Our 24 Day Vacation To Belize

The best sunset I've ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice.
The best sunset I’ve ever seen. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

That’s right, dear reader, I’m finally writing the Belize post.  I’ve been hinting and teasing about the trip for so long that even my momma thinks that my mind is gone I bet some of you thought I’d never get around to it.  Well here it is in all its glory.

Actually, it’s only part one.  The post got up to 1300 words before I even said anything about the finances, so I figured I’d just make it two separate posts.

This post is about the trip and what we did.  The next post will be the financial porn: the exact breakdown of how much we spent and what we spent it on.

We used Airbnb to book all of our lodging (if you use this link to sign up, you and I both get $25 in travel money.  Woo!). We had never used them before, but it was super easy and much more cost efficient than booking hotels.

Belize City

The first stop on our itinerary was Belize City.  The international airport is only about 15 minutes away from Belize City, and it’s a good sized city, so we thought we’d start the trip by spending a few days in the bustling metropolis.

BelizeMrs. Dragon is what some people might call a nervous traveler, so we decided our first two nights in a new country should be spent in a proper hotel.  We got checked in and then walked over to a restaurant and had dinner.

The next day we decided to take advantage of the hotel pool while we had it.  We dutifully put on the SPF 30 that we use at home, and then went and spent a relaxing hour by the pool.  If you’ve ever been to southern Florida or anywhere in Central America you might know what I’m going to say next.  We got fried.  The sun is quite a bit more powerful in Belize than where we live so we started out our trip with a sunburn.

It actually wasn’t too bad, and we learned a valuable lesson.  While in Belize we needed to stick with SPF 50.

Anyway, those first two nights in Belize were really lazy.  We watched movies on the TV, ordered food from restaurants, swam, read books, and generally just unwound a little to start our trip.

After the first two nights, we went to stay in our first booking through Airbnb.  We were sharing a space with a couple who lived in the city.  We got a private room and private bath, but shared the living space and kitchen.

Mrs. Dragon was pretty nervous about sharing a space with strangers, but it was one of the best decisions we made when planning the trip.

A friendly feast
A friendly feast

Our hosts were awesome! Within a few days of booking with them, they emailed us to say that the Belize Audubon Society (basically their National Parks system) was putting on a snorkeling trip to the Great Blue Hole, they were going, and they’d be happy to sign us up if we wanted to join them.  Of course we wanted to join them!

The trip was $85 US for the two of us, which is a steal compared to market rates.  Plus, I think we were the only tourists in the group because you had to book 4-6 weeks in advance and it wasn’t heavily advertised outside of the city.

The actual snorkeling was great, plus we stopped at Half Moon Caye for lunch and we hiked around the island a little bit.

A quick side note about this trip.  I’m pretty sure I perforated an ear drum during the snorkeling.

I dove down a little too far, too quickly at the Blue Hole and felt water rushing into my ear.  After I surfaced I tried to pop my ears using the universal method.  You know, holding your nose and somehow putting internal pressure on yours ears?  When I did it I heard what can only be described as water percolating in my ear.

It turned out not too be too big a deal, but it was definitely scary for the first minute or two.

Back at home base, our room also came with two bikes for us to use, and there was a grocery store and several restaurants within biking distance.  It was quite convenient.

Additionally, I had been asking them about Belizean food so they offered to make us dinner one night if we chipped in for ingredients.  Yes and please!  It was really, really good.  Spicy ceviche, homemade tortillas, bbq chicken, cole slaw … I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

We also took a day trip to visit the Mayan ruin site Lamanai and toured the local rum factory while we were in the city.

Total nights in Belize City: 8

Caye Caulker

This was part one of the lazy portion of our trip, accessed via water taxi.  We didn’t do all that much while in Caye Caulker, and that was kind of the point.  We stayed on the southern part of the island about a mile from the “downtown” area near The Split.

Hanging out at The Split
Hanging out at The Split

Of course, we went swimming at The Split while we were there.  It’s basically a channel about 40 feet across with a current running from east to west.  Very relaxing.

We also went on a snorkeling trip, which was awesome.  We saw a bunch of fish, sharks, and stingrays.  Mrs. Dragon even touched a shark!  It was just a nurse shark, but it was a great time.  The snorkeling company also included fresh fruit and coconut rum as part of the trip.  Mmmmmm … coconut rum.

The place we were staying had a little deck on top of the building that offered great views of both sunsets and sunrises.

Lobster for two
Lobster for two

The only other thing of note in Caye Caulker was the lobster and the fry jacks.  Lobster was in season and we enjoyed some while we were there.  I had never eaten lobster before, so I’m totally fancy now.

Fry jacks are basically like a beignet except with no powdered sugar.  We got ours stuffed with all sorts of stuff.  Beans, stewed chicken, eggs, cheese, you name it.  Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks is the only restaurant we ate at multiple times while in Belize.  Seriously good and inexpensive.

Total nights in Caye Caulker: 6

San Pedro

After Caye Caulker, San Pedro was more of the same: part two of being lazy.  We spent a good bit of time by the pool, reading books, and watching movies (free movies channels, bro!).

Not much to say here other than it was relaxing, and rained one day while we were there.

Total nights in San Pedro: 3

Blackman Eddy

After San Pedro we went back to the mainland and rented a car to head inland towards San Ignacio and Belmopan.  Blackman Eddy is a little village situated between the two.

Caving

Again, we used Airbnb for our accommodations, and they were awesome.  This place was the most “homey” feeling of all the spots we stayed.

While here we had a ton of fun after our relaxing days on the islands.  We visited the Mayan ruins Xunantunich, went swimming and walked through some caves in St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, and went ziplining and cavetubing.

During the ziplining excursion we came across a tarantula and I proceeded to appall Mrs. Dragon by letting it crawl all over my hands.

Later on, I also used a machete to cut open a coconut so that Mrs. Dragon’s dream of drinking the water directly from the coconut could become a reality.  Awesome.  (Who says I don’t make dreams come true?)

TarantulaWe also saw the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen in my life while staying here.

After that we headed back to Belize City for one more night, then headed back stateside.

Total nights in Blackman Eddy: 5 (+1 more in Belize City)

Overnight Layover

On the way back home we had an overnight layover.  Funnily enough, my mom was flying back from visiting my uncle and had a layover the same airport on the same evening that we were arriving.  When we found this out, she talked to the airline and got her connecting flight pushed back to the following morning.

Busy making dreams come true
Busy making dreams come true

We called our hotel and they upgraded us to a two room suite at no charge!  It was totally suite! … Puns!

So we got a bonus visit with my mom, which was great since she lives about 1,100 miles away from us.

There you have it.  A truncated version of our 24 days in Belize.  It was truly an incredible trip.  Financial details coming soon can be found here!

Related: The Travel Hacking Experiment Part IV

Ever been to Belize?  What’s your fantasy location for a three-week vacation?

Striking A Balance
Financial Details of Our Belize Trip

7 thoughts on “Our 24 Day Vacation To Belize

  1. This is a nice journal of a wonderful frugal trip (I love the way Americans can travel hack credit cards).
    I like the combination of relaxing and action that you put in a trip like this.

    • Thanks! We ended up saving somewhere around $1400 by using credit card rewards, so it was definitely worth it.

      We thought the balance worked out pretty well! We tried to plan plenty of down days for a trip this long, but we also wanted to experience what the country had to offer. Definitely pleased with the trip overall. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Sounded like a great trip, minus the sunburn part! Mrs. Budgets has been down for the longest time to use Airbnb. I am the complete opposite and would rather stay in a hotel. Though I can say we have used sites similar to Airbnb to stay at some places in Maui and they turned out to be complete gems. I’m sure she will have her way in the future and use Airbnb! 🙂

    Snorkeling is awesome but I really want to get scuba certified. A bucket list item of mine!

    • Scuba! After this trip, Mrs. Dragon and I were talking about how awesome it would be to get certified and do some diving, so you’re in good company there. My dad is certified and loves it, so maybe we’ll try to get it done before our next adventure 🙂

      As for Airbnb, I can’t recommend it highly enough. We stayed with four different hosts (Belize City, Caye Caulker, Blackman Eddy, and Belize City again) and they were all great. Just make sure to read the reviews and the description of the space in detail, so you aren’t surprised when you get there. We will definitely go that route again in the future, since it saved us literally hundreds of dollars.

    • Haha, yeah, Mrs. Dragon wasn’t too thrilled about the tarantulas. If you end up going, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to recommend some stops for you guys. We really enjoyed Belize, so I hope you make it some day!

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