Belize’s Three Distinct Environments: Rainforest, Pine Forest, and Soft Sand Beach

Maya Air's plane to San Pedro.
Maya Air’s plane to San Pedro.

I can’t think of another country where I could have had the range of experiences I’ve had in the past two days. We spent the first four days here in the western part of the country, in a state called Caya.

Our first accommodations were at Chaa Creek Resort, in a deep rain forest filled with creatures and howling monkeys were a part of every night’s entertainment.  We spent time in the forest and learned about the nearly endless remedies that the trees and plants provided for Mayans over the centuries, and continue to this day.

Then we headed a few hours east, over very rough roads that still were flooded due to a week of rains. When we finally arrived at our second lodge, it was a completely different environment.  Caribbean pine forests and cooler temperatures and red clay roads.

How to get to El Secreto on Ambergris Caye.
How to get to El Secreto on Ambergris Caye.

Because of a pine beetle infestation and forest fires, the acres of pine had been reduced, the regrowth showing amidst low green scrub.  Our lodge, the Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve, is set on 7200 of these piney forests, and they take full advantage, leading early morning birding trips and excursions to ancient Mayan temples.

Then we drove toward the coast, the rainforest again appearing, and through run down small villages with lots of for sale signs and dilapidated main streets.  We boarded a 12-passenger Cessna Caravelle and in 30 minutes we were disembarking on  a runway that backs up to a main street.

It was San Pedro, the town on Ambergris Caye.  Met by a squad of men in golf carts, we were quickly whisked to two waiting speedboats and soon we were barreling across four-feet deep Caribbean water, just in front of the second largest barrier reef in the world. We were bound for El Secreto, a 13-cabana luxury resort with a dramatic 450 foot beachfront and a bar with sand instead of a floor.

Aldi and Abraham, business partners who run El Secreto.
Aldi and Abraham, business partners who run El Secreto.

Belize offers so many environments, so many different experiences, each of them authentic and dramatic. There is a beauty in each of them, and tomorrow we’ll go out to the reef and experience it with snorkles and fins.

Few people have discovered Belize, but it’s worth a look.  You can find flights from the US to Belize City via San Salvador on Avianca.