I am a planner. Which means I am also a researcher. My roommate and bestie, Aimee, and I knew we wanted to go on a vacation that had tropical beach vibes but also some options for adventure. I love to lay by the pool drinking daiquiris but not EVERY day. I probably put a good 30 hours into internet research on which location would be the best for our trip. We wanted someplace that neither of us had ever been. After plenty of back and forth and indecision between islands in the Caribbean, we finally landed on BELIZE in Central America and I am so happy that we did!
We stayed on Ambergris Caye, a small island off the mainland, reachable by water taxi or tiny ass airplanes. We chose The Phoenix resort, which turned out to be the nicest on the island. The property only had 40 or so units and the “rooms” are actually huge condos all with ocean views and excellent amenities. We had a waterfront unit with a wrap around patio that was incredible!
A note about Ambergris Caye and Belize in general: Most Belizians are POOR. I mean really poor. This island is not your typical tourist town with fancy or even basic amenities. You see people living in shacks and in conditions that some would consider sub-standard. There are no CVS stores or any chain or recognizable type of store. There are little local hole in the wall shops (many with dirt floors) that are very overpriced (for example, $8 for a dozen eggs at any of the grocery stores). Regardless, the people are incredibly warm and friendly to everyone, including tourists. But let me re-iterate, this island is NOT fancy. Even at the nicest restaurant on the island, you can walk in wearing a bathing suit and cover up and fit right in. Seriously. You would be out of place in heels anywhere on the island. I did not do my hair or wear one ounce of makeup the entire trip. I would have only if I had know that my roommate would be turning all of her video documentation into an incredible video:
Ambergris Caye is a perfect vacation spot if you are looking for a super laid back island with an authentic Belizian feel. The food was YUM and not super pricey. The diving (scuba) and snorkeling was ah-mazing! Out the water front gate of our resort, I would walk just two piers down to the best dive shop on the island, Chuck and Robbie’s. The water was warm and the visibility was great!
Almost everyday we did some type of partial or full day activity including two day trips to the mainland for cave tubing, zip lining, and a Mayan cave exploration. On the island we did snorkel, diving, spa day, a jet ski tour, and lots of eating and sun bathing!
I would say the single most memorable part of our trip was actually the excursion that I was least excited about, the ATM Cave tour. No write up can describe this “tour” with a description that would do it justice. Just watch the video, ok?! Let’s just say it was 5 hours of hiking in the jungle and over a mile into a pitch black cave THROUGH rushing water. Imagine hiking in a stream, against the flow of the water, in the pitch black. There had been so much rain recently that many parts were too deep to walk, so we swam. In our clothes and hard hats. The lights on our helmets were the ONLY source of light during our time in the cave. But it was SO cool!
If you go to Belize at all, just do the damn ATM Cave tour. We took a puddle jumper to get to the main island and it was included in the tour price which made it really easy.
If you are boujee AF and used to all-inclusive resorts or Americanized tourist spots, Ambergris Caye is NOT the destination for you. If you have a sense of adventure and appreciate local culture and island life, check out this island and you won’t be disappointed!
XO Liz Baxter
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