Hello adventurers! We have BIG NEWS! We have officially launched our biggest endeavor yet, an amazing, one-of-a-kind adventure tour to Belize happening November 10 – 21, 2021! And we are going to tell you all about it right after a quick reintroduction, because not everyone reading this will have been with us from the beginning. Who are we, and why should you travel with us?
We are Brandon Washington and William Bessette, adventure travel husbands and digital nomads. Approximately four years ago, we sold everything and hit the road to begin a life of world travel. In those past four years, we traveled through 29 countries and eventually settled in Costa Rica, where we are today. Back when we started this big adventure, we created Floppy Hat Adventures as a humble travel blog, so that we could share our travels with friends and family on social media. But then something amazing happened, other people – outside of our friends and family – began to follow our blog. Before we knew it, we had over 20,000 followers across all our channels and Floppy Hat Adventures had turned into a global influencer marketing company!
Today, we use Floppy Hat Adventures to establish partnerships with travel and tourism businesses all over the world. We also use it to share travel stories and tips with our community and introduce them to new and exciting places across the globe. But we also have another goal – to use our love as an interracial gay couple to inspire people. As we transmit our love, light, tolerance, and kindness, our hope is that we can make a difference, no matter how big or small, in peoples’ lives. And now, we enter our third act… turning Floppy Hat Adventures into a one-of-a-kind adventure tour company! Together with our partner, Inspired Ventures, we are launching our very first bespoke tour to Belize. This experience has been curated with help from the Belizean Ministry of Tourism and will happen for a lucky 12 people only this one time. Our aim is to do a few of these a year in different locations around the world.
As we explore the world, pushing the boundaries of tolerance and acceptance – while helping local communities and supporting responsible tourism – we would be delighted to take you with us on our inaugural, bespoke adventure tour. We normally share our adventures with you on social media, but now you can be part of it, with us, in the thick of things. Are you ready?
Why Did We Choose Belize?
First, you, our audience, voted on it! But more than that, we champion eco-tourism that helps local communities and the environment, and we are passionate about the accessibility of tourism for the LGBTQ+ community. Belize is a country at the forefront of the eco-tourism movement. In addition to taking you on incredible adventures in every corner of the country, we will be working with groups in Belize that have a positive impact on their local communities; groups that fight for environmental and LGBTQ+ rights.
One of the most diverse but least populated countries in Central America, and roughly the size of Massachusetts, Belize packs a lot into a small space; it can proudly claim to be “The Jewel of Central America”. The Caribbean coastline and islands that dot the world’s second-largest Barrier reef create a stunning playground in which to explore the ocean and beaches of Belize’s little corner of paradise. And you will have an opportunity to play in that playground.
Belize is working hard for a kinder, more sustainable future, and is progressive in enacting some of the strongest ocean conservation laws in the world. Specifically, the area around the Belizean Great Barrier Reef is a protected marine sanctuary. Belize has outlawed both trawling and offshore oil drilling. And they’ve banned the use of gill nets to protect turtles, manatees, and many other marine animals that call this protected sanctuary home. Belize also claims one of the largest national parks in Central America, and our group will be deep in the jungle, working with an NGO that fights poaching and protects the highly endangered Scarlet Macaws.
While Belize is not the most progressive country on LGBTQ+ rights (Costa Rica was recently the first in Central America to legalize gay marriage), there are groups within Belize doing hard work to advance equal rights for all. And with a less conservative political climate than some of its neighbors, there is hope for a more equitable future for LGBTQ+ communities in Belize. Together, we will work with yet another NGO that fights to strengthen the rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Belize.
So, these are the reasons why we choose Belize as our very first bespoke adventure tour destination. This trip will only happen once. This is not going to be a revolving door adventure tour. A lucky 12 people will have this experience and they will be the only 12 in the world to do so. Because once it is over, we are moving on to another destination to set up our next one-of-a-kind experience.
Now, the question is, what will the lucky 12 experience? Our trip will focus on three separate legs:
- Into the Barrier Reef: The Belizean Coast is home to the second-largest great barrier reef in the world, while the ‘Blue Hole’ is routinely ranked one of the top three diving spots in the world. Whether snorkeling or diving, you’re going to experience an incredible marine ecosystem.
- Into the Mayan Jungle: We will head deep into one of Central America’s largest national park and forest reserve systems. We’ll live, eat, sleep, and spend time with Belizean Forest researchers, learning about their job while exploring, caving, hiking, and visiting the Jewel in the crown of Belizean Mayan ruins.
- Into the Caribbean Culture: As we explore this stunning country, we will learn what its means to live as a Belizean local. We will work with the Belize Youth Empowerment for Change group on a river clean-up and share amazing food and music with the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna community on Belize’s south coast.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Now that you have a taste, let’s give you the full entrée.
Day One: Arrival in Belize
Our journey begins on Wednesday, November 10, on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize’s ‘Isla Bonita’.
We will meet you at the airport or ferry terminal, depending on which route you chose to take from the International airport of Belize City. Once you are all checked in, it’s a short walk to the pool bar of our hotel on the edge of the colorful, bustling island capital. After a welcome drink and check-in, the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to settle in, freshen up, and relax by the pool or in one of the hammocks overlooking the Caribbean sea.
Early in the evening join us at Sundowners for shrimp ceviche as the sun goes down, then we head into town for dinner.
Our accommodation will be at the Sunbreezes Hotel. Guests will have their own private room during our three days at this property.
Day Two: Belize’s Great Barrier Reef and Shark Ray Alley
Grab your sunscreen and floppy hat as we head out on our privately chartered boat for a day of amazing snorkeling in the underwater world of Belize’s great barrier reef at Hol Chan. Hol Chan is the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Meaning ‘little channel’ in Mayan, Hol Chan is Belize’s oldest marine reserve. Highlights include a narrow cut through the reef just 23 meters wide and 9 meters deep, which is aptly named Shark Ray Alley.
Are you ready to make your way through the ‘little channel?’ If so, sharks (don’t worry, they don’t want to eat you), rays, turtles, and manatees inhabit the Hol Chan reserve, along with over 160 species of fish and 40 species of coral. Bring that GoPro or underwater camera because a day of up-close and dramatic underwater moments awaits you.
Lunch is served on board and rum cocktails make the homeward sailing under a setting sun a perfect ending to the day! We will return to the Sunbreezes Hotel that evening. Breakfast and lunch and dinner are included on the day.
Day Three: The Great Blue Hole
Today, we haven’t included any activities so you have the freedom and flexibility to explore your way. We tried to build this optional day around the Great Blue Hole, so we recommend taking advantage of one of our recommended options. If you are a scuba diver, this day is for you. Routinely ranked among the world’s top five dive spots, the Blue Hole is among Belize’s most famous attractions.
Experienced, qualified divers – A full-day trip can be arranged with a local dive operator to explore the underwater world of the Great Blue Hole.
Love to fly – Take the sightseeing flight leaving San Pedro airport for the short but spectacular flight over the Blue Hole. It’s a perspective you simply cannot get any other way.
Rather stay on land – Hiring a golf cart is a popular and fun way to explore Ambergis Caye or the smaller sister island of Caye Caulker. You can also take the popular trip by ferry, to wander the sand streets and enjoy a lazy lunch.
If you would like to opt for one of the following options we can make the arrangements on your behalf. Simply let us know which activity when you fill out your registration form and we will provide pricing information and details on setting it up for you.
At the end of Day Three, we’ll all meet up at the end of the day and share tales over a drink by the pool. Our accommodation is the Sunbreezes Hotel with breakfast included.
Day Four: Arrival in the Capital City of Belmopan
After a late breakfast, we head for the mainland on the Belize ferry and make our way to Belmopan, the nation’s capital. Located near the Belize River Valley with a view of the Mountain Pine Ridge foothills, Belmopan is one of the smallest capitals in the Americas, with a population of just under 17,000.
This is where we will meet up with the Belize Youth Empowerment League to learn more about their work in Belize. We will join Kevin Mendez, founder of BYEL, for a workshop learning about the work BYEL does on behalf of disadvantaged, LGBTQ+, and other minority populations in Belize. After dinner and the workshop, it’s time for bed as we prepare for a big day five!
Our accommodation includes a private room for each guest at the Belmopan Hotel. Breakfast and dinner are included on this day.
Day Five: Mount Pleasant Creek Cleanup and Workshop
It will be an early day on day five as we meet up with Kevin Mendez and others, in partnership with the Belize Environmental Ministry, to do a trash cleanup activity at Mount Pleasant Creek. During our activity, we will explore the creek and clean while learning more about the history and culture of the area.
After a rewarding morning giving back, we’ll bid farewell to Kevin and BYEC, have a quick lunch, then head ‘off grid’ deep into the interior of Belize’s largest National Park, the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. On arrival at the Las Cuevas Research Station deep within the Chiquibul Jungle, we will take a short hike to the Observation tower and witness our first amazing sunset over the Chiquibul. As the sun sets, we’ll hear the night sounds of the forest come alive before heading back for dinner.
Tonight we stay at the Las Cuevas Research Station in a shared cabin/bunkhouse with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day Six: Into the Jungle
Wake up to the dawn chorus of the forest in time for an early breakfast before we head out for the day. The Chiquibul is a place of towering trees, spectacular jungle streams, and an underground cave system that includes two of the largest caverns in the world.
The National Park is home to numerous endangered animals and the work of the park rangers and anti-poaching patrols plays an important role for the Scarlet Macaw, of which there are only 1,000 individuals left in the wild.
Today half the group will journey to the Challillio Lake heading up the Mascal and Rascapulo rivers to visit the rangers who watch over and protect the Scarlet Macaws. The other half of the group will remain at the camp taking the trails, caving, and learning about the work of the FCD and the projects at the Las Cuevas station, including an interactive Macaw next climb.
Tonight we stay at the LCRS in a shared cabin/bunkhouse with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day Seven: The ‘Awe’ Cave
Today after breakfast the group switches around.
Those remaining at the station each day will have the chance to learn about what the rangers do and explore the closest cave.
Las Cuevas, originally referred to as the ‘Awe Cave’ is the most heavily modified cave in the Mundo Maya cave system. At the center of the cave are five stairways leading to a cenote with a live natural spring. Fifty-eight separate platforms connected by stairways indicate this cave was used for large and well-organized ceremonies by ancient Mayans.
Tonight we stay at the LCRS in a shared cabin/bunkhouse with breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Day Eight: The Caracol Mayan Ruins and Rio on Pools
Wake up for an early departure as we say farewell to our friends at the Chiquibul Ranger Station and leave the reserve to make our way to Caracol, where we will marvel at Belize’s largest and most impressive Mayan Ruins complex.
First occupied in 1200 BC and thought to have survived the initial collapse of the Mayan Empire, the extensive site has more than 35,000 known buildings and 100 tombs. A lucky group gets an early start as we’ll avoid the crowds. We’ll then depart after a picnic lunch heading to the north of the Pine Ridge Mountain region, stopping off for a swim at Rio on Pools. This gorgeous area is composed of natural swimming pools featuring mini-waterfalls cascading over rock formations.
We’ll arrive at Calico Jacks and have the evening off to relax by the pool before dinner which is followed by a talk on sustainable economic and community development.
Our accommodation is at Calico Jacks in shared 2 bedroom villas and lofts with breakfast and dinner included.
Day Nine: The ATM Caves
The early bird catches the worm as we make an early departure for the Actun Tunichil Mukhal (ATM) Cave for one of Belize’s top caving experiences.
We’ll start with a short hike through the thick jungle canopy before reaching the cave entrance. From there, we will be swimming, wading, and twisting for nearly 5 kilometers through the caves with an experienced guide. It is a truly remarkable underground experience.
In Mayan, the name Actun Tunichil Mukhal translates to “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher.” Why? Because within the ATM cave system are the skeletal remains of a time when it served as a sacrificial chamber. Gazing upon them will transport you back in time. As we come out of the other side of the ATM cave system, you’ll marvel at what we’ve seen and learned.
After another day of incredible adventure in paradise, it’s time to head to the coast to spend time chillaxin’ on the beaches of Southern Belize. Are you ready for another unique cultural experience?
Upon arrival, our accommodation is at Coconut Row / Buttonwood with breakfast and lunch included.
Day Ten: The Town of Hopkins and The Caribbean Coast
After having spent an incredible time living ‘off grid,’ we’ll bring you back to the comforts of civilization to close out this epic adventure.
Welcome to Hopkins, home of the Garifuna people. The Garifuna people are descendants of an Afro-indigenous population from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent who were exiled to the Honduran coast in the eighteenth century and subsequently moved to Belize’s southern Caribbean Coast.
You will be lucky to arrive in Hopkins on Garifuna Settlements Day, a holiday traditionally celebrated with the re-enactment of the original Garifuna landings by boats coming ashore with cassava sticks, plantation suckers and sugar cane.
Music, carnival parades, and Garifuna drumming are all part of the fun in and around the towns and villages of this region. So grab your floppy hat, follow the music, and join in the fun with the Garifuna people in and around the Caribbean town of Hopkins.
Our accommodation is at Coconut Row / Buttonwood with breakfast and lunch included.
Day Eleven: Palmento Grove and the Garifuna People
Today we’ll spend time with the team at Palmento Grove, a private cultural island destination close to Hopkins.
The opportunity to learn about eco-cultural sustainable activities that are supporting a resilient culture and people will be part of the experience. We’ll take a boat ride to the island to get dressed up in cultural outfits. before taking a walk through the Garifuna people’s historical journey, examine their food garden and walking along their herb trail. There will be lots of food tasting and coconut processing (husking, grating, and milk extraction).
We will finish the day with our Garifuna hosts making Hudut, their traditional meal with time to get to know our hosts and their families, before we will conclude the evening with a drumming lesson.
Our accommodation is at Coconut Row / Buttonwood in shared 2 bedroom units with Breakfast, lunch, and a farewell dinner included.
Day Twelve: The Journey Home
Finally, it’s time to pack up and head for home after our amazing adventure.
With the energy and spirit of the Garifuna in your heart and memories of the incredible diversity of this small Central American nation in your mind, you will leave Belize with a stronger vision for a kinder, more sustainable future.
To give you flexibility to extend your stay or travel further in the country, a return transfer has not been included within the tour price.
You are free to either travel by land or take the short flight from nearby Dangriga to Belize.
Subject to demand we can arrange a group road transfer to Belize airport to connect with outbound flights to (please inquire with us for further details).
Are You Ready?
Does this sound like an amazing opportunity, or what? Now, to the final important details…
We are offering this trip for $3,699. That price includes lodging, in-country transportation, excursions, Floppy Hat Adventures gear, and most meals. It does not include airfare or optional excursions. A deposit of $500 is due to hold your spot, with the rest due August 12, ninety days before we depart. Portions of what you pay will go directly to the NGOs we are working with, Friends for Conservation and Development and The Belize Youth Empowerment for Change.
We are only accepting 12 people onto this adventure, so if you are interested, please click or tap the link below and fill out our registration form, then we will be in touch. Filling out the form does not require payment, you are merely stating your interest. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your floppy hat and come join us on our journey to incredible natural wonders, ancient history, and the vibrant energy of Belize.