The transition from Colorado’s blustery and snowy winter landscape to lounging beneath the invigorating Caribbean sun and surrounded by vibrant greenery was — as I’m sure you might imagine — very welcome. Each inhale and exhale during my time in this Central American country was packed with mindfulness, gratitude and pure wonder.
Belize — only a mild four-hour flight from Denver — offers all the luxuries of more frequented vacation hotspots minus the typical tourist traffic. It’s a humble oasis brimming with extensive ecological and cultural beauty, making it the perfect destination for those seeking to blend adventure and relaxation. It’s difficult to express just how beautiful this hidden gem is, but it’s very obvious that the Belizeans have done an excellent job preserving the variety of stunning environments their home boasts.
Plus, Frontier Airlines recently announced non-stop flights from its home base in Denver to Belize City starting at just $83, making the trip more accessible than ever before.
My trip started with a fresh taste of warm Belizean hospitality — being served homemade tamales in the country’s western Cayo district. My hosts were a group of women native to the area belonging to the San Antonio Women’s Co-op. In addition to their incredible cuisine, I was privileged to hear stories of their ancestry and cultural history.
Cayo is renowned for its numerous parks and ecological reserves. Close to the Guatemalan border, it is a dazzling green paradise that also happens to be loaded with exceptional historical sites, like the striking El Castillo pyramid towering over the Xunantunichruins and Caracol, the country’s largest Mayan ruin.
In honor of its Mayan roots, Ka’ana(or “heavenly place”) is an award-winning resort in the quiet town of San Ignacio. Thanks to its eco-luxury design, it beautifully complements the lavish green of its mountainous surroundings. It really is the ideal home base for anyone adventurous enough to venture into the country’s lush interior.
After a long day traveling, arriving at the resort is a refreshing kickoff to your stay. Interweaving pathways lead to a pool with cocktail service and a sunbathing terrace, an organic garden and the La Ceiba Restaurant, which specializes in farm to jungle cuisine. For the wellness lover, the luxury spa features treatments like holistic Reiki healing and Maya abdominal massages.
The boutique property is comprised of 17 private suites and villas that were clearly designed to ooze hospitality. Some rooms offer outdoor baths and showers, while others feature private pools. At Ka’ana, only the tranquil flow of water and the sweet natural harmonies from the jungle reign. It is a breathtaking respite from the chaos of urban life. Needless to say, the quality of sleep I got each night was unmatched.
Guests can also get their flow on as yoga is offered on property and at nearby Mayan temples. Or, take a hike at Big Rock Fallsfor a breathtaking swim under the locally loved waterfall. Ka’ana thinks of all the details and packs a delicious picnic lunch to fuel your adventure.
Arrive by plane or ferry, San Pedro is a post-card-worthy town located on the island of Ambergris Caye, famous for its sandy dive bars, wooden houses and seafood restaurants galore — an ideal spot to bookend a week-long trip to Belize. Here, I took the time to curl my toes in the sand and indulge in the Belizean way of life — travel by golf cart, then stop and stay awhile.
Many plant-based options are available to visitors, like oat milk lattes and vegan banana bread at Farmhouse Market & Caféor veggie tacos and berry sorbet at The Truck Stop. Or, for a fan-favorite, the sunset dinner cruise with Island Dream Toursis perfect for vegans and carnivores alike with its buffet-style food and endless cocktail options. As soon as the sun sets, the party begins!
For a high-end but family-friendly accommodation, the Grand Caribewas impressive from the first look. Its 72 one- to five-bedroom condos all have ocean views and balconies to admire them from. The property’s 500-foot stretch of private beach features free paddle-board and kayak rentals in addition to plush lounge chairs and unlimited towel exchanges. It features three restaurants, a fitness center and a full-service spa and salon to get your zen on. The on-site tour and concierge staff members are ready to guide guests through diverse Belizean excursions.
If anything, experiencing the Great Blue Holefrom the sky is a bucket-list opportunity. The giant marine sinkhole is a wonder of the world that can be seen through a Tropic Air flyovertour. Stepping onto the 11-seat aircraft for the hour pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way that promotes growth. The one-of-a-kind, uninterrupted view makes this well worth the investment.
When you’re ready to dive into the bright blue Caribbean water, snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserveand Shark Ray Alleyis as incredible as it sounds. It was pointedly instilled into guests that Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a sacred haven for marine wildlife.
For the yoga-seeker, Ak’bol Yoga Retreathosts drop-in yoga classes at the end of its pier overlooking the reef. Mats are available and meditation is offered at the end of each class. Ak’bol also has free weekly discussion groups over ancient yogic texts, making it a hub for wellness enthusiasts worldwide.
Overall, a visit to Belize is soaked with an intimate connection to mind, body and spirit. If you’re looking for a sign to book your trip, this is it.
Learn more at travelbelize.org.
Originally published in Summer + Fall 2022 issue.