People around the globe are focused on this summer’s Olympics, happening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, through Aug. 21. Forty-two sports and disciplines are featured involving 306 events taking place over these 19 days. Archery, beach volleyball, table tennis, sailing, boxing, canoe sprints, diving, equestrian competitions, rowing… Golf and rugby sevens events are being held for the first time… There’s a competition for every enthusiast.
I have always wanted to enjoy the Olympic Games in person and it’s on my bucket list, but this year, again, I am watching from my TV in Belize and cheering for my hometown champion, swimmer Michael Phelps (who has, at this writing, six medals, five gold and one silver).
I love swimming, and I love being around the water… it’s one of the reasons I love living in Belize.
Like the Olympics, Belize offers a variety of activities to enjoy… something for just about every interest and ability. So prepare to get on your mark, get set, and get ready to go to Belize to enjoy all it has to offer.
The sunshine and scenic views of this tropical country lend themselves to a variety of outdoor activities—above and under the water.
On Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest and most well-appointed island, residents and visitors can choose between catamaran day tours from San Pedro Town, ecological dives, scuba school for the whole family, snorkeling tours, lobster dives, jungle and water tours, parasailing, and pelican tours… to name just a few of the many adventures available.
And that’s only looking at the natural side of things… this popular island is home to so many expats that it offers a more First-World culture than you might expect from this little Central American country. Between wine bars, gourmet food stores, and specialty shops, you won’t go wanting for high-end or luxury items, despite the generally isolated feel that the entire country enjoys.
On Caye Caulker, right next to Ambergris Caye, you’ll find spear fishing, sailing, aquatic tours, and fishing expeditions all available… But here you may opt to do nothing… choosing instead to laze around, enjoying the tranquility of this less populated little island.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy the modern and colonial Belize City tour.
From Belize City and environs you can get involved in cave tubing, cruises, private tours, and jungle treks. Or take a trip to the Belize Zoo and the educational crocodile eco-sanctuary. The Belize Botanic Gardens are also not to be missed.
In Punta Gorda you will find a 12,000-acre nature reserve with a fishing lodge, and companies in the area offer a variety of cave-adventures and eco-tours.
There are numerous locations for zip lining over the jungle canopy all over the country.
Belize’s two Mayan ruin sites are world-renowned by archaeologists… let your inner Indiana Jones run wild visiting the Lamanai site (and nearby baboon sanctuary) and the Xunantunich site.
After engaging in any or several of these adventures, you might want to take some time to relax… and you’re in the right place for it! Hammocks are as ubiquitous as the palm trees here… so grab a refreshing drink and take a load off.
If you want to take a break from nature, Belize is well-stocked with spas and wellness centers to pamper you. Day spas on Ambergris Caye, Placencia, Caye Caulker, Belmopan, and Stann Creek are just a few of the most popular.
Belize It Or Not
Kriol: One day belly full neva fatten maaga dawg.
Translation: One meal won’t change someone’s life.
Meaning: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The Maruba Resort Jungle Spa is a luxury boutique hotel-resort-spa hidden in the jungle. Enjoy a relaxing massage then soak in the mineral baths, play racquetball, go horseback riding through the jungle, go on a safari, or even take a private or group helicopter tour.
Belize has some of the best diving in the world, thanks to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which lies about a half mile off the windward side of Ambergris Caye. It is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world. For those who are more waders than divers, the see-through blue waters of Caye Caulker teem with sea life that can be enjoyed from even above the water… you might see rays and even small sharks.
Belize offers great bird watching, as well, with hundreds of species of birds to observe and mark off your Audubon list. This small corner of Central America has recorded over 540 species of birds within its borders. Some islands offer bird sanctuaries, including a reserve for the black catbird on Caye Caulker.
Unlike the Olympics, Belize offers sports opportunities for professionals and novices alike. Between the jungles, mountain forests, magnificent coral reefs, and beautiful beaches, Belize has an environment for everyone and every kind of activity.
You may not earn any Olympic medals practicing your sport in Belize… But living here is like a reward in itself. On your mark, get set… and go to Belize to experience it for yourself!