When you land there, you see a painted little billboard that says, “Welcome Home.” And, when I got off my puddle jumper flight, that’s exactly what happened, I felt like I was home. When I talk to fellow expats here, that was their feeling, too.
Sittee River is one such spot that has the frozen-in-time feel. The region is situated next to the authentic, welcoming Garifuna community of Hopkins, in southern Belize. This sleepy, historically Kriol area has some huge draws for expats, many of whom say they fell in love the moment they entered the community.
I was talking to an expat friend the other day. We were chatting about how much Belize has to offer in the way of exotic experiences. We happened to be on one of Belize’s exotic cayes (islands, there are over 400 cayes off the mainland) during this chat. Having spent the day playing in the water, swinging in hammocks, and enjoying a beach barbeque, the captain offered to take us a little farther away to the reef, where some great snorkeling could be done.
Belize offers distinct and varied ways to live. You can choose a tranquil, laidback beach lifestyle in Placencia, a Jimmy Buffet-style, non-stop party life on the island of Ambergris Caye, or an off-the-grid life out in the wild west of Cayo.
Belize’s charm is hard to put into words, but the best description might include the phrase “rustic paradise.” This is a barefoot nirvana, where you can hitch a ride on a skiff with a local fisherman for a day, then walk into a restaurant and have them cook your catch for you.
Caye Caulker has long been a favored destination for travelers to Belize. People flock to this small island because it has a vintage Caribbean charm all its own—it looks like a postcard. The island has remained a rustic paradise, with candy-colored wooden buildings, sandy roads, and no cars. Happy travelers, locals, and beach dogs lazily stroll and enjoy the warm breeze that comes off the water and ample shade of the palm-fringed streets.
Placencia and Ambergris Caye are two places in Belize very popular with tourists and expats. You will find countless online debates about which one is better, more-loved, or more livable. As an expat who has lived in both places for five years, I can attest that they offer distinctly different lifestyles.
In Placencia village where I live you’ll see adorable cabanas lining the road, each painted a different color, hand-painted signs, cute beach dogs, friendly locals. You’ll find treehouse coffee houses, and beach bars with names like Barefoot Bar and Tipsy Tuna. There are gelato places, and local tiny wood shacks selling delicious, cheap food made from scratch.
Although Belize is a small country, about the size of New Jersey, it has a wealth of “must see” natural resources and wonders.
The range of diving you can do in Belize, despite its small size, is one reason for its vast popularity, and it can vary depending on whether you are in the north, south, or outer atolls.