From Coral Reef and Mayan Ruins to the Cloud Forest

Picture of Lamanai Mayan Ruins in Belize
The Lamanai Mayan Ruins in Belize

Occasionally we get this question… people rightly figure that if they are going south, they want to stay south and see more than just one country. What a great combination! Belize for the coral reefs and Mayan ruins, and Costa Rica for the cloud forest.

Three different airlines fly between the two, and on the quickest and cheapest schedules there is only one stop (San Salvador, El Salvador), so it’s very doable. They all share so you may actually be on one airline on the way over and a different one on the way back. The three airlines are  Avianca, Taca, and Lasca. They can get you between the two in just over four hours and they go every day. You can also fly between the two in about five hours stopping in Panama instead of El Salvador, but it costs about $200 more.

San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) to Belize City, Belize (BZE) – Leave SJO at 6:47 am, arrive BZE 9:52 am
BZE to SJO – Leave BZE 12:15 pm, arrive SJO 4:05 pm

Comparing Flight Costs: Belize vs. Costa Rica

Picture of the Santa Elene cloud forest skywalk, Costa Rica
Santa Elena Skywalk, Costa Rica

The cost between the two is currently $334 – $584 (depending on the day of the week) round trip. You will have to do a little research to figure out whether to fly from the US to Belize or to Costa Rica. On some dates it is roughly the same, on other dates we checked it was more expensive to fly in and out of Costa Rica.

  • Houston to Belize, approx. $300 round trip, 1 stop on American (Miami), or non stop on Southwest
  • Houston to Costa Rica, approx $315 non-stop on Southwest, and approx $425 non-stop on United

Costa Rica Tour Company Recommendations

There is a great travel company in Costa Rica similar to us: Serendipity Adventures. They come highly recommended, and are the only other company I have found offering as many sports as we do. Why not spend a week in Belize on our island, then fly to Costa Rica and do one of their week-long trips? For example, consider their 7-day Costa Rica Intrepid Adventure Tour which is 7 days of horseback riding, hiking and climbing trees, rafting, rain forest, cloud forest, hiking a volcano, soaking in hot springs, and a zipline canopy tour.

Wouldn’t this be a great honeymoon? Or why not a second honeymoon if you already took your first?

The islands of Belize are ever changing. Composed of sand and coral rubble, not bedrock, and low lying, they are susceptible to extreme weather events, especially hurricanes. Over the years we have observed whole islands disappearing from big storms, and others appearing out of nowhere as huge wave events from storms batter the islands.

Out at Glover’s Reef on our island Long Caye, Belize, we are very exposed to big storms, which can send gigantic waves across the Caribbean to hit our island even though the storm itself may never come close. The ring reef of the atoll does shelter the island from the worst effects of the breaking waves, but when combined with a storm surge from any nearby storm, they can carve away the windward areas of our island. Subsequently, this sand and rubble is often transported to the leeward side of the island and deposited as new land. Sometimes these waves break on our reef and the outwash sweeps right over the whole island!

Here are two photos showing some of the changes to the island we have experienced over the years. Note the complete disappearance of the outlying island that used to be attached to Long Caye. This event was due to the huge waves (30-40’) that Hurricane Mitch sent our way in October 1998, even though the island experienced no wind at all.

Long Caye 1995
Long Caye 1995

 

Long Caye 2007
Long Caye 2007

Everyone who comes to our island marvels at how beautiful and idyllic the white sand beaches and palm trees appear, yet few people realize what a huge job it is to create these beach areas from the raw island land we start with. Bit by bit over the years we have cleared areas to create the wide expanses of clear beach area under the palms. Here are a two photos of an area we recently completed, note how thick the debris is on the ‘before’ picture!

Long Caye at Glover's Reef

Beliez island clean up

Belize Carnival shows off the culture of the countryBelize Carnival is one of Latin America’s biggest celebrations of Caribbean heritage. And unlike Carnival in most of the world, Belize Carnival happens in September. Actually, it is a huge deal, especially for Belizians. And for visitors, it is perhaps the best time to see the national culture on display.

From parades to keg contests to free concerts and table tennis championships, here is a very complete schedule of festivities during the September Belize Carnival Celebrations.

What to do during Belize Carnival

The central organization coordinating all the fun is The National Institute of Culture and History. NICH has a great website devoted to it’s primary mission. Oddly though, this year they chose to have only a Facebook page for the celebrations. And there is no section or page on their site devoted to Belize Carnival. On their Facebook page, there is one post pointing to an online catalog on the online magazine portal Issuu.  That said, the catalog is extensive and lists every event planned in every town in the country.

the authoritative catalog of Belize Carnival events

If you are heading to Belize during the month of September, schedule in some time to take in some of these events. Highlights include Sir Barry’s Belekin Bash in Belize City’s Memorial Park Sept. 6 and 7 in the evening. Also, St. George’s Caye Day ceremony followed by a huge parade throughout Belize City on Sept. 10.

More ideas on what to do in Belize

For a broader list of things to do in Belize, check our Belize info pages.

And if you are traveling to Belize in the latter part of August, be aware that some towns start the party early. Events continue throughout the last couple of weeks before Labor Day.

 

 

Every November, in preparation for the coming season, Cully and crew haul boat loads of materials and equipment out to the island for the annual build-a-thon. This is when they perform annual maintenance, repair storm damage to buildings, and expand on or add to the ever-growing menagerie of structures that comprise the Adventure Island eco resort.

This year’s renovations included a major overhaul and expansion of the kitchen palapa. Below are the before and after pictures:

Before:

After:

Okay, so this isn’t specific to Belize, but being the only surf center in Belize with direct shore access to a surf break we’re pretty much just crazy about anything cool or new that’s happening in the surf world. So we were pretty excited about this new video put out by GoPro, the folks who make those cool small, lightweight, waterproof, and self contained video cameras designed for catching live action sport activities. If you’ve ever thought about getting some video of yourself while surfing, this is an excellent introduction to the technique. And if you’re coming down to Adventure Island, it just might convince you to invest in a self-contained, waterproof camera.

 

According to a new study by The Happy Planet Index, a project of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Belize is the fourth happiest country in the world. The new HPI results show the extent to which 151 countries across the globe produce long, happy and sustainable lives for the people that live in them. Costa Rica was first, with Vietnam and Columbia in second and third.

The overall index scores rank countries based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental output.

Each of the three component measures – life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint – is given a traffic-light score based on thresholds for good (green), middling (amber) and bad (red) performance. These scores are combined to an expanded six-colour traffic light for the overall HPI score, where, to achieve bright green – the best of the six colours, a country would have to perform well on all three individual components.

The scores for the HPI and the component measures can be viewed in map or table-form.

National Geographic Magazine’s October issue highlights the beauty of Belize’s Great Barrier Reef which, along with Glover’s Reef Atoll, is part of the same reef system – the Mesoamerican Reef.

The Mesoamerican Reef, described in the article as “half the length of its famous Australian counterpart but in many ways more remarkable,” contains Belize’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the country’s most remarkable – and most fragile, geological assets. This fragility and the interplay between coral, mangrove and marine life is beautifully described in words and images, he said.

Past editions of National Geographic have highlighted parts of Belize’s sacred Maya cave system and the region’s Maya culture. Mr Fleming said that along with Jacques Cousteau, National Geographic was instrumental in bringing attention to Belize’s Blue Hole, which has become one of the world’s most valued dive spots and now enjoys a higher level of environmental protection.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Belize-s-Beauty-Again-Featured-in-National-3900559.php#ixzz29UwSym3W

Belize and Costa Rica are quite similar in that they are both Central American countries with great beaches and jungles, but they also have their differences.

Arenal Volcano – Costa Rica – photo by Ardyiii

All of Belize’s beaches face the Caribbean, while Costa Rica’s more popular beaches line the Pacific. Hence, Belize’s beaches have more of that classic Caribbean island-feel than Costa Rica’s do.

 

Another difference is that pretty much everyone speaks English in Belize as that’s the official language. So it feels a lot less foreign over all than Costa Rica. Another thing is that Belize is much smaller so it’s pretty easy to see a lot of the country in a short time, and the tourism industry is set up to facilitate that. 

Before departing for your week to Adventure Island get 10 – 15% discounts on swim shirts, hydroskins, wetsocks, headlamps and other gear by using our special coupons with Coolibar and Colorado Kayak Supply.

Coolibar’s swimwear line is ideal fast-drying clothing and is UPF 50+. Visit the Slickrock page on their site (http://www.coolibar.com/slickrock.html) and use coupon code “slick12” when checking out; you’ll get 15% off your order.

Colorado Kayak Supply sells the best selection of water sport gear we’ve found. Visit the Slickrock page (http://www.coloradokayak.com/Slickrock/) and use the coupon code “Slicktrip12” when checking out; you’ll get 10% off your order.

We also highly recommend Campmor because of their great deals on polypropylene long underwear and fleece; and Pelican for their dive lights, which are the best that you can get.