In earlier years, Belize’s slogan was “Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret” – and rightly so. Only the lucky and the true nomad would have heard of Belize, or visited in the 90s when its tourism had just begun blooming. Today, decades later, it’s safe to say our little jewel has undergone many changes – both in tourism development and in visitor awareness. Now everyone on Instagram wants to take a selfie with the jaguar, or fly over the Blue Hole, hashtagging #UnBelizeable every chance they get. But did you know there may still be a few items on your bucket list that looked quite different back in the day? Here are 5 major Belize attractions that went through glow-ups in the past decade.
- The Split, Caye Caulker. Your favorite lizard-juicin’ chill spot looked much different several years ago. Was it a hurricane? Locals themselves trying to dig a channel? Origin stories of the popular spot are always swilling around but regardless, the northernmost point of the island of Caye Caulker was not as developed as it is today. The bar still existed, but there was no giant staircase to help you cannonball into the water, no giant Instagrammable “THE SPLIT” sign, and the beach today is much more catered to lounging around and swimming.
- Maya King Waterfall. Maya King Waterfall has only recently been opened to the public, so before visitors from all over the world came to check out this easily accessible waterfall today, it was a little more rustic. Today the site has safe staircases and rails leading to the waterfall, with bathrooms on the property. There has also been plans for more developments in the future, such as restaurants, etc. – mere steps away from the gorgeous cascading Maya King. Over the years it has been made more accessible, visitor-friendly and not to mention cater to your every need as you take a dip in the refreshing water.
- Secret Beach, Ambergris Caye. Perhaps the one that went through the biggest glow-up is Secret Beach. Its name itself has been rendered a misnomer, as there is no secret about this spot. A visitor favorite, this beach is about 40 minutes away on golf cart from the famous town of San Pedro. After the exciting journey, you will arrive to a bar-studded beach with perfect sunset vistas and breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Secret Beach used to be considered a local gem before others found its charm and decided to take part as well. Now you can relax on the warm sand when you’re done wading, or maybe take a seat at a floating palapa while sipping on a cocktail. You’ll never want to leave this literal paradise.
- Xunantunich. The much-loved Maya site in San Jose Succotz has received many improvements over the years. There is now a visitor’s center, many onsite vendors and sturdier staircases and railings have been added. Xunantunich is a site that is frequently visited by many, providing great photo ops especially near sunset. Perhaps the only thing that has not been upgraded is the hand-cranked ferry that takes the visitors across, but it’s all part of the experience!
- Hopkins. Proving to be one of the fastest up-and-coming destinations in the southeast, Hopkins Village is considered to be the central hub for all the activities you could think of. Because of its prime location, people have begun to realize you can snorkel, hike, waterfall-rappel, go birding, go fishing, all from Hopkins! A half hour from booming Placencia, Hopkins is its shy counterpart, with accommodations going up faster every year but still maintaining the tranquility of the hospitable Garifuna fishing village. The main road is now paved, with a couple luxury resorts opening its doors. Transfers and tours are easy, plus the cultural richness in Hopkins continues to be stronger than ever.
Throughout the years, Belize has become less of a “best kept secret” and more of a best curious place. As long as lucky travelers keep venturing into our Jewel, there will always be something new and exciting to find.
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