Tag Archives: Belize with kids

Caves Branch, Belize: Best all-inclusive resort ever

I’m not one to rave about all-inclusive resorts. Sure, we stayed at a few when the kids were little, mostly to take advantage of the kid’s club and buffet (immediate gratification in the food department is a must when travelling with the five-and-under set), and had a great time. But I thought we’d closed that travel chapter.

Until: Caves Branch, Belize. This resort has completely upped the all-inclusive game and turned me into a Belizer (sorry).

Bennett swims in a cenote (limestone sink hole filled with water) that's in a national park just a 15-minute walk from Caves Branch.

Bennett swims in a cenote (limestone sink hole filled with water) that’s in a national park just a 15-minute walk from Caves Branch.

Caves Branch is an all-inclusive adventure resort that caters to families with children ages eight and up. Who knew such a concept existed? Well, my brother-in-law, who recommended it after staying there with his family several years ago. They even offer a discount for Canadian travellers, so we booked a 2-day/3-night package.

Caves Branch is set along a river in the lush, forested Belize countryside near Belmopan. Guests stay in comfortable cabanas or posh tree houses, eat delicious buffet breakfasts and dinners in the open-air dining area, and partake in extreme adventures during the day.

Avery all set to go cave tubing on an excursion from Caves Branch.

Avery all set to go cave tubing on an excursion from Caves Branch.

While my husband and daughter were off cave tubing through a 7-mile underground cave river system on Day 1, and spelunking and waterfall rappelling on Day 2, my son and I hiked to Blue Hole National Park to swim in a cenote and adjacent cave, and followed that up with jungle horseback riding the next day.

Bennett enjoys his first real trail ride in Belize.

Bennett enjoys his first real trail ride in Belize.

After each day’s explorations, we met up poolside and shared stories over cold panty ripper and bra ripper cocktails (those are pretty much the Belize national cocktails! Stay tuned for a write up…), which of course were included in the package.

The kids formed a posse that hung out by the pool and hot tub every afternoon.

The kids formed a posse that hung out by the pool and hot tub every afternoon.

The kids (and adults) loved the adventures and the resort’s great amenities (including a botanical garden), and we thought the super-friendly staff was awesome. The resort was also a great value, considering the quantity and quality of the food (and booze) and the cost of individual activities — it almost works out like you stay and eat for free.

The Botanical Gardens at Caves Branch boasts the largest orchid collection in Belize.

The Botanical Gardens at Caves Branch boasts the largest orchid collection in the country.

Yes, I realize I am gushing. And even though I couldn’t do some of the activities because of my bum shoulder, and Bennett couldn’t participate in the more extreme offerings due to his autism, everyone left after three days feeling happy. Expectations = exceeded.

Dinner at Caves Branch.

Dinner at Caves Branch, where happy adventurers refuel.

 

Island time

I’ll never forget my first snorkelling trip, to Buck Island off of St. Croix, when I was 12. We saw a number of tropical fish and even barracudas knifing through the turquoise Caribbean waters. It was spectacular. I’m pretty sure my daughter Avery will always remember her first time donning a mask and fins in an ocean aquarium during an excursion to the Belize Barrier Reef from our base on Ambergris Caye.

Bennett and Avery take a break from the sea on a snorkelling excursion to the Belize Barrier Reef.

Bennett and Avery take a break from the sea on a snorkelling excursion to the Belize Barrier Reef.

She saw electric blue damsel fish, orange and white longspine squirrelfish, yellow and white striped French grunts, giant brain coral and purple sea fans (an underwater camera would’ve come in handy!). And, with her little brother Bennett doggie paddling beside her in a life jacket (without a mask and snorkel — he’s not quite ready), she watched a nurse shark and eagle ray swim below her, followed by a green sea turtle. It was neat for me to see those critters, too, but it was more of a thrill to watch the kids’ jubilant reactions to a day spent offshore with Suya Tours.

The sea life just offshore Ambergris Caye is incredible. Snorkellers

The sea life that inhabits the warm, clear water just offshore Ambergris Caye is incredible. It’s the best snorkelling I’ve done in a long time.

The marine life is just one part of our visit to Ambergris Caye, one of the islands off the coast of Belize. In the coming days we’ll be exploring the town of San Pedro and the nearby Mayan ruins, and sampling more tasty island cuisine. When you’re staying beachside, however, the clear water is always beckoning, be it ocean or pool.

Bennett, Avery and Blake kayak off the dock on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Bennett, Avery and Blake kayak off the dock on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

On “island time,” the kids are in the pool by 8 a.m. and pretty much stay in the water until 6 p.m., with mandatory down-time out of the sun for a couple hours over lunch. Overall, life is pretty beachy!

Just chillin' on the patio and contemplating... Beach or pool?

Just chillin’ on the patio and contemplating… Beach or pool?