Private islands and inland adventures will delight in this beautiful, multi-ethnic nation. The melting pot of various cultures there includes Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo, Creole and Mennonite. Once called the “British Honduras,” Belize is the only Central American country with English as its main language. It features the world’s only jaguar reserve, plus the second largest barrier reef and ancient Mayan sites. The Great Blue Hole is the vivid blue chasm which is the only visible blue hole from space. 

Easy flight connections to Belize have you arriving by afternoon. As you are transported to your resort, you’ll enjoy the scenery, and opportunities to stop at a coffee and chocolate farm for “forest-bathing.” This trendy travel word labels how we therapeutically experience the forests through our senses. Jungle canopies, trails, caves and swimming holes also provide respite. 

While there are numerous resorts to choose from, a stay in Hopkins reveals the essence of Belizean friendliness. Enjoy your beach villa at Hopkins Bay, A Muy Ono resort. You can lounge all day in your beach chair, reading, swinging in a hammock and drinking afternoon piña coladas. 

Then, hop on one of the resort’s bikes and ride into the village to experience the charming lifestyle of the locals. The joy’s contagious as you ride past children, dogs, chickens and other bicycling tourists. 

Breakfast at the Swinging Armadillo and fix your eyes on the horizon as pelicans soar overhead. Friendly locals greet you as you wait awhile for your fryjacks and fresh pineapple. Time stands still in Hopkins, and you welcome it. Pull up to any tavern and park your bike to enjoy a local sports match or Garifuna drummers at Ella’s restaurant. Hammocks and swings are part of many restaurant interiors. Back at the resort, take your kayak out onto the sea and let all your cares vanish into the waves. 

Explore Xunatunich, an impressive archaeological site. You’ll travel on a hand-crank ferry across a narrow river to reach the Maya citadel. Tour guides identify endless ecological details (like tarantulas you can hold) before you explore the hills and temples. 

Immerse in the culture. The Garifuna people descend from a blending of West Africans with Arawak Indians. Visit the Palmento Grove. You’ll walk through towering hedges to reach the inlet crossing. Riding a kayak with dogs swimming next to you to reach the shore is a charming initiation into their environment. Tour the medicinal garden to learn about soursap cures and herbal treatments. Don a tribal tunic and take dance lessons to the drumming beats of locals culminating with a side of homemade rum punch. 

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Bioluminescence. Rivers, reefs and lagoons teem with a menagerie of flora and fauna. Anderson Lagoon in Hopkins features an unforgettable night cruise. Floating on the Sitee River exposes you to monkeys, jaguars, herons, iguanas, owls and crocodiles. Using only flashlights in the dark night, look for the eye-shine of animals lurking in the trees and mangroves. Trees aglow with embers still burning from recent fires spit sparks into the obsidian sky. Through narrow canals, you enter the lagoon, which is a silent, dark womb for your boat. The constellation clarity will entrance you. The lack of light pollution creates visibility for a stargazing experience where water and sky merge. Shooting stars and constellations illuminate the sky and match the bioluminescence glowing in the lagoon. Wave your arms in the water to activate the glowing plankton. 

The emotional souvenir is the Belizean philosophy of positivity. No worries; just optimism.