Belize Vacation reviews
Author: soliteyah (More Trip Reviews by soliteyah)
Date of Trip: December 2008
I wanted to go hiking in a rain forest. SO wanted to go snorkeling. Both of us were interested in cultural and historic sites. Neither of us wanted to pay too much for our vacation. Where to go?
After much discussion and argument, we finally decided on Belize, which offered Mayan ruins, rain forest trails and Central America's best snorkeling. Sign us up!
We flew American Airlines out of Washington D.C.'s Reagan airport, connecting in Miami. I was bummed that AA wouldn't let us check in online for an international flight, but luckily the lines were very short (at about 6 a.m. on a Friday morning) and we breezed through check-in and security.
It was sunny and about 80 degrees when we arrived at the Belize City airport. After a quick customs check, we took a rather terrifying taxi ride into town, which cost $25 US (both Belize dollars and U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere in Belize, and the exchange rate is fixed at $2 BZD to $1 USD). The driver wove in and out of traffic, tailgated both vehicles and bicycles, and narrowly missed hitting at least five pedestrians, but we survived.
The scene at the Belize City bus terminal was a bit chaotic - the waiting area was packed with schoolkids as well as adults of all ages. Belize's public buses are actually retired U.S. school buses, gussied up with paint in an array of vibrant colors. We were waiting for a bus to take us to San Ignacio, a town near the western border of Belize. We were under the mistaken impression that the bus we wanted would be marked "San Ignacio"; we realized we were supposed to get on a bus marked "Benque" only as the Benque bus was pulling away. Argh! So we had to wait another 30 minutes for the next one.
The bus was very crowded - standing room only. You pay for your ticket on the bus; it was about $7 BZ ($3.50 US) each way for the three-hour ride from Belize City to San Ignacio. While many hotels provide transportation from the airport, we decided to take the public bus because it was significantly cheaper and because we wanted to get a glimpse of how the locals travel. The atmosphere onboard was noisy and cheerful; the music kept switching between reggae/Caribbean-sounding stuff, which I liked, and some dreadful American exports like Celine Dion and bad 80's bands.
The bus stopped a LOT. There were few fixed stops; basically anyone could flag a bus down anywhere along the Western Highway, and anyone onboard could get off wherever they felt like it. Apparently there are express buses that stop in fewer places, but we never saw any of those.