skies become clear-blue and cloudless. If they timed the rains just right, farmers will begin to see their fields take shape with new shoots and sprouts. And if the fields are now growing in, then so too are the backyard home gardens. Everything that languished in the preceding dry season is now green and lush while the air is particularly sweet and cool.
Belize is a wonderfully charming and laidback location to sit out the colder months of the year. And yet, while Belizean winters bring noticeably cooler temperatures, there are tons of other ways a tropical winter is quite different from a northern one.
Belize Winter Weather and Wardrobe
Weather is definitely worth further mention. Belize is located in the eastern edge of Central America, bounded by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea to the East and the densely forested Maya Mountains to the West. Belize weather during December and January is traditionally cool with low humidity. With daily average highs of 81ํํ°F and lows of around 71°F, this translates to clear, blue skies, and cool crisp air. During the early mornings, a light jacket and covered sleeves and legs would be the best wardrobe choices. For nights out, women might consider traveling with a light shawl. For additional warmth, a glass of wine and good stimulating conversation is always a good measure.
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Your Guide to Belize Winter Food
Belizean food is a fascinating maze of cultural influences. From the Maya and Mestizo groups of the north, the west, and the south came cacao, chilis, achiote, and corn, beans and squash. From the Creole and Garifuna groups of central and coastal Belize came hardier root crops, nuts and robust flavors like cho-cho, cassava, plantains, cohune and coconut milk and oils. The cooler months of Belize are a perfect time to indulge in flavorful soups, warming spices and delicious hot porridges. The corn-based drink we know as atole is creamy and perfect for warming the body in the early, mist-filled mornings. Hot chocolate, the traditional way, organic and freshly roasted and ground – with cinnamon, spice and honey and a natural mood booster is easily one of the most warming and delicious drinks you can find locally.
Citrus grows exceptionally well and is plentiful in the earliest months of the year including other tropical fruits such as guava, papaya, custard apple, and passionfruit. A whole industry of delicious jams, jellies and preserves has sprung in response. Similarly, sugar cane has a long and historied presence in the region where the climate allows it to grow strong and sweetly. Processed and aged to perfection, Belizean rums and spirits are an integral part of Christmas and New Years if only for the Black Fruit Cake you’ll find on everyone’s table. Dark and rich, these cakes are a heady mix of preserved candied fruit, spiked with rum. For those that may enjoy a nightcap, you can try them neat, on the rocks or mixed. Without a doubt, local rums and spirits add both warmth and character to Belizean winters.
Where to Go and What to Do this Winter in Belize
The living cultures and the rich history of Belize are wonderful reasons to travel this way. From the vast array of ethnic groups that populate Belize, each with its own distinctive values, art forms, music and foodways – you’ll find that the people of Belize are as friendly as they are culturally complex. Socially, winters in Belize are particularly centered around a sense of community. Annual tree lighting ceremonies are common in each major town and central plaza. After the New Year has passed, villages host annual horse racing meets, a mixture of food, music, drinks and camaraderie. Horseback riding continues to have a prominent place in Belize’s transportation network, from cattle ranchers to Mennonite farmers, it’s not uncommon to see a rider and his horse traversing just alongside the major roadways, at their own pace. Horseback riding is a wonderful way to experience the simplicity of Belize’s more rural landscapes and to explore the forest and its secrets.
The temple sites and plazas of the ancient Maya people, sites like Xunantunich, Tikal, and Caracol, continue to fascinate and mystify scholars and enthusiasts alike. They provide a window into the complex social and political lives of a people that despite building this vast cities, would ultimately abandon them. Their mysterious exodus continues to provoke thought and theory to this day.
You’ll also find that without the limitations of frost, or snow or sleet, Belize has a myriad number of things to do to keep you busy and encourage an active and healthy lifestyle. From cavorting through the jungle on wildlife and nature trails, rappelling down waterfalls and sheer rock edges into mysterious cave depths below, there are opportunities and experiences that satisfy just about every type of traveler and level of fitness.
Beyond the jungle and along the coast you’ll also find many of the small, fishing enclaves that existed in years past are still intact and offer a quaint and simple go easy approach to living. And how can we forget the world-class Snorkeling and Diving opportunities? With the largest living barrier reef in the world!
Belize is perhaps one of the most complex and varied locales in the world. To say it has a bit of everything would not be misleading. And with a population much smaller than its size, the landscape is truly wild and willful. From this, Belize has cultivated an extraordinarily simple way of life, that is as unique as it is beguiling. There’s more to Belize than meets the eye, from fabulous food, friendly people, to incredible sights and experiences, Belize is more than just a destination.
Temperate January weather truly makes Belize a wonderful place to be to escape the northern frost. Join the community by subscribing to our blog for more insights into Belize, for updates on special seasonal rates or to request a particular blog topic! 🙂
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