Lebawit Lily Girma

Planning Your Time in Belize’s Northern Cayes

Once the favorite hideout and playground of pirates, the Northern Cayes are Belize’s greatest tourism draw, and with good reason. These postcard-perfect islands offer quick access to the Belize Barrier Reef and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a dizzying array of outdoor activities, and enough lodging, restaurants, and entertainment options to fit celebrity and backpacker budgets alike.

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Day Trip from Belize to Chetumal, Mexico

An exciting dose of culture shock is an easy 15 miles from Corozal. Chetumal, capital of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, is a relatively modern, midsized city of about 200,000. If you don’t come for the culture, then you must be here to shop in the new American-style mall, or see a first-run film in Chet’s brand new air-conditioned Cineplex, located in the Plaza de las Americas mall.

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Discover Belize

If you’ve traveled in other parts of Central America or the Caribbean, forget them all. Belize is different: It is coconut shavings in your rice and beans. It is butter pooling in your conch soup—with a squirt of lime and a splash of hot sauce to make it bite. Belize is the hemisphere’s largest barrier reef; it is massive forests of giant cohune palms and prehistoric tree ferns, some amid ancient Mayan plazas.

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The Evolution of Belizean Food

The very idea of a national cuisine is as new as every other part of Belizean identity. Since the times of the Baymen, Belize has been an import economy, and with independence came renewed national pride where “Belizean” has been gradually applied to the adapted varied diet of many cultures.

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Hiking Cockscomb Basin in Belize

The main draw of the Cockscomb Basin is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, commonly called the “Jaguar Preserve.” The area is alive with wildlife and hiking opportunities, from an easy hour-long stroll along the river to a four-day Victoria Peak expedition. Here’s how to get to the preserve, the best hiking trails, and necessary preparations for staying overnight.

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How Travelers Can Help Stop Wildlife Poaching in Belize

You are guaranteed to see wildlife in Belize, whether in the wild or in captivity. However, some poached birds and wildlife are often sold on the international market, while others end up in Belizean homes or in businesses who want to add “color” to attract tourists. Here are simple ways you can help discourage animal poaching in Belize and all over the world.

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Enjoying Belizean Seafood

One of the favorite Belize specialties is fresh fish, especially along the coast and on the islands, but even inland Belize is never more than 60 miles from the ocean. There’s lobster, shrimp, red snapper, sea bass, halibut, barracuda, conch, and lots more prepared in a variety of ways. Here’s a quick overview on specialties to try and useful advice on enjoying them sustainably.

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Where to Go in the Belize Cayes

Regardless of where you go in the Belize Cayes, days are spent alfresco: kayaking, sailing, fishing, feasting on fresh catch, swimming alongside rays and turtles, gazing at magnificent frigatebirds hovering in blue skies. Or mastering the art of dolce far niente: the sweetness of doing nothing. Here’s an overview of island highlights.

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Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Moon author Jason Frye

Jason Frye (Moon Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Raised deep in the mountains of West Virginia, Jason Frye first fell in love with North Carolina as a kid during family vacations to the Outer Banks. In 2002, he swapped his mountains for sand dunes and his river for an ocean when he moved to Wilmington to pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing. There, his love for North Carolina deepened into a longing to stay, settle, explore, and be a part of the people, culture, and history of the state.

Along with his wife, Lauren, Jason has kayaked the marshes and waterways near his home; hang glided off the Outer Banks; explored the cityscapes of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; and wandered the woods and wilds around Asheville.

A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Jason has contributed stories to VisitNC.com, AAA’s Go Magazine, Our State magazine, Southern Living, Salt, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, and acts as a culinary critic for the Wilmington StarNews.

Keep up with Jason on Instagram @beardedwriter.