Sandwiched between Mexico and Guatemala with some spectacular coastline and beaches, Belize offers much to eco-tourists who are interested in both birds and sealife. The red dots on the map show the two places we visited- Crooked Tree Sanctuary and Bullet Tree Falls. The Belize Barrier Reef is a haven for divers and snorkelers and the beaches of the Cayes attract all kinds of tourists. Belize also has several reserves and sanctuaries to attract birders.
Getting to Belize is very easy using frequent flier miles. You will need a Central American award on your alliance of choice. American Airlines (One World) flies from Miami and Dallas. If you have Star Alliance miles, United Airlines flies from Houston IAH daily and seasonally from Newark. US Airways flies seasonally from Charlotte. Avianca flies from San Salvador with connections elsewhere in Central and South America. Skyteam is served by Delta’s flights from Atlanta and LAX starting in Dec 2013.
Belize is also a popular port for cruise ships and even if you only have a day in port, you can still make a worthwhile day trip to a nearby sanctuary such as Crooked Tree or Belize Bird Rescue. I will be doing detailed posts on both of these places. Going further afield to the Cayo District where there are more reserves, caves and Mayan ruins is doable if you have a long day in port, otherwise best to leave this area for a land trip.
You can also get to Belize by bus from Mexico and Guatemala. You can find all the details of transport to and from Belize and how to get around Belize on this very detailed blog. You can also look up timetables of buses. Although some people do hire cars, we found buses very cheap and easy to use in Belize.
You should be aware that buses do not serve the airport, you would have to walk about a mile to the main road where they pass. Since we had just come off a long journey with 5 flights from Brisbane, I opted to have our accommodation pick us up and I must say it was really nice to have someone there waiting for us. I’ll post more when I review the lodge. A taxi to Belize city or bus station is a fixed $25 USD.
HOTEL POINT OPTIONS IN BELIZE
Since Belize is so small, you really don’t need to schedule an overnight near the airport. There is one hotel near the airport if you have an early flight, the Global Village Hotel. Only 2 hotels can be booked with points.
Club Carlson – Radisson Fort George – 38,000 points
Best Western – Biltmore Plaza – 16,000 points
Unless you have a very early flight from BZE, I would advise you to just stay at Crooked Tree and commute back to the airport.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
As I said before, you need to do some research and find out what kind of birds you want to see, the best place to see them and where you can stay nearby. The Belize Audobon Society has a complete list. Since I was targeting parrots, I knew there was one species I would only find in Belize during this trip -the Yellow-headed Parrot. Belize does have other parrot species and you can find a whole list of birds in Belize here. Most of my target species would be seen in multiple locations so I gave the Yellow-headed Parrots priority and chose to visit Crooked Tree Sanctuary. Our next major stop would be Tikal in Guatemala but there were other places I wanted to visit, the Belize Zoo and Belize Bird Rescue enroute. With research, I chose Parrot’s Nest in Bullet Tree Falls mostly because I wanted the experience of sleeping in a tree house!
Everyone will have their own priorities whether it’s adding to a life list or observing certain species so do your homework!