Belize's beguiling charm
Life on the sandy peninsula of Palencia offers a laid-back Caribbean vibe and plenty of opportunity for animal spotting. On one side, the lagoon fills up with birdlife and the occasional manatee, and on the other, the Caribbean Sea flits with tropical fish, rays and sharks. Spend a day relaxing in this easy-to-love paradise under a bendy palm tree with a rum punch in hand.
On day two, take a trip to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Mini ornithologists can spot exotic birds like red macaws and after a humid hike the whole family can cool off in the reserve’s rivers and waterfalls. Have a picnic lunch on a ridgeway overlooking the lush basin before leisurely floating down the jungle-clad South Stann Creek River in an inflatable tube.
Drive three hours inland to San Ignacio. Here you’ll find a bustling Belizean town, filled with local restaurants. Stay just outside the town in jungly countryside, where your resort, set within the verdant hills has a pool and a peaceful atmosphere.
For any sweet-toothed chocolate fans, a visit to a local family who have been making chocolate for generations is eye-opening. See – and taste – the whole process from cocoa beans straight from the pod, to the beans being dried, crushed, and then flavoured to taste. Discover ancient civilisations at the impressive Mayan site of Xunantunich via horseback trek along the river. Let your guide thrill younger members with stories from the lost Mayan people including their more macabre customs before clambering on vine-covered ruins and discovering bat-filled caves.
Fly over the blue-and-green Belize Barrier Reef, where luminescent reefs are sprinkled like glitter, to your home for the next three days on Ambergris Caye. This easy-going island is perfect for relaxing – stay in thatched beachside cabanas and eat Creole-laced lobsters or grab a golf buggy for cross-island adventures to remote beaches.
However, the real action happens below the water. Take a boat trip to the famed diving spot, 124-metre deep Blue Hole or snorkel the barrier reef where the whole family will be astounded by colourful corals, rainbow-hued tropical fish and possibly a squid or octopus wrapped around a shipwreck. Test your nerve at Shark Ray Alley, where nursery sharks and rays swim silkily around you. They’ll be plenty to talk about when you return home from this epic trip.