Real Honeymoons: Guatemala & Belize

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TIkal Ruins Guatemala imageNewlyweds Michelle and Eoin decided a relaxing honeymoon by the beach wasn’t for them and instead took the backpacking and scuba diving route through Guatemala and the Belizean Islands.

Average temperature: Southern Guatemala was mid 20s. North Guatemala and Belize averaged about 34°! May is the start of the rainy season but it only rained once while we were there.


Price range: We stayed in a variety of accommodation, from luxury hotels to lakeside guesthouses. Flights were approx €1,500 for both of us and an average night’s accommodation in a 4/5* was €100 – €150. Belize is more expensive than Guatemala.

Travel time from Ireland: A full day depending on airport layovers. Dublin-London-Miami-Guatemala City, and then Belize City-Miami-London-Dublin.

Why did you choose this location?  We chose Guatemala for the Cultural experience, the scenery and outdoor activities. We chose Belize for the scubadiving, the beaches, the weather, the rainforest activities and nature trails.

Where did you stay? And would you recommend it?  We stayed in three different towns in Guatemala for about three nights each – Antigua, Lake Atitlan and outside Flores. We would definitely recommend La Lancha eco resort outside Flores as a hideaway base for visiting the Tikal ruins. It’s in a rainforest on a lake and the staff were wonderful. The boutique hotel El Convento in Antigua (a converted colonial convent) was hugely relaxing – our private courtyard had a Jacuzzi! Finally at Lake Atitlan, a lake surrounded by volcanoes, we stayed at the lovely La Iguana Perdida– a cosy hotel/guesthouse beside the dock in Santa Cruz. It wasn’t as luxurious as the other hotels but we loved the room, and the chilled out atmosphere of the place. In Belize we spent three nights in the rainforest in the Western Cayo region – can’t recommend the Blackrock Lodge enough for location, wonderful staff and excellent adventure activities. We stayed in the Waterfall Deluxe Cabin. We then spent six nights on the gorgeous Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye in theXanadu Resort which we loved! It’s a little more expensive than some of the other resorts but the location and the staff/service again were incredible.

Was it all inclusive? None of the hotels were all-inclusive in either Guatemala or Belize.

What were the main attractions?  Guatemala: The Mayan ruins in Tikal are very popular. We also climbed an active volcano outside Antigua which was pretty special – especially toasting the marshmallows on the steam vents! It was like walking on the moon! The experience of travelling on local ‘chicken buses’ is also one not to be missed – it’s the only way to really see the country and interact with locals, who we found extremely helpful and friendly. The scubadiving and snorkelling in Belize are incredible. Even without a diving licence you’ll see sharks, stingrays, turtles on the popular snorkelling trips! Most of the jungle lodges in the rainforest in Western Belize have loads of exciting adventure activities on offer such as tubing, caving, hiking, horseriding and canoeing and the nature trails/wildlife is wonderful.

What was the best part?  The highlight in Guatemala was the ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal – we spent an entire day there exploring and climbing temples. It’s fascinating and not over-crowded or overly touristy. The highlight in Belize was the day we dived the famous Blue Hole to 40m and the nearby reef dive sites of Half Moon Caye and The Aquarium.

Do you recommend any restaurants?  Our favourite restaurant in Antigua was La Cuebita de Los Urquizu. It’s small, simple, but wonderfully ‘local’ and the selection of stews and Guatemalan food all on display at the entrance were wonderful. In Belize our favourite restaurant on Ambergris Caye was Elvi’s in San Pedro town. The Belizian coconut curry is to die for and the crab claws are huge!

Any downsides to the location?  It takes a while to get to both places and if you’re not used to independent travel, you might find it difficult to manage. But if you love to backpack and really experience a country and a culture, you’ll love Guatemala! They say Guatemala can be dangerous, especially the city, but we didn’t experience any negatively at all on our trip. The usual common sense travel rules apply.

Would you recommend it as a honeymoon location?  I’d definitely recommend it to couples who want to go somewhere different, to explore a new country and experience a new culture. If you want to sit on a beach and do nothing, Guatemala is not for you! I’d definitely recommend Belize to couples who are into scuba-diving. The islands are very Caribbean, plenty of relaxation and cocktails and there’s loads to do if you don’t want to just sit for two weeks! There are plenty of Belizean islands to choose from depending on your needs.

Any tips?  Most Tikal tours are a half a day long which is sufficient, but if you can find a local taxi to take you there and collect you just after sunset, you’ll have way more time to explore the grounds and take it all in. It’s also cheaper to organise your own guide when you get there by talking to people. Booking a fancy tour can cost more than you need to pay! Finally, get to Tikal early to avoid the crowds (though we didn’t see many people for most of the day in May!) If you haven’t been diving in a while, do a ‘regular’ dive before the Blue Hole as you’ll want all your confidence going to 40m+! Some reviews say the Blue Hole isn’t worth it – very little life and it’s shorter than other dives because of the depth, but for us, it was well worth the two hour boat trip and the extra cost!

If you would like to share your Honeymoon experiences with other Wollies please email [email protected] with your honeymoon date and where you went!

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