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Arrive in Belize City at any time, check into the hotel and enjoy the city as there are no planned activities.
For many years Belize has been a relatively unknown destination, so tourists have only recently begun to explore this fascinating country leaving a lot of the country untouched. Take this opportunity to explore some of the virgin territory. The mention of “Belize” conjures up visions of unbelievably clear blue waters, diving and snorkelling along the barrier reef and remarkable marine life. Belize consists of dense jungle vegetation, ancient Mayan ruins, and above all, friendly, easygoing people. Belize is this and so much more!
In many ways, Belize has more in common with its Caribbean rather than its Latin neighbours, although it has plenty of distinctively Central American features as well. It exhibits a unique blend of cultures that includes Mayan, Mestizo, African, European, Arabic and Asian. English is the first official language (as it is a former British Colony) and Spanish runs a close second, though the locals speak Creole the majority of the time.
Belize City straddles the estuaries of Haulover Creek, part of the Belize River, which empties into the Caribbean Sea. This is a small (60 000 inhabitants), but busy city, and we recommend that you do not go wandering alone at night.
With Belize's independence in the early 1980s life has changed somewhat. To get a taste of what colonial life was like, visit Belize City before the old Swing Bridge (if t hasn't been replaced) and watch the twice daily traffic jam, which occurs when the low-lying bridge across Haulover Creek is closed to cars, while it pivots to allow tall-masted boats to pass through and out into the sea.
You should know that Belize City is not a Caribbean "paradise." The city is aging, rustic, and although perched on the edge of the gorgeous Caribbean, has no beaches. Antiquated clapboard buildings on stilts (often unpainted, weathered, tilted or streaked with age) line the narrow streets. Such buildings are slowly being replaced by concrete structures and a few modern glitzy buildings.
Residents of Belize City take pride in the local attractions. It has the oldest Protestant church in Central America, St. John's Anglican Cathedral. This lovely old building is the only typically British structure in the city and is surrounded by well kept lawns. In 1812, slaves in Belize built this graceful piece of architecture using bricks brought as ballast on sailing ships from Europe. Several Mosquito Coast Kings (from the Waiki tribe) were crowned in this Cathedral with much pomp and grandeur. The last king was crowned in 1815.
The Supreme Court Building is located across from Belize City's Central Park. The antiquated town clock sits atop the white clapboard building and shows a different time from all four sides (each wrong since it stopped running a while back); locals nicknamed it the “four-faced liar.” The Government House is another example of colonial Caribbean architecture.
Bliss Promenade meanders along the waterfront and eventually brings you to the Bliss Institute, where social functions and seminars are held. This is the location of a theatre, museum and library, as well as the National Arts Council. Take a look at the display of Mayan stelae and altars retrieved from the Cayo District.
Please note: the heat and humidity of Belize may affect you upon arrival, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm, it is simply your body’s reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water and do not attempt too much in any given day. We prefer fan-cooled rather than air conditioned rooms to avoid having to acclimatize to the heat and humidity every time you go outside. This is also a more energy efficient method compared to air conditioning.
Depart Belize City by van for the small coastal town of Placencia. Spend the first afternoon getting acquainted with this charming town and its golden beach. Enjoy fresh seafood for dinner at one of the delightful restaurants in town.
Most Belizeans agree that Placencia is one of the nicest places in the country to visit. One of the oldest villages in the country, Placencia hasn't been spoiled by high-rise hotels or huge tour groups which have transformed many other once-placid Caribbean locations. There is an informality that's very special and highly contagious. After spending a day getting used to the laid back Belizean lifestyle, grab your paddle and prepare for your adventure.
Travel by motorboat to the jumping off point for our kayaking adventure. Exact starting point and route vary depending on local weather and other conditions—we try to stay one step ahead of everyone else! Spend the next 4 days kayaking between islands and we may stop in a variety of cayes near the Gladden Split Marine Reserve. Paddle for approximately 2 to 4 hours per day, which will leave you with plenty of free time to snorkel, relax on the beach, explore, read or do more paddling around the islands. Sleep on the islands in tents, or, if you prefer, under the stars. Beach picnics will occur everyday and food will consist of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. In April you have the chance to spot Whale Sharks, a gentle giant that is the world’s largest fish and harmless to humans.
More than 300 cayes (pronounced “keys”) lie just off the mainland of Belize. They range in size from no more than a half-block-long patch of mangrove forest to the largest, which is 45 km long and 7 km wide. Some of these islands are inhabited by people, while others only by wildlife. Most of the cayes lie within the protection of the Belize Reef (almost 320 km long), which parallels the mainland. Without the protection of the reef, the islands would be washed away by the constant pounding of the surf.
Within the reef the sea is calm, shallow and inviting. The water is an even more enticing rich, crystalline shade of turquoise. Mangroves provide wonderful breeding grounds for the magnificent sea life that attracts divers from all over the world. The cayes provide the appropriate habitats for incredibly diverse marine life. Sand beaches, swaying palm trees and mangroves are just a few of the attractions that draw visitors here year after year. The reef is the world's second longest (after Australia) and offers some truly amazing sights including coral canyons and an astonishing range of tropical fish, manta rays, sharks and barracudas, as well as the more mundane and edible varieties of fish.
We have found that a kayak offers an unmatched first-hand, natural experience off the Belize coast. Explore at your own pace and with minimum environmental impact. Take the time to notice that Belize operates at a natural rhythm. This is your opportunity to slow down, take time to relax and enjoy life the way the locals do! In no time you will be maneuvering your kayak like a pro and you will glide through the water like a fish. We use single and two-person sea kayaks on our expedition, which are fully equipped with everything you need to make your trip safe and enjoyable. Your local guide has over 25 years experience kayaking in the Belizean Cayes and will have you feeling at home in your kayak before you know it.
Remember, NO PREVIOUS KAYAKING EXPERIENCE IS NECESSARY.
Return to Placencia after a morning paddle or snorkel, and enjoy a well-deserved fresh water shower, dinner and a real bed at our comfortable seaside hotel.
Morning flight to Belize City where your tour ends, departure flights out of Belize, should be made for 11am at the earliest.