Tribune Print Share Text

Beauty and Belize

Created date

April 27th, 2010

Fittingly, the last seven miles to Black Rock Lodge in the Cayo District of Belize require endurance. A rocky ride over unpaved road, through orange trees and grazing cattle, leads to the modest Black Rock sign. From there, the final stretch is a steep incline. Nothing so beautiful should be reached too easily. The open-air restaurant and activity center at Black Rock reveals an unobstructed view of the Macal River and Maya Mountains. Nature alone would sell the eco-friendly lodge, which runs on a combination of solar and micro-hydro power, but the accommodating staff also offer countless activities. Choose from on-site bird watching, horseback riding, and canoeing, or sign up for a day trip to nearby Tikal National Park in Guatemala. About a two-hour journey from Belize's Cayo region, Tikal is one of the world s largest sites of Mayan ruins. Prepare to be awed by five great pyramids and many smaller structures that were inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. Be sure to let your eyes wander from the archeological wonders to the wildlife in surrounding trees, home to spider and howler monkeys and toucans. For a country the size of Massachusetts, Belize boasts surprising geographical variety. From the western rainforest, head back to Belize City and either take a small plane or a water taxi to the eastern cayes (pronounced keys ), where island mentality reigns. Ambergris Caye is the largest and perhaps most visited of the cayes. Even so, a few days in downtown San Pedro, and you ll begin to see familiar faces. Consider staying just outside of downtown San Pedro for a quieter experience. Banana Beach Resort just south of San Pedro is home to the El Divino steakhouse and martini bar. Be sure to try the refreshing conch ceviche. Visitors to Belize cannot leave without seeing the world's second-largest barrier reef. You need not be an expert to experience the joys of snorkeling or scuba diving among abundant marine life. At Hol Chan Marine Reserve, only a short boat ride from San Pedro, expect to see turtles, countless fish, and nurse sharks. Most resorts, including Banana Beach, plan trips to the various snorkel and diving sites, but for scuba diving try Amigos del Mar, one of the most well-known dive shops in San Pedro. Between beach and reef trips, rent one of San Pedro s ubiquitous golf carts and cruise the town. Peruse homemade wooden souvenirs or grab a plate of seafood in coconut milk with rice and beans at a local restaurant. You ll temporarily satisfy your hunger, but don t be surprised if Belize beckons you back again.