Gaïa Riverlodge

May 29 – June 1

Somehow we thought a flight departing SeaTac at 0112 hrs was a good idea. But there was really no other way to get to Belize in a timely manner, so it had to be done. Fortunately, we opted for business class for the red-eye portion (I know, I know… big spender) and the extra leg room was much appreciated. Our layover in Houston Int’l flew by (no pun intended) and soon we were on the plane to Belize. It was rad.

PHASE ONE of our honeymoon was 3 days, 3 nights in the Mountain Pine Reserve district at the Gaia Riverlodge. This place was insane. Because it was Belize’s “shoulder season”, we essentially had the place to ourselves. The lodge and grounds has accommodations for up to 36 guests. We saw no more than 8.

Not that it would have mattered. The grounds are well distributed and every couple gets their own self-contained casita. Easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. If thatched-roof buildings would withstand the weather and snow load in Washington, I totally would implement that style for our house.

Gaia was peaceful and beautiful, and very relaxing. The falls below the main lodge building were spectacular and the 300 steps down (and subsequently back up) were totally worth it. We did take the cable-driven mine cart down once but felt way too much like “rich Americans” so we walked down and up after that.

The food was un-belize-able. Ha! Got ya. Seriously though, 5 stars across the board. The first night for dinner, Hannah and I sat down not knowing even what to expect. The server handed us menus and we selected an appetizer to share and stuck with water to drink. The server came back a minute or two later and quietly said, “I’m sorry, but I’ve just been informed you are on the all-inclusive package and you each need to order an appetizer.” Twist my arm! It felt like we were getting away with something, but we ate like royalty.

In addition to “free” food, we also were able to go on a few excursions. Day two, we visited the nearby Mayan ruins of Caracol. With our guide, Rudy, and his trusty (and awesome!) Toyota Landcruiser, we navigated the road system out to the ruins on the Belize-Guatemala border and had a personalized tour. The entire place was interesting and Rudy told us that an archeological team had just been there a month prior and was discovering new things each year. Caracol, at its heyday, was a city of about 125,000 people but only a small handful of structures had been cleared and restored. The bulk of the old city was still claimed by the jungle. The best moment of that day was standing atop the “Temple of the Moon” staring across the Belizean junglescape and hearing howler monkeys roaring to each other. Literally felt like a scene from “Apocalypto”. I was hooked.

Day three, we went to the Barton Creek Cave for a geological lesson. Limestone is rad, kids. The Barton Cave is 7km long, though only the first kilometer is accessible by canoe (and non-scientific people with a guide). The cave, like many caves in the area, was once a spiritual site for Mayans. Embedded in the limestone wall about 300 meters in, is the skull of a 14-year-old boy, our guide Isael explained. Human sacrifices. Crazy! Our second adventure that day was going to be a jungle zip-line tour, but Belize’s shifting weather decided that was a “no”. Instead, we hung out in a cabana at the zip-line headquarters while a thunder and lightning storm sat right on top of us. After 30 minutes, Hannah and I called it and we returned to Gaia. Zip-lining can be done anywhere so we weren’t too broken up about it.


June 1 – 5

The surprise of this honeymoon trip was, in my mind, the domestic flight from Gaia to Matachica. It was incredibly fun to cruise over Belize at 1500′ in an 8-seat turboprop plane. Matachica/Gaia, if you’re listening: hype this part of the trip more. So fun.

On our arrival at San Pedro, we were greeted by our Matachica staff member who escorted us via golf cart to a waiting boat for the 5-mile, 10 minute ride north to Matachica’s resort location. The boat’s helmsman radioed ahead our drink order and we arrived to chilled, fruity beverages. Walking into our casita at Matachica, Hannah and I both instantly noticed an important and exciting change from our previous accommodations: air conditioning. Wow, what a game changer. We kept it like an icebox compared to the outdoors which was super muggy from the electrical storms in the area. It was fantastic. Matachica also has a pool and hot-tub. Winning. We spent a lot of time there.

The food here was good as well, but leaned much more heavily on an Americanized menu and a lot of seafood. I’m all about seafood, but Hannah isn’t as big a fan, so that made us long for the more traditional Belizean menu that Gaia has. We also learned that beach living isn’t really either of our go-to’s. We prefer mountains. I found it hard to do nothing on a beach all day, especially with the weather being so fickle. It wasn’t really hot, but it wasn’t cold; it also wasn’t sunny, but it wasn’t rainy either… I dunno. Our takeaway is: go to the mountains.