Today, Norm Goldman, editor of sketchandtravel.com and bookpleasures.com, is pleased to have Joshua Berman, co-author of Moon Handbooks Belize, as a guest. Joshua is an expert in traveling to Belize and recently chose this small Central American country for his own honeymoon; he has also lived and written extensively on Nicaragua and Honduras.

Welcome to Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com Joshua and thank you for accepting our invitation to be interviewed.

STANDARD:

Tell our readers something about yourself and your experience in Belize.

Josue:

I have been living, working, teaching, and traveling in Central America since the US Peace Corps sent me to Nicaragua in 1998. Since then, I have returned to the region to write guides, lead service trips, and visit friends. and adoptive families. Last year, Avalon Travel Publishing asked me to take over Chicki Mallan’s Moon Handbooks Belize, which, when it first appeared 15 years ago, was the country’s first and most acclaimed guidebook. I gladly accepted and proceeded to research and write the sixth edition, which was published in early 2005.

STANDARD:

Where is Belize?

Josue:

Belize is located in the northeast corner of Central America, bordering Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to the north, Guatemala’s Petén desert to the west, and the Caribbean Ocean to the east. However, culturally, Belize and its hundreds of cays (islands, pronounced cays) is more Caribbean than Latin. English is spoken everywhere (along with seven other languages). The diversity is staggering, especially considering there are only 260,000 people in the entire country.

STANDARD:

Would you consider Belize a good choice for a romantic getaway or wedding and honeymoon destination? Why?

Josue:

Absolutely. The Belize Tourism Board actively markets the country as a destination for lovers, and there is no shortage of special honeymoon and romance packages to choose from:

You can rent your own waterfall for the day at the Hidden Valley Inn.
Couples can get Mood Mud massages at Maruba Resort Jungle Spa.

You can rappel together into a vertical cave pit, at the bottom of which you’ll find a flower bed next to an underground spring in Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch. The list goes on and on.

Belize’s size (smaller than Massachusetts), easy access (just a two-hour flight from Miami or Houston), and staggering selection of small, intimate resorts and lodges seal the deal. To solidify my endorsement of Belize as a romantic destination, I even took my own girlfriend here on our honeymoon (oh, work never stops)

STANDARD:

When is the best time to visit Belize in terms of weather, costs, crowds, and availability of flights from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, etc.?

Josue:

Some resorts separate the holiday season from the normal high season, with even higher prices and lower availability around Christmas, New Year’s and Easter. Be sure to make reservations during these periods. High season (re: more tourists and higher prices) is generally from mid-December to April; This is also the dry season for most years, though December, January, and even February can play host to cold fronts that blow or sit for days.

Your best bet: get ready, both with clothes and attitude! A week of stormy weather can put a damper on a vacation planned solely around snorkeling, but it could also provide the perfect setting for exploring the rainforests or enjoying a hot tub and fireplace at Mountain Pine Ridge.

June, July, and August technically fall in the rainy season, and travelers during this time are rewarded with significantly reduced prices on most accommodations. Rain during these months can mean just a quick shower each afternoon, or it can last for days. August is the big month for European backpackers and travelers, while December and February are dominated by North Americans. Some tour businesses close completely during the months of September and October, the peak of hurricane season.

STANDARD:

Could you give our readers an idea of ​​the costs involved if the trip originates from the US, Canada and Europe and Australia?

Josue:

The conventional wisdom of travelers calls Belize the cheapest Caribbean vacation spot and one of the most expensive Central American ones. There are plenty of mid-range and high-end accommodations across the country, ranging from US$25 to hundreds of dollars a night. Exact hotel rates are somewhat elusive in Belize; Seasonal fluctuations are compounded by various taxes and service charges, sometimes as much as an additional 25 percent. Always make sure that the rate you are quoted is actually the same amount that you will be asked to pay. And of course, great deals abound in the off-season (May through November), when room rates plummet across the board.

As for food, budget travelers can get by on less than $20 a day, but you’re on vacation, right? Tickets range from US$5 to US$25, depending on where you are; in San Pedro’s trendy restaurants, a fancy dinner can cost up to US$75 per person. Some resorts include meal prices in their nightly rates, which can be a great deal.

Don’t forget to budget an additional $40-80 per person per day for activities like scuba diving, sailing trips, and guided tours of Belize’s rainforests, ruins, and fascinating cave systems. Experienced, independent travelers can get around for less, but transportation can be a hassle.

US$10 per person per night is the bottom line for budget accommodation, and will get you anything from a cramped, stuffy concrete box in most cities to a generous log cabin at Trek Stop (on Cayo) and other backpacker hotspots.

STANDARD:

If you had to choose 5 unparalleled places in Belize for a romantic getaway, honeymoon or wedding destination, what would they be and why?

Josue:

First of all, remember that selecting a place to stay has a lot to do with where you want to be and what activities you’d like to do during your stay: beach or rainforest? Diving or hiking? Reef or Ruins? Do you want to be pampered with massages or get sweaty and muddy with your loved one on a jungle trek? Get an idea of ​​what kind of trip you and your partner are looking for, then dive in and book it. The following are just a few of the luxury romantic accommodations in Belize that stand out in my mind for their quality and intimacy. To learn more about Belize’s extensive budget options, flip through a copy of my book, Moon Handbooks Belize.

Starting on elegant Ambergris Caye, just off the coast of Belize’s famous barrier reef and three miles north of the town of San Pedro, you’ll find Capricorn Resort, offering intimate oceanfront seclusion in one of three bright, airy cottages. good taste. Capricorn’s restaurant is one of the best (considered the best by many) on the island.

Located on 7,200 acres of private property in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Preserve, Hidden Valley Inn is a tranquil haven for hikers and bird watchers who will have a blast exploring the resort’s 90+ miles of hiking trails and old logging roads and then snuggling up in front of the fireplace in your cabin, listening to the birds singing outside (especially pleasant during the cold, foggy and rainy season). The property encompasses lush broadleaf forest and pine habitat. The two diverse ecosystems are divided by a geological fault line, which marks the edge of a towering 1,000-foot escarpment. Numerous watercourses well up from the mountain and then cascade down the steep slopes, often in deep, inviting pools; The Hidden Valley trail system runs through it all.

On the Placencia peninsula, Kitty’s Place is one of the best and least pretentious resorts on this long stretch of beach resorts. Call it “understated luxury” and check your shoes at the front desk. Be sure to schedule a day trip or overnight to Kitty’s private island, French Louis Caye, 12 miles offshore, with excellent snorkeling and luxury accommodations.

Two of the most romantic, beautiful and expensive options in Belize are Francis Ford Coppola’s magnificent pair of resorts: Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge, located on the Placencia Peninsula and Mountain Pine Ridge, respectively, and offering a number of group packages. . Both venues feature stunning architecture and art from around the world, and world-class service and facilities.

Located about an hour north of Belize City, Maruba Resort Jungle Spa pampers body and soul, as evidenced by its acclaimed spa treatments and unique focal points scattered throughout the grounds: a small glass-encased chapel; a stone chess table covered by a palapa; two pools that seem to spring from the jungle with waterfalls. The rooms are spaced out for privacy and are called Moon, Fertility, and Bondage to name a few. All feature carved masks with eclectic neo-primitive motifs, mosaic floors, standing candles, cement fountains, tiled bathtubs, shuttered windows, and fresh flowers on the oversized down comforters and in the bathrooms.

STANDARD:

What should people know about having a wedding in Belize from the point of view of requirements, experience of the various hotels, etc.

Josue:

Belize is gaining quite a reputation as the perfect place to get married. A growing number of resorts cater to weddings of all sizes, some in quite creative ways (such as ceremonies underwater or on top of Mayan pyramids). If you elope, you must be in Belize three business days before submitting your marriage application to the Office of the Registrar General (tel. 501/227-7377, closed on weekends and local holidays). You will receive the paperwork the next business day for your ceremony. If you have been divorced or widowed, bring a photocopy of the death certificate or divorce decree. The Government of Belize charges US$100 for the license and you will need a birth certificate or passport.

STANDARD:

How far in advance should a couple prepare for their honeymoon, romantic getaway, or wedding in Belize?

Josue:

Honeymoons and getaways are easy and don’t require much advance booking, except during the holidays and at the most popular resorts. If you’re planning a wedding during peak season that will require numerous rooms for guests, book a year in advance if possible. Otherwise, a few months is usually enough.

STANDARD:

What resources are available on the Internet related to weddings and honeymoon vacations in Belize?

Josue:

Various wedding specialists can facilitate paperwork, ministers, flowers, book hotels, celebrations, etc. including Katie Valk for anywhere in the country, Iraida Gonzales in San Pedro, and Lee Nyhus in Placencia.

STANDARD:

Is there anything else you want to tell our readers that we haven’t covered?

Josue:

Yes, keep an eye on my WEBSITE for new links and developments related to romance in Belize and beyond; I have the most popular forums and news from Belize posted on my links page. In addition, MY PUBLISHER’S SITE will soon feature sample itineraries and other excerpts from my book, to make planning your trip to Belize even easier. Finally, remember the words of Kurt Vonnegut’s prophet Bokon: Quirky travel suggestions are dance lessons from God.

Happy roads to all, Joshua

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