Guide to Belizean Bliss
No matter how many years it has been since your passport saw a new stamp, this is the time of year when people dream of shaking off the spring break hangover and crave getting out of dodge; preferably somewhere with palm trees, warm sun and warm water.
There’s nothing more soothing than a daydream set on an exotic island, but taking a real vacation solo can sometimes feel overwhelming and scary. I set out to prove the myths wrong. As a single girl, desperate to escape the city, I planned my own Eat. Pray. Love adventure – my destination? Belize!
Belize is an adventure lover’s paradise and a romantic couple rendezvous hot spot, but this single gal set out to peel back the layers of this tropical wonderland. Can I, a single girl make it in this rugged, raw, romantic country?
After a 2.5-hour flight directly from Houston I touch down in Belize City. I step off of the plane and the warm sticky air clings to my skin. Although it is hot, it feels like a warm hug from grandma, welcoming and safe.
I leave Belize City and head southwest, deep into the country. Bite-sized villages are sprinkled along the roadside. The country is lush and green, with palm groves, bananas and citrus trees. We pass avid cyclist, children playing in the fields, and fruit stands overflowing with mangoes.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek
Two hours later, I arrive at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Chaa Creek an eco-reserve in the heart of the Belizean rain forest and rated “Top Belize Resort” by the Belize Tourism Board.
The eco-friendly property attracts tree-huggers, families, honeymooners, entrepreneurs, writers, filmmakers and millionaires alike. It is welcoming, calm and open.
The 365 acre private nature reserve is tucked along the banks of the spectacular Macal River, and it is packed with wildlife. Overgrown iguanas, hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, and howler monkeys create the nurturing soundtrack of the property’s experience.
I walk through the tropical oasis and check into an expansive cottage. Each cottage is individually designed with palm-thatched roofs, personal sundecks, ceiling fans and Maya inspired art. The rooms blend effortlessly into the natural rainforest surrounding them, adding to the peaceful retreat experience.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek makes me feel like a new born bird tucked safely in its nest, cared for, safe and excited. Now that I’ve settle in, this single girl is ready for adventure so I set out to explore the grounds and make the most of my afternoon.
There is nothing lazy about this eco-lodge! This tropical paradise has an activity for every traveling soul. With miles of lush, immaculate landscaping and pristinely maintained trails, I set out for a half-day hike.
The property is set amongst the fascinating Maya civilization which at one point thrived in this area. I hike up to the butterfly farm and get an opportunity to hold a blue butterfly. The Natural History Centre on property is home to original Maya artifacts, maps and stories; I continue my trek to the Rainforest Medicine Trail and hike past howler monkeys who watch me curiously, but with a suspicious glare. My heart is set on finding even more inner peace as I hike up the hillside to the spa.
A rejuvenation girl at heart, the Hilltop Spa at Chaa Creek takes my breath away. The view is stunning as I gaze out over the jungle valley. I take a moment to meditate, enhanced by the background music of local birds and the gentle rustling of leaves.
This Spa lives in harmony with the natural surroundings. Their attention to detail extends not only to the product selection, but even to their waste management. Their natural, herbal-based approach sets the standard for environmentally friendly spas. They use naturally mineral-rich mud treatments, herbal wraps and carefully chosen botanicals, all sourced as locally as possible. Their professional treatments will soothe any gal’s single spirit.
Every employee I meet at Chaa Creek smiles wide with their eyes, as if to say “Hello, my new, but long lost friend, you are at home here.” The staff evokes a quiet confidence and a passion for their job that oozes through their pores. Some of them have been here for 30 years, which is a true testament to the company and the value it places in its employees.
By the third day of hiking, swimming and eating organic local fresh food, I have lost weight. Being this far from civilization, I have found a new level of consciousness, one that unites me with nature and has me treating my body with respect.
After being immersed in the rainforest it is time to see a new part of Belize; I am on my way to become a “beach betty”. I depart The Lodge at Chaa Creek feeling uplifted, rejuvenated, calm, and connected to my best self.
Never before have I been so far from home, yet felt so at home.
A 3-hour drive along the Hummingbird Highway will lead you straight to Placencia, a small beach town located in the Stann Creek District of Belize.
I check into Chabil Mar, Chabil Mar a luxury boutique resort. After living in the jungle for 3 days, my senses are on over drive. I pour into the expansive, gorgeous 1000 square foot ocean view luxury villa. I’m welcomed with air conditioning, a flat screen cable TV, a full kitchen, laundry and two pools facing the ocean, plus room service and DeShaun, the best bartender on the peninsula. This single gal is in heaven.
The first thing I do is jump into the ocean. The warm Caribbean water is comfortable and clean. I jump into a kayak on the beach that is free for guests to use, and gaze around the beach to see couples holding hands, mothers, daughters and best friends laughing and catching up on their gossip magazines as they bake in the golden sun. I navigate my way into the bay, and drift gently to the west. The cool breeze brushes against my un-brushed hair. I have a moment where I can just be. I sit in gratitude for the beautiful planet and all the natural beauty that surrounds me.
Belize is a unique catch, its roots grounded in ancient history, advanced beyond their own good, surrounded by effortless beauty, rich in color and textures; Mother Nature sure did it right here.
At Chabil Mar there is a quiet hum as the property buzzes with social connections and newfound friends. There is an open invitation to meet and greet as honeymooners, newlyweds, couples, families and singles all play together in this cozy comfortable property.
Here at Chabil Mar, you want to go where everyone knows your name and that is the bar! With happy hour ever night from 4-6 PM, drinks are served fresh and flavorful. Watermelon mojitos seem to be a hit, with fresh mint picked in the resort’s garden. DeShaun the bartender puts extreme care and detail into every drink he makes, while the bar’s thatched roof protects socialites from the hot sun.
The drink of choice is the Yummy Mummy, “Best of Belize Award Winner 2005” consisting of cane juice, Triple Sec, fresh orange juice, pineapple juice, and lime-ade topped with a splash of cranberry.
This pocket of the world feels like a casual, but upscale, social club, where new friends become pen pals and Facebook friends instantly, and a place where travelers meet up from all around the world. If you like the Chabil Mar Facebook page you get a free drink at the bar. While “Social” is the middle name of this laid-back resort, if you choose to have private time, the rooms are set up like mini homes.
Guests can enjoy abundant activities, from fishing, snorkeling, and river tubing to the Monkey River Howler Tour or a bike ride into the petite town of Placencia.
After a couple of days of air-conditioned bliss, I say goodbye to my new friends and head deep into the Caribbean Sea.
I’ve never been the high-maintenance type. My idea of trendy travel is a barefoot beach walk, so my next hot spot suits my nature lover’s inner child perfectly. 18 miles southeast of Placencia sits the exclusive resort Hatchet Caye, Hatchet Caye with only 9 cabanas on a toy-sized island. This island defines “Exclusive” with each guest personally welcomed off the boat and on to the white beach shore where I am escorted to my oceanfront cabana.
True tranquility is balanced with idyllic luxury here, and I feel like an exclusive VIP just being on this island. There is a soft glow bouncing off of the island, heavenly and calm.
I am surrounded by nothing but swaying palm trees, crystal clear water and steamy hot sunshine, perhaps heaven does exist on earthand it is smack dab in the middle of this island.
Islands seem to be created for romance, and for couples cuddling up on the sand. Here on Hatchet Caye though, I feel at home. I meet another single woman from Texas who frolicked to the island for a much needed week long get-away.
Belize sure has its share of plush digs. Although simple in nature, Hatchet Caye has enough to hit the sweet spot of any island lover.
This island retreat promises a decadent stay with the world’s largest lobster, fresh fruit, nighttime snorkeling where you will get friendly with local resident stingrays.
So Belize as it turns out is single girl’s destination bliss, with everything from jungle paradise to lush, sandy strolls on the Caribbean Sea.
In a mass produced, over-consumed, high-pressure world, it is refreshing to visit a place that is unscathed by the wounds of the world. Belize is a secret paradise tucked gently and forever into the souls of all who visit – an unapologetically authentic place, where the people smile with their hearts and extend an open invitation to all who are looking for more inner peace. As they say in Belize, when in Belize you don’t have to worry about anything, it is truly un-Belizable.