diving in belize
Nassau Grouper by Chris Watt

When it comes to picturesque locations for diving, Belize is right up there. It’s the second least populated nation in Central America, found between Mexico and Guatemala. This little place has everything for the diver and for anyone who’s looking for more than just adventure under the water.

Full of exploration, adventure and relaxation, with its fair amount of romance above and below the water, Belize has a place in the top dive sites and destinations worldwide.

Belize is made up of over 400 islands and unbeknownst to some has the longest ‘unbroken’ barrier reef in the western hemisphere, with a coastline that is over 180 miles long of pristine white sandy beaches, you have plenty of options of where to relax after a long dive.

Belize itself was home to the Mayans, and there are many historical Mayan ruins to explore along with treks through the rainforests themselves and cave tubing to boot. So for divers and families, this is a bucket-list destination.

Top 7 Dive Sites on your Belize Bucket List

The Barrier Reef

belize turtleAs I mentioned above Belize is home to that enormous ‘unbroken’ barrier reef stretching the entire length of the countries coastline, giving divers a plethora of reef to explore.

Choose a tour company that can provide you with diving opportunities in the deep coral canyons. These consists of Brain, Staghorn and Elkhorn corals, simply stunning viewing.

It’s common to start from shallow water and descent to around 30 meters. The area is full of White Spotted Toadfish, widespread in these waters, also reef sharks, turtles and a plethora of tropical fish.

The Blue Hole

blue hole belizeFor divers around the world, this is the signature dive. And should already be on the bucket list. The hole itself spans over 300 meters in diameter and is around 140 meters deep of an almost perfectly round hole.

The journey out is not long from many of the cayes. Be prepared for a deep dive though, and follow your instructor or guide. Usually descending to 40 meters at the start, you’ll get to see and explore the stalactites on the cavern ceiling. Usually dive time is around eight minutes before you start to ascent up the wall into the transition of freshwater and salt water. This is where you’ll have company in the shape of reef and bull sharks enhancing the experience. Apart from the dive itself, helicopter rides are common and used by many tourists to get a bird’s eye view, quite breathtaking as you can see in the image.

Ambergris Caye

With numerous dive locations throughout the country, Ambergris Caye is all about location. With it being the largest of the cayes on the coast, it’s just a short plane ride from Belize City and is closest to the Belize Barrier reef that you’ll get to.

From the dock it’s a short journey out to the Caye where you will dive into the deep coral formations which help to shelter the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

In the Mayan language, Hol Chan means ‘little channel’ referring to the crack in the reef, off of Ambergris Caye.

It is an ideal access point for the dive sites outside of the reef and in the reserve. The authorities do a good job in patrolling and protecting the marine park, and it flourishes due to this, with prevention of anchoring and fishing the numbers of marine life are plentiful.

You will be captivated by the Elkhorn Corals, this may only be small 10-meter deep crack, but it’s worth the visit. Something noteworthy is the strong currents lead to schools of grouper, also plentiful are barracuda, snapper and jacks in the area.

Shark Ray Alley

If you are in a group or with family that are non-divers, this is an ideal location to ditch the diving equipment and put on the fins and the snorkel.

The Alley is a sand plateau, pretty shallow, known where the fisherman generally clean their catch before taking it to market, so there’s plenty of guts and chum in the water which naturally attracts many species of fish and sharks to the area to feed. Stingrays and nurse sharks are plentiful and offer great photo opportunities.

The Atolls

Once you leave the reef you’ll hit Turneffe, Glover’s and Lighthouse, three of these being three out of four of the western hemisphere’s true coral atolls.

There a few dive lodges around on small pockets of dry land. If you’re looking for nothing but diving and no-one around then, these are the spots for you.
The drop-offs are stunning some as deep as 1000 meters into the abyss. There is everything on offer from shallow coral scenery to towering pinnacles all in the midst of canyons and vertical walls.

Turneffe is the largest and closest out of the Atolls to the mainland, journey time being less than an hour. On the southern tip of the Turneffe Atoll is one of Belize’s best dive sites, called the Elbow, due to the prominent twist in the coral, another Belize must-see.

The Lighthouse reef is further out than the others, encircling a 30-mile long lagoon which is inclusive of the above mentioned Blue Hole.

Glover’s is by far the most remote of the Atolls and subsequently is the least visited, which for some people may be the attraction as at least 40-50 miles of the fringe of the reef is untouched, so expect vivid coloured coral and plentiful marine life.

Whale Sharks

No, Whales Sharks are not the name of a dive location. However, you should try to add a whale shark experience to your itinerary while in Belize.

Getting to swim alongside the largest fish in the sea is a big thrill and attraction on the island. The best time to guarantee an encounter with these gentle giants is between April to June when they are plentiful in the area.

At this time of year around 25 other species of fish are in their spawning cycle and although we associate whale sharks as pure plankton feeders the eggs of the Cubera snapper are a tasty meal they can’t get enough of, providing them with an abundant food source. Gladden Spit is the location to get up and close to them, also great for a family experience as they are curious and often approach boats and divers alike.

Don’t Miss Diving Belize

In this tiny island in a remote part of the world await an all-around experience only matched by a handful of places on earth. For a diver, it is a must on your bucket-list and for those who never considered it you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wonder and beauty that awaits you in Belize. Enjoy.

 

Pat MoresbyPat Moresby is a veteran blogger with a life-long love of global travel and adventure, and he has been Diving Whitsundays with Whitsundayssailingadventures and loves to share his experiences.

Over the past 4,000 years kayaks have continued to gain more and more popularity as they go. Kayaks were originally invented by the Aleut and Inuit Peoples who lived around the Arctic Ocean shores. The frames of the kayaks were originally composed of wood or the bones of whales and were covered in the waterproof skins of seals. Kayaks back then and even still to this day were used for hunting purposes to catch narwhals and other whales.

Today Kayaks come in a wide range of shapes sizes and varieties that are meant for different purposes. We will go through the most popular categories below.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational Kayaks come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. There most defining characteristics however, are that they provide ample stability and are relatively easy to use. Recreational Kayaks are usually the starting point for kayakers getting into the sport and can be used for a wide variety of reasons such as fishing, day paddling, photography among other uses. Typically Recreational Kayaks start as low as around $200 and can go as high as $1000 in price range.
recreational kayak

Inflatable Kayaks

These kayaks have gained more and more momentum in the industry lately because of the increased demand for them. Many people are starting to downsize and do not have enough room to store giant hard shelled kayaks so they turn to the inflatable kind. As demand has been increasing so too has the quality of these kayaks. Typically the rule of thumb on these kayaks is you get what you pay for in terms of performance and paddling quality. However you can still get very durable kayaks for under $100. Typically the difference between a $100 kayak and a $1000 + kayak is the fact that the $1000 kayak is faster, paddles more smoothly and had more tracking ability to it. Some can even compete with hard shelled kayaks.
inflatable kayak

Touring and Sea Kayaks

Touring and sea kayaks are typically more expensive than most types of kayaks ranging from $1000 + in price. The reason why is because of the design, quantity, and quality of materials put into these kayaks. Some are made of high quality rotomolded Polyethylene while others are made of lighter weight fibreglass and composites. The design and material make the kayak lighter which in turn allows you to paddle faster and travel greater distances. Sea Kayaks are usually much more slender which allows you to cut through the water with relative ease. They can be used for day or even multi day camping trips. Be advised that you should at least be an intermediate paddler before attempting going into the ocean with these kayaks.
sea kayak

Fishing Kayaks

These types of kayaks have really taken off over the past years and have been one of the biggest growing items in the fishing industry. More and more people are choosing fishing kayaks over canoes for a variety of different reasons. One they are usually lighter than a canoe. Two they provide ample customizability where you can include fishing rods, live wells as well as fishing crates and tackle which can be added onto the kayak. Three they are more stable. Fishing Kayaks today are built to be very stable and some can even be used for stand up casting. Fishing Kayaks range from a wide variety of different prices but typically the more expensive it is the more customisable and better suited to fishing it will be.
fishing kayak

Sit On Top Kayaks

Most Sit On Top Kayaks are used for either recreational or fishing/ diving purposes. They usually provide more room than sit in kayaks because of their open deck and storage hatches. Most Sit On Top Kayaks are built to be super stable so that you can fish or paddle with confidence without worrying about capsizing. They come in a wide variety of different hull shapes and can be anywhere from $300 and up.
sit on top kayak

Tandem Kayaks

These kayaks are built to sit two or more people and as a result have a higher maximum capacity than most kayaks. Tandem Kayaks come in virtually all forms such as Sit On Top, Touring, Inflatable , Fishing and even Recreational models. Before getting into these boats you will have to learn how to paddle in unison which can prove more difficult than it looks. Tandem Kayaks are usually more expensive and can be more than double the price of single kayaks.
tandem kayak

Whitewater Kayaks

These kayaks incorporate the most advanced designs and materials seen in any type of kayak, and are used by highly skilled experts to navigate all levels of whitewater rivers. They are designed for high manoeuvrability with a high rocker (hull curve) and are always used with a waterproof sprayskirt around the cockpit to allow them to be rolled over and back up without taking on water. The interior outfitting employs tight fitting backrests, thighbraces, and footbraces so that the paddler can instantly translate control movements from his paddle and body to the kayak. Although this sport looks extreme to the un-initiated, it is relatively safe and a very exciting way to experience the thrill of running whitewater rivers! However, extensive training is necessary to obtain the athletic skills needed to safely run whitewater.
whitewater kayak
There are a few more kayaks out there but these are the most popular and used models.

Derek Smith runs a blog called Floating Authority. To find a complete guide on the how to pick a kayak that is right for you click here. If you are looking at specific types of kayaks visit his home page.

Carol Cashion and her family joined us on the island twice recently – in January of 2016 and then again a year later. Carol wrote this blog post for us about how great is it is return to the island for a second trip. All photos are by her, or by other members of her family. Thanks Carol!

Top Ten Things We Loved about Going Back to the Island

1. We already had all the snorkeling gear. No shopping! Huge savings!

snorkeling glovers reef in belize
Snorkeling at a nearby patch reef

2. It felt like coming home. We were greeted at the dock by familiar faces – both guests (Shaver-Watts!) and guides (Carlos and Luis!) and the unchanging beautiful sites and sounds of the island. Bob and I even got the “Love Shack” again!

Belize island cabana
Sumo Love Shack, Long Caye, Glover’s Reef, Belize

3. Widening the circle. We loved watching the first time guests discover the island, especially the Warren kids and our own addition, Jack’s girlfriend Anne.

4. Flattening out the learning curve. When you have the time to work on your kayak surf skills under the watchful eye of Carlos or Luis day after day, you slowly shift the capsize-to-ride ratio in your favor!

kayak surf belize
One of the most popular island sports – kayak surfing!

5. Night snorkel. Made impossible last year by a poorly timed “Northerly” storm. Amazing experience. Go Team Octopus!

common octopus
Common Octopus, Glover’s Reef, Belize

6. Low tide walk (see “Northerly” above). The Slate Pencil Urchin. Wow! So strange and so cool!

7. Paddle to Middle Caye (see “Northerly” above). So fun. But don’t believe MJ when he describes it as a “15 minute paddle”!

middle caye paddle glover's reef belize
On the way to Middle Caye

8. Enough time to learn something not very easy and entirely new. Luis spent hours teaching Anne how to roll a kayak. Just before sunset on their second day at it, she flipped that boat and then popped right back up. A great moment!

kayak rolling lesson
Long Caye is a great place to learn to roll a kayak – 80 degree water!

9. Hermit crab races. Not only were we there for this weekly event this year, we had the inside track on where to find the most energetic, best fed hermit crabs – down at the “West End dump”!

10. A chance to dance. We spent our last night dancing-‘til-we-dropped in the kitchen with our family and the always-game staff, who even re-hung the New Year’s Eve disco ball to add to the fun. A perfect ending to a perfect week.

belize family vacation
The Cashion family with Luis Gonzales, Slickrock guide

Learning to kitesurf

If you’re looking for the next outdoor activity to get your blood racing and heart pounding, look no further than kitesurfing. Also referred to as kiteboarding, it harnesses the power of the elements as the wind pulls your kite, allowing you to power along the waves. Plus, there’s the added bonus of spending your resting time, sitting on some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

It may sound slightly overwhelming and perhaps you might question if you can do it, but the good news is that anyone can kitesurf. You don’t have to be the next top physique model to partake, quite the contrary. As long as you are mobile, you will be able to learn, no matter if you’re 16 or 60.

Kitesurfing Training

kiteboard training
Unlike some sports or activities where you can work things out through basic trial and error, to learn kitesurfing, you’ll need good professional instruction. Not only is this for your own safety, but also that of other members of the public. It can be a wild ride if you don’t know how to handle a kite properly.

With all that said, the main question is what can you expect when learning how to kitesurf? There’s plenty of new jargon that you’ll discover, ideas and responsibilities that will offer fresh insight into how you participate, but read on and you’ll discover it can be smooth sailing… or rather surfing as you dip your toes into the world of kiteboarding.

First, find yourself an IKO (International Kiteboarding Organization) certified instructor. Training is broken into three parts each combining theory and practical elements.

Training-Controlling the Kite

Trainer kite
This takes place on land, involving both theory and practical elements.

It’s all about determining how the wind works and various weather patterns in conjunction with how to launch and fly the kite. You’ll start with a smaller trainer kite which is a replica of the larger models. After playing around with the trainer kite in light winds, you’ll get the “feel” of the wind and how to control it. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

Training-Entering the Water

kiteboard water entry
Moving on, the intermediate course again follows with some theory and some beach work, but mostly practical activity takes place in the water whereby you will learn how to safely enter and exit the sea whilst controlling a kite. Also included is a further in-depth look at choosing the correct equipment (more on that later).

Training-Controlling the Board

kitesurf board control
Finally, the ultimate stage is mainly centered around controlling the board and your riding skills. This is where you’ll learn how to be consistent in riding both directions, changing course without stopping and riding with other people around.

There’s a pretty steep learning curve at first, and it can be frustrating when starting out… (If you’ve wakeboarded before, you’ll find it much easier) but perseverance and good instruction will see you fast becoming one of the many who can proficiently take part in this fun sport.

Where to Kitesurf

Where in the world are the best beaches to take part in kitesurfing? As the sport expands in popularity, so too are the surf spots where you can enjoy it.

Here are some of the best kite spots for beginners and experienced riders alike.

mauritius
Le Morne, Mauritius

Wind in abundance, Mauritius has a jaw dropping landscapes that will perfectly compliment your kitesurfing participation.

kitesurf egypt
Nabq Bay, Egypt

A beach town that has a plot of the sea protected by reefs, this means tides barely effect the area making this a fun destination that will give you plenty of time to enjoy kiteboarding.

kitesurf maui
Maui, Hawaii

Arguably the most well known destination for kitesurfing, Kite Beach in particular has it all when it comes to this sport. Steady winds, clean and warm water and packed with some of the best instructors in the world, this is a must visit location.

kiteboarding in spain
Tarifa, Spain

One of Europe’s top destinations for kiteboarding and for good reason; it has roughly 300 days of sun per year. The Strait of Gibraltor creates a wind tunnel which allows for consistent conditions all year around.

Kiteboarding Gear

Your local kitesurf shop will give you the best advice but here are some pointers.

Kite size
You’ll want to untimately own more than one kite so you can take advantage of different wind strengths. A 12 sqm kite is usually better for lighter wind and heavier riders and a 7 sqm kite is good for stronger wind or lighter riders. This will definitely depend on your location and wind speed.

Harness Type
There are two types of harnesses; a waist harness and a seat harness.

The seat harness is better for beginners as it provides butt support when the kite is pulling you up vertically. On the other hand, you may want the freedom of a waist harness which doesn’t feel like a giant nappy.

Board Type and Size
There are Twin-Tip boards which can go both left and right (without changing feet position) and there’s the surfboard style for wave riding. Beginners, who also haven’t surfed before, should start with a Twin-Tip board.

Other Gear
There are a few other considerations like wetsuits, helmets, pumps, lines, bar, kite shape etc. but your local kiteshop and instructors will give you the full spectrum of pros and cons of each.

A Last Word


Clearly this is a great sport to get into, with costs of equipment ranging from $1000 to $3000 it won’t be a cheap investment, but certainly one that is worthwhile if you are interested in extreme sports and staying active in the water. Combined with all of the exotic locations you’ll visit as you seek out the best beaches to kiteboard, you’re sure to have an incredible time!

Bianca
My name is Bianca.

I live in Big Bay, South Africa. A kiteboarding paradise. I’ve been kiting for about 5 years and visited countries like Turkey, Mauritius and Thailand on kitesurfing holidays. Our whole family loves the water and we’re always looking for new ways to enjoy the waves. Kitesurfing is the perfect sport for anyone looking for a safe adrenaline rush that brings you closer to nature. I really hope you enjoyed this article and that you also get to enjoy this wonderful feeling of skimming over the blue water with the wind pulling you along at no charge.

Every once-in-awhile the island will be the host of what we will call “inclement” weather, somewhat beyond the type of weather that brings us excellent surf for kayak surfing…

surf kayaking in belize

… or just the right wind for windsurfing.

Windsurfing on Long Caye

And since, for Slickrock, the number one priority on the island is safety, water activities could be canceled.

If this happens, hopefully everyone has read the information provided, and brought something to entertain themselves. A good book will come in handy, if you haven’t brought one, there is a fairly good library in the kitchen area to peruse.

There are also a number of board games in the dining hall. If the idea of sedentary activities causes you to despair, or you can only take so much “sitting around”, don’t worry, be happy, your hosts will organize something!

You can play island croquet …

or volley ball …

Island volleyball in Belize

… or my favorite, a scavenger hunt.

Several years ago we found ourselves in this situation. Our trip manager announced that we could participate in an island scavenger hunt of sorts and the person with the most interesting find (as judged by all island inhabitants) will win a prize. The judging and award party would take place at the end of the week. Luckily we weren’t wind-bound for the entire week but this would give us time to do a thorough search and have something to do when (or if) we got tired of hammock surfing.

Glovers Reef hammock surfing

Like all islands and coastal areas worldwide, there is a fair amount of flotsam and jetsam to be found and the idea was to walk around the island looking closely in all the nooks and crannies for interesting items. I am an avid beachcomber and “treasure” hunter and spend not small amount of time looking down for things so this was right up my alley.

Belize beachcombing

My husband and I had already been around the island many times and he had noticed the unusual numbers of tooth brushes scattered around on the shorelines and in the mangrove roots, so he decided to do a “study”. Over the next few days we collected all the toothbrushes we could find. I believe we found 30 or so then he spent some time sorting them out into different categories (color, brand, etc.) and drew up a chart of sorts of statistics about them.

Island flotsam

The percentage of certain colors and specific brands, etc. and came to a “conclusion” about the Belizean’s brushing habits based on his study. Many people participated in the hunt and a few came up with very unique and interesting finds. My husband won the grand prize with his presentation (see it pays to keep looking down) It was all great fun, and gave people something different to do during down time. It also acted as a bit of a segue to talk about something that no one wants to talk about but everyone notices and that is the flotsam and jetsam found all around the island. Not all debris (and certainly not all toothbrushes) comes from Belize and keeping it off or away from the island is an impossible task.

In conclusion if you find yourself looking for something to do, you can; 1. Organize a scavenger hunt or 2. Grab yourself a bag and pick up some of the refuse. You never know what you might find, maybe even a Valentine message for your sweetie.

Found Valentine

[Sharon Columbus and her husband have joined us every single year since 2012. They are already scheduled for 2017. All photos are by Neil Columbus.]

Long Caye at low tide
That’s me walking out to see what I can see

[Sharon Columbus and her husband have joined us every single year since 2012. They are already scheduled for 2017. All photos are by Neil Columbus.]

One activity on Slickrock’s Belize island that you should not to miss is the Low Tide Walk. Now this activity isn’t like the adrenaline-pumping kayaking surfing offered on the island (especially if the wind is just right). Nor will you experience that heart-stopping feeling you get when you realize you just went zipping past the dive shop on your windsurf board and you have no idea how to tack back upwind to where you started, but it has its own excitement, albeit a bit more dignified.

Low tide at Glover's Reef
Low tide on Long Caye

It is easy to think of the coral shelf on the windward side as lifeless. There are no spectacular colors or coral heads with a plethora of fish around them, but it is indeed teeming with some rather interesting critters; all it takes to find them is to look and, at the same time, to believe that you will find something. You might see scorpion fish hunkering under the rocks, watch your step! They can inflict a nasty sting.

A Banded Spiny Sea Urchin

Some of the other things you could find include spiny urchins, sea centipedes, or a tiny decorator crab.

Decorator Crab

And if you are real lucky a “slow” octopus,

Caribbean Reef Octopus

Here is a guy with a different slant on “low tide walk”.

Little Green Heron

Most of these creatures found on the low tide walk are small, they aren’t going to stand out like an eagle ray or a barracuda so you must look carefully. Fortunately, Slickrock has, of course, thought of everything and have made some wonderful “glass” bottomed buckets that you can use to help see into the water when you turn over a rock. You have to be fast, but you will catch on. It is best to go out at least once with a guide. They know so much about the tidal pools and the denizens found there but you can take these buckets out any time when the tide is out (a tide chart can be found in the dining hall by the library) and you just want to putz about. Walk slow, (aren’t you glad you brought those booties Lucy suggested?) look down, enjoy and appreciate all that you see.

Group low tide walk

Long Caye at Glover's Reef in Belize
[Sharon Columbus and her husband have joined us every single year since 2012. They are already scheduled for 2017. She offers some great advice here for anyone thinking of spending a week out on Long Caye. All photos are by Neil Columbus.]

Here are the two most helpful island tips for Long Caye in Belize. First and foremost pay very close attention to Lucy’s packing list. It is all true. You can bring more than what is listed but bring exactly what is listed, even if you have to borrow some things. If you plan to snorkel and you have a tendency to get cold (and you will get somewhat chilly in the water) wearing the long underwear under your dive/’snorkeling suit will help. This next February my husband and I will be returning to the island for the 6th time and we will use the list again as we always do. In fact, Lucy’s list is so good we use it for other trips!! [Send me an email and I’ll send you our packing list – Lucy]

The second best tip for making the most of your trip to the island is to relax. Relaxation is not necessarily as easy as we think. Even though we try not to ruminate about the things we left undone back home, our jobs, our homes, our families, etc. our minds just go there and when our minds go there they are not in the present. That is just how we are programmed. As Dr. Amit Sood from the Mayo Clinic says in his book, Stress Free Living, “we have a network (of neurons) that produces ongoing dialog in our heads”. So for lack of anything else to think about we fret about things we currently (while on the island) can do nothing about.

So here are some exercises you can do to help you relax. No, I am not recommending meditation, it’s virtually impossible to meditate on this beautiful little island; too many distractions. Instead I will give you some exercises in Mindfulness, the opposite of Meditation. I have stolen the talking points from Alfred James’, Pocket Mindfulness, found on the web, and adapted them for the island. Enjoy!

Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish

1. Mindful Awareness: Some people are quite surprised when they finally get out to the island for the first time and realize just how small it is. This could cause some anxiety. Take some time and think about where you are and how you got there. How the island got there, this little microcosm out in the Caribbean and be aware of your existence on it.
2. Mindful listening: There are lots of noises on the island, most notably the wind and the surf. For some, the noise can be very distracting, especially at night. They are different from what we hear at home, even if you brought music or ear plugs these noises can be very difficult to tune out. Don’t try to tune them out, embrace them. Close your eyes and concentrate on a particular noise, listen carefully to it, to the pattern, think about what is making the noise and how it came to be. This one takes practice I admit, but then I can go to sleep in an MRI.
3. Mindful immersion: This exercise cultivates contentment in the moment. There are a few things we do on the island that may constitute a chore or perhaps something slightly unpleasant. Constantly sweeping the sand out of your cabana, showering in what you had hope was warm water. Take whatever it is and create an entirely new experience out of it. Pay close attention to what you are doing make it into a game.
4. Mindful observation: This is a no-brainer, with all those beautiful patch reefs to visit every day!
On at least one snorkel, find a small area on some coral and just focus on it for 4 or 5 minutes. Watch what is going on, watch the interaction, don’t worry about what kind of fish you see or what other are doing, just concentrate on your little patch of heaven.
5. Mindful appreciation: Notice 3 things on the island, that may seem insignificant or you may have been taking for granted (this one is good for you repeaters, you know who you are!) Write them down if you can as you identify them. Think of these things, think about how they came to be, how they contributed to your enjoyment of the island, think about how you will miss them when you get home. The compost toilet is a good one here. I have seen the look new people get on their faces when they fully realize just exactly what a “compost toilet” is, can be a real buzz killer for some! But in the end they ALWAYS come around to appreciating it! You can share your appreciation with that couple you seem to always get stuck with at the table
Wipe away all negative thoughts and ENJOY!

Spotfin Butterfly Fish

You’ll easily find a person that loves to travel, but it won’t be so easy to find a person who knows HOW to travel. We’re not saying that there’s a strict code of conduct, but people travel in different ways, and some are more convenient than others.

travel-apps

If you travel without any time limit and simply want to roam the world, then you don’t really need any particular pointers on how to do it. However, if you’re going on a week-long vacation or moving to a new country for a set period of time, you need a plan of action. Thankfully, the internet is full of tricks, tips, and cheats about every level of travel, from booking your tickets to packing you suitcase. However, when you arrive to your desired destination, you’re pretty much left to your own devices and you have to find your own way. This is where technology comes to play and where apps can make your life easier. We’ll talk about six of the most recommended travel apps and how you can benefit from them in your travels.

Don’t Leave Anything Behind, Use a Packing List App

packing-list-appPacking a suitcase has become a sort of an art with all the weight restrictions airlines impose on us, but what about the content of the suitcase? How many times have you taken your seat on the plane only to remember that you’ve forgotten something more or less important? Travel list apps are a life saver for all of us who get lost a bit in the whole packing process because we postpone it to the last minute. Even if you do manage your time well and get everything in order in time, there are still things that have to packed just before you leave and that leaves room for mistakes. When using this app, you can set alarms to remind you about what you should pack and when, and this is particularly handy. If you remember to put everything down on your travel list, chances are that you will remember bringing it with you as well.

Organize Your Schedule With Trip It

travel-apps-tripitIf you are going on longer travels, then you’ll probably have a lot of flights to juggle simultaneously, which is no small task, seeing that much can change while you’re getting from point A to point B. Trip It will help you organize your flights in no time and create a singular flight schedule that will timely notify you of your next flight and if there have been any changes about it. Especially if you’re not traveling alone and you have a few of your friends from different countries joining you along the way, this app will allow you to coordinate your flight details much easier. If you choose to use this app, once you install it, forward your flight confirmation details to the app and let it handle everything else for you.

Protect Your Digital Identity and Get a VPN

travel-apps-vpnToo many people don’t think about their internet security on the go, though it can be in great danger while you’re traveling. All you need to do is connect to a public Wi-Fi network and already you put your device, your sensitive information and your location in danger. Using a virtual private network will not only help you keep your data safe, thanks to the encrypted connection, but it will also allow you to bypass any geo-blocking you may encounter in foreign countries.

Navigate the Unknown With Citymapper

citymapper-appWe can all agree that the era of paper maps is over as the digital age takes over mapping and improves it in many ways. When it comes to Citymapper, you get all in one – an accurate map to lead you through fifteen different cities all around the globe and most current updates about what is happening in city transport and other hub spots. We chose this city guide because it has its funny side, so it’s not overly serious and tedious as other maps can be. Lord knows we all need a chuckle when we get lost in a new city and Citymapper is made to oblige in every way. Designers did excellent work with this app, because its interface is very intuitive and easy to use, and if you’re in need of public transport, Citymapper will provide you with exact real time schedule which is invaluable information for all the travelers that need to get somewhere quickly.

Talk Like a Local With Duolingo

travel-apps-duolingoDuolingo is currently among the most used language learning apps on the planet, which doesn’t surprise much, seeing that its design and variety of features really has a lot to give to its users. According to the latest count, over 70 million people in the world use this app, which recommends it better than we ever could. First and foremost, this is a language learning app, which means it will help you handle the basics of any language offered in the Duolingo base. However, it won’t provide you with any advanced knowledge of a certain language, it’s only there to point you in general direction and help you learn some key phrases and words. Naturally, you can always try talking in English first, but if nobody understands you, Duolingo might be of help.

Manage Your Budget With Mint

mint-appLet’s face it, we all get a bit reckless with money when we travel, especially when we’re on vacation. Mint is a handy app that comes to the rescue whenever you need to check your balance and bank accounts to be certain just how much money have you got left. With Mint, you can set your travel budget and keep close tabs on your spending and in a safe way, which is even more important. You don’t have to fret about the security of your sensitive financial details, because Mint is a read-only app, which can show you what’s the status of your finances, but it doesn’t allow you to transfer your money from one place to another.

Traveling is one of the most fulfilling things you can do with your life, but they can also be stressful and hard to handle. These recommended apps will make your life easier and help you become a professional traveler.

afpAdam Ferraresi loves his job in web development and it shows from his articulate and informing articles published on wefollowtech.com. He lives in Dallas, loves his job, his friends and all the food in the world. Adam is 23, but still loves to play basketball like when he was 16.

Belize adventure destination-glovers reef

For adventure lovers, Belize still remains somewhat of an underrated destination. In 2009, only a surprising 231,249 travelers visited this tropical paradise. Competing with the other great adventure destinations, it’s easy to see why Belize can often be over looked.

However, once you’ve experienced a taste of what this unique, vibrant and diverse culture, it’s guaranteed that you’ll never want to leave. With a whole plethora of exciting activities on offer, a beautiful and historic landscape and a near-perfect climate, there are endless reasons why you should book a trip to Belize right now and consider never returning!

Belize Adventure Diving and Snorkeling

Probably one of the most famous diving landmarks in the world is located just off the coast of Belize. The Blue Hole is a unique geographical feature, where a sinkhole has formed in the center of the Lighthouse reef. The result is one of the top scuba spots in the entire world; with endless tropical sea life and crystal blue waters, it truly is not to be missed.

Beginner divers can also find a paradise in Belize. There are numerous scuba and snorkeling lessons and courses available, and organized tours can take you out to help you find the best spots for marine life. Once you’ve taken your first dip, you’ll be hooked automatically.

The Watersports

It’s not just under the water that makes Belize a hotspot for adventure lovers. The weather and location make it the ideal place for watersports of all time. Whether you’re looking for a serious adrenaline rush or just a bit of fun in the sun, Belize is the answer. All over the beautiful coastlines there are watersport schools that offer lessons and equipment hire for a reasonable price.

Learn to kitesurf at Slickrock's kitesurf school in Belize

Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you can go windsurfing, kite boarding, surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding—to name just a few! The views are beautiful, the water is warm, and there’s endless fun to be had. It’s no wonder why so many people struggle to leave.

The Hiking

There is also plenty of fun to be had while staying dry on this beautifully varied set of islands. With its lush jungle canopies and thick rainforest, there are plenty of hikes available that will fulfill any traveler’s thirst for adventure. With numerous national parks and nature revelations all over, there’s no shortage of choice.

Head to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve to see the only true pine forest in all of Central America and one of the best waterfalls worldwide, or visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary for epic tropical trails and the largest concentration of wild cats on the planet. Whatever you decide will make a fulfilling day out, and you’ll always know there’s more to pick from!

The Caving

Somewhat surprisingly, there’s a massive caving culture in Belize. The cayes, islands and intricate waterways have left a labyrinth of picturesque rock formations that are incredible to explore. Hokeb Ha Cave and Tiger Cave are only accessible by swimming through a cool pool of water, but once inside, the stalagmites and stalactites makes you feel like you’re on another planet.

Kayak caving is also extremely common in Belize. You can take the boats up smaller streams and water passages to gain access to the many caves on the island. Doing this is a novel spin on your generic caving excursion and allows you to explore the island in a truly unique way.

The Mayan Ruins

You can’t talk about the highlights of Belize without covering the Mayan Ruins. Many of the best-preserved ancient Maya sites can be found in this country, nestled away in the thick jungle and luscious countryside. These awe-inspiring centers of culture and history are dotted all over, and many require long treks to reach. However, for adventure lovers, nothing is comparable to arriving at your destination and uncovering these stunning ancient buildings through the canopy of leafs.

Xunantunich Mayan ruin in Belize

Top spots include Tikal (in nearby Guatemala), the ultimate Mayan city; Xunantunich, a hilltop castle and the most easily accessible; and Lamanai, which is usually accompanied by a river safari. They are truly beautiful sights, both historically and aesthetically, and the thought of having them right on your doorstep can make it very hard to consider leaving Belize!

With endless amounts of fun, excitement and stunning attractions, Belize may not be the most popular adventure destination, but it’s definitely that sort that makes you want to stick around for longer. After experiencing all it has to offer, the only thing left is to gain access to Skype to ring your loved ones and let them know you’re not coming back! However, you’ll need to have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to do so because all VOIP services are blocked in Belize, and a VPN will help you get around these regional restrictions.

If this list isn’t enough to convince you contact Slickrock Adventures with any questions about making Belize your next vacation destination!

Jess Signet is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures. Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble she lives in makes her want to travel even further.

[photos: Kenny Stein, Keith Fialcowitz, Henry Georgi]
High Temple, Lamanai, Belize
High Temple, Lamanai, Belize

Lamanai is an incredible Mayan archaeological site in a tropical rain forest setting in the interior of Belize. It’s easy to visit Lamanai from Belize City as a day trip, and here’s how I did it as an independent traveler.

There is a 6:00 a.m. bus that leaves from the bus station in Belize City for a town called Orange Walk. The owner of my bed and breakfast in Belize City was kind enough to drive me to the bus station.

The Belize City area of the country has a certain vibe to it because it lies on the Caribbean Sea. But during the bus ride to Orange Walk, I noticed the scenery beginning to slowly change. The bus ride took about two hours and then we pulled into the dusty little town of Orange Walk, also known as “Sugar City.”

There was only one way for me to get from Orange Walk to the Lamanai site: by taxi. It’s about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Orange Walk to Lamanai, so I negotiated with a very nice driver who spoke excellent English. I was quite lucky because he was friendly and explained some things along the way. In other words, I had found myself a taxi driver and a tour guide all wrapped up into one!

The ride from Orange Walk was one of the bumpiest rides I’ve ever taken in my life! There were a couple of times that I thought we were going to lose the bottom half of the car! The driver had to go slowly because of the condition of the dirt road, so it took about one and a half hours to get to Lamanai.

We saw lots of sugar cane fields along the way. There were a couple of villages here and there. And Mennonites! I was really surprised when I saw Mennonites in their horse-drawn buggies. What was even more surprising was to find out that the majority of the Mennonites in Belize are descendants from Mennonites from Russia!

Belize Mennonite
Belize Mennonite

Apparently they left Russia in the late 19th century and moved to Manitoba, Canada. Then some of them moved to Mexico in the 1920s and eventually, in the 1950s, some of these moved to British Honduras, later to become Belize. There are also some other groups who moved to Belize from the U.S. and Canada in the 1960s.

Seeing these plain-dressed people in their buggies was just not something I was expecting to see in the wilds of Belize!

The driver and I finally arrived at Lamanai. Having visited several other places around the Caribbean Sea, I was familiar with that kind of landscape. But what I was seeing now was more what I had imagined Central America would look like: this was my first visit to a country in Central America. So, although it was the dry season, I was seeing my first tropical rain forest.

After we parked, the driver stayed at the car while I started stomping around on my own, camera in hand. The site is quite large: it occupies almost 950 acres of forest. It sits along the New River Lagoon and many people choose to arrive by boat.

The Jaguar Temple was the first structure I found. It dates from about 625 AD and is decorated with jaguars, one on either side of the temple. I climbed to the top of the Jaguar Temple and was treated to an amazing view out over the rain forest.

Jaguar Temple, Lamanai, Belize
Jaguar Temple, Lamanai, Belize

The next thing I stumbled on was the Royal Complex, not far from the Jaguar Temple. The Royal Complex consisted mostly of stone walls, but there were some interesting details. There were several round carved objects, including a large round stone that was decorated with etched characters around its border. The Royal Complex was used a residence by the elite of the Mayan society.

I walked a bit more through the forest and soon came to the High Temple. It rises 108 feet (33 meters) from the floor of the forest and is surrounded by trees. At its base there are three sets of steps that meet on a platform; after this there is a much longer set of steps that goes all the way to the top.

I was quite impressed with this and because it was the High Temple, I thought it was the “highlight” of Lamanai. I walked back to the car and the driver expressed surprise that I was finished. He asked if I had seen the Mask Temple. The what? He said I had to go back: I absolutely had to see this temple.

I’m so glad he told me about it: it was quite remarkable. There was a local man doing some restoration work on the mask, so his presence helped to show the scale and size of the mask.

Mask Stelae, Lamanai, Belize
Mask Stelae, Lamanai, Belize

Visiting Lamanai on your own is an adventure. But do some research so you don’t miss something important like the Mask Temple!

This post is brought to you by Edward from Auvisa.org. Auvisa.org was founded in 2011 by migration lawyers. Auvisa.org is an Australian visa agency and it is responsible for the Australian visa application process for its clients. Edward is enthusiastic traveler who has been to 97 countries. He loves photography, tasting new food and experience differently culture.