Children love Belize and Belizeans love children. At least, this was my experience the last time I traveled with my family; the Belizeans we met couldn’t get enough of my 9monthold daughter, Shanti. For one, she was snatched away by every one of our restaurant servers, allowing us to eat in peace while Shanti and the restaurant staff entertained one another.
A select few romantic resorts do not allow children, but most do. Any place offering a special “family package” is a place to start your research. Always check in advance and tell the staff the ages of your children. You’ll find most resorts are quite experienced at dealing with all ages.
For babies, be prepared with your own travel kit, but don’t stress it too much if you forget something. There is a modern selection of jarred food, diapers, bottles, formula, and the like at Brodie’s supermarkets in Belize City . If you’re short on jars, or if baby wants more than breast milk, you’ll find enough fresh fruit and fish to keep your baby growing the whole time you’re in Belize. A few resorts can provide a crib in your room if you want one, but make sure you verify this in advance; otherwise bring your own foldup contraption, which can be great for the beach too, especially since you can easily drape a mosquito net over the top.
Once in Belize, a visit to the zoo is a must . There are a few kidfriendly cave trips, and, of course, scrambling on the pyramids at any of the archaeological sites is heaven for young explorers. Just be extra careful about covering them up with loose, long clothing against the sun and mosquitoes, and make sure they stay hydrated while they rage through the jungle. Also, during the rainy season, it’s best to steer clear of river activities like cave tubing, since rivers can be unpredictable when they swell with rain.
For the independent woman, Belize is a great place for group or solo travel. Its size makes it easy to get around, English is spoken everywhere, and if you so desire, you won’t be lacking for a temporary travel partner in any part of the country. You’ll meet many fellow travelers at the small inexpensive inns and guesthouses. Belizeans are used to seeing all combinations of travelers; solo women are no exception.
That said, sexual harassment of females traveling alone or in small groups can be a problem, although most incidents are limited to no more than a few catcalls. Just keep on walking; usually, some minor acknowledgment that you have heard them will shut harassers up more quickly than totally ignoring them. Although violent sexual assault is not a common occurrence, it does occur (like anywhere in the world). Several American travelers were the victims of sexual assaults in recent years. At least one of these rapes occurred after the victim accepted a ride from a new acquaintance, while another occurred during an armed robbery at an isolated resort. Never give the name of your hotel or your room number to someone you don’t know.
Wearing revealing clothes will attract lots of gawking attention, possibly more than you want. Most of the small towns and villages are safe even at night, with the exception of Belize City—don’t walk anywhere there at night, even with friends.
A few international tour companies specialize in trips for independent, active women. For “uncommon advice for the independent woman traveler,” pick up a copy of Thalia Zepatos’s A Journey of One’s Own (Eighth Mountain Press), a highly acclaimed women’s travel resource.
Active seniors enjoy Belize. Some like the tranquility of the cayes, others the birdwatching in the Maya ruins. Many come to learn about the jungle and its creatures or about archaeology. Elderhostel (U.S. tel. 877/4268056, www.elderhostel.org ) has a number of tours to Belize, including dolphin and reef ecology projects.
Although there are plenty of outandabout gay Belizean men (in Kriol, “BattyMen” or “Benque Boys”), there is no established community or any gay clubs, per se. The foreign gay travelers we’ve seen were totally accepted by both their fellow lodge guests and Belizean hosts. Still, the act of “sodomy” (between men) is officially illegal in Belize, so a bit of discretion is advised.
There are probably about as many wheelchair ramps in all of Belize as there are traffic lights (three); disabled travelers will generally be treated with respect, but expect logistics to be a bit challenging in places. Experience Belize Tours (tel. 501/225-2981, U.S. tel. 205/383-2921, www.experiencebelizetours.com ) offers wheelchair-accessible tours for seniors, slow walkers, and disabled travelers.
You can also try Belize Special Tours (tel. 501/600-4284 or 501/824-4748, belizeanlove [at] yahoo [dot] com), catering specifically to travelers with disabilities, which offers tours of the Belize Zoo , Belize City  and the Altun Ha ruins .
Hok’ol K’in Guest House in Corozal  and Red Jaguar Lodge in San José de Succotz  both have very nice wheelchair-accessible suites and facilities. There is also a “Belize disabled travel holiday” listed on www.responsibletravel.com .