Monday, February 20, 2012

Tropical on the cheap

      In light of a co-worker going to Central America for the second time, and another friend possibly being deployed there, I wanted to see what there actually is to this section of the world.
     As an American, Central America evokes more of a sense of danger than anything else. Yet I've known some people to have pleasant experiences there. Have I misjudged? Or have they found a couple places out of the way of the violence down south we normally hear about in our US newspapers? I decided to investigate, if only to satisfy my curiosity.
Belize: My first look was a country that has rumored to have good surfing spots. Fantastic beaches? Check. Mayan ruins and other things a history geek like me might enjoy? Check. Caves to explore? Check. Uh oh, looks like I might be adding this country on the short list. When I first looked at the Destination 360 site, the picture blew me away, but this one really got my adventure mindset cooking.

Belize Images
This photo of Belize is courtesy of TripAdvisor

      These are the Lamanai ruins, located in the Orange Walk district of northern Belize. The weather is balmy and tropical through most of the year. Lamanai means "crocodile" in the Mayan language and was inhabited for 3000 continuous years. No one knows what happened to the Mayans. Theories abound about massive and rampant disease, hostile takeover and absorption by the Inca, and (this is on the far edge obviously) even alien abduction. Obviously the absence of remains lends itself to the mystery as well as the circular calendaring system which ends in December 2012. Already I'm getting anxious to explore this place!
 And the beaches.... seriously, who wouldn't want to stay here?! A round trip flight from LAX is only going to cost you $560 (already cheaper than Europe!), A 6 night stay at the Black Orchid in Burrell Boom, about 10 minutes from the airport and 19 miles from Orange Walk, is $840 for a double room with a view of the Belize River. We're still less than what I normally pay for one plane ticket to Europe!

Belize Photos
This photo of Belize is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Honduras: A little south and east we go to Honduras.... another tropical and jungle covered country in Central America. Why go? Well, why NOT? Another cheap vacation for those who want to enjoy the tropics without wanting to spend the money to go to Fiji or Samoa. Honduras also has the beautiful Bay Islands of Roatan, Guanaja and Utila which are located in the north in the Caribbean Sea. Like scuba and snorkeling? These islands are for you! Frolicking in clear aqua blue waters, laying about in the warm sun (with sunscreen of course!), indulging at the many day spas, playing golf and horseback riding. Sounds like paradise! Check out that picture.... those of you jumping on Kayak to book a flight, raise your hand!!

  Roatan Photos
This photo of Roatan is courtesy of TripAdvisor

     If you're interested in more historical pursuits, visit Tegucigalpa. Spanish colonial architecture abounds. Visit the Iglesia de Sayupa or Iglesia Dolores,the National Museum or the Archeology Museum.

Tegucigalpa Photos
This photo of Tegucigalpa is courtesy of TripAdvisor
     Adventurous spirit still kicking you? Good! Time to head on to San Pedro Sula. San Pedro is a major port for cruise ships. Market areas and plaza are everywhere, along with the crush of locals and tourists. Make arrangements to see the Pulhapanzak waterfall, swim with dolphins in the warm Caribbean Sea, and hike the jungle. 
     Round trip to Honduras will cost about $530 (oooh, even cheaper than Belize!!). Check Kayak or TripAdvisor for the latest prices. The Hilton Princess is about $710 for a king room in San Pedro Sula, while the Hotel Plaza del Libertador  in Tegucigalpa will be about $885 for a double room. So those Bay Islands, whats that going to run you? Well, here's where it's time to splurge a bit if you're up for it. Hotel Parrott Bay Beach Resort on Roatan is going to cost you $1550 for your own villa. (Say that to yourself. Your own VILLA. Yes, I know. Truly decadent, but don't we all want to say we stayed in our own villa at least once in our lifetime?!) A beachfront bungalow will be $1299 for a week at the Utopia Dive Village on Utila. 

Utila Photos
This photo of Utila is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Like I always say, let's go stimulate the economy people!!!


  1. I, most certainly, hope Honduras will be my deployment destination, especially after reading all the cool things about it.
    One thing I remember about Belize, however: it has a very violent society so don't find yourself alone and in places where tourists don't normally go. The inner tubing excursion was a BLAST- you float down a river through the rainforest and then through a cave with tons of bats inside. That was cool.

  2. This was such a poetic rendition of both places that I should be packing my suitcases right this second! I had also heard of Belize as being a nice, tropical, inexpensive destination. As a matter of fact, as recently as last week, I had a co-worker talking about her "living social" purchased trip for two down there for about $560 per person.
    Secondly, Tegucigalpa, sounds so familiar... Could it be from my outstanding former geography studies growing up in South America... those days are gone and so is most of my knowledge, but that name stuck. This is outstanding, can't wait to read more! You need to get your professional camera and add your pics to your articles and go work for national geographic already. :-)
    Love you sis, you are so dang talented!