Music is a natural expression of being human. Wherever there are
people, there will be music, drawn together by a sense of community, guided by
a rhythm which is always just an echo of our own human hearts. But although it
may be universal, different types of music have emerged that represent the
history and energies of the people in the area and Belize, of course is no
Belizean music contains a rich blend of Central American,
African and European styles and it delivers a warm and friendly energy.
Depending were you come from, you might hear hints within the tunes of Zydeco,
Creole, traditional African folk songs or Western rock and roll.
In addition to its cultural sources, music is also dependent on the
types of instruments available. Belizean music is no exception. Brukdown
music, for example, was created in the logging camps of the country’s interior.
Its name comes from the Creole term for “breakdown,” referring to “broken down
Calypso style.” is famous for having not just banjo, accordion a drums, but
also the jawbone of a donkey, played by running a stick up and down the teeth.
The Garifuna people have their ancestral roots in Africa and were
brought brought to Central America during the slave trade. Their music is now a
staple of Belizean culture and depends heavily of drum patterns, using a
call-and-answer pattern between drummers.
It’s a really wonderful experience to kick back and listen to a live band play. Whether the music is traditional or more modern, there’s nothing quite like enjoying great music while feeling a warm ocean breeze and hearing waves or surf in the distance. One of my favorite places is Fido’s Beach Bar, which has a stage area with occasional live music. They also have the best fish and chips in town, which is quite an achievement, given that food is an equally high priority as music on Belize and especially on Ambergris Caye.
Another great local spot is Bernie’s
Back. They are big on karaoke, which means everyone gets involved. Everyone
who wants to, that is. The
Dive Bar gets consistently high ratings from visitors for their food as
well as their entertainment. And once you get into San Pedro, there are many
more to choose from. FaceBook is a good resource for scoping out places and
As might be expected, modern rock and pop music is in very good
supply. We have even seen some famous faces including Kelly McGuire, and
members of Steve Miller’s Band, who go by the name of “Abracadabra.”
Yes, the music is everywhere, and nothing shows the variety and
vivaciousness of Belizean music and culture quite like a national party. Last
Friday, September 20, 2019 was our 38th anniversary of independence
and everyone was invited to celebrate.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until next year to enjoy a block party of live music on the beach. Whether it’s turtle shells, steel drums or bass guitars holding down the beat, there’s enough heat and energy to make any night a party.
There comes a time in late summer in North America where dusk
starts noticeably sooner, the breeze seems a little cooler, and the sun no
longer commands the highest part of the sky even at noon. How does it happen so
soon? It’s like summer is stored in some sort of strong elastic pouch. It takes
months to pry it open to let the warmth out, yet it snaps closed in a
Thankfully there are options. The entire Gulf of Mexico and the
Caribbean Sea are available to sun-starved Canadians and Americans, and the
short direct flights are quite affordable. Of course, you don’t need to wait
until the darkest days of winter to get your fill of the blue oceans and bright
sand. It’s available year ‘round and it’s beautiful year ‘round. That’s why
Bret and I came to Belize in the first place. It’s why we set up a beach house
business here, and it’s why we think you should come down and spend some time
If case you need more convincing, here’s our top-ten list: Top ten reasons to plan your snowbird vacation at Coastal Breezes in Belize:
1. The weather. Guaranteed to be hot and sunny.
Even though it does rain here, the rainy season is basically
June to October, and even then, the rain showers are sporadic and short. You
just don’t get those gloomy grey, rainy days. You will always experience
beautiful warmth and brilliant sunlight whenever you come by.
2. Non commercialized. No McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s or Walmart!
Belize has worked hard to keep itself pristine. Ambergris Caye,
where we are located, is a perfect example of that. The buildings are solid and
safe, but the businesses retain that great beach feel – lots of wood and
bamboo, nothing garish, and certainly no fast food/fast coffee franchises.
Great food, great drinks and great people.
3. You get to drive around in a golf cart.
The pace of island life is matched by our mode of transport –
golf carts. No big highways and high speeds. What’s the rush?
4. Super friendly Belizean people.
The people of Belize are friendly, relaxed and interesting to
talk to. It’s part of the culture and part of the environment. It’s truly an
eye-opening moment to discover how nice we can be to each other when we strip
away the stresses of North American life. Belizeans and are happy to talk to
you and help you enjoy yourself.
5. Charlie the super friendly Belizean dog.
Charlie is our canine property manager. He’s a rescue who has
found his forever home with us. He’s very friendly, he knows everything there
is to know about Coastal Breezes and is an expert on the topic of napping in
the sun. He should teach classes on it!
6. Your own personal onsite caretaker to assist with questions about the
We have a small number of beach houses which means you are
always looked after with extra close attention. You’re not just one of hundreds
or thousands like a big hotel or cruise ship. Francisco, our personal onsite
caretaker takes care of more than just the facilities. He’s there to take care
of our guest, providing helpful and interesting information about the area, and
things to do.
7. Secret Beach – have an adult beverage while sitting in the sea.
Secret beach is a secluded and beautiful beach located on the
leeward side of the island which means calm shallow waters and beautiful
sunsets. It has grown over the years but has still managed to maintain its
rustic island charm. It’s a must see – a perfect destination for enjoying a
tropical drink at picnic tables that are actually in the water. I have written
about Secret Beach in a previous post here: https://blog.coastalbreezes.bz/2019/07/14/the-not-so-secret-beach/
8. Fry Jacks – traditional Belizean cuisine.
Oh! Fry Jacks! OK, so they might not be as healthy as mangoes or
“apple bananas,” but think of the endorphins! A signature dish of Belize life,
Fry jacks are pieces of fried dough, made puffy by using plenty of baking
powder. But they are so good as partners in both savory and sweet dishes. Check
out my earlier blog on some of the great food you can enjoy here: https://blog.coastalbreezes.bz/2019/07/11/breakfast-in-belize-what-would-you-like/
9. Barrier reef and the Blue Hole.
Once you get out on the water, you have the largest coral reef
in the world, right beneath you. A marvelous place to snorkel or dive, it’s an
underwater marvel with fish and marine life all around, made even more
beautiful by the bright blue waters.
A little further along is a wondrous site, the Great Blue Hole,
basically a sinkhole in the ocean floor whose depth makes the water appear a
darker shade of blue. It’s a must see for any diver and has attracted some of
the world’s best known divers and marine scientists, like Jacques Cousteau. You
can read more about the barrier reef and the Great Blue Hole here: https://blog.coastalbreezes.bz/2019/07/20/into-the-water/
10. Mayan Ruins archeological sites.
Once you have dried off and got back on land, there’s much more
to see inland, including magnificent Mayan ruins. Belize is full of ancient
history. People have been living here and traveling here for thousands of
years, and the ruins bring it back with excitement and clarity.
So come on by!
Belize, and especially Ambergris Caye, where our Coastal Breezes beach houses are, are marvelously unspoiled, friendly and relaxing places, That’s why so many Snowbirds come back again and again. But if it’s your first time, and you’re wondering about the risk of visiting a place you know nothing about, just drop us a line! We’ll chat. We’ll get to know each other. So that when you come down you will feel like you are being greeted and hosted by friends. And that’s a great way to start a love affair with our beautiful island.
One of the most appealing features of Belize as a country is its
many faces, the two most obvious being the seaward face and the inland jungle
face. The Caribbean Sea is huge, beautiful, and filled with life and places to visit.
Inland, there are jungles, wildlife sanctuaries, and fascinating historical
sites built by the Maya.
In this post, I want to look outward to the ocean and next time
we will venture off the island into the jungle. Belize is world-renowned for
its aquatic beauty, and this makes it an irresistible place for snorkeling and
The Belize Barrier Reef
A series of coral reefs that run along the Belize coastline, the Barrier Reef has now been recognized as the largest coral reef in the world. It used to place second behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but that reef has since died back due to bleaching. Experts including Charles Darwin and the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau (who also invented the SCUBA breathing apparatus) have mentioned its beauty and size, and today it provides a place for recreational divers, hundreds of types of fish, corals and other sea life, as well as for sustainable fishing activities.
The reef provides endless opportunities for snorkeling, diving and photography, and it is easy and inexpensive to charter a boat or join an expedition.
The Great Blue Hole
No mention of diving adventures would be
complete without the Great Blue Hole. This is a marine sinkhole that formed
during ice age-related geological activities of four distinct eras: 153,000
years ago, 66,000 years ago, 60,000 years ago and 15,000 years ago. As the
ocean levels gradually rose, the sinkhole filled up, and its limestone walls
paired with its depth, make it a visually stunning ocean landmark, especially
from the air.
Jacques Cousteau named it as one of his top ten favorite dive
sites in the world, and many other dive and adventure organizations also have
it high on their “must-see” lists.
Diving in its waters gives you an opportunity to get close to
large and fascinating wildlife like the Midnight Parrotfish and the Caribbean
reef shark. Lucky divers might also encounter elusive hammerhead sharks,
although sightings of these are rare.
Of course, you don’t have to go far afield to enjoy the waters of Ambergris Caye. We’re surrounded by it. It’s warm, placid, especially on the west side of the island, and looks beautiful any time of the day or night. When you book a beach house from us, you can see this for yourself. The water is just steps away.
One of the most well-known attractions on Ambergris Caye is Secret Beach. And it’s far and away the island’s worst-kept secret. When Bret and I first arrived here in 2015 there was nothing at Secret Beach except for a single pier and a house. Located on the leeward side of the island this beach has pristine, clear blue waters, and in the last three years it has become a fast paced, and very popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
It’s a bit of a hike from our main town of San Pedro – eight miles by golf cart over rough road – but it’s only three and a half miles from our beach house compound. Every day now, there’s a constant stream of golf carts heading to and from Secret Beach. There’s lots of people and lots of alcohol! Frankly, that’s what a lot of holidaymakers from North America and definitely Canada, want while they’re on vacation: no rules and a big party atmosphere. A great place to blow off all the tensions built up over a year.
Secret Beach basically closes down as soon as it gets dark, because there’s no electricity, only generators. But the tables are out in the water! It’s very shallow and calm, so you walk out quite far, or you can sit in the gentle lapping waves at your table and the wait staff will wade out to you with trays of drinks and food. You can also drink on the beach if you prefer to stay dry. It’s always busy so you’ll need to go early in order to get a table. In addition to the calm waters, its Western exposure means you’re almost guaranteed a spectacular sunset.
The Secret Beach has all the touristy trappings: you can rent
lounge chairs, jet skis, and motorized surf boards. You can get your hair
braided, buy snow cones, and coconut water, you name it. It’s a big party,
and yes, Bret and I have had fun just sitting back and watching people enjoy
Our location is definitely favorable to the Secret Beach because
we are so much closer than a lot of other resorts. Many of our guests of
all ages have asked for directions to the Secret Beach as soon as they
You can read more about its history and present (and maybe
future) over at SanPedroScoop.
For the moment, I can’t say that it has built up to extraordinarily tacky
proportions. The bars and restaurants still have the island feel – lots of wood
and sand, not concrete or glass.
So it’s definitely worth checking out as an island hotspot. But my slant on it is that when you live here you just don’t go to the Secret Beach. There are many more secret and not-so-secret places to fall in love with.
There’s something about the ocean that makes everything taste
better. Perhaps it’s the salt air, the breezes coming across from the jungle,
just the sheer vibrancy of life all around you. Rather than overwhelming your
senses of smell and taste, Caribbean life seems to heighten them. It’s like
your senses are reveling in the variety and depth that they are denied in the
concrete and pollution-filled cities of the world.
Such sensory vibrancy means that every type of food is an
enhanced experience, but this is only made better by the variety of locally
grown and sustainably caught foods available in Belize.
Let’s start with fish! You can eat fresh fish every day and cooked every way. Grouper and snapper are the most common and you can get it blackened, fried or grilled. Fish caught that very afternoon, just off the coast is very different from that caught on a trawler and either flash frozen or flown to restaurants thousands of miles inland. Different types of fish have different textures and flavors, which become even more tantalizing when cooked or grilled over open flames in tropical air.
they’re in season, lobster and conch add a sense of occasion. In North America
and elsewhere, lobster is an expensive delicacy. And who goes to the
supermarket to buy conch? But that’s one of the many great things about travel
– anywhere in the world – experiencing tastes and foods that add to life’s variety.
Being part of the Central American tropics, a local favorite is stewed chicken, with rice and beans. Simple, healthy and filling. Fried plantain is a staple. Plantains look like big, wild bananas. But they are generally cooked before eating and taste more like a potato than a banana. They’re very good for you, too, loaded with potassium and cholesterol-burning fiber.
Fry Jacks are essential, although they won’t win any prizes in
the healthy foods department. Fry jacks are pieces of fried dough, made puffy
by using plenty of baking powder. But they are so good as partners in both
savory and sweet dishes.
Huevos Rancheros is another breakfast favorite. Common in many areas of Latin and Central America, eggs with ranchero sauce, refried beans, flour tortillas, served with bacon or sausage provide great energy and sustenance whether your calendar shows “diving with whale sharks” or “log-in to the virtual meeting with head office back home.”
And how about “apple bananas”? Yet another type of banana, these are also less sweet that their Cavendish cousins (Cavendish is pretty much the only type of banana eaten in North America and Europe). They’re a little tangier to taste, and best of all, we have them growing in the back yard! Wherever you travel in the world, food is a primary concern, of course, but it’s always wonderful to expand your culinary horizons and try local delicacies right in the place they came from. Just another benefit of living and working in paradise. Come on down! See – and taste – for yourself!
There are few things more pleasurable in life than a private paradise. Especially given the cold spring that we Canadians suffered through this year (2019) and the never-ending troubles that seem to be the norm, both locally and internationally. It’s something that we all hope to find. In the back of our minds, we picture that place – somewhere we can retreat to in order to regroup, refresh, and confirm that there is still beauty in life and it is indeed attainable.
That’s what Bret and I set out to establish when we created Coastal Breezes on Ambergris Caye, an island just off the coast of Belize – the one Madonna sang about in “La Isla Bonita.”
For years now, we have been the owners and proprietors of a small collection of executive rental suites just outside of Toronto. These are fully furnished homes for business travelers or others who seek a tidy and convenient place to stay for periods usually longer than a month without the over-the top cost of hotels. We recognized early on that a large negative part of travel is the unknown. After spending hours in an airport and a car, the first thing you need is a place to rest, and the last thing you want is disappointment.
So over the years, we accumulated a few properties and made sure they were the type of place that we ourselves would feel happy staying in, from the very first moment of arrival all the way through a multi-week residence.
But we are also snowbirds. We craved the blue skies, the swaying palms and impossibly blue oceans of the Caribbean, and we started venturing south. We wanted to go a little further south than most of our compatriots, for whom the coast of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, or the easily accessible islands of the Bahamas were convenient destinations.
We decided to visit Belize, a country that we had known growing up as British Honduras. Once we got there, we knew we had to come back, and so we did. And after a few return visits, we realized we had to do more than just stay on the beach as tourists. This was a place, we realized, that could become an extension of our executive homes business – a place where people could come fully confident of a pleasant stay with well-kept amenities and a personal, Canadian touch.
It’s a beautiful and historic place. Not just the island, but the whole country. The waters are a haven for snorkeling and diving, with the world-famous Barrier Reef just minutes away, and the intriguing Great Blue Hole – a marine sinkhole located inside an atoll. On land, there are Mayan ruins and enormous biodiversity, making everyday an adventure no matter which direction you head off in.
Being a small island, only accessible by plane, the pace of life is a little more relaxed as well. In fact the preferred method of transport is by golf cart which suits us fine.
This blog series will seek to show off some of the most intriguing and compelling reasons why a vacation in Belize makes so much sense for Canadians, not least of which is just how easy it is to get here. From late October through to April, WestJet and Air Canada both fly direct to Belize City, and from there, it’s just a quick hop across to the island.
So I hope you will keep in touch. Follow us on social media (Twitter and Instagram), and join our quarterly mailing list here. Maybe it’s time for your great adventure to a personal paradise. Let us help you find your place in the warm tropical sun, welcomed by our friendly and attentive staff. We really are much closer than you might think.