Caribbean Life on a Belize Budget

Driving south on the Hummingbird Highway, windows open, reggae blaring—the Maya Mountains are in the hazy distance off to our right. Somewhere to the east, under bright blue skies, is the Caribbean Ocean…

Fresh air makes you hungry, of course. Just an hour south of Belmopan we stop for lunch. Beneath a giant open-air palapa we’re served more food than we can possibly eat…grilled shrimp and heaping mounds of the coconut rice and beans Belize is famous for. All this for $5 each—and washed down with deliciously cold Belikin beer.

We were on the road from San Ignacio in Belize’s mountainous Cayo district to Placencia on the Caribbean coast. We’d splurged and rented a vacation home on the beach for a few nights. With a video crew in tow (watch the video here), we were looking forward to getting out of hotels and into this big, beautiful beachfront home where we could each have our own suite, cook our own breakfasts in the gourmet kitchen, and at the end of the day, enjoy cocktails and a refreshing splash in the infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

The rental manager had provisioned the house in advance of our arrival—fresh fruit for breakfast, local coffee and jam, and of course, a refrigerator full of Belikins. After stowing our gear, our first order of business was to grab one of these, kick off our flip flops, and head for the beach.

A high-end vacation rental like this costs similar to a hotel (but you get far more luxuries and comforts). Beachfront mansions are available to rent long-term, too, and you can expect to pay about $3,000/month. You can also find small apartments, starting at $300/month.

The first thing you notice is the water, of course. Shimmering iridescent blue with patches of neon turquoise and sparkling emerald… Off in the distance is the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest reef system in the northern hemisphere. For two decades I’ve been scuba diving here and the underwater world ceases to amaze…orange, yellow, pink and purple coral of all shapes and sizes are home to tiny darting electric fish. (Hello, Nemo!) It’s common to see lazy giant hawksbill turtles and majestic manta rays drifting by like smoke in an underwater lounge.

Pity is, this time we’re not here to dive. We’re here to work. (Tough duty, eh?) But that doesn’t mean we can’t take this very moment in time to admire the picture-postcard-perfect scenery.

I pick up a few of the most delicate and perfectly formed seashells. I collect them in a glass vase on my desk at home, to quickly evoke ocean memories when tethered to the work world via my computer.

Nearby, someone is raking the beach. (His is not a bad job either, I think.)

Framed by two crooked palm trees loaded with coconuts, he turns and waves, his huge smile further brightening an already dazzling day. Belizean people may be the friendliest in the world—I’d vouch for that any time, anywhere.

I savor the moment. Life is good. And there’s no place I’d rather be right now than right here in Belize.

Editor’s note: If you’re serious about getting to this Caribbean paradise, we’ve invested heavily in creating the Ultimate Blueprint for A New Life in Belize. It’s a virtual boots-on-the-ground walk through of the best opportunities and most useful insiders that Belize offers right now—including Placencia.

More interactive than a report, cheaper than a flight, faster than a conference, this new “Belize Blueprint” makes Belize so easy, you could be living the tropical dream before you know it.

Full details here.

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