travel

Family Travel: 7 Sites to See in Belize

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In January, we took a family vacation to Central America to visit my husband's parents in Belize. Cyber Monday tickets ($250 round trip American Airlines tickets), having a place to stay, and transportation for all but two days of our trip made the decision to fork out the cash and get out of the cold and into the Caribbean a no-brainer.

7 Must-See Sites in Belize

If you're looking for some family travel fun and are thinking of a beach vacation, check out some of these must-see sites in Belize.

Belize City

The city itself is the main site to see in Belize City. Our Sunday drive in and out of town was a highlight of the trip for me. The only thing that could have made it better is if I could have hung out with some of the people we passed. I always love meeting the locals and was sad to not be able to sit and chat with them, get to know them, and go into their homes, kind of like I did in India. I did, however, attend a church service with the locals, and chatted with lots of people there, which was awesome!

Cayo

I associate Cayo with three must-see sites:

1.) Xunantunich, the ancient Mayan ruins. The ruins provide the perfect opportunity to turn the vacation into a learning experience for the kids. If you did enough research, you could teach nearly any topic, but especially geography, history, science, and math. Our favorite parts of this excursion were climbing to the top of "El Castillo" and seeing howler monkeys in the wild. While you can go with a tour group or as a day trip on a cruise, we opted to drive up with our in-laws, stopping along the way to enjoy Cayo, the countryside, and to take lots of pictures.

2.) Cave Tubing. One of the advantages of having in-laws who live in the country is meeting their friends. Ephraim, by day, works for a tourism company. Currently he is a guide at some Mayan ruins. But previously, he took cruise-ship day excursions cave tubing. He used his knowledge of the area to give us a VIP private tour. We got to see places the cruise ship people never get to go. And then, went tubing through the same caves they do. He had us eating termites (minty!) and learning to identify trees and flowers. Unfortunately, none of us had bug spray. The result? 70 mosquito bites on our 11 year-old son. Oh! My!

3.) The Belize Zoo. We ran out of time and were unable to go to the zoo, but we have heard from several people that it is simply amazing. Instead of importing animals from foreign countries, they only have animals that are indigenous to the area and their living quarters are more like their natural habitat. The Jaguar exhibit is supposed to be amazing and I'm sad we missed it. There's always next time, right?

San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)

A trip to the cayes is a must when visiting Belize. Its location on the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea make the islands off the coast of it simply breathtaking. Here are activities I recommend when visiting San Pedro.

1.) Tour the Island Via Golf Cart. The island is small enough that you can explore it all via golf cart in only a couple of hours. Doing this upon arrival will give you a good idea of places you would like to return to and spend more time at. Tattoo parlour anyone? Not for us.

2.) Seafood Restaurants. Not a must-see site I'd normally list on my list of recommendations, but being from Utah, our seafood is lacking. The seafood we ate on San Pedro was amazing, especially the lobster, which is what the island is known for and proudly celebrates. The Blue Water Grill was my absolute favorite.

3.) The Blue Hole and Sting Ray Ally. We found ourselves short on time while visiting San Pedro as well and while my husband had great intentions of scuba diving, wanting to repeat his recent experience doing so in St. Thomas, it was either that or spend time as a family and he chose the latter. But everything we could see and from what we heard the other tourists share, this is the place for all things deep sea: scuba diving, SNUBA-ing, snorkeling in the reef, or even just enjoying in a glass bottom boat or a sunset catamaran cruise, which would have been more my speed.

Like others I've talked to, I wondered if Belize was a place for kids. Taking eight and 11 year-old boys had me a bit worried. Would there be anything for them to do in Belize City? Would they get bored and fight the whole time? If they couldn't scuba dive, would there be anything for them to do on San Pedro?

I worried in vane. They loved every minute of this trip. The found the ruins exciting and asked question after question, in between running around and climbing up steep steps, about the people who had inhabited it years ago. The loved driving around the city and through the country side. They were entranced during the 45-minute jungle walk to get to the caves, listening to our new friend and tour point out the birds and other local varieties of  insects, animals, and flowers/trees we do not enjoy here. And they found joy in simple things, like trying to break a coconut loose from a palm tree, which kept them busy for an hour, on San Pedro.

If you're looking for a fun and different vacation, Belize is a great place to take your family.

What are your favorite family vacation spots? What determines where you will go for family travel? What has been your favorite family trip?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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