Swimming with dolphins, helicopter tours, safaris, Mayan archeological sites and the world’s most spectacular scuba and snorkeling. Belize is a destination celebrated for its natural beauty and romantic locales. For the adventurous couple, a dazzling array of once-in-a-lifetime experiences awaits. But Belize is not just about adventure – the tranquil, white-sand beaches, turquoise sea and the splendor of this tropical paradise provide practically beg you to relax.
“Belize offers a wide variety of locations – from pristine beaches to wild jungles, Mayan sites, and historic colonial buildings,” says Burga Pattinson, wedding coordinator for Matachica Beach Resort. “The country is developed enough to offer a stay as simple or as luxurious as anybody might wish for, but as there are still no large, generic hotels, it has a unique charm. In addition, the population must be among the friendliest people in the world.”
Located just two hours from the continental United States, Belize lies on the east coast of Central America, bordering the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Guatemala to the west and south. The country is English-speaking, American currency is universally accepted, and resorts are small enough to provide personalized service.
“Many destinations have huge hotels where the couple gets lost in the crowd,” says Dana Krauskopf, co-founder of Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort. “In Belize, hotels are much smaller, and focus on customer service, striving to make each couple’s experience special.”
Most resorts have a wedding planner on staff, adept at making every wedding and honeymoon wish a reality. And at virtually any time of year, the weather in Belize is optimal, with May through September being the most popular months.
Your Belize wedding can be whatever you can imagine. Exchange vows on the beach, beneath a traditional Belizean wedding arch of fresh tropical flowers, as the Caribbean waters lap against the beach. Say, “I do,” at the foot of an ancient Mayan temple or before a roaring waterfall. You can even tie the knot under water along Belize’s 184-mile barrier reef, where the fish, plant life and coral explode with color. For those seeking seclusion, private islands are even available.
At present, there are two different marriage license options. A regular license requires a minimum stay of three days in the country before the application is submitted on the fourth day. The license takes up to 24 hours to process, which means the couple can get married on day five. Another option is the express license without residency requirement – the application is completed prior to arrival in the country, and is submitted by a wedding planner so that the couple can be married within 24 hours of arrival.
Destination I Do recently toured Belize seeking out the very best. Here are a few of our favorites.
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort
This casually elegant 21-acre resort is nestled in coastal forest. A 12-mile stretch of beach near the village of Hopkins invites exploration of both reef and inland attractions. Don’t miss the tree houses; spacious, individual cabanas providing the utmost in privacy. Each unit is surrounded by a variety of trees, orchids and birds.
Owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, Blancaneaux offers spectacular, upscale accommodations deep within the rainforest.
Matachica Beach Resort
An exquisite, secluded beach resort located five miles north of San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye. Set on a white sandy beach, Matachica faces the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
Grand Colony Island Villas
An exclusive beachfront development featuring 21 private residences. Located on the island of Ambergris Caye, offering world-class snorkeling and diving, along the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
Portofino Beach Resort
North of San Pedro, Portofino rests on the most beautiful beaches of the island. Enjoy a peaceful and quiet resort, with shops and nightlife just 15 minutes away by boat. Many of the best restaurants are located north of San Pedro.
The most famous restaurant on Ambergris Caye specializes in seafood and classic island entrees.
The only restaurant on Ambergris Caye offering pier dining under the Mayan stars with your own personal wait staff. Specializing in Euro-Caribbean Fusion Cuisine.
Belize’s Largest Mayan Excavation. In proximity to Blancaneaux Lodge via a scenic drive through Chiquibul Rainforest – Caana, Caracol’s largest pyramid, is the tallest manmade structure in Belize.
Jade Spa at Matachica Beach Resort
Rejuvenating massage and spa treatments just steps from the Caribbean Sea. Experience soothing scents, colors, relaxing music, and a wide range of spa services.