With wedding season around the corner (our first invite as a married couple arrived this week) and the fact that Atlanta seems to be channeling its best Portland, it seems like a good opportunity to go ahead and recap one of our best adventures yet: our Belize honeymoon. I wrote about the planning process way, way back. As we wrapped up and headed out, most of the major details stayed the same. The little details however, are always the best part.
After countless words of advice from friends, we opted not to leave the day following the wedding, saving that for rest and more celebration with friends and family. We left the next day, Monday, on an early flight direct from Atlanta to Belize City, a quick three hours.
We split our twelve day trip into two sections with three stops at four days each. As this could get a bit lengthy, I’ll be splitting this round up into three posts. To get started: the jungle.
- The Jungle: Caves Branch
- The Islands: Caye Caulker
- The Islands: Ambergris Caye
A recommendation from a friend and a phone call to the lodge lead us to Caves Branch and the idea of sleeping in a treehouse and daily adventure tours had us booking within minutes.
Arriving in Belize – the walk off plane arrival and entrance to the resort
Upon landing, a guide from Caves Branch was waiting to pick us up at the airport and took us for the hour and half drive into the jungle. When we arrived at Caves Branch, we immediately felt at home. As we’re not ones for large resorts, choosing Belize relied heavily on the fact that we wanted to find small, locally owned places to stay, eat and explore for the duration of our trip. Caves Branch fit the bill perfectly.
The entrance to our treehouse and outdoor shower
The view from the lodge and our indoor shower – with a live tree running through it.
During our time with Caves Branch, there were anywhere from 15 – 25 guests total, low season, but also designed to feel quite intimate. Each night, the chef cooked a three course meal, served family style with the other guests. On several occasions, we were even graced with the presence of Ian Anderson, the resort’s owner for a meal. During dinner, a member of the staff would roam from table to table inquiring which adventure you would like to take for the following day. This proved fantastic, as we were able to chat with other guests about their day’s adventure and gauge what to do next.
Caves Branch pool
On our first night, we signed up for cave tubing, which it turned out is exactly what it sounds like. Our trip took us on a rather exciting trailer ride through Cave Branch’s citrus farms (they own upwards of 60,000 acres (!!)), to a 15 minute or so hike and into the creek on tire tubes. Picture Shoot the Hooch with fewer people, clearer water and far more beautiful surroundings, we were hooked.
The tractor ride to the creek
From there, we floated for the better half of the day, in and out of five different cave systems, some big, some small, stopping for a picnic lunch and some cliff jumping halfway.
Entering the first cave
Heading to the lunch stop
Pre cliff jumping
A quick walking break between caves
Blurry blue, blue waters
The literal light at the end of the tunnel
Each day’s adventure put us back to the lodge around 3:00, where we could spend afternoons by the pool with nachos and Cokes with real sugar or rum punches until dinner. Heaven.
Day two took us on our favorite adventure of the trip (and also darkest), cliff water-falling. While our GoPro footage turned out TERRIBLE from this adventure (who knew you can’t film in the dark and expect a headlamp to suffice), the trip itself was incredible.
To begin, we headed back into a different section of the jungle, where we hiked through the jungle for a half hour. From there, we went into a single cave system and then hiked for another an hour or so. During the cave hike, water ranged anywhere from a trickle beneath our feet to waist deep. Before heading to the falls portion of the hike, we stopped to have lunch inside of the cave, only supported by our head lamps.
Pretend you can tell what’s happening here. As a hint: it’s lunch on a giant rock
As a result, the photos here are about as good as it gets. You’ll have to use your imagination for the rest. After lunch, we climbed a series of five waterfalls. One of the five required a clip in, the rest were free climbs. Once we reached the back of the cave, it was back the way we came, but jumping and swimming on our way out.
One and only halfway decent photo from inside the caves – and without water up to our knees!
After our final difficult rock maneuvering, I somehow managed to face plant in the sand, though luckily I was at the back of the group and only Patrick noticed. I did leave Belize with a pretty nasty hand gash and leg cut. The photo here doesn’t do it its disgusting justice. Scars from your honeymoon: check.
Day three took us out of the water and back onto land for a Mayan ruins tour. While the Mayan ruins run throughout Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Belize boasts a few amazing stops. We visited two Xuantunich and Cahal Pech. I won’t attempt to try to recount the history here, but we were quite in awe by both the stories and the surroundings.
A hand cranked ferry took us across the river and up to the ruins
The Mayan ruins are also known as a popular cruise ship stop, but our guide timed it just right and we basically had the place to ourselves, only seeing the tourist buses as we departed. Score.
Before heading up
Us at the top. Please note, guardrails are not a thing in Belize
View from the top
The second stop
Inside the ruins
Next stop: island life. Stay tuned for part two later this week. It does involve a lot of this…
Updated! Find part two, Caye Caulker, here. If you’re really looking to jump ahead, find part three, Ambergris Caye, here.