Thursday, January 17, 2019

Guest Blog - A quick adventure in Cayo - Bird Sanctuary, Rock Farm Guesthouse, and more!

Sue and Carlos are well known to our past guests, they occasionally will take side trips to check out other parts of Belize. Sue had one of these adventures last week in Cayo, and was kind enough to do a write up and pictures of your trip! Side note, a lot of people who live here find they have to make trips to Belmopan for paperwork, licenses, etc - and this is a great reason to extend your time, since you are making the trip anyway, to visit one of the many amazing, rustic to luxury jungle resorts. You can find a huge range of prices and experiences.

Thanks Sue!!


One of the perks of living in Belize, is that when we have a couple of days off we are able to enjoy other parts of this beautiful country.

We needed to go to immigration in the capital city of Belmopan first. We spent one night at Rock Farm Guesthouse. Which is also the home of Belize Bird Sanctuary. Only a 15 minute drive from Belmopan. It was the perfect place start. Having your coffee on the porch as the birds are starting their day is not only an amazing site, but the sounds they make are amazing to listen to.

Sharing breakfast with a chachalaca.
From there went headed to San Ignacio, a charming city in the hills of the Cayo district. We had a great time just relaxing by strolling down Burns Avenue where there is a nice pedistrian street with shops, bars and restaurants. 

Lunch at Guava Limb Cafe
Our final day we went on a wonderful pontoon waterfall tour with Jungle Splash Eco Tours. An amazing trip on the Macal River with stops to climb and swim in different waterfalls.

Our pontoon, complete with a bbq grill for lunch on the river.

Preparing lunch

We had a great time getting to know more of the country we live in and can’t wait to explore more in the future.

Flight from Belize City to San Pedro

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Top places to eat in Placencia, Belize, for whatever you are in the mood for!

These are the top places as rated by our guests!

Try Friends Near the Pier and The Shak, closer to the pier, have a great ambience - you can watch the pier at The Shak. Cozy Corner is about halfway down the sidewalk, it IS very cozy and has great views of the beach. Detatch also has heavenly beach views and is close to Barefoot. Aphrodite’s on the sidewalk and Buba Wuba’s on the harbor across the main road are also good options. We also recommend the breakfast burritos at the “Belize Mexican” stand near the police station. Merl’s Cafe is located farther south at the “point.” Wendy’s on the main road is also a good option. You can sometimes find light eats at Brewed Awakenings or Above Grounds
View from Cozy Corner
 The Shak
 Outside Above Grounds
 Friends Near the Pier
 View from The Shak
Our guest's favorites for dinner...
Higher-end options in town…
Rumfish - a classic favorite for the Caribbean deck and and amazing drinks.
Turtle Inn - Francis Ford Coppola’s tranquil resort - wonderful for a romantic or special dinner.
Wendy's - great people watching on their veranda - a classic, great fish.
Detatch - for the view and the fish.
Secret Garden is a classic favorite, and Yucatan Tacos is a new option with a great view of town.

More casual options in town…Dawn's - a great low key choice, classic local food.
Omar's - another classic favorite for local fish-they will even cook yours if you bring it.
Cozy Corner - great view and conch fritters.
Cha Chi's - great second floor live music and great pizza options- will even deliver.
Rick's - amazing organic food, wonderful chef.
Aphrodite’s - great people watching on the sidewalk, super fun ambiance!
Wine Bar - a newer wonderful option in the village, great cheese plates to start the night. 

**For some super casual food stand options- Sidewinders for subs and chicken, Lil Bites for great local food, Carmens for “fast food”, Mr Qs for local barbeque, Belize Mexican stand for burritos, or the Burger Joint for local burgers. Mim’s is right at the street and is amazing local food (try the stewed chicken) for a $5usd lunch. All can be found with a walk through the village.

Of course.....for dessert.....the famous Tutti Frutti, right by Rumfish and Cha Chis!
*Of course Barefoot BarPickled Parrot, and Tipsy Tuna, any night of the week! Barefoot’s lobster grilled cheese is a guest favorite.
**A little out of town, try: Dolce Vita - for great Italian and wine, located about 2 miles north in Los Porticos. Flying Pig for Spaghetti and Movie nights and great casual food, or Mariposa for great views on their second floor, and prime rib nights. Just out of town is the new The Pyramid House, getting rave reviews about their wine and views!
Cha Chi's and Tutti Frutti
 Heart of village
 View from second floor at Tipsy
 Beach outside Barefoot
 Carmen's fast food
 Lil Bites
 Carmen's menu
 Pickled Parrot
 Tipsy Tuna
 Eating on second floor in Cha Chis

Willing to drive about 20 minutes to Maya Beach? These are the favorites...
Maya Beach Bistro - one of the most highly-rated restaurants on the peninsula, for seaside dining - up in Maya Beach.
Naia - a newer resort, for a special dinner at "1981".

***Coming soon? Tranquilo is opening back up soon! This was a past guest favorite, under new management, but taking the short boat ride to the Placencia Caye and watching the sunset make this a super memorable experience!

If there are any I forgot please let me know!

Friday, December 28, 2018

A look at the Taste Belize Tour - Spice Farm, Mayan Hearth Cooking, and Ixcacao Chocolate experience!

Taste Belize Tours is an award-winning tour you can take from Placencia, Belize. We highly recommend it for those guests looking to experience an authentic way to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell all things Belize, from a tropical Spice Farm where you will taste and touch plants right off the stems, to interacting and eating a meal with a Mayan family, to visiting an authentic Mayan-family run chocolate kitchen. Lyra is a highly knowledgeable guide who has great passion for all things Belize, and is a wonderful resource throughout your tour - ask her your history questions and you are in for a great learning experience! You can also choose from a vast array of experiences that you can read about on her website HERE - we chose the Spice Farm, following by Mayan Hearth cooking, then the Ixcacao Chocolate experience.

The Spice Farm was breathtaking - pictures don't do it justice. You will feel like you just landed at a farm from 100 years ago - it is tranquil and you can smell dozens of different amazing scents as you walk around. You will get the history of how certain spices made it to Belize, how they are grown and harvested, how they are used, and much more. 
You know you are somewhere special when you start by walking through this arch!
We were astounded by the organized sections and care that is taken with each plant - the guide was so knowledgeable and passionate...
 This palm-fringed path is really long and takes you to the different sections - it was so peaceful, so serene - the landscaping is something you do not see everyday!
 Everywhere you look, small hand-painted signs, blooming flowers, tropical foliage...
This bridge overlooks a totally unique lily-pad filled pond - like something out of a historic novel - they even do weddings there! 

The Spice Farm was about an hour or so, and then we took a short drive to the Ketchi Mayan Family, the Cocs. The family is just wonderful - warm, welcoming, and they even have coconut drinks waiting for you! Everything they do is so sustainable - and most of their food is right from their gardens. We all agreed it was one of the most delicious and unique meals we have ever had. They cooked the chicken in huge palm fronds over a fire, while we make heart of palm, and they cooked up a root vegetable side, and we all learned how to make corn tortillas from scratch! It was so much fun and we got to learn a lot of history about Mayans and also their lifestyle today. They also served a unique hot cacao drink. 
The Coc Home as you pull up
Lovely drinks!
Wrapping the chicken up!
Hearth cooking
It was an unforgettable meal!
Finally, there was a bit of a drive to Ixcacao - there is such great and peaceful scenery as you drive through the Toledo district, it is a great way to see one of the least developed places in Belize. Ixcacao is rated as one of the best organic chocolate makers in Belize - and if you are a chocolate lover, this will be heaven for you. You get to taste chocolate in ALL its forms, from bean to bar - and taste test all their flavors! You will actually make chocolate the old-fashioned way, and get a wonderful rich history about Belize chocolate. Juan and Abelina are so charming and talented; this is a remarkable experience.
 You get to pull a cacao fruit right off the tree...
 Charming little kitchen!
You get to try ALL these!!

Lyra recommends that you book her tours in advance as she does book up, especially in high season. You can do that right from her website above. She is also doing tasting tours right in the village if you have less time, with coffee and other Belize foods, so for a quick 2 hour experience you can do it steps away as well!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Top 10 Things to do in Placencia Village, Belize!

Whether you are on a quick vacation or you live here full time, it is great to remind yourself of all the unusual and unique things that bring people back again and again to Placencia. It is a very special place - remote and exotic, yet you will feel right at home, warmly welcomed, in this artistic and funky little village....
Before you do ANYTHING else in the Village....
1.) Walk the "loop" of the village.
You can't get lost - follow the loop starting either on the main street or the sidewalk, takes about 30 minutes if you don't stop anywhere (but you will!) This loop allows you to see the whole village and get a feel for the tour booths, shops, restaurants, and bars that draw you in. As you are walking around, check out the local woodworking, have a coffee at Above Grounds (looks like a treehouse), stop and have a gelato at the famous Tutti Frutti, and have a look at all the farmer's market stands (we recommend purchasing some tomatoes, an onion, cilantro, a jalapeno, and a lime- mix these together with bit of salt and some tortilla chips from the grocery store - cheap and amazing). Walk by and see what is happening at Tipsy Tuna and Barefoot Bar; they advertise their activities on chalkboards throughout the village (and they are right next to each other, this is the heart of the village fun.) Try Brewed Awakenings for their excellent coffee, blended drinks, and seaweed shakes. ***Must Do's -- Stop and check out the pier - a lot of good bird/people/fisherman/dolphin watching here. ***Enjoy the shops and art galleries all throughout the village. Some SUPER talented artists in this village.

2.) Beach Time/Kayaks, paddleboarding…it is highly recommended that you set a day aside to just enjoy the beach. Some people get a hotel on the beach where they can lay out on cushioned loungers, and some hotels have kayaks and paddleboards for their guests. You can always hang out at Tipsy Tuna, Barefoot Bar, or Cozy Corner, where they have public loungers. Placencia is a GREAT place to do this early in the morning as the sun rises, on days where the water is glassy, this will be an unforgettable experience. Tranquilo is reopening and you can kayak over to get lunch, or kayak over to Placencia Caye and snorkel by the mangroves. Plenty of people see dolphins and manatees in this area. On your beach day you might consider some spa time or yoga - get a massage or spa service at Secret Garden, Ztouch, or Siriphon's. Do yoga at Eucalipto. Join the Placencia Yoga page for other places yoga is held - this is a big time yoga village :).

3.) Get up for the Sunrise....The sun rises at about 5:30am year round here - and you just HAVE to get up one morning and see it. Most of them are just remarkable, I can't think of a place I've ever been with better sunrises....

4.)Rent a golf cart for the day (or bike if you are hearty)... You can drive/ride it all the way up the peninsula (you are allowed to take it as far as the Placencia Hotel - after that, only cars). You can rent a golf cart at Captain Jak's or Barefoot Rentals right in the village. You can drive north through an authentic Garifuna village in Seine Bight (this is not set up for tourists, while it looks a bit rough, the locals are warm and friendly, and are very used to visitors - lunch at Vern's is one of the top rated places for local food.) Farther up, you will end up entering charming Maya Beach. Here you will find what looks like Florida from the 1940's. I highly recommend lunch or dinner at Mango's, Maya Bistro, Naia, or Belize Ocean Club. Park your cart, and walk around here on the beach - lots of little quiet beach bars. Most places let you walk around their facilities. Another worthwhile stop to sightsee is Singing Sands - very charming place for lunch. You can bowl at Jaguar Lanes, or check out the Placencia Hotel (this is where the casino is.)

5.) Rent a car for the day... (easy to do from the village - Barefoot Rentals is a good one), and either go to the Maya King waterfalls - this is a popular place to have lunch, swim, and picnic, just north of the peninsula. It is a relatively safe and easy drive. A bit farther away, but within an hour, there is amazing hiking at Bocawina (and ziplining.) A fun stop on the way home is Lost Reef, for a couple drinks and a swim. You can even check out a working Banana Farm, or do amazing hiking at Bocawina or Cockscomb if you are willing to drive a bit farther.
6.) Snorkel at Silk Caye/Laughingbird Caye - arguably the most popular excursion in this fishing village, you can do this tour with anything from a luxury catamaran group sail to a small local skiff, to one of these islands - great snorkeling with sharks, rays, turtles, fish etc. A catamaran (Nautical Adventures) is the most expensive option- it is very comfortable, you enjoy the journey/sail there, and there is champagne and a lobster lunch on the island :). You can also take a more casual local skiff and enjoy the small private group snorkel.
7.) Go to Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve - this is a hike through the rainforest, with a waterfall swim, natural lazy river tubing through the rainforest, and natural rock slides. You can do it all with Doyle at DTourz.

8.) Take a day trip to Ranguana Caye (a gorgeous private island). This is a calendar-worthy private island, you can kayak/snorkel/paddleboard right by the reef, you go for the day and it is all about relaxing and lounging around, gorgeous beaches, rustic, natural, like you are shipwrecked.
9.) Take a National Geographic-worthy boat trip to Monkey River, where you will find an untouched village and crazy wildlife. The village looks like it did decades ago, and you will think you are somewhere crazy exotic. You will also stand under trees with a monkey family up in them, and probably see crocodiles and manatees.

10.) Do the highly-rated Taste Belize tours for all things culture and food. You can learn about authentic hearth cooking with a Mayan or Garifuna Family, learn Garifuna drumming, go to an actual rainforest where cacao is grown - and make it yourself, tour an exotic spice farm, and more!

*** Runner Up - this isn't technically Placencia - but many people go to Cayo for a day trip if their vacation is based in Placencia. This is the "Wild West" of Belize and it is highly recommended to do the ATM Cave Tour or a half day Xunantunich Mayan ruins with the other half Cave Tubing.

I didn't even get to hit on ALL the many food options in Placencia - that is the next post :)