If you’ve decided to travel to Central America I bet you’re in the process of downloading Google translate. What you might not know is that you don’t need it if you’re traveling to Belize. While the vast majority of Central America is Spanish speaking Belize is a former British colony making its official language – you guessed it, English! This doesn’t mean you won’t hear some interesting phrases during your stay. Belize’s geographic location is unique to say the least. As a part of both Central America and the Caribbean you’re likely to hear Spanish, and the famed Belizean Kriol during your everyday activities.
In order to truly immerse yourself in the authentic culture of Belize you have to know the words and expressions of the country which is why we’ve brought you a crash course on KRIOL!
Mawnin – Also known as “Good Morning” is the perfect way to start your day!
Bwai — Much like “boiz” bwai is an endearing and friendly way of referring to any male. “Bwai, thank you!”.
Gyal — Is used in the same context, but for females. “How are you, gyal?”.
Gwen — No, not the name. We mean where are you going? Or can be used to say I’m going. “I gwen tomorrow”.
Coh — If you’re going then you must be coming back at some point. Coh is also commonly used to say “come here”. “Coh over tonight”.
Lee — Lee is the perfect word to describe something that is small or short. “Pass me the lee cup”.
Puppy Foot — Someone who loves to travel! “Kayla puppy foot!”.
Rich — Ever had a meal that was too good for words to describe? Well let me tell you that food was rich!
Bashment — Ever heard of a wild party? Well, welcome to the basement!
Set it up! – This term is key for anyone looking to party often used to describe setting up a meeting or hangout.
Nice Up — Chances are at the party you might get a little tipsy or as Belizeans like to say nice up!
Goma — After a long night of drinking chances are you’ll have a hangover or goma.
Yuh Di Stin — If you have the perfect outfit on chances are yuh di stin! “Stin” is also used to describe “sting or stung”.
Weh di goan? – When talking to a friend you might want to ask “What’s going on?” “What’s up?” “What’s the plan?”.
Cho! – Sometimes the perfect word does not exist to describe your disbelief and shock, but the perfect sound does!
Lick Road — Let’s hit the road. “Mek we lick road to Sleeping Giant!”.
Fishing in Hopkins, Belize
Tips that will improve your Fishing Experience!
Hopkins Village is a mecca for fishing. Its location along the shores of the Caribbean Sea is teeming with many different kinds of fish, from bonefish, tarpon, snapper to permit and of course the impressive Goliath Grouper. For some, fishing seems to be a pretty boring affair, but for others it as an enjoyable adventure.
Why an adventure? Well, because of the work you have to put into the experience, as a fish will not automatically jump into your net or unto your hook unless you are lucky. The best part of any fishing experience is when you actually catch a fish! So, for those that think the fishing experience is boring, maybe they need a little guidance to make it more exciting.
Below are a few interesting and useful tips to ease you into a better fishing experience:
Practice makes perfect – the key is to practice for a duration of five to ten minutes, a couple times before your actual fishing trip.
Trust – You should have the trust that your guide is experienced enough to provide you with the best areas for fishing.
Take control of what you can – Carry along gear that will further assist you and make your experience worth the while and memorable. For example your polarized glasses, rain gear, sunscreen, camera. Drink a lot of water on the boat, that sort of thing.
How is your Cast – Let the guide know your goals for example if you don’t know how to cast, let them assist you into learning how to better do it. Our guides love to cast and will be happy to help you with your cast. Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to maximize your fishing day with the guide. It can be geared for all levels, especially if you are a novice.
Communicate throughout the day – Speak with your guide. If you want to see if there is something else to do, ask. Some anglers prefer to wade fish, just ask the guide for this opportunity. Trust me you don’t want to just sit there and do nothing while waiting for a fish to grab hold of your line or else the experience will seem boring.
Hook and cook – Bonefish, permit and tarpon are all catch and release fish in Belize. If you catch snapper, grouper, jack, and so on… We are happy to prepare the fish that you caught with an additional cost of course!
Enjoy yourself – It is our mission to make sure you are having the time of life. So whenever you catch a fish take pictures of whatever you caught even if you had to throw it back into the sea. As I’ve mentioned before, catching a fish is the best part of going fishing! Am I right?
If you have any additional tips to add to our list, we would be happy to hear from you!
Top 10 things to do in Belize
A trip to Belize would not be a vacation without a chance to do something innovative and exhilarating! There is so much to do in Belize, numerous activities that include, tropical rain forests, Mountains, Caves, archaeological sites and more!
Below are the top ten things to do in Belize.
Caracol & Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Caracol, which modern name is Spanish for “Snail” is the largest Archaeological site in Belize to date. It has the tallest man made structure, Caana at 140 feet above the jungle top. This site was discovered in 1938 by loggers in the area and excavations began until 1950. Many carvings dated around 500-800 AD a ceramic indicates that this site was settled around 300 AD and continue to flourished for more than a century after 652 AD war with Tikal. Caracol, a classic period site is renowned for its large mask, hieroglyphic texts found on stelae, altars, ball- courts-markers, capstones with a fine display of the Maya’s engineering skills.
Mountain Pine Ridge is a landscape of Pine Forest and granite hillsides. This reserve was established in 1944 and has been one of the most visited reserves in Belize. During this time, a total of 1,504,000 acres (6,086 km2) was designated as forest reserve. Most of which was destroyed by a fire in 1949. The elevation of the reserve averages between 1312 to 2296 feet with the highest point being Baldy Beacon at 3336 feet and dropping to 394 ft at the lowest point on the Macal River. Mountain Pine Ridge is home to various mammals, including Cougars, Jaguars, ocelots, Tapirs etc. It is also home to various species of birds to name a few Pine Siskin, Eastern Bluebird, King Vulture, Stygian Owl, Ocellated Turkey, Keel-billed Toucan and others. Notable features/Points of Interest of Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve: Barton Creek Cave, Thousand Foot Falls, Rio on Pools.
Lamanai Maya Ruin
Lamanai Ruins in the Orange Walk District, is derived from the Maya term “Submerged Crocodile”. Evidence of Maya life here dates back to 1500 BC. It continued to flourish through the post classic period and Spanish colonial times (A.D. 1544-1700) this is shown by a significant amount of copper artifacts found. This is said to be possibly the third largest site in Belize. A notable feature of Lamanai is its second largest Pre- Classic structure in the Maya world. It also boast with three of the most impressive temples: Jaguar Temple-named for its boxy jaguar decoration, Mask Temple-adorned by a thirteen foot stone mask of a Mayan King and Mayan Temple- with one of the most panoramic views from this temple. Lamanai is set in tropical forests and provides visitors an exceptional experience into the biological diversity of the Maya Culture.
Actun Tunichil Muknal
Actun Tunichil Muknal refer to as ATM or locally known as “Xibalba” means “Cave of the Crystal Sepulcher.” ATM was discovered in 1989 and it is within the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. There are several skeleton remains in this cave, along with many ceramic artifacts. The skeleton remains ranging from age one to adults. Four of which are infants between ages one and three, another is seven years old, a fifteen and a twenty one year old. One of the skeletons remains is called “The Crystal Maiden”. This is one of the highlights of this tour. It is that of an 18 year old girl believed to have been sacrificed for the last 1100 years ago. All show signs of blunt trauma to the head and others having their skulls crushed. Other items found in the cave includes ceramics marked with “Kill Holes” which is an indication that they were used for ceremonial purposes.
Xunantunich which is pronounced “CHEW-nahn-too-neech” is one of the easiest and most accessible sites, with just 8 miles from San Ignacio Town. Xunantunich means “Stone Woman” and the site sits atop a ridge above the Mopan River. This was a major ceremonial site during the classic period. It occupies about one square mile and consists of six plazas surrounded by more than twenty six temples and palaces. The second tallest structure in Belize (after Caracol) is “El Castillo” at about 130 feet tall. Visitors are taken in a hand-cranked ferry over the river for a one mile drive or hike to the parking lot and visitor’s center.
Diving and Snorkeling the Barrier Reef
Belize's Barrier Reef is the longest in the western hemisphere and second longest in the world. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996, stretching from Cozumel in Mexico, along the coastline of Belize to the Bay Islands of Honduras. It offers spectacular wall dives and ocean drop offs. Snorkeling is available on the many shallow reefs with great visibility to a diverse ecosystem and pristine corals.
The Belize Zoo, founded in 1983 by Sharon Matola. The zoo is settled on 29 acres of Savannah with over 150 animals representing 45 different species living in their natural habitat. This is one of the smallest Zoos you have probably been too, but one of the best. Home to Jabiru storks, Harpy eagle, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, crocodiles, many snakes and wild cats. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop by and explore our many indigenous animals of Belize some of which are endangered.
The Baboon Sanctuary near Bermudian Landing was founded in 1985. It is a joint project between several landowners and the community to sustain and protect the endangered baboon (local term for Black Howler Monkey) in their natural habitat. This project has caused the population of baboons in the sanctuary to rise to over 2,000 monkeys. This is a popular day trip with less than an hour drive from Belize City. A trip to this sanctuary is well worth it to experience one of the six species of howler monkeys in the world.
Hopkins Village, Belize
Has one of the best beaches in Belize stretching across a 7-miles stretch of sandy beaches, it boasts a myriad of nature reserves, a beautiful local Garifuna fishing village, and nearby Mayan sites. While visiting Hopkins Village, you can take a trip to the Jaguar Preserve, a Monkey River tour, Visit Lubaantun or Nim Li Punit, take a snorkeling trip or diving and explore an underwater oasis or simply walk around the “Hopkins Cultural Village.”
Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve
Cockscomb was declared a Jaguar Preserve in 1986 and it is the only Jaguar Preserve in the world. The area covers 150 square miles of tropical forest. Jaguars are masters of stealth and chances of seeing one is about seventeen thousand to one. However, a trip to Jaguar Preserve takes you through jungle trails exploring medicinal plants, over 300 bird species, peccary, howler monkeys, gibnut, agouti and snakes amongst others. One also has the opportunity of enjoying a refreshing river tubing tour after the trails.
One of the most popular trips of Belize and a very exciting combination. The cave tubing tour lasts about an hour and a half. Once at Caves Branch, Guides take you through a 30 minute trail into the jungle, exploring the fauna of Belize and on to the entrance of the Cave. The tour takes you through three cave system of inner tubes, enjoying the magnificent rock formation in the cave while floating downstream. While exiting the cave, the tour brings you to the point where you had started your trek.
The above list is among my top ten things to do in Belize. There are many other activities to explore and enjoy like, river rafting, sunset sailing and fishing. Also, delving into different parts of Belize can give you a true taste into our diverse cultures, people and music.