Fred Van Eijk

Famously named by Madonna as ‘La Isla Bonita’, Travel Counsellors’ Fred van Eijk & his best friend Bob, recently found themselves in Ambergris Caye, a special island of Belize.

After a two-and-a-half week journey staying at quaint boutique hotels in the middle of Belize’s rainforest, we decided to explore the country’s tropical islands, also referred to as cayas. We stopped by Caye Caulkner before hopping over to the famous Ambergris Caye for our first night on ‘La Isla Bonita’.

We started in Ramon’s Village, a stone’s throw away from the dock where we were dropped off by the water taxi. Here there are tropical homes dotted around the beach, a great restaurant, breath-taking snorkel adventures and a fantastic diving school.

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Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, and after travelling by boat for fifteen minutes, our guide from Ramon leads us into the discovery of this enchanting underwater world. Our snorkelling journey goes through the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. We find ourselves bewildered by the vibrant coral, barracuda’s, sea turtles and countless other mystical and beautiful creatures. On our way back we anchor the boat in Shark-Ray Alley. An underwater path right through the barrier reef and a favourite one for sharks and stingrays.

Not a day goes by in Belize in which we’re not challenged or impressed. One day our adventurous spirit makes us feel like Indiana Jones, the next Steve Irwin. Swimming amongst sharks and stingrays can surely go on our lists of experiences we’ll never forget.

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Still full of adrenaline, we dive right into San Pero’s (the island’s main town) nightlife. The most famous nightclub is Jaguar’s Temple, which is open from Thursday to Saturday. We’re there on a Tuesday, so it won’t get too late this time.

Food in Belize is top-notch everywhere you go, and in San Pedro, we dine in the wonderful Elvi’s Kitchen. A place that is high on the list of remarkable dining. After eating the ‘catch of the day’, we toast to the island’s nightlife with a few wines at Fido’s, but around ten in the evening, there were more band members (three members) than guests. Time to go to bed.

The next day, a boat from Portofino Beach Resort arrives to pick us up, and take us to the friendly and professional team of Jan and Sandra van Noord. The owners of this delightful “barefoot luxury” resort moved in 2001 from Belgium to Belize and created a paradise, true to the heart and soul of Belize. Whether you’re in for something culinary or a little romance, something active like kayaking, snorkelling or diving or in for just lazing around: you can do it all here.

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Their restaurant, which is getting more popular by the day, offers the best of Belize’s ocean with surprising European accents. During the dinner with Sandra and Jan, Bob enjoys his beef with gorgonzola, and I devour the fresh crab.

We could have stayed longer, but it was time to catch a boat to Las Terrazas, a modern resort with luxurious apartments and beach villas. It resembled Europe, but with a tropical feel.

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All the different accommodations of Las Terrazas are equipped with a roomy kitchen and large terrace. One night you can cook for yourself or order in a pizza and the other you can enjoy a delicious meal out and about in a restaurant. Bob and I go for the last option. Others buy their groceries online and let it be delivered. Other guests spend an evening in San Pedro. You can reach San Pedro easily with a water taxi or your own golf cart.

Ambergris Caye is full of character and offers many different activities, both underwater as in bars and clubs. It also has a relaxed feel, making it the perfect end to a fantastic trip.

Madonna was right, “this is where I long to be, La Isla Bonita.”

 

Is Belize on your bucket list?