Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Placencia Lobsterfest 2018, new location, perfect weather, perfect energy!

Lobsterfest is in full swing every weekend around this time every year. Both San Pedro and Placencia (and Caye Caulker has one too) go NUTS for the opening of Lobster season, and it is really, really endearing - everyone gets into it, bartenders wear lobster hats, the steel drum music, the crowds - just super fun, and if you've never experienced it - you really want to be here for it next year. In fact you can make both festivals by splitting your time.

This year, In Placencia, there was a bit of controversy as the location changed (and the village is not a big fan of change :)) and because there are some serious limitations on land to use for a festival, the land that was finally chosen was by the pier. In order to get the mass amount of tents etc there - a tree had to be cut down. It happened to be a tree on the beach that people used a lot for shade, and there were a lot of unhappy folks because Placencia tends to be conservative about preserving nature. However -- the happy ending is, Village Council went over the top this year with setting up - it truly looks amazing. There will be two trees planted in its place, and with the perfect weather/water/set up - everything has calmed back down, and now Lobsterfest has a new home every year. Here are some of my favorite pics from this year so far!

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Monday, June 4, 2018

10 reasons why Belize is perfect for a single traveler & some ideas for your trip!

Why pick Belize as a single traveler - and tips on how to do it!

1.) Belize is very popular for adventurous, free spirits - it is not known for its luxurious all-inclusives - and although there is a lot that is romantic about Belize, this is not what it is best known for. Belize is known for being off the beaten path, full of adventure, the 2nd biggest reef in the world, Mayan ruins, cave tubing, and being a rustic paradise where you don't have to be fancy. Belize gets a LOT of single travelers because the adventures, while pretty sweet to experience with someone else, are not necessary to have with another, the way that an all inclusive on the beach would be. 

2.) It is a destination for people to come when they are seeking out a place with more authentic, non-corporate experiences. While you can probably picture the whole vacation start to finish if you are headed down for a week to rent a beach house in Florida or Myrtle Beach (nothing against those places, it is just that you really know exactly what you are getting, no surprises, lots of chains, and sometimes this is just right!) The average traveler to Belize -- ALL over the map. Although there are plenty of families, this is not the most wonderful place on earth for a lot of kids (it is a do-it-yourself place, there isn't putt putt, wifi everywhere, water parks etc), and you will see a lot of free spirits on the plane to Belize. While the crowd headed to Cancun generally has its share of manicured nails and designer bags in line at the airport, you are more likely to see Tevas, backpacks, and generally more earthy-types (totally generalizing - however - check this out for yourself at the airport!)
Crab Races at Crazy Canuck's Paradise Guy's page - see below
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3.) You are NOT going to stick out in the Belize crowd - on almost any excursion, there are singles, you will see them at hotels and bars, and it does not look weird here at all. In fact, I have never been to a place in my life where people seem to become best friends over the course of a vacation - and I have been to many places where I didn't talk to another traveler for a week. Belize is small, intimate, warm, and friendly - and the vibe here is one of openness and inclusion.

4.) Materialism is NOT a thing here, and it looks almost funny/definitely out of place if you happen to see really nice cars, shoes, bags, jewelry, etc. In fact, you will stick out if you are wearing more than a tank top and t-shirt - barefeet are even ok. In general, when traveling alone, you can feel free to be as casual as you want.

5.) Many/most hotels are small/boutique in nature, and the excursion groups can be as small as 3-5. It is so easy to make fast friends here - you aren't a small fish in a large pond here, quite the opposite. People WILL talk to you if you are sitting alone and look reasonably friendly!

6.) You don't have to navigate public transportation or long drives by yourself - you can stay right in the village in Placencia, or right in the heart of town in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, or San Ignacio, for example, where everything you would want to do is steps away. You can be picked up right at your door for excursions. There will always be people around and you won't have any scary walking-by-yourself-at-night-in-the-dark moments. (This isn't recommended anywhere of course, even at home, but because Belize is so small, you can do everything on foot.)
The scene by Barefoot Bar
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7.) Getting around the entire country by yourself can be easy, painless, and not scary at all - you can hop on the regional puddle jumpers safely and easily and get around the country in no time - minus your fear of flying in something the size of a car, most any traveler will feel comfortable and safe. There are many options of course, like driving, shuttles, or the bus, but even for a beginner traveler you can travel the country with ease in the puddle jumpers.

8.) Pick your hotel wisely. I do not recommend staying at a larger condo-type place - because these generally get more families, children, and groups who tend to be a bit less socially-motivated. The bigger the condo, the easier it is to get lost in the couch/TV comforts of home! You will notice when you go to these many condo type places - you may not see people socializing and interacting at the pool. Many may also have longer-term residents who have different energy than a traveler. You want to find a smaller hotel with common social areas, a pool, or close to the action, or a hostel-type hotel if that is your speed - because those truly are social havens, and Belize has many great ones in every town. You probably also want to stay away from romantic hotels that cater to honeymooners as a single traveler - for obvious reasons :)
Secret Beach-from Pinterest
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9.) Do a bit of research before you come to see where to go each night, near your hotel, so nighttime alone travel is minimized. You will probably get invited to group outings before the end of your trip, but at least the first few nights - some great resources are the Placencia Breeze online, the Placencia What's Happening page, or take a walk around town and read the boards out front at the bars. There are activities aimed at socializing every night in the tourist towns. A great link in San Pedro is THIS for nightly happenings. San Ignacio is a town that is less beach bar/tourism driven so I would travel there for the excursions and adventure, but less for nighttime fun.

10.)Here are some recommended hotels and activities in Placencia and San Pedro for some single traveler fun!
Bars- Thirsty Parrot (don't miss, most social warm place you'll find), Barefoot Bar, Tipsy Tuna, karaoke at J Dee's on Sundays
Activities - hang out at the pier beach and The Shak, swim around Barefoot, Cozy Corner or Sailfish during the day, set up a snorkel the first day you are there - you can easily find these by the chalkboards all through town. This is a sure way to meet people!
Hotels - Julia's Cabanas, Miramar, Sea Spray, Cozy Corner, Anda Di Hows, Lydia's Guest House are all casual, laid back social hotels.
Pic from Julia's Cabanas website
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San Pedro
Bars- Palapa Bar, Sandy Toes, Wayo's, Melt, Sandbar, CocoLoco's, Crazy Canuck's
Activities - karaoke (check the link above!), Wahoo's chicken drop, crab races at Crazy Canuck's, swim at Palapa Bar, Secret Beach, YOLO boat outings, hang out at SandBar during the day. Also go to Caye Caulker and hang out at the Split for an afternoon.
Hotels - Sandbar for sure, this is modest but is truly your best chance of meeting others, Pedro's Inn for younger backbackers, Sun Breeze Inn, slightly more upscale but great social pool and bar attached -these are all right in the heart of town with social stuff going on all day long.
Pic from TripAdvisor....Sandbar
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Gorgeous pics and new stuff to do in Placencia, Belize!

The weather has been awesome lately! April and May for the last few years have been great months weather-wise in Belize, very little rain, and since it is still technically high season-ish, everything is open! So I'm just going to sprinkle in a bunch of recent pics while you catch up on some Placencia happenings....
 One of the things to love here....decide your own level of risk
 This place is building up and getting good reviews
An often photographed area :)
One of the the things I have heard again and again that Placencia is a wine one is opening! Right near Above Grounds, "The Little Wine Bar" is a welcome addition to what the village offers :)
 Placencia Fast Food
 Placencia artists :)
EnE got a lil facelift!
One of the things to LOVE about Placencia, that is truly, truly unique to this little village, is how the village connects on Facebook. EVERYTHING there is to know about what's happening in town, good, bad, awesome, or ugly, can be found on the Facebook groups. One of the things that I miss when I am anywhere else, is with one scroll through, let's say, "Placencia Restaurants/Food!" you can find out who is open, who is delivering, who has specials, see their menus; even pics of the dinners places are offering. And most of the posts are from little locally-owned food stands, which is one of the greatest experiences for food in the village. Don't scroll through it if you are hungry. But definitely scroll if you are coming here to get caught up on where to eat! You will always find something new, or an idea of where to go that you haven't been in a while. You can also learn about the vast array of local food available in the village.
**You will also realize that you can become dependent on these news feeds, and then when you are other places, find yourself saying, what am I going to do??? I don't know where is open or where to go! :-D
***Want more group info? Check out these:
Placencia WHAT'S UP
Placencia What's Happening
 One of the best beach atmosphere places to eat
 Nice people and nice golf carts
 Heart of town
You haven't lived until you've done Sunday Karaoke here
The village is in preparation right now for Lobsterfest, which is one of the high points of the year every year. Lobsterfest is an example of the kind of tropical activity/event that you can't really do in the same way when you live in other climates. There have been a few examples recently of events that I think are just so exotic, fun, and unique - another example is this Parrothead Beach Bar Belize - wow, a 3 day festival/concert on a private island, seriously?? Ranguana Caye is amazing without this added fun so this is pretty much head exploding. Recently, in the village, there was another amazing party with bikers from all over the region, check this out, what an amazing international events, the stories that must have been passed around!!
Placencia from the lagoon side
Oh, and there is some crazy whale shark sightings of the premier activities people come to Belize to do.

In other news, Belikin is partnering with Heineken - we are all wondering what this will mean about availability of different beers in Belize, or Belikin in the US??? Will have to wait and see...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Spotlight on the "Tres Cocos" neighborhood of Ambergris Caye, Belize...

Since we have opened PUR, in the Tres Cocos neighborhood of Belize, I have had a LOT of questions coming my way about what Tres Cocos neighborhood is like, where it is, why is it up and coming, why should they choose it as a place to stay, what are they missing if they don't stay in town? There isn't much info online about this neighborhood so I thought I'd give a fresh perspective about this area!
Tres Cocos is the area just north of the bridge in San Pedro. San Pedro is the biggest town on Ambergris Caye, and there are different neighborhoods around the island that you will hear talked about. One of the more famous destination neighborhoods is called Boca Del Rio - which is the heart of town, where the majority of beach bars and docks are. This is a definite must-do, it has some of the anchor places on the island, like Palapa Bar, Sandy Toes, Wayo's, all the excursion docks, Melt, Sandbar, and many more. The other great parts of town to visit are south of there, where you'll find Estelle's, Nook, Blue Water Grill, and then farther south, an entirely different neighborhood with the fun of Crazy Canuck's, Road Kill, AJ's and more....this is why Belize gets many repeat guests, as each area has its own vibe and I am barely scratching the surface of all the places to go, eat, see, and do.

Back to Tres Cocos. Tres Cocos is really, really pretty - and looks different than the rest of the island. It is newer and less developed, and less busy. One definite positive most will agree is that the road north is amazing compared to the rest of the island. Much of the road on the island is cobblestones and bumps and is pretty rough to drive on, not to mention, BUSY! Once you get north of the bridge, you find a very polite, straightforward, smooth, two lane road with mostly golf carts and bikes. The road was just paved within the last couple years, which has helped the growth.
This cute market is just north of the bridge...
 One of many beachfront scenes you'll see on your drive up...
 One of the first cute restaurants, Pirates Treasure....
 Another cute place to stop - 
This neighborhood has recently started to be on everyone's destination list partly because of Truck Stop and Croc's, which are two super unique experiences to have on the island. Truck Stop is a veritable carnival of fun, with games, movies, food trucks, and is a must do - it is always a hub of activity.
Great photo opp at Truck stop
Croc's is an amazing 3 story tiki bar - HUGE! - that overlooks the lagoon and has amazing sunsets. It has become the place to be for many major events - the Superbowl this year was so packed on every floor that there was barely a seat available.
Many, many condo developments can be found in Tres Cocos, along with an amazing, tranquil beach walk that is a must-do. It is just gorgeous. You can walk to Ak'bol Yoga on the beach, and do yoga on a palapa over the sea.

There are some wonderful resorts north of Tres Cocos for spas and upscale dining, including rooftop dining at Rain. Coco Loco's is a very friendly, warm pool bar that has some fun events weekly, and Dive Bar is an amazing experience.
"Marbucks" is a great place for coffee and breakfast. 

Stella's is a romantic stop for wine....
Lisa's Kayak rental....
There are also little tiki bars tucked here and there, like Tiki Maya and Paco's Tiki Bar. There is a new bbq place and an Irish Bar. All of these places are popping up and there seems to always be something new!

There are plenty of stretches of really pretty landscaping, homes, and stretches of road...

 Really interesting houses to be seen!
I think it is fair to say that there is less authentic local culture north of the bridge, it is newer and many of the larger fancier resorts are just north of Tres Cocos. Downtown San Pedro has a very authentic feel, and it can be crazy - busy, loud, hectic...a little bit gritty - and always fun. North of the bridge in Tres Cocos is quite tranquil, you will awake to hear birds in the morning, and there is some space and nature between each establishment, as opposed to in town where things are right next to each other.
Some scenes from the tranquil beach path...

Scenes from the beach front...

One other reason that north of the bridge is great is that it is a perfect takeoff point to get to Secret Beach, which is most definitely not a secret, but may never lose that name. Secret Beach is a place where there is no sea grass, and the sandbar extends forever, so you can walk out in waist-deep water, and enjoy an amazing number of super fun beach bars that have popped up there. Belize has been getting Sargassum seaweed in large amounts recently, along with all of the Caribbean, and for beach fun, this is definitely the place to go when the sea grass hits the east side of the island.

You can always book something in town for half the trip and spend the other half in Tres Cocos!