Belize in the Breeze
Ever found yourself at the end of a year with a few extra vacation days staring down the barrel of a Canadian winter and fearing you might not make it to spring? This was what I was feeling once those cold winds started to blow at the start of December. Belize had been on my radar from a few years back when I was looking at motorcycle rentals in Central America and ever since those turquoise blue waters have been stuck in my mind as a to-do.
There is a couple nice sides to travelling to Belize from Toronto. A direct flight, English is widely spoken, they take US dollars and have good cellphone service which makes going for a short amount of time and last minute really easy.
If you we're interested in dipping your toe into motorcycle travel, looking for a quick getaway or were looking for good place to vacation as a less experienced rider, I would definitely say Belize in the form of this itinerary is for you.
A short trip meant packing light. I always try to do carry-on which is a challenge when a helmet can mean 50% of that space is spoken for. Some of the items I brought on this trip are laid out at the end of this post.
Because I would be picking the bike up in a small town away from the airport I decided to book a night on one of the cayes, the small islands just off the coast. It meant taking a small plane to a taxi to a boat which is great value for your hotel money as it’s kind of like a free tour.
From the caye I couldn’t wait to have my own personal freedom and was ready to really see the landscape. I went straight to pick up the bike from Alternate Adventures in Hopkins. Emma, the owner was friendly and as helpful as you could wish for. The rental company also serves the local riding community and is an impeccably organized mechanical shop.
Anxious for the beach I set off to Placencia, small town an hour ride away.
For how mountainous the distant terrain looks, most of the roads in Belize are fairly flat, well sign posted and easy to navigate. The road to Placencia reminded me a lot of crossing Florida from east to west. A warm breeze and easy setting, but nothing too dramatic. As for other traffic, I basically had the road to myself.
Belize has a great national park system and stopping for a hike while on a bike is made easy by how safe it is within the parks. On my route was the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Technically a Jaguar sanctuary, there are several hikes to take advantage of. I left all my things on the bike in the parking lot, and opted for one with a waterfall and epic view. All the hiking and an unseasonably cold breeze lead to quiet night of a sunset walk and bit of stargazing.
Not many roads, means you will have to backtrack if you want to get to the most scenic main roadway in the country: the hummingbird highway. This two lane rural roadway puts you through citrus orchards and a few tiny villages. I was headed inland towards the jungle to get away from the beach and into a lusher landscape.
Pulling into a dirt road I knew I made the right choice of hotel, it was fancy and deserted. I checked in and went straight to the river where they had kayaks and sup boards. Because of the popularity of organized tours that wouldn't return till dark, I had the grounds to myself. As dusk fell and the day sounds of birds were replaced by insects and frogs, bats started flying through the gazebo by the waters edge, it was a great episode of nature tv.
Since I had only a short ride back to return the bike I thought I would attempt to make it further inland but other than a side of the road pupusa stop I got bogged down with construction traffic that turned a dirt road into a continuous dust cloud that I was perpetually riding in. With no sight of it ending and the sun blazing I did a 180 thinking some beach time in Hopkins wouldn’t be the worst way to end the trip.
As farmland and palm trees breezed by, I turned off every so often to see where a dirt road would lead. I knew the streets at home were too cold for exploring and that in itself made the ride even more enjoyable. Mostly I got some light off-roading in, and didn't get myself into anything too challenging, not knowing the area well, and being by myself, I was careful not to tread anywhere that I wasn't welcome.
Once back in Hopkins, I returned the rental, and got a ride to my hotel. This whole trip I had chosen more premium hotels so I could take advantage of amenities such as a front desk concierge that could help direct my itinerary. In retrospect it was limiting as most resorts want you to eat in their restaurants and use their services instead of recommending you a local establishment nearby. They will have you believe it is unsafe to travel beyond their grounds, especially alone. But this warning should be taken with a grain of salt as my experience was nothing of the sort. Luckily Emma from Alternate Adventures offered to take me out and prove that local businesses are much more interesting than resorts and people are friendly to foreigners. If I was to return I would seek the more personal, smaller types of hospitality.
Having done many different styles of moto trips, I would say this was one of the easiest. Easy to plan, easy to be on, safe. It is 100% a perfect destination for a first time motorcycle trip or if you or someone on your team is a new rider or has any reservations about riding abroad. Alternate Adventures offers exceptional customer service in renting and the country’s culture of catering to tourists makes it easy to navigate. - Marika
GEAR I BROUGHT ON THIS TRIP
- Givi Gravel-T Roll Top Tail
- Arai VXPRO-4 Helmet *By special order
- Rok Straps
- Red Wing Heritage Unisex Unlined Buckskin Glove
- Oxford Max Ear Plugs
- Motorex Viso-Clean
- Town Moto Stars & Bike Bandana
- Town Moto Stainless Steel Bottle
- Chippewa Lacer Boot
- Town Moto Address Tote
- 100% Barstow Legend Goggle
- Riding Armour