Maya Chocolate, Garifuna Rhythms, and Ancient Caracol: Prince William and Kate visit Belize
Over four days, the world watched as Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tasted, danced, explored and came to learn what visitors and locals have long loved about this tiny gem, packed with natural and cultural charms. Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Belize from 19 – 22 March marking the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen.
Belize was the first stop in the Caribbean tour celebrating the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II. On a tropical sunny afternoon, Prince William and Kate set foot on Belizean soil and were greeted with a 21-gun salute before they set off to explore the wonders of the jewel. Their visit took them to Belize’s Southeast Coast where they were immersed in the Maya and Garifuna cultures then on to the rolling hills of Western Belize where they explored Belize’s ancient Maya cities. If you’re looking to experience Belize like the royals did, here are the highlights of Prince William and Kate’s visit.
A Bean to Bar Chocolate Experience. You can never go wrong starting your day with chocolate and Prince William and Kate did just that. Their first stop in Belize took them to the cozy village of Maya Center where they learned about traditional Maya chocolate making. First created by the ancient Maya, chocolate-making begins with the extraction of cacao beans (seeds) that are dried and then roasted. Nibs from the cacao bean’s shell are then grounded to produce pure chocolate. Prince William and Kate both tried their hands at grounding the chocolate using traditional Maya stone tools. This was followed by a tasting of dark and milk chocolate dipped with a sweetened corn tortilla and followed by a chocolate drink. Amid all these scrumptious treats, The Duchess mentioned that their kids would be “very jealous” of their chocolate experience and we couldn’t agree more. Get this royal experience by booking a chocolate adventure on your visit.
Sample the flavors and feel the rhythms of the Garifuna. On the sandy beaches of Hopkins Village, The Duke and Duchess glowed taking in the sunny vibes, traditional food and dancing to rhythms of the Garifuna. Hudut a rich, coconut-based, soup was shared along with a cassava-based porridge known as Sahou. Prince William was all smiles as he swayed to the Punta beat. P.S. Dancing Punta is considered an almost rite of passage on a trip to Belize’s Southeast Coast and we think The Duke passed with flying colours. Experience the vibrant culture and bold flavors of the Garifuna by booking a cooking class or eating at a local Garifuna restaurant.
Dive the second longest Barrier Reef in the world. Home to some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world according to travelers, this made it on the royal itinerary with little surprise. The Belize Barrier Reef is home to loads of colorful fishes, sea turtles, gliding stingrays, friendly nurse sharks, and a rainbow of corals all found beneath the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Prince William and Kate witnessed this firsthand and marveled at the beauty and conservation efforts that have been taken to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Schedule a snorkeling or diving adventure and see up close the wonders of the reef.
Take in jungle views atop Caana. Nestled deep in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in the Maya Mountains lies the impressive site of Caracol. The grandeur of the site is expressed in its immense size, numerous carved monuments and the beauty of its main temple Caana (Sky Palace). The temple stands at 143 feet high making it one of the tallest manmade structures in the country. The Duke and Duchess climbed Caana and took in the surrounding panoramic jungle views. If you’re heading to Caracol, take a guided tour for a more enriching experience and learn about the ancient dynasties that once ruled the area.
Walk in the footsteps of royalty at Cahal Pech. The royal tour ended with an evening reception gala at the site of Cahal Pech. Overlooking the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, the site is no stranger to royalty and was once an ancient Maya ceremonial center with temples, palaces and a ball courts still preserved, making it perfectly suited to hosting The Duke and Duchess. A bountiful feast as far as the eyes could see greeted guests inspired by Maya and Mestizo cuisine. Everyday tasty favorites included tamales, ducunu (tamalitos), and atole (corn porridge). Special dishes such as relleno blanco soup, seafood, and chocolate treats were also brought out for the occasion. While food is not included on a regular Cahal Pech tour, make it a date and have your own royal picnic at Cahal Pech.
Now that you have a guide to create your own royal itinerary, are you ready to book your Belize adventure? Mouthwatering food, scenic landscapes and life-changing cultural experiences await.
Photos courtesy: The Government of Belize Press Office and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Twitter