WHY BELIZE? AND QUICK TRIP LOGISTICAL OVERVIEW
We decided to go to Belize after hearing fantastic recommendations about the country from a good friend. It was also a shorter flight than going to somewhere like Hawaii and somewhere new-to-us (vs. Mexico, for example).
While we typically are much more of the explore and bop around every day kind of travelers, we opted to do this trip a little differently. We’ve been stretched and exhausted and overwhelmed and instead of being go go go we wanted to just CHILL. We didn’t want to plan activities or make a lot of decisions or really build an itinerary but instead, truly just wanted to disconnect from normal life and relax as a family.
After deciding on Belize, we loved the idea of doing a mix of the gorgeous, lush jungle and of course, the beach. We initially thought about finding cool Airbnbs for both, but then realized that would give us more logistics to deal with, like renting a car or transport between airport/locations, buying groceries/picking restaurants, and of course, finding a place to Covid test before flying back to the US. We realized that a resort might be a better situation for us, and landed on the Belize Collection properties. We were able to book one package at two of their properties, which also included *private with carseats included* shuttle transfer between airport and the resorts.
We spent four nights in the jungle at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge and eight nights at the beach at Almond Beach Resort at Jaguar Reef which was outside of Hopkins, Belize. Jaguar Reef had several types of accommodations for different price points/needs. We booked the all-inclusive package for food/drinks at both resorts because we didn’t want to think about meals/drinks. I’ve never done an all-inclusive! You definitely don’t have to do this at either resort and it didn’t seem like the majority of the guests did. Both resorts have restaurants onsite and so we literally ate three meals per day at the resort. The food was really good! And, it was nice to not have to worry about ‘oh we don’t want to pay for yet another jungle punch for ourselves or virgin piña colada for the girls’ because it was just all included. I’m not sure if we would do the all-inclusive package again, BUT for where we were at mentally/emotionally in terms of decision fatigue and wanting to NOT THINK ABOUT IT and also not really leave the resort…it worked great!
There’s also a lot of Q+As shared below including more info about covid requirements for travel to/from Belize. Now, I’ll share more about each spot!
SLEEPING GIANT RAINFOREST LODGE
Our first stop was Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. The entire resort is very much in the middle of nowhere and was literally int the middle of the jungle. There were no TVs or Internet/Wifi access (outside of the restaurant/lobby), which made this part of our trip feel like more of a true disconnect. We stayed in one of the Riverview rooms which had a king bed for us and a pull-out bed for Lucy, plus the crib they provided for Winnie. We had large private patio with a hammock and small fish pond. We spent a lot of time there, admiring the sunset over the mountains, taking lazy afternoon hammock naps, and having mojitos after the girls went to bed.
The Sleeping Giant property itself was beautiful and lush and so serene. There are tons (add-on, paid) excursions/activities you can do like cave tubing, zip lining, cooking experiences, horseback riding, bird watching tour, Mayan Ruins tour and much more. The only activity add-on activity we did was horseback riding, which Lucy LOVED! The other activities would have been much more interesting / accessible to us if we didn’t have girls with us. But there were also a lot of free, onsite activities right at the resort. We spent hours every day at the pool and one morning went standup paddle boarding in the river (they also have kayaks available!). We went on lots of walks around the beautiful property and a jungle hikes where we got to splash in the creek, climb an epic two-story treehouse, and wander over suspending bridges. The property also has lots of animals, which the girls LOVED. There were bunnies, turtles, chickens, peacocks, ducks, horses and probably more that I’m forgetting!
Food wise, the main restaurant was a two-story open-air building with a bar and casual seating options on the first floor and a larger dining room and patio space upstairs. For breakfast, you could chose the daily continental style option or order off the menu. For lunch and dinner, you could just order off the menu. There was also an outside pizza restaurant where you could sit in little tiki huts near the creek or near the fire – it was so charming! Honestly, the food was really yummy. The pizza was great and we enjoyed lots of fresh fruit and veggies, seafood, yummy appetizers, smoothies, and pizza, etc.
Here’s a few photos from our time at Sleeping Giant!
ALMOND BEACH AT JAGUAR REEF
After four nights at Sleeping Giant, we shuttled to the beach! We stayed at Almond Beach Resort at Jaguar Reef which was outside of Hopkins, Belize. Jaguar Reef had several types of accommodations for different price points/needs. Our particular room had one main king bed room (where we stayed), a large bathroom, a second bedroom with a pull-out bed and crib for the girls, and a balcony patio with an outdoor bathtub. Heavenly! There is just something so special and refreshing about being near the beach and it felt so so good.
The resort had beautiful beaches with hammocks and lounge chairs readily available. There were two pools (one with a swim-up bar!) that we used for hours every day. The girls were HUGE hot tub fans! The ocean water was warm enough to swim so we did a lot of ‘wave jumping’ and just playing in the sand/water. There were also stand-up paddle boards and kayaks to use, which we did a few times with the girls! There was a long dock off of the beach that lead to a two-story structure – the bottom was day bed lounge nets and the top floor was a ceviche bar! The girls loved going out there! And, you could jump off the dock (E jumped from the top deck…I could only jump from the bottom one 😆).
Like Sleeping Giant, there were many add-on activities you could book – boat rides, bioluminescence tours, fishing, waterfall hiking, and more. The only add-on activity we did was a private ‘island hopping’ boat tour where we visited a few islands and got to explore, swim, eat lunch, etc. We had a blast! Eric also booked me a spa day for my birthday! Without the girls (or if thy were older), we likely would have gone snorkeling which is something we both enjoy!
The area near the hotel also had a few other small shops/restaurants, but we ended up eating onsite for every meal. The resort had bikes available, so one day I biked into the nearby town of Hopkins (about a mile away). Another day we all rented a golf car to go into town and get a coffee. Food wise, both the pool bar and the dock bar served ceviche and chips which we ordered…every afternoon. There was one large and spacious open-air restaurant that we ate our three main meals at. Overall, the food was super tasty and fresh and for the most part, locally sourced. The staff was wonderful as well. One night, after we were sort of sick of eating the same things after a few days, they told us they would prepare lobster for us off-menu. That was one of our food highlights of the trip. The bartenders at Jaguar Reef were definitely more experienced than our first stop and made so many delicious and creative mock/cocktails for us. 🍹
Honestly, our days at the beach mostly rotated between eating and swimming at the pool or hanging out at the beach which we enjoyed a ton! Here’s some photos from our time at Jaguar Reef! 💛
We flew into the Belize City (with a layover in Houston).
Carseat/Stroller Situation: We typically travel with our two travel carseats (Cosco Scenera Next for Winnie & Cosco Finale DX for Lucy, plus a carseat travel bag), but we were able to coordinate with the resort and they provided carseats for our transfers. We only needed the carseats for the transfers (airport to Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant to Jaguar Reef, Jaguar Reef back to airport) so it was wonderful to *not* have to bring them along! We did bring our travel Zoe Twin+ double stroller! While we didn’t use it every day, it was SO helpful to have it at the airports, especially with the layovers, and we did use a couple times at both resorts for longer walks.