Looking for the perfect gift to bring back home? Here are 14 unique gift ideas.
1. Belizean Souvenir Cookbooks
Looking for some authentic recipes to take back home? Belizean souvenir cookbooks can be purchased at Belize Budget Suites, located on Ambergris Caye in Belize.
1. Trent's Belizean BBQ - Is full of authentic local Belizean BBQ recipes.
2. Belizean Jungle Sunrise - Is everything you want for breakfast, and then some.
3. The Belizean Cupcake Queen - Takes you from being a "mom" to a "kids party" baker.
These make excellent gifts, they travel very well if you pack them between the clothing in your suitcase.
2. Belizean Chocolate
Who doesn't love chocolate. This is a unique gift, because the chocolate is made right here in Belize. It is available in many flavors, at almost any local gift shop. In some cases, you can even see the production process, before you buy a few delectable bars of chocolate.
3. Mayan Baskets
Basket weaving is a longtime tradition of the Mayans, who have lived in the area for over 3,000 years. A handwoven basket is a great way to support local artisans and take home a piece of authentic Belize. Give your home a special touch with one of the many unique basket patterns you can find in local markets.
4. Mayan Textiles
The Mayan people, make some of the most beautiful crafts that you will find in Belize. Anything from handwoven table runners, dolls, purses, back-packs, jewerly, headbands, blankets and belts. Everything is handmade, right here in Belize.
5. Belizean Rums
Rum is very popular & plentiful commodity in Belize. Why not sample of few flavors, to see which one you like? If you’re not a big rum drinker (no problem), take home a delicious rum cake.
6. Hot Sauce
If you're like most people, food isn't food until you spice it up. Belize makes some of the best hot sauces in the world. Take home a bottle for yourself as well as a few for your spice-loving friends. Hot sauce made from habanero is the most well-known variety, but you’ll find other types as well.
7. Locally Grown Coffee
Whether you enjoy a cup every day or just now and then, you're in for a treat. Belize has it's very own coffee, which is grown, processed and roasted right here in Belize. If you have someone back home who loves coffee, this might be the perfect gift for them.
8. Conch Jewelry
Conch shell jewelry is not only unique, but it's beautiful. This is a favorite gift for the ladies and a variety of items are available at most gift shops and street side vendors.
9. Wooden Kitchenware
In Belize you’ll find lots of bowls, spoons, cutting boards and other kitchen accessories are carved from ziricote wood. This is a rare but hardy (tree species), growing in a small portion of Central America. This is the wood of choice by many wood carvers, as it has marbled patches of light and dark grains that you can't find in other woods. Thus, it’s a truly special souvenir to bring home from a trip to Belize.
10. Wood Carvings
Ziricote is the wood that many local carvers use. They produce anything from marine life, birds, mammals, ceremonial masks, or other symbols of nature. These make a great keepsake (for any bookshelf) back home, as a unique gift from Belize.
11. Local Music
The music of Belize is a rich mixture of Creole, Mestizo, Mayan and African influences. Whether your preference is traditional or modern, there is plenty of music right here at your fingertips, from Garifuna to Mayan, to Punta & Reggae. By purchasing a CD from local artists, you are helping to support the local economy.
12. Hand-Crafted Hammocks
Hammocks are a great way to relax on a breezy day, and they come in a variety of colors. Enjoy a tropical rum cocktail swinging in your hammock back home, it may even bring back some fond memories of Belize.
13. Beer & Beer Souvenirs
Belikin Beer is popular with many of the tourists. If you've got that special drinking buddy back home, maybe a beer souvenir is just the ticket. Anything from branded T-shirts, drinking glasses, koozie or tote bags. A branded souvenir becomes a portable and useful memory of your awesome journey — not to mention a great conversation starter.
14. Belizean T-Shirt (You Better Belize It!)
Who doesn't love T-Shirts. T-Shirts express who we are and where we've been. They make great gifts for just about any age. Belizean T-shirts can be found in most gift shops, with a variety of Belizean sayings. Find the one that expresses who you are and pop it into your suitcase.
For you birdwatchers, who enjoy getting a glimpse of a new bird. Here are a few of the birds, which have been spotted in and around Belize Budget Suites.
Magnificent Frigate Bird - Seen Overhead
Great Tailed Grackle
White Winged Dove
Great Horned Owl
Green Breasted Mango Hummingbird
Great Black Backed Gull - Seen Overhead
Black-Throated Green Warbler
Scissor-tailed flycatcher is a type of kingbird that belongs to the tyrant flycatcher family. It can be found in North, Central & South America. Scissor-tailed flycatcher inhabits savannas with scattered trees, fields, pastures, areas near the towns, golf courses and scrublands. Unlike for many other birds, deforestation is beneficial for scissor-tailed flycatchers because they prefer open areas. Climate changes, severe storms and tornadoes are the greatest threats for the survival of nearly hatched birds. Scissor-tailed flycatchers are numerous and widespread in the wild. They are not on the list of endangered species.
Royal Flycatcher Facts
Scissor-tailed flycatcher can reach 8.7 to 14.6 inches in length and 1.3 to 2 ounces of weight. Scissor-tailed flycatcher has grey head and back, white throat and belly, dark brown wings with white edges and salmon-pink flanks, lateral sides of the body and bottom parts of wings. Scissor-tailed flycatcher has medium-sized body, short, black bill and very long, forked tail. Males have much longer tail than females and juvenile birds. Long tail facilitates acrobatics in the air. Scissor-tailed flycatcher performs sharp twists and turns while it catches insects in the midair.
Royal Flycatcher - Diet
Diet of scissor-tailed flycatcher is based on insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and fruit (red mulberry and hackberry). Scissor-tailed flycatchers are welcome in the fields and gardens because of their ability to eliminate pest. Scissor-tailed flycatcher carries large insects to the fence wires and tree branches and beats them against the perch to make sure they are dead and "safe" for consumption.
Royal Flycatcher - Mating & Reproduction
Royal Flycatcher - Natural Enemies
There is all kinds of reasons to visit Belize. There is an abundant supply of natural beauty, from stunning beaches, islands (or Cayes), Mayan ruins, snorkeling, diving, a barrier reef, rainforest, rivers, rolling mountains, national parks, and birds. Belize has some of the most exotic birds in the world. There are more than 590 species of birds living witin the Belize borders. Here is (14) birds, worthy of a closer view.
1. SCARLET MACAW
Scarlet Macaw - One of 17 species of macaws, the scarlet macaw is one of the most beautiful members of the parrot family and one of the largest Neotropical parrots. Scarlet macaws prefer life in the rainforest. With wide strong wings and hollow bones that aid flight, they can reach speeds of 56 kilometers (35 miles) per hour. There are two subspecies of scarlet macaw that can be found in Mexico and Central and South America. Scarlet macaw inhabits rainforests, woodlands and forested areas near the rivers. Deforestation and illegal collecting from the wild (due to pet trade), are responsible for the sharp decline in the number of scarlet macaws in some parts of their range. Luckily, global population of scarlet macaws are still large and stable and these birds (presently), are not on the list of endangered species.
2. Kelled-Billed Toucan
Keel-Billed Toucan - Is large South American bird that belongs to the family of toucans. It can be found from southern Mexico to northern Columbia. Keel-billed toucan inhabits tropical and subtropical rainforests (from the lowlands to the altitude of 6.200 feet). Major threats for the survival of keel-billed toucan are habitat destruction and uncontrolled hunting (because of the meat & beak). Despite these factors, keel-billed toucan is still widespread and numerous in the wild.
3. ROYAL FLYCATCHER
Royal Flycather - This is a type of kingbird that belongs to the tyrant flycatcher family. It can be found in North & South America. It inhabits savannas with scattered trees, fields, pastures, areas near the towns, golf courses and scrublands. Unlike for many other birds, deforestation is beneficial for scissor-tailed flycatchers because they prefer open areas. Climate changes, severe storms and tornados are the greatest threats for the survival of nearly hatched birds. Flycatchers are numerous and widespread in the wild. Presently these birds are not on the endangered species list.
4. OCELLATED TURKEY
Ocellated Turkey - This is a large, distinct & spectacular gamebird found on the tropical rainforest floor, near brushy fields, and adjacent clearings. Rarely seen away from protected areas, where it can be fairly common and tame. Note the orange head ‘warts,’ copper-colored wing panel, and iridescent blue-and-gold eyespots. It feeds in groups on the ground, and roosts in the trees.
5. MAGNIFICENT FRIGATE
Magnificent Frigatebird - The magnificent frigatebird is a large (lightly built sea bird), with brownish-black plumage, long narrow wings and a deeply forked tail. The male has a striking red gular sac, which he inflates to attract a female. The female is slightly larger than the male and has a white breast and belly. Frigatebirds feed on fish taken in flight from (other birds), and sometimes indulge in harassing other birds to force them to regurgitate their food.
6. JABIRU STORK
Jabiru Stork - The Jabiru stands five (5) feet tall with wings spanning nine (9) feet, and is considered one of the larger birds found in Belize. The Jabiru Stork is a very rare bird and is endangered throughout it's range. It's habitat range, extends from southeastern Mexico to northern Argentina. Its heavy bill is about 12-inches long and is perfectly designed for catching fish, frogs and snakes. It is the tallest flying bird found in South America. They arrive in Belize from Mexico in November and nest in the tall pines of the savannas and marshes of the Belizean lowlands. They remain in Belize until June or July, flying north with the first rains.
7. HARPY EAGLE
Harpy Eagle - This is a massive bird of prey, restricted to mature forest and very rare. They have enormous talons. Adult birds are dark gray (as seen above), paler below, with obvious dark breast band. Note more obvious black-and-white barring on wings in flight to help separate it from Crested Eagle. They feed on monkeys & sloths. Usually seen perched in the canopy or flying across a road or river.
These birds can weigh up to 20 pounds and have a 7-foot wingspan making them a formidable predator. In Belize the population is declining due to deforestation, shooting, and nest destruction, resulting in near extinction of this species. However projects like the "Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Project", in collaboration with Sharon Matola (Founder & Director of The Belize Zoo & The Peregrine Fund) both strive to re-establishment the harpy eagle within Belize.
8. RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Red Footed Booby - The red-footed booby is a large sea bird of the booby family. As suggested by the name, adults always have red feet, but the colour of the plumage varies. They are powerful and agile fliers, but they are clumsy in take offs and landings. These birds are famous inhabitants of Half Moon Caye, a natural monument found here in Belize. Nesting starts around mid-December and the young hatch around March. Chicks are full grown in a matter of months and then its off to the open sea. Flying fish are their favourite food, caught at night when the fish are nearer the surface.
9. KING VULTURE
King Vulture - The King Vulture, known as "King Jan Kro", and is the largest and most colorful of the four species of vultures found in Belize. The extremely thick and strong bill is well adapted for tearing, and the long, thick claws for holding the meat. The King Vulture inhabit the forested lowlands of Belize. They will sometimes fly over savannas searching for dead meat. Their extremely keen eyesight and sense of smell, allows them to locate potential food sources easily. They will often locate food by the presence of the other vulture species. Once the King Vulture lands, other birds scatter.
10. COLLARD TOUCAN
Collard Toucans - The Collared Aracari Toucan is brightly marked and has a large bill. The adult is typically 15.5–16 inches long and weighs 6.7–9.7 ounces. Both sexes are alike in appearance, with a black head and chest, with yellow and red underparts. The Collared Aracari Toucan, is a near-passerine bird which breeds from southern Mexico to Panama.
11. BLUE CROWNED MOT-MOT
Blue Crowned Mot-Mot - The Blue Crowned Mot-Mot can be seen throughout Belize. Its habitat is mainly just below the canopy (or top), of the rainforest. The length of the Blue-Crowned Mot-Mot is between 11 & 18 inches (to include the tail). The one feature that most distinguishes almost all motmots is their long tails. Close to the tip of the tail, the barbs are missing for about one inch or more. This gives the appearance not unlike that of a tennis racket.
12. LINEATED WOODPECKER
Lineated Woodpecker - They are identified by their flaming red heads, protrouding beaks, and black & white wing feathers. One species of this group lives on Ambergris. Males have a red moustache (as seen in the picture above), this adds to their dramatic, somewhat comical appearance. These are large ‘woody woodpeckers’ of tropical littoral forest in lowlands and foothills. Also ranges into semi-open areas with tall trees, mangroves, and other lightly wooded habitats.
13. GREAT CURASSOW
Great Curassow - Very large game bird of tropical forested areas, eliminated mainly from hunting. It can now only be rarely found in protected parks or very remote areas. It is usually seen on the forest floor, singularly or in small groups, feeding among trees. Males often try to impress females by sining high in the canopy, with a very low-pitched, subliminal, booming sound. Both sexes have distinctive curly crest and plumage which varies from colorful to black.
14. YELLOW-HEADED PARROT
Yellow-Head Parrot - The Yellow-head parrot is a subspecies unique to Belize. The most distinctive features of this primarily green parrot, it it's yellow head and the red & yellow patch on each wing (prominent with adult birds). There is also dark blue tips to the flight feathers and yellow tips to the tail feathers. It has a hooked beak, which is used for cracking nuts & seeds, as well as grasping & climbing. It feet are very adapted at grasping, with two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward. Their ability to mimic, is what has made them the victims of the illegal pet trade.
The Cinnamon Hummingbird is primarily a bird found in Mexico & Central America. The Cinnamon Hummingbird is unique throughout its range as the only hummingbird with completely cinnamon underparts. It is fiercely territorial.
A Cinnamon Hummingbird can be identified by having a bronze green with some green iridescence feathers - just below and over the eye, across the crown and down the back, where the green blends into a rufous/reddish-brown tail. The underbelly is cinnamon-colored, from below the eye, down the throat & chest, to the tail. Their long slender curved bill, has a black tip.
NESTING & BREEDING
Depending on the geographical region, their breeding season varies. Some cinnamon hummingbirds, breed throughout the year.
Hummingbirds are solitary in all aspects of life other than breeding. The male's only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female. Hummingbirds do not live or migrate in flocks, and there is no pairing or bonding of this species.
Male Cinnamon Hummingbirds like to court females, by flying in a U-shaped pattern in front of them. After copulation, the male will then separate from the female. It is likely, that males will mate with several females and females will mate with several males. Only females, choose where the nest location will be, for raising baby chicks.
The female will build a cup-shaped nest, made from plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage. These nests will be well protected located often in shrubs, bushes or trees. A female hummingbird will line the nest with soft plant fibers, animal hair and feather down, which strengthens the structure of the nest. This spider like webbing, coupled with other sticky material, gives the nest an elastic quality, so it can stretch in size as the baby chicks begin to grow. The nest is typically found on a low, thin horizontal branch.
The average egg clutch for one female hummingbird to watch over, typically consists of two white eggs. She will incubates these eggs alone, as the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on. Baby Cinnamon Hummingbirds are born blind, immobile and without any down.
The female alone (without her male counterpart), will protect and feed the chicks by regurgitated food, this consists of mostly partially digested insects. A female hummingbird will push the food down the baby chicks throat (into the stomach) with their long bill.
As is the case with other hummingbird species, the chicks are brooded only the first week or two, and left alone even on cooler nights after about 12 days - probably due to the small nest size. The chicks leave the nest when they are about 20 days old.
DIET & FEEDING
Cinnamon Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes.
They favor flowers with the highest sugar content (often red-colored and tubular-shaped), this is why they make excellent birds for feeders.
They aggressively protect, flowers which contain their high energy nectar. They will use their long (straw-like) tongue to to lick up the nectar (13 times per second), now that's fast.
Many local flowers and plants, relay on these birds for their pollination. Tubular-shaped flowers (exclude most bees and butterflies), from feeding on them so they rely on the hummingbird for pollination.
From time to time, you may see these little birds in your hummingbird feeders. They like to feed on the sugar water (or) drink from bird baths. They may perch themselves on the edge - just for a moment, and then off they go.
During breeding season, hummingbirds will take small spiders and insects (important protein sources), to feed their young chicks. Insects are often caught in flight, snatched off leaves or branches or are taken from spider webs.
Cinnamon Hummingbird males are very territorial. They want to only feed on flowers and plants in their territory. They will fiercely and aggressively chase away other hummingbirds and insects (often larger), such as bumblebees, butterflies and hawk moths. They may use aerial flights and intimidating displays to defend their territories.
Cinnamon Hummingbirds can be found from northwestern Mexico to Costa Rica. They are typically found in semi-open subtropical or tropical dry forest, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, often around deciduous or semi-deciduous forests. They can also be found in habitats which have been rather extensively modified by man, such as plantation lands and grassy or brushy agricultural areas.
2 c. masa harina
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. achiote paste or recado rojo (dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water)
3/4 c. water
1 litre cooking oil for frying
To Make Your Tortillas - Place the masa harina and salt into a mixing bowl. Using your hands, rub the achiote water through the masa until it's no longer lumpy. Gradually add the water, mixing with your hand until a dough forms. Divide the dough into either 12 or 24 pieces, then roll these into perfect balls. I've used the smaller size, as pictured. Flatten each ball between two pieces of plastic, using a tortilla press. I don't have a press so I used two plastic bags and a flat-bottomed saucepan, pressing down evenly to form 10 cm disc with a 3 mm thickness. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. When hot enough, drop 2 to 3 pastry discs into the oil and let it cook for about 2 minutes before flipping over. Drain well on kitchen towels as you cook the rest.
Stew Chicken, shredded (recipe below)
Red or green cabbage, finely shredded
Red onion, very finely chopped
Tomato, finely chopped
Cilantro leaves, chopped
Fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
Red chili & jalapeno, to taste
To Make Your Picado - Measurements aren't all that necessary with the picado, as you can regulate the ratios as you please; depending on your tastes. Simply toss all the pieced ingredients together and make sure the lime and salt flavour is well balanced.
How To Assemble - Simply lay the fried tortillas on a plate or board, top with some of the shredded chicken, and make sure it's moistened well with the gravy. Top this with with the picado, then eat!
1 whole chicken
1/4 c. lime juice
2 Tbsp. achiote paste
1/4 c. water
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
¼ c. flour
1/4 c. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 small green capsicum, chopped
4 coriander roots, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 c. water
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
Stew chicken - Place the chicken pieces into a bowl and pour over the lime juice. Dissolve the achiote in the water, pour over the chicken, add the garlic, salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The following day, take the chicken out of the fridge and dust each piece with the flour, reserving the marinade. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and pour in the oil. Brown the chicken on both sides in the oil, a few pieces at a time, then set the chicken aside. It the pan you've just used, toss in the chopped onion, capsicum and chopped coriander roots. Stir it around frequently for 5 minutes, scraping off any browned bits on the bottom of the pan from the chicken.
Stir through the cumin and bay leaf. Return the browned chicken to the saucepan, add the salsa, water and chicken bouillons. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, covering the pot almost completely with a lid. Cook for 45 minutes, check for seasoning, then turn off and set aside. Allow it to cool, and then shred your meat.
BEANS & RICE
1 c. dried black beans (or kidney)
1/2 c. pancetta, cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 green sweet pepper, chopped
4 c. water
2/3 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. thyme
2 c. long grain rice
Rice and beans - Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain the beans and put them into a large saucepan with the pancetta, garlic, onion and water. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 18-20 minutes until tender. Add the coconut milk, sweet pepper, pepper, salt and thyme and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rice, stir well, cover and simmer very gently on low heat until the water is absorbed (about 25 minutes). Give the rice a stir from time to time to stop it sticking to the bottom. Add a little water, if needed.
But Didn't Know Where To Go (or) What To Do?
BELIZE Let's talk about that!
It's About the Location
Belize is a small country located in Central America (just below the Mexico Yucatan), on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Geographically, it borders (to the northwest) Mexico, (to the east) the Caribbean Sea, and (to the south & west) Guatemala.
Its mainland is about 180 miles long and 68 miles wide and is roughly the size of the USA state of Rhode Island. In other words, the mainland isn’t huge.
To the east you have the Caribbean Sea and the Meso-American Belize Barrier Reef, the second-longest barrier reef in the world.
Off the mainland coast of Belize, are located three of the five Atolls located in the Western Hemisphere. With the Blue Hole being located in one of the three atolls (Lighthouse Reef Atoll).
To the north (of the country), you have flat and forested areas. To the south (of the country), you have the Maya Mountain range. Let's not forget, that the entire country is located along the second largest barrier reef in the world, with one of the largest cave systems (running through it), in all of Central America.
So what does this mean for your vacation? It means Belize has the best to offer for most vacationers (with the official language being English, and United States dollars being widely accepted). There is a wide variety of activities to choose from, anything from diving, to snorkeling, sailing, fishing, hiking, zip lining, cave tubing, horseback riding, blue holes, beaches, cenotes, caves-taverns, waterfalls, mountainous terrain, ancient ruins, marine reserves, national parks, and a local zoo, all just waiting for you. It's an ecological "theme park", right here at your fingertips.
IT'S ABOUT THE PEOPLE
It's About the People
Belize is home to at least 5 distinct ethnic groups – all of whom are very proud of their heritage. The official language is English, but many Belizeans who feel tied to their heritage, also speak a language typical for that heritage. Thus, many Belizeans are fluent in at least two or more languages.
Ethnic groups include: 3 Mayan groups (Yucatec, Mopan, and Q’egchi), Creoles (descendants of English/Sottish settlers), Garifuna (descendants of Island Carib & West/Central African's), Mestizos (mixer of Spanish & Mexican descent), Mennonites, Chinese, Eastern Indians, American, Canadian and Western European's.
Belize is often called a “melting pot” of cultures (for this reason). Belize culture is often described as an elegant latticework of different people weaving around and in between each other. Each ethnic group stands out separately and distinct, sharing their culture with one another.
IT'S ABOUT THE FOOD
It's About the Food
Food is one of the more fun aspects of travel. To understand Belize’s food scene, it helps to first understand the people. Knowing that much of Belize is occupied by distinct ethnic groups, explains the diverse ranges in cuisines found in Belize.
Local street vendors will often carry Belizean BBQ chicken, cole slaw, rice & beans, and tortillas. Women with plastic tubs, often roam the streets selling meat pies and coconut tarts. Mayan buffets include dishes which specialized in spiced pork, corn, and chocolate. Then you have the master chefs (who grace many of the upper class restaurants), filling their menus with Caribbean-Mexican entrees, to tantalize anyone's pallet. You can find an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables, at local markets which dot the road sides.
IT'S ABOUT THE ADVENTURE
It's About the Adventure
A vacation isn't a vacation until you add the adventure. Belize is literally an ecological "theme park" for guests to enjoy. If you're coming to Belize to dive the Blue Hole, descend the shelf walls at the Turneffe Atoll, snorkel the Barrier Reef, swim with sharks, go deep sea fishing and catch fish the size of your small son, sail around an island, explore Mayan ruins, rappel into a cave, kayak along the river through caves, zip line through jungle tree tops, hike through a cave to see an ancient human skeleton, listen to Howler Monkey's, hold a boa constrictor, feed a jaguar, horseback ride through the jungle, canoe through a cave, rappel down a waterfall, enjoy cocktails & dinner on a catamaran to a sunset, climb 130' feet to the top of a Mayan ruin, rip up the jungle trails on an ATV, float through a series of caves on an inner tube, push your toes in the sand and sip on a rum punch....then this is the place for you. Belize offers you some of the adventures you no doubt have written down on your "Bucket List".
IT'S ABOUT WHERE TO STAY
It's About Where to Stay
You have a variety of choices. Anything from a beach front (5 star) luxury resort, to the small bunk-bed hostel. Many people are opting for something in between, that's where we come in.
Belize Budget Suites caters to the budget traveler, by offering great prices, rooms & amenities. Each suite offers a private bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, and a separate living area. It's like having your own mini apartment, to stay in while on vacation. Air conditioning helps you to sleep comfortably at night, daily housekeeping keeps your room nice and tidy, fresh towels & linens, cable television, internet, and an endless supply of fresh ground coffee in each room. Belize Budget Suites is conveniently located 1.5 miles from downtown San Pedro, the island airstrip and the water taxi terminals. You can access the beach, by taking a 1-2 minute walk. You can contact us by going to the website: belizebudgetsuites.com
IT'S ABOUT THE MEMORIES
It's About the Memories
Memories are things we treasure forever, you can share them with other people, they can change who you are as a person, and it can help bond you to another. Experiences can change how you look at the world, perceive others and they can help you grow as a human being. The memories you acquire while on vacation, can last a lifetime. It's not just about the money, it's about the memories you create.
BELIZE BUDGET SUITES
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Mayan Brownie Recipe - These brownies combine the taste of chocolate and cinnamon together.
1/2 c. 1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa (Hershey's)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. mini cinnamon chips
2" stick of cinnamon (broken into pieces)
3 oz. heavy cream
1-1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla
6 oz. chopped good quality, dark chocolate
For the Brownies - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or spray a 9" square baking pan. (I like to line mine with foil and then spray for easy removal and cutting.)
In a medium bowl melt butter in microwave. Don't boil it, just heat it until it's melted. Set aside to cool for a minute. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, espresso powder, cinnamon and cayenne together until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate and cinnamon chips to coat them in the mixture. Set aside.
Whisk sugar into melted butter then add cocoa and whisk to combine. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined. Add flour/chip mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Allow brownies to cool completely.
For the Ganache - Place cinnamon stick and cream into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the cream to remove cinnamon pieces and pour back into sauce pan. Add corn syrup, stir then return to heat until the cream is just starting to simmer. Stir in vanilla and chopped chocolate and remove from heat, continuing to stir until all chocolate pieces are melted. Spread evenly over brownies and allow to cool. Cut into squares. Because of the ganache, I like to store these brownies in the refrigerator. Makes 16 brownies.
In Belize, some 75 species of bats account for about 58% of the mammal population, thriving on the many types of fruits, flowers, insects and other food sources to be found throughout the country. And, fitting right in with Belize’s biodiversity and multicultural human population, the variety of bat species is impressive, with Argentine Brown Bats, Southern Yellow Bats, Northern Yellow Bats, Little Yellow-shouldered Bats, and Red Bats as well as Great, Pygmy and Toltec Fruit Eating bats, Hairy Big Eyed Bats, Lesser and Greater Doglike Bats, and fifty shades of Naked Back and Big Naked Back Bats, to name just a very few.
These airborne environmentalists work the night shift to keep our rainforests healthy. They are the most populous mammals on the planet and one of nature’s greatest success stories, and depending on your perspective are either cute vegetarian flying foxes or scary Bela Lugosi vampires. There are more than 1100 different kinds of bats sharing the planet with us.
All those different types of bats share one thing in common; their forelimbs have evolved into wings, making them the only mammals in the world naturally capable of flight (sure, Australia has sugar gliders and there are lemurs, flying squirrels and other tree dwellers that have learned to glide, but bats are the only mammals specifically built to fly).
Many different plants depend on bats for pollination. In fact, in Belize there are flowers specially evolved to accept the long snout of certain bats, which are their only source of pollination. Also, bats are essential in spreading many types of fruits, nuts and other vegetation through their nutrient-rich droppings. Consider that, and bat’s’ importance in pest control, and you get an idea how valuable they are. One cave system in Mexico supports a population of some 20 -25 million bats who each day consume megatons, of insects, according to Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) biologist Dan Dourson.
Now, imagine what would happen if bats weren’t around to pollinate flowers and reduce insects and you get an idea to how important they are to the elegant, intricate and fragile balance of nature.
Some Interesting Bat Facts (with thanks to Wildlife Belize.com)
BAT CAVE - Tour description - This is a 4 hour tour in the cave, located just 10 minutes from the famous Xunantunich Mayan ruins. This cave is home to dozens of bat species. One of these species is the ghost-faced bat, which can be found in this cave.
NOCTILIONIDAE BULLDOG BATS
Bulldog Bats Noctilionidae - Bull-dog or mastiff bats are medium-sized bats, often brightly colored. The region around the mouth is distinctive. The lips are full and form cheek pouches, in which the bats store food as they feed while flying. The tail of bulldog bats runs through the uropatagium for about half the length of the membrane, then exits dorsally, and the terminal part of the tail is free. The feet and claws range from relatively large (Noctilio albiventris) to relatively enormous (Noctilio leporinus) in size, and the legs are proportionately longer than in most other bats. The ears are moderately large and a tragus is present. Bulldog bats have a pungent odor, described by some as "fishy.
Most Bulldog Bats feed only on insects. The only Bulldog Bat found in Belize, Noctilio leporinus, takes fish, frogs, and crustaceans as well. To capture fish, these bats use their echolocation to locate exposed fins or ripples made by fish swimming near the surface. They then drag their claws through these ripples. Their hind claws are unusually large and sharp and serve as efficient gaffs. Once out of the water, the fish is carried to a perch, where it is eaten by the bat. Noctilio leporinus may also capture insects and crustaceans on the surface of the water.
These bats usually roost near water, often in hollow trees or in deep cracks in rocks.
MOLOSSIDAE FREE-TAILED BATS
MORMOOPIDAE LEAF-CHINNED BATS
NATALIDAE FUNNEL-EARED BATS
Funnel-eared Bat Natalidae - Natalus mexicanus, the Mexican funnel-eared bat, is the only member of Natalidae that is found in Belize. They are aerial insectivores that appear to be specialists in feeding on spiders. All of these bats have funnel-shaped ears and long, slender hind legs.
PHYLLOSTONIDEA LEAVE-NOSED BATS
Actun Chapat - One of the Best Caving Experiences in Belize.
Actun Chapat Cave is one of the best caves in Belize to explore! Inside this massive cave system are crystallized rock formations, Mayan stories, flying and crawling cave critters, a beautiful cenote, and an area known as "The Skylight".
Where is Actun Chapat located? It is located in Cave World Adventures, at #1 Minhocao Trail, San Jose Succotz Village, in the Cayo District of Belize. Cave World Adventures is an adventure and wilderness park created as a preservation project for Belize's flor and fauna.
Actun Chapat = Means Centipede Cave
The name “Actun Chapat” means “Centipede Cave” and (yes you are correct), the cave is littered with centipedes inside, but don't worry they won't bite. There is much Mayan tales about the cave, which refer to a serpent (more like a dragon), that lives deep inside the cave. So far, we haven’t found that serpent, but we have indeed found many centipedes. This cave sits next to a smaller cave known as Actun Halal (Cave Of The Spear) where archaeologists have found evidence of a mastodon tooth and the remains of an extinct cave bear. Certainly this evidence refers us back to the Paleolithic era when humans were still hunters and gatherers and the age pleistocene animals were still roaming these country sides.
The first cave that you will encountered is called “Baby Chapat,” which is basically a smaller cave within the much larger cave system. Passing through Baby Chapat, you will enter into Actun Halal, which is a rock-shelter where the Mayas carved faces into the soft limestone of the cave walls. After briefly visiting Actun Halal, you will hike a bit further before getting to Actun Chapat, the cave you will be exploring on this day. The first challenge you will encounter, is the entrance to the cave. You will need to keep a 3-point contact to climb inside the cave. We found most of the rocks to be slippery - so be careful.
Once inside the cave, you will be greeted by a grand crystalized rock formation, along with many broken pieces of pottery pieces, AND (you got it!) centipedes! Each piece of pottery is said to have been brought into the cave by ancient Maya priests, when they conducted their rituals and human sacrifices to their deities. After the rituals were performed, the pottery was then broken to release its spirit. Many of the pieces in this cave date back to as early as 1800 A.D.
The ancient Maya never lived in caves, cave were predominantly used for rituals and burials. There are skeletal remains in this cave, either from human sacrifices or as a final final resting place for the dead. There is are a couple sacred ritual rooms where certainly the activities there were of religious and spiritual importance.
When exploring Actun Chapat, you will entered into one of the largest chambers for caves in Belize. The cave ceilings are very high, and the inside has a rather hallow feeling to the rock formations. Usually at this point, your guide will stop and ask you to turn off your headlamps. This is when you really get to experience just how dark a cave really can be. Try calling out your name, and listen to your voice echo back to you in this cavern.
After you have completed alot of walking and rock climbing, you will reach the skylight. The skylight is a cenote or sinkhole that the Mayas believed was the entrance to the underworld of Xibalba. The sinkhole is caused by the process of carbonic acid softening of the minerals inside the limestone mountains, which later collapses. The carbonic acid comes from water that had accumulated on top of the mountains. Making it to the skylight was definitely worth all the climbing and crawling!
When is the best time to go to Actun Chapat? - The best time to visit Actun Chapat is in the morning - you don’t want to be hiking out of the cave when darkness is approaching. Taking into consideration that most days in Belize are warm and sunny, any day is appropriate to go spelunking in Belize.
What is the level of difficulty of Actun Chapat? - On the difficulty scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most difficult, Actun Chapat is a 4.5. Inside the cave is rather slippery, even in the dry season and exploring the cave requires a lot of crouching and climbing.
The geological “art works’ found in Actun Chapat is spectacular and is generally not seen in many caves around Belize. So far, there are a little more than 200 registered caves in Belize. You will find wide open and long spaces in this cave, up to 500 meters in length. This alone is incredible to witness, as underground water years ago, created these wide open spaces - deep inside the cave.
Archaeologists suggest that this cave can be longer than 6 miles in length. Not very many people have ventured that deep into this cave to bear witness to it. What we do know, is this cave has 3 lakes inside of it, along with a wonderful beach area. We also know that the ancient Maya modified stalactites, stalagmites and glow stone formation (in this cave), to their advantage. Whether to be for entertainment, style, or to respect the underworld as an even more ominous a place to visit.
We also know that, the ancient Maya also created some stairs and hand and footholds in the sharper and higher reaches of the cave. One most impressive evidence of this, is in the sinkhole, high within the bowels of the cave.
How to get to Actun Chapat? - Getting to Actun Chapat takes a total of roughly one (1) hour and thirty-five (35) minute drive from San Ignacio Town. This includes the time to get from San Ignacio to San Jose Succotz Village (about 15 minutes away). The drive on Waterhole Road (1 hour), and the hike from Cave World Adventures to the cave entrance (is about 20 minutes).
Getting to Actun Chapat from Belize City - takes about 3 hours and 35 minutes. You can get to Actun Chapat in a private vehicle or car rental.
The Portuguese Man-of-War is often mistakenly referred to as a jellyfish. It is actually a species of siphonophore, which is a group of animals that are closely related to the jellyfish. A siphonophore is unusual in that it is comprised of a colony of specialized (genetically identical individuals called zooids or clones), with various forms and functions, all working together as one.
Each of the four (4) specialized parts of a Man-of-War is responsible for a specific task, such as (1) floating, (2) capturing prey, (3) feeding, and (4) reproduction. Found mostly in tropical and subtropical seas, Portuguese Man-of-War are propelled by winds and ocean currents alone, and sometimes float in legions of 1,000 or more!
The Portuguese Man-of-War is recognized by its balloon-like float, which may be blue, violet, or pink and rises up to six inches above the waterline. Lurking below the float are long strands of tentacles and polyps that grow to an average of 30 feet and may extend by as much as 165 feet.
These tentacles contain stinging microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. While the Man-of-War's sting is rarely kills a human, it can pack a painful punch that causes welts on exposed skin.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JELLY FISH & A PORTUGUESE MAN OF WAR
The Portuguese Man-of-War is a predatory species. It uses its feeding tentacles to sting and paralyze small fishes, pelagic crustaceans, and other invertebrates. The feeding tentacles may be up to 165 feet in length. These tentacles deliver a powerful sting and are also used for defense against predation.
Fast Facts About the Portuguese Man-of-War
Fun Facts About the Portuguese Man o’ War
1. The Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish, it is considered a siphonophore, which is a colony of specialized animals called zooids that work together as one.
2. The Portuguese Man-of-War does not swim. Instead, it uses wind and ocean currents to propel it forward.
3. The Portuguese Man-of-War was named after its resemblance to 18th century Portuguese warships.
4. The Portuguese Man-of-War's float can be up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall.
5. The Portuguese Man-of-War's tentacles can grow as long as 165 feet.
The Portuguese Man-of-War was named after it's resemblance to 18th Century Portuguese warships. It has a distinctive sail-like float that can reach 12 inches in length, 5 inches in width, and rises 6 inches above the water surface. The colorful float may be translucent blue, pink, or violet. This gas bladder is filled with nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and a small amount of carbon dioxide from air, plus up to 14% carbon monoxide.
In addition to the float, the Man-of-War has three other polyp types. The tentacles (used for defense and disabling prey, which can reach up to 165 feet in length), the gastrozooids (used for feeding), and the gonozooids (used for reproduction).
The Portuguese Man-of-War includes two species. (1) The Pacific Man-of-war (Blue Bottle) and the (2) Australian Man-of-War. The Pacific Man-of-War has a wider color range and many tentacles, while the Australian Man-of-War has a single long tentacle.
Habitat and Range - The species occurs in the warm waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Caribbean and Sargasso Seas. The Portuguese Man-of-War lives on or just below the surface of the water. A siphon in the float lets the animal float or descend in the water. Wind pushes the animal's float at a 45 degree angle. Some Portuguese Man-of-War are "left-sided," while others are "right-sided." The different orientations (of the floats), help the animals to disperse across the oceans.
Diet - The Portuguese Man-of-War is a carnivore. Its tentacles contain stinging cells called nematocysts that paralyze and kill small fish, worms, and crustaceans. The tentacles move prey to the gastrozooids on the underside of the float. The gastrozooids secrete enzymes that digest the prey. Nutrients are absorbed and circulated to other polyps. The Man-of-War is prey to sea turtles, sea slugs, and crabs.
Reproduction and Offspring - Each individual Portuguese Man-of-War is either a male or a female, and they reproduce sexually via a method known as broadcast spawning. Large groups of Man-of-War's come together, where females release their eggs and males release their sperm into the water column, all at the same time. This usually occurs in the autumn of each year. This method increases the likelihood that eggs will be fertilized.
Portuguese Man-of-War and Humans - Both jellyfish and Man-of-War tentacles can sting after the animal is dead or when they are detached. Stings are painful, although not usually fatal. Neurotoxins in the venom cause mast cells in skin to release histamines, resulting in inflammation. Treatment typically involves tentacle removal, using vinegar or ammonia to inactivate remaining nematocysts, and soaking the affected area in hot water. Oral or topical antihistamines may be administered to combat inflammation.
16 FUN FACTS ABOUT PORTUGUESE MAN OF WAR
FACT #1) It's Not a Jellyfish - The Portuguese Man-of-War may look like a bloated jellyfish, but it’s actually a siphonophore—a bizarre group of animals that consist of colonies made up of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of genetically-identical individual creatures. A siphonophore starts out as a fertilized egg. But as it develops, it starts "budding" into distinct structures and organisms. These tiny organisms—called polyps or zooids—can’t survive on their own, so they merge together into a tentacled mass. They must cooperate as one in order to do things like travel and catch food.
The long tentacles develop to hunt and ensnare prey; smaller tentacles grow to help digest food; and still other tentacles dangling are used to facilitate reproduction. Every Man-of-War also has what is called a “float” (an overgrown, bag-like polyp which acts as a giant gas bladder and sits at the top of the colony). Capable of expanding or contracting at will, it provides the Man-of-War with some buoyancy control. An expanded float also enables the colony to harness winds to move around.
FACT #2) A Close Relative is the Pacfic "Blue Bottle" - Portuguese Man-of-War's can be found in warmer parts of the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and of course, the Atlantic. It’s sometimes called the Pacific “Blue Bottle Man-of War" and is restricted to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It’s smaller than the Australian species and unlike its bigger counterpart—it hunts using multiple tentacles.
FACT #3) The Name "Portuguese Man-of-War" is Probably a Naval Reference - In the age of sailing, many European navies used tall warships loaded with cannons and propelled by three masts. British sailors took to calling this kind of vessel a “Man of War.” The Portuguese Man-of-War are colonies which spend a lot of time floating on the water’s surface, when the gas bladder is expanded (it looks and acts a bit like a sailboat), hence the name “Man-of-War.”
There are a couple theories as to how it got it's name. (1) 19th century scientists proposed that sailors encountered it near the Portuguese island of Madeira, and thought it looked like the Portuguese version of the ship. (2) Possibly Renaissance-era sailors thought it resembled the helmets worn by Portugal’s soldiers during the 16th century.
FACT #4) Man-of-War Tentacles Can Be Up To 165 Feet in Length - At least, that’s the maximum length for a tentacle which is normally around 30 feet long. It uses venom-spewing cells to deliver painful, neurotoxic stings. When a tentacle is detached from the rest of the colony (and washes ashore), it might drift around for days on end until it decomposes. Be warned: Even a severed tentacle can sting you.
FACT #5) The Portuguese man-of-war is four organisms working as one - The Portuguese Man-of-War may appear to be a single organism, but it's actually four different organisms (or zooids) in one.
Each organism provides a necessary function for the entire creature to survive. The top zooid, which resembles a bottle (or mohawk), is the pneumatophore. It's a gas-filled bag, which allows the Man-of-War to float. The next two zooids (gastrozooids & dactylozooids), are the tentacles used for feeding. The final zooid (gonozooids), deals with reproduction.
FACT #6) It was named for its resemblance to ships - That mohawk is also how the man-of-war got its name. It closely resembles ships that the Portuguese navy used in the 18th century when they were at full sail. The name also may refer to the topped helmets Portuguese soldiers wore during the same period.
FACT #7) On RARE Occasions, Stings Can Be Fatal to Humans - The odds of being killed by a Portuguese Man-of-War are slim. But just because deaths are rare doesn't mean you should touch one (just to find out). On RARE occasions a Portuguese Man-of-War can kill, if you receive enough venom from the tentacles.
FACT #8) Portuguese Man-of-War can Deliver a Horrible Sting - It may not be a jellyfish, but the Man-of-War does have one trait we commonly associate with jellyfish: painful stings. The tentacles are covered in venom-filled nematocysts, which is how a Man-of-War kills their prey, typically small fish and plankton. The stings are painful to humans, but are rarely fatal. With tentacles that can reach up to 165 feet (getting wrapped up in one), can leave you looking like you've been struck by a whip.
Treatments for the stings have been hotly debated, but a 2017 study in the journal Toxins recommended vinegar to wash away any remaining nematocysts once the tentacles are removed and then soaking the affected area in hot water, ideally 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) for around 45 minutes.
FACT #9) Some Fish Live in Them - Given that tiny fish make up about 70 to 90 percent of the Man-of-War's diet (it also eats shrimp and other crustaceans). One fish, known as the "Man-of-War fish" lives among the tentacles even though it's not immune to its stings, swimming nimbly between the stingers. These young fish eat the plankton which wanders under their hosts and as they get older, they will sometimes steal the Man-of-War's prey—or nibble on its tentacles.
FACT #10) The Portuguese Man-of-War does Have Predators - The loggerhead turtle and the ocean sunfish both gobble up both Portuguese Man-of-War's and jellyfish. Also notable among its predators is the blanket octopus, and the Blue Gaucus (a sea slug). The Blue Gaucus (aka as the Blue Dragon or Sea Butterfly) stores the stinging venom in its own body (making it also a venomous) animal to touch. The Blue Gaucus, as a result can deliver a far more potent sting than the Portuguese Man-of-War can alone.
FACT #11) Sea Slugs Like to Steal Their Toxins - The Loggerhead sea turtles, blanket octopus, and sea slugs, are all thick-skinned enough to eat them. Sea slugs (aka Blue Gaucus, Blue Dragon or Sea Butterflies), devour the Man-of-War and actively harvest their toxins and store these toxins (or venom) in their own bodies to to later use as a deterrent for its predators.
FACT #12) Man-of-War Come In Pretty Colors - Although it’s translucent, the float is usually tinted with blue, pink, and/or purple hues. Beaches along the American Gulf Coast raise purple flags in order to let visitors know when groups of Man-of-War (or other potentially deadly sea creatures) are at large.
FACT #13) It Goes with the Flow Literally - The Man-of-War has no means of propulsion, so it simply drifts, either riding the currents of the ocean or sailing as its catches the sea breeze. If there's a threat on the surface, the creature can temporarily deflate to sink below the water. Even when dead, a Portuguese Man-of-War can deliver a painful sting.
FACT #14) Every Colony Has a Specific Sex - The Man-of-War have sacs that house ovaries or testes, so each colony can therefore be considered “male” or “female.” Though marine biologists aren’t completely sure how the Man-of-War procreates, one theory is that these shorter tentacles release eggs and sperm into the open ocean, which become fertilized when they cross paths with floating eggs or sperm from another Man-of-War colony. This “broadcast spawning” method of reproduction is also used by many species of coral, fan worms, sea anemone, and jellyfish.
FACT #15) Look Out for Man-of-War Legions - The Man-of-War isn't always seen in isolation. Legions consisting of over 1,000 colonies have been observed floating around together (especially when they come together to spawn in the autum). Because they drift along on (somewhat) predictable winds and ocean currents, it’s possible to anticipate where and when a lot of the creatures will show up. For Belize, you can expect to see some of these washed up on the beaches during the winter months,
FACT #16) The Portuguese Man-of-War Washes Up on Shores Alot - Perhaps because of how it moves, the Man-of-War washes up on beaches all over the world. Even if they're not in the ocean, a Man-of-War can still sting you, so if you see these bad boys laying on the beach - AVOID THEM!
REASON #1 - Belize has Many Geographical Features
Belize has many geographical features, which makes it some of the best fishing in the world. One reason for this, is that the country lies right off the Belize Barrier Reef. The Belize Barrier Reef, is part of a much larger Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, stretching some 200-miles in length and is considered one of the largest coral formations in the entire world!
So the question might be asked, what does coral reef formations have to do with fishing? A coral reef provides both nutrients and shelter to a wide range of smaller bait fish and crustaceans, that attract (you got it) much larger game fish.
The reef is home to more than 500 species of fish. There are over 200 islands, or “Cayes,” located off the shores of mainland Belize, which are surrounded by lagoons. Did you know, that lagoons make up 5% of the entire country’s land area (22,960 square miles) and is covered by these coastal inlets?
Belize offers river fishing, flat fishing, reef fishing, and deep sea fishing. Each one offers an exciting variation to a wonderful adventure in Belize.
REASON #2 - This is a Fly Angler’s Paradise
Belize boasts more than 200 miles of coastline flats. The country is renowned for its Tarpon, Permit and Bone Fishing, all catch and release. Snook is another regular fly fishing catch. If you’re up for the ultimate fly fishing challenge, come and try fly fishing for a Super Grand Slam (Permit, Bonefish, Tarpon, and Snook all in the same day).
Keep in mind that a number of flats in Belize have soft bottoms (making it hard to walk or wade in), so you’ll be doing most of your fly-fishing from a boat. Although the flats around Tarpon Caye, have a more solid bottom - making it easier to wade. You can either cast from the boat as your guide poles these flats, or simply hop out of the vessel to get an optimal casting position.
Jungle River Fishing is also an amazing setting for any fly fishing adventure. Places like the Belize and Monkey River offer exciting game like Tarpon, Black Snapper, Cubera Snapper, and Jack Crevalle.
REASON #3 - Reef Fishing
If fly fishing is not your thing, and you don’t want to spend an entire day on the water, reef fishing is a great alternative. The reef attracts a wide range of marine life. Some of these just happen to be awesome game fish.
Most spots are within a half to an hour from the coast, so a half day outing will give you more than enough time to catch your fill. Fish you can expect to catch are: Jacks, Groupers, Snappers, Kingfish Barracudas and Wahoo.
REASON #4 - Deep Sea Fishing
Thanks to the sheer number and size of its flats and lagoons, most traveling anglers swarm to the Belizean coast to do a little fly and reef fishing. This leaves much of the deeper waters unspoiled when it comes to deep sea fishing.
Once you get past the beautiful reef, you’ll be greeted by a variety of big game species that rival any of the hottest deep sea fishing destinations in the Western Hemisphere. Immediately past the reef, you can start trolling for Sailfish along the shelf drop-off. If you go out a bit further, you can catch Marlin and Blackfin Tuna. Fish you can expect to catch are: Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Blackfin Tuna, and King Mackerel. You can find most big game fish as deep as 650 feet, and getting to the hot spots usually takes no longer than half an hour.
REASON #5 - A Chance to Save the Reef!
Ever since Lionfish (who eat coral) were accidentally introduced to the area, it has jeopardized much of the delicate ecosystem of the Barrier Reef. Lionfish have no natural predators, therefore the authorities are trying their best to systematically reduce its population. Belize is among the leading Caribbean countries in terms of conservation. About a third of the entire land territory is currently under some form of protection. There are many wildlife sanctuaries serving as shelter for endangered species. As far as fishing is concerned, the government has put into place many policies to address the dwindling numbers of fish species. Belize no longer allows bottom trolling, also fish such as Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit are now catch and release only.
REASON #6 - Belize's Geography
Belize has a unique geography, which makes it much more than just a good place to cast a line. With lush, waterfall-laden jungle on one side, and colorful beaches and corals on the other, the views in this place are nothing short of spectacular.
The crystal clear waters around the local islands are the perfect place for snorkelers and water sports enthusiasts. Forty miles off the mainland coast of Belize, divers can enjoy the adventure of experiencing the Great Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole made famous by French explorer Jacques Cousteau.
On the mainland, you will find a variety of jungle lodges to spend a few relaxing days in. Take a hike to one of the breath taking waterfalls, or enjoy an adventure to one of many Mayan ruins scattered across the countries landscape. Belize has one one of the smallest population densities in the Caribbean, which means no crowds, no waiting in line.
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There are 9 notable differences between a Manatee and a Dugong.
Both manatees and dugong's are classified in the order Sirenia. They are both slow-moving herbivores (mostly) that can be found in areas of shallow waters along warm coastlines. There are (4) four living species of Sirenia – (1) the West Indian manatee, (2) the Amazonian manatee, (3) the West African manatee, (4) the dugong and the extinct Stellar’s sea cow (hunted to extinction in the 18th Century). They are all found in different areas, so depending on where you are, you will know what you are looking at!
Some people mistakenly think dugongs and manatees are the exact same animal with different names. Though manatees and dugongs have a lot in common, they are different animals with distinct characteristics. Both dugongs and manatees are part of the same taxonomic order, Sirena. The word “siren” means mermaid in many languages, a nod to the animals’ history of being mistaken for mermaids. At one time, there were five different types of sirena, three types of manatees (Amazonian, West African and West Indian), Steller’s sea cow, and the dugong. Sadly, Steller’s sea cow was hunted to extinction in the 1700s.
Basic Facts About Manatees - Manatees live in shallow, marshy areas in the Amazon Basin, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. Unlike dugongs, who live their entire lives in saltwater, manatees can spend some or all of their time in freshwater.
Cold water can be stressful for manatees. When water temps drop below 20°C/68°F, manatees travel to warmer water, including natural springs and even power plant outflows.
On average, manatees grow to 3.6 meters/11.8 feet long and weigh 200-600 kg/440-1300 lbs. These enormous vegetarians eat plants found in shallow water such as sea-grass, mangroves and sometimes algae. The Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, is the largest of all sirenas and can grow up to 4 meters/13 feet long and weigh 1590 kg/3500 lbs.
DIFFERENCE #1 - Habitat (where you find them)
Habitat - Manatees inhabit the marshy areas of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico (West Indian Manatee), the Amazon Basin (Amazonian Manatee) and West Africa (West African Manatee). Dugong's spend their entire life in shallow, protected areas such as bays and mangrove swamps (they can be found in places like Bazaruto / Vilanculos in Mozambique and Marsa Alam in Egypt) as well as the waters off northern Australia.
DIFFERENCE #2 - Tail
Tails - Manatees have a large, horizontal, paddle-shaped tail with only one lobe, which moves up and down when the animal swims. Dugong's have tail flukes with pointed projections, like a whale with a slightly concave trailing edge.
DIFFERENCE #3 - Nails
Nails - West Indian and West African manatees have very basic nails on their forelimbs. Amazonian manatees and dugongs don’t have any nails.
DIFFERENCE #4 - Nostrils
Nostrils - The nostrils of a Dugong are placed further back on its head than in the case of manatees.
DIFFERENCE #5 - Mouths
Mouths - The angle of the dugong’s mouth is more pronounced than that of the manatee. It has a short, broad, downward facing trunk-like snout that is horseshoe-shaped with a slit-like mouth with an undivided upper lip. Because of this they are bottom-dwelling. Manatees have a divided upper lip and a shorter snout which means they are able to gather food to eat and are also able to feed on plants growing at or near the surface of the water.
DIFFERENCE #6 - Teeth
Teeth - Mature male dugongs have a pair of tusk-like incisors and manatees do not. Manatees have no incisors, only cheek teeth (molars) which are continuously replaced – its molars move forward in the mouth, stimulated by the chewing motion, towards the front of its jaw until it falls out at the front. As the teeth move forward, they are replaced by new ones at the back – rather like a conveyor belt! They usually have no more than 6 teeth in either jaw at any one time. The two rear molars in dugongs are open rooted which means as they are worn away, they just continue to grow.
DIFFERENCE #7 - Social Life
Social Life - Manatees are generally solitary creatures and a male manatee may have several female partners; while Dugongs are more solitary and tend to live in pairs and have only one mate.
DIFFERENCE #8 - Offspring
Dugong with Calf
Dugong's Offspring - Female dugong's usually only give birth at 10 years and usually only every 3 – 5 years after that. Because of their long lifespan (70 years) and slow rate of reproduction, and because dugongs continue to be hunted in Africa for their blubber and meat, they are IUCN’s list of being vulnerable to extinction.
Manatee with Calf
Manatee Offspring - Female manatees usually give birth at 3 years and continue to do so every 2 – 3 years. Their gestation period is 12 months.
DIFFERENCE #9 - Weight
Weight - Manatees are generally larger than Dugongs and can weigh between 400 and 500 kg and grow to a length of 3.6 meters. Dugongs rarely grow larger than 3 metres and weight is, on average 420 kg.
10 Ways to Travel To Ambergris Caye on a Budget
1. Do Not Fly Direct To Belize
Flights to Belize from the main hubs in North America are very expensive. Instead, fly to Cancun and catch the ADO bus. You will save about 50% off your airfare and get to see two countries at the same time. If you must fly direct to Belize, be flexible on your travel dates. Fly in the off season, airlines give out discounts that make flying to Belize not a bad idea. Expect discounts of about 10% to 40%. Most airlines have super saver discount alerts you can sign up for.
2. Stay At Belize Budget Suites - belizebudgetsuites.com
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 501-226-4402 or (501-632-3589 on What's Up)
Belize Budget Suites caters to the traveler looking for first class accommodations on a budget. When other rooms on the island are charging $210-$550. USD per night, Belize Budget Suites is charging $65.-$99.USD per night. The property is located 1.5 miles south of San Pedro (which equates to about a 10 minute drive) to and from the property.
3. Take Water Taxi, Instead of the Plane
There's a huge difference when it comes to traveling back and forth from the mainland to the island. If you take a puddle jumper flight, it will cost you about $90.USD one way (travel time is about 15 minutes). If you take the water taxi, it will cost you about $38.USD (travel time will be 1-1/2 hours). By taking the water taxi, you will be saving $52.USD one way | $104.USD round trip.
4. Travel In The Off Season
Off season is a time to save money on airfare and accommodations. It's a well known fact, the Belize tourism season lasts from about November to May. Many hotels and resorts actually close down during the peak hurricane months (September & October) due to the lack of tourists. You can drive a hard bargain and get discounts of as much as 50% off during low season. Definitely a buyers market!
5. Use a bicycle to Get Around the Island
Golf carts rent for almost as much as a vehicle on the island. In some cases your golf cart rental can be more than your nightly room rate. To help keep your costs down, consider renting a bicycle to get around on the island. Bikes rent for as little as $9-15.USD per day (depending on where you rent them). At Belize Budget Suites, bikes can be rented for $10.USD per day, this is a huge savings over renting a golf cart at $62.USD for the day (which does not include insurance and gasoline). With a bicycle, you can reach almost everything you need to in town, the only place you can't go is Secret Beach (unless you're up for an 18 mile round trip bike ride).
6. Avoid Luxury Resort Tourist Areas
If you're ordering drinks or food from a luxury resort, you're going to pay luxury resort prices. Remember, live like a local and keep your costs to a minimum.
7. Eat Like a Local (Street Food & Local Restaurants)
To help keep your costs down, eat like a local. Which means stay away from the big fancy restaurants, with the big fancy prices. There are a few local restaurant on island that serve up some nice grub for a very reasonable rate. You want to eat, where the locals eat. First on the list (since it's close to Belize Budget Suites), is:
La Davina Provincia (Located close to Belize Budget Suites) Great local food & homemade papupas. Most meals can be purchased between $6-$12.USD | $12.-$24.BZD
Waraguma's (Located downtown San Pedro)
Waraguma's is located in downtown San Pedro, about a 10 minute ride from Belize Budget Suites to the restaurant. If you're looking for local seafood, this is the place. Our families favorite entree, is the lobster/seafood burrito (which is to die for). Prices range from $12.-15.USD | $24.-$30BZD.
Robyn's Kitchen BBQ (2-3 minute walk from Belize Budget Suites)
8. Make Bottled Water Your Main Beverage
Always drink bottled water, don't risk getting a water-borne upset tummy that may cost you a couple hundred bucks on medical bills. Bottled water can be purchased here on the island in a small (16 oz.) container for $.50USD, a one liter bottle (32 oz.) for .75USD, a one gallon container for $1.50USD, and a five gallon container for $2.5USD. Chances are, you're going to be having a fun vacation, so be sure to stay hydrated. Water is cheaper than soda, beer, wine, and alcohol. Don't buy bottled water at hotels, resorts or other touristy areas (where prices can be higher). Buy your bottled water where Belizeans shop – small supermarkets or corner groceries.
9. Keep Your Souvenir Purchases to a Minimum
Often times when we travel we feel the need to take something back home. The only problem is, if you buy something for one person, then many feel obligated to buy something for everyone. Tell friends and family before you leave on your vacation (to Belize), that you will NOT be purchasing and coming back with souvenirs. This way when you return, there isn't this huge let down, that you didn't get everyone a gift.
10. Drink Like a Local
First rule: do not open a bar tab. Like anywhere else, tourists can be targeted by a dishonest bar that will slap on more than you drink. Better yet, minimize drinking at tourist bars or hangouts. Even bars and nightclubs used by locals can be expensive, especially mixed drinks. Rum is one of the few liquors that is cheap here, as it's made in Belize. Many bars offer drink specials (2 for 1) during happy hour.
Click on the following link and it will tell you which bars are offering which drink specials. http://www.belizebudgetsuites.com/thingstodoambergriscaye.html
Another great alternative, is to buy a bottle of your favorite liquor, and drink on the beach, in your room or with other hotel guests at the property.
Before there is chocolate, there is a tree. These trees grow in the rainforests of the world, located 20-degrees above and below the equator, of which Belize is a part of.
The cacao tree is suited to grow perfectly within the latitudes of 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south of the equator. Cacao trees grow under the great canopy of towering shade trees. These graceful trees bear fruit that looks like footballs and grows straight out of the trunk. The cacao pods thrive in the tropical heat around the equator, and produce an array of colors and shapes. The pods can range from bright green to pale yellow, dark purple to burnt orange or Crimson.
The cacao tree does not have a distinct harvest season, it puts forth flowers continuously, but only about 3 out of a 1000 get pollinated and progress to fruit. They are pollinated by midges (nat-like bugs) that love the rainforest. It takes 5-8 months for a bud to progress to a ripe fruit.
(3) Main Varieties of Cacoa Beans
Three main varieties of cocoa are: Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario. Cacao production in Belize, mainly focuses on Trintario and Forastero varieities. The Trintario is the most widely used, comprising 80–90% of the world production of cocoa.
The Trinitario - Trinitario is a hybrid of Criollo and Forastero cacao. These are normally more resistant to diseases than the Crillo but are not normally found in the wild. The pods contain up to thirty or more beans varying in colors but rarely white in color. The outside color of the pod varies ranging from green, light green, red, yellow. Fermentatin also takes approximately three to five days (3-5 days).
The Forastero - Forastero pods produce up to 30 seeds weighing less than one gram. The color of the pod varies to green, light green and red, while the inside of the pod is covered in a deep or light purple pulp It has a strong bitter taste (strongest flavor). Therefore, the fermentation normally takes about six to eight days (6-8 days). It is most common in West Africa and South America and it makes up most of the cacao production.
The Criollo - Criollo pods tend to be much rarer, and considered to be a delicacy. Cacao has lower yields than Forastero and the Criollo tend to be less resistant to several diseases that attack the cocoa plant, hence very few countries produce it. One of the largest producers of Criollo beans is Venezuela (Chuao and Porcelana). The Criollo mainly used for tine chocolates, contains up to fifteen to thirty white, ivory or pale purple seeds which weight more than one gram. These have pointed-ended pods, its color reanges from yello to ruddy orange whitle the inside appears almost white. It has a softer skin, its flower is white with two pink lines. These do not require a lot of fermentation and roasting to soften them and develop their flavor. Fermentation takes approximately three to five days (3-5 days).
Belize Exports Annually (Statistics as of 2016)
United Kingdom (34%) $69,273,699. USD
United States (23%) $47,304,948. USD
A cocoa pod (fruit) has a rough, leathery rind about 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 in) thick (this varies with the origin and variety of pod) filled with sweet, mucilaginous pulp (called baba de cacao in South America) with a lemonade-like taste enclosing 30 to 50 large seeds that are fairly soft and a pale lavender to dark brownish purple color.
During harvest, the pods are opened, the seeds are kept, and the empty pods are discarded and the pulp made into juice. The seeds are placed where they can ferment. Due to heat buildup in the fermentation process, cacao beans lose most of the purplish hue and become mostly brown in color, with an adhered skin which includes the dried remains of the fruity pulp. This skin (or shell) is released easily by winnowing after roasting. White seeds are found in some rare varieties, usually mixed with purples, and are considered of higher value.
There are over 25 cacao farms located in Southern Belize.
Harvesting the Beans
Belize Harvesting Season (November to June)
Chocolate begins with Theobroma Cacao tree. Pods from this tree are harvested for the making of chocolate only once fully ripened. Unripened pods yield beans with low cocoa butter content and low sugar content. The natural sugars in cocoa beans fuel the fermentation process, which is responsible for much of the classic cocoa flavor. Once harvested, the seeds are separated from the pods and pulp and allowed to begin the fermentation process.
Cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20° of latitude from the Equator. Cocoa harvest is not restricted to one period per year and a harvest typically occurs over several months. In fact, in many countries, cocoa can be harvested at any time of the year. Pesticides are often applied to the trees to combat capsid bugs, and fungicides to fight black pod disease.
Immature cocoa pods have a variety of colours, but most often are green, red, or purple, and as they mature, their colour tends towards yellow or orange, particularly in the creases. Unlike most fruiting trees, the cacao pod grows directly from the trunk or large branch of a tree rather than from the end of a branch, similar to jackfruit. This makes harvesting by hand easier as most of the pods will not be up in the higher branches. The pods on a tree do not ripen together; harvesting needs to be done periodically through the year. Harvesting occurs between three and four times weekly during the harvest season. The ripe and near-ripe pods, as judged by their colour, are harvested from the trunk and branches of the cocoa tree with a curved knife on a long pole. Care must be used when cutting the stem of the pod to avoid damaging the junction of the stem with the tree, as this is where future flowers and pods will emerge. One person can harvest an estimated 650 pods per day.
Fermenting the Beans
Fermenting the Cocoa Beans
The wet beans are then transported to a facility so they can be fermented and dried. The farmer removes the beans from the pods, packs them into boxes or heaps them into piles, then covers them with mats or banana leaves for three to seven days. Raw cocoa beans have a bitter and undesirable flavor. Fermentation transforms this bitterness making it into the more complex precursor to the classic cocoa flavor we are familiar with. Fermentation is achieved with natural yeast and bacteria that are present in the cocoa beans. The beans are simply left out in the heat and moisture to ferment for approximately seven days. After fermentation, the beans are quickly dried to prevent mold growth.
Drying the Beans
Drying Cocoa Beans
Finally, the beans are trodden and shuffled about (often using bare human feet) and sometimes, during this process, red clay mixed with water is sprinkled over the beans to obtain a finer color, polish, and protection against molds during shipment to factories in other countries. Drying in the sun is preferable to drying by artificial means, as no extraneous flavors such as smoke or oil are introduced which might otherwise taint the flavor.
Cleaning the Beans
Cleaning the Cocoa Beans
After the beans have dried, they are cleaned for any additional pieces of dried cocoa pulp, pieces of pod and other extraneous materials.
Shipping the Beans
Bagging the Beans for Shipment
The beans should be dry for shipment (usually by sea). Traditionally they are exported in jute bags. Shipping in bulk significantly reduces handling costs (shipment in bags), is still very common.
For Beans Which Stay in Belize
Where to place nest boxes
Because different species of birds prefer different kinds of nesting habitat, the vegetation surrounding your box will play a role in determining which species will nest in it. Remember: right box, right place.
If you are looking to attract a variety of species to your nest boxes and have ample room, you might consider pairing your boxes. This involves placing boxes in pairs on poles 15 to 25 feet apart. Or, you can put two boxes back to back on a single pole. Some species of birds will nest closely to each other, although they will drive away others of their own species. Pairing boxes has the advantage of allowing more birds of both species to coexist peacefully within the same habitat.
A word of caution: Golf courses, cultivated fields, gardens, and yards are potentially good habitats for nest boxes, but avoid areas where pesticides and herbicides are used. These are not only harmful to birds, they decrease and sometimes eliminate the insect populations that are the primary food source for many cavity-nesting species.
While each of these snakes possess deadly venoms that can defiantly kill you, most aren't aggressive and would only bite if stepped on or threatened. The Fer de Lance is the exception, it is an aggressive serpent and will not hesitate to strike if disturbed.
Snake Encounters - If you come across one of these venomous serpents, examine the nature of the encounter.
First Aid for Snakebites - Many health-care professionals embrace just a few basic first-aid techniques. According to the American Red Cross, these steps should be taken:
Fer-de-Lance - The labial scales of the fer-de-lance are usually cream to yellow in color. The dorsal surface of the body is brown with black saddles outlined in white, and these scales adjoin each other. Maximum length can be up to eight feet, sometimes more. The fer-de-lance has a pair of large fangs, situated at the front of the maxillary bone.
The fer-de-lance is found countrywide in Belize, in both northern and southern hardwood forests, as well as the Mountain Pine Ridge.
The fer-de-lance feeds on frogs, rodents, birds, and small mammals. This viper has strong, fast acting hemotoxic venom. Large specimens have been noted to be very aggressive when threatened and will not hesitate to bite. The fer-de-lance is the most common venomous snake throughout southern Mexico and Central America, and is responsible for a large portion of fatal snake bites annually. This snake is a nocturnal predator that is at home in the trees as well as on the ground. Adults tend to be more terrestrial, while juveniles are both terrestrial and arboreal. Females are ovoviviparous, and a large female can give birth to as many as fifty young in a litter. Each is capable of inflicting a dangerous bite.
Also called "Yellowjaw" or "Tommy Goff" by Belizeans. These snakes are sensibly feared throughout Central America. They have a strong, fast acting hemotoxic venom, they are fairly common, are hard to see, and they will strike if perturbed. This is an aggressive snake, so be weary. His bite (although responsible for the majority of snake bite deaths in the region) is rarely fatal. Although he is a very grumpy snake who doesn't tend to run away and will stand his ground and strike when disturbed, he is also quite smart and will normally give a dry bite or only partially envenomate the poor hapless soul that gets in the way.
If you are bitten by a Tommy Goff and he does envenomate, then you have got many hours to get treatment before things get really serious. This is not a two step snake that doesn't give you time to make a will. The bite is designed to start the digestion process and to make sure the prey doesn't get very far before collapsing.
Scorpion Fish Venom and Stings Scorpionfish erect their spines and inject venom if they are bitten by a predator, grabbed, or stepped on. The venom contains a mixture of neurotoxins. Typical symptoms of poisoning include intense, throbbing pain that lasts up to 12 hours, peaking in the first hour or two following the sting, as well as redness, bruising, numbness, and swelling at the sting site. Severe reactions include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, tremors, decreased blood pressure, shortness of breath, and abnormal heart rhythms. Paralysis, seizures, and death are possible but are usually restricted to stonefish poisoning. The young and elderly are more susceptible to the venom than healthy adults. Death is rare, but some people are allergic to the venom and may suffer anaphylactic shock.
Symptoms of poisoning include:
My name is Trenton S. Turley, and I am a Belizean citizen who has now been living in the country of Belize for the past 15 years. I am also an environmental activist. Our family moved to Belize, when I was 8 years old. I speak English, Spanish, Kriol and American Sign Language. I have a true love for the eco-system of Belize, with regards to preserving this beautiful countries resources.
I am presently a licensed tour guide (trained to international standards), for the Government of Belize.
This blog is about Belize and all the things I'm passionate about. If you're in Belize, look me up. Hope you enjoy my posts.
About Ambergris Caye
About Amphibians In Belize
About Bats In Belize
About Belize Barrier Reef
About Belize Budget Suites
About Belize Cuisine
About Birds In Belize
About Dangerous Animals
About Fishing In Belize
About Mammals In Belize
About Marine Life In Belize
About Maya Mountains
About Mayan Chocolate
About Mayan Ruins
About National Parks
About Pirates In Belize
About Reptiles In Belize
About Rivers In Belize
About San Pedro
About Snakes In Belize
About The Belize Zoo
About Tikal Guatemala
About Waterfalls In Belize