Belize Honeymoon at Black Rock Lodge
Hello, hello! I hope you are all ready for the weekend and have some great plans. Maybe something “summery” before you move into fall activities? It’s been in the 80s and 90s in Virginia, with humidity sky high! But, I think a tease of crisper, fall weather may be in sight for the weekend and I am pumped!
I will be spending my Saturday cheering on Jarrett as he competes in a Strongman competition. It’s usually a mix of cringing, yelling at him to move faster, and laughs, so it’s bound to be a good time. Not sure what Strongman is? You can check out his instagram here. 🙂
Anyways, let’s move into today’s post. I have been recapping our honeymoon to Belize, so if you missed those previous posts, check them out here and here. Today, I’m diving into our stay at Black Rock Lodge and all of the adventures we had in and around San Ignacio, in the Cayo District of Belize.
Once again, I turned to my ever-trusty Trip Advisor and narrowed down the search by focusing on hotels with their “certificate of excellence.” Jarrett and I wanted a true jungle lodge experience, which Black Rock Lodge delivered.
Set in the mountains outside of San Ignacio, the Lodge was approximately 2.5 hours from Belize City. Since we stayed on Caye Caulker for the first half of our honeymoon, we took a ferry back to mainland Belize and were met by our private transfer. A few guests appeared to have rented cars, but I only recommend that for skilled, brave drivers. Ha! There is one main highway from Belize City to San Ignacio, but there are very few road rules. Prepare to pass on the wrong side of the road or get stuck behind trailer trucks. The road down to the Lodge is not paved and incredibly hilly. You would definitely need an off-road capable vehicle.
Okay, back to the Lodge itself. Black Rock is an eco-friendly, largely self-sustained resort deep in the jungle. The power is supplied by the Macal River and solar panels. They also have an organic garden and a few farm animals to help supply food to the hotel. Given these facts, this is not the resort you want to stay at if you expect air conditioning, an endless supply of hot water, and an unlimited menu.
As far as food goes, I thought it was great! Breakfast and lunch have larger menu options, however dinner is served family style and you choose from two meals: meat or vegetarian. Dinner is multiple courses, beginning with salad, and ending with dessert. There is the option of having a private dinner should you choose, but it is fun to mix and mingle with other guests at the small resort.
Food and drinks are not included in the price of your room and they are on the pricier side. Dinners were over $20 ea night, per person, with the other meals varying and being less expensive.
We stayed in a King Bedroom with a River View. Our bungalow had the best location! The room was steps away from the main building, which is where meals are served and where you go to schedule your tours. I thought our bedroom and bathroom were beautiful, with wood planked, high ceilings and screened windows surrounding the room.
With that being said, let me repeat, there is no air conditioning. There is a ceiling fan, but otherwise you are only separated by the outdoors by screens. This also means that you may have some creepy crawlies joining you… we had a couple of cockroaches and a lizard on the ceiling. Eek!
Black Rock Lodge offers a number of onsite activities, however a number of them cost extra due to the use of a guide. Complimentary activities included use of the small pool, a sustainability tour around the property, and self-guided river tubing. We did the following onsite adventures during our stay:
We awoke bright and early on our first full day at the Lodge for bird watching! Now, in general, this would not be my first choice of activity. However, Jarrett was very excited about this and we did a number of activities that he only engaged in for me. So, off we went around 6:30am, with our guide and a set of binoculars.
There are hundreds of species of bird that can be spotted around the Lodge and I actually ended up enjoying myself. We saw gigantic Toucans in the wild, which pretty much made up for the early morning.
This was another one of those activities I did for my husband. Oh, the things you do for love. This again was an activity in search of animals. However, being that it was dark outside, we were on the hunt for animals I usually avoid. Think tarantulas, scorpions, and snakes. Ew! We ended up spotting a number of said animals, but luckily no snakes! Jarrett loved it, and has told a number of people about the scorpion since we returned.
The Macal River runs through Black Rock Lodge, so we were able to take a guided canoe down a good amount of the river. Waters were calm and no scary animals spotted, thank goodness! Just a lot of birds, howler monkeys, and iguanas.
There are a number of guided tours that you can book through the Lodge. My guess is that they are more expensive, but the convenience makes it 100% worth it. Unless you have a rental car, I think it makes your travel much less stressful to just complete your tours through Black Rock. Outside of one instance, which I will describe in detail below, things were seamless.
San Ignacio Market & Benny’s
In the city of San Ignacio, Saturday is market day. When I travel, I enjoy sneak peeks into the local culture and anything that includes food calls to me! We went into town for the market and tried a number of different foods, including soursop. Its honestly a very strange fruit, with a slimy consistency, but a sour taste. I didn’t mind it, but Jarrett could not get over the consistency. I also tried homemade ice cream in the same flavor, which was incredible!
Before heading back to the Lodge, we had lunch at a local restaurant, Benny’s Kitchen. The menu was huge and the local food was amazing, so I highly recommend stopping here for a bite.
You ready for a long story? A little background first. Tikal is a city of Mayan ruins, across the border in Guatemala. They are one of the largest and most excavated ruins in Central America, so we were excited to explore the unearthed city!
Now, we were told that Belize and Guatemala do not have a friendly border. Guatemala apparently thinks they should own the Cayo District of Belize, which is the wealthiest, and therefore not land Belize wants to give away. So, we were warned in advance that our drive from Black Rock would likely not be able to cross the border with us, but that we would be made aware of our Guatemalan guides.
Well, we crossed without a guide and stood at the militarized border for over an hour before someone told us they were our driver! Talk about scary! Guatemalan police were guarding the border with machine guns and spoke only Spanish, very different than the English-speaking easy going Belizeans. By the time our guide did approach us, we weren’t even sure if they were the right people, or just individuals that overheard which Lodge we were staying at. Needless to say, our 2 hour drive from the border to the Tikal ruins was stressful, not knowing if we were being taken to the Mayan site, or to our deaths… a bit dramatic, but I have a flair for that. Ha! Luckily, we were safe and thoroughly enjoyed the site!
Overall, I would highly recommend exploring Tikal, but just emphasize the need for better communication. Black Rock Lodge did a few things to compensate us for the hassle, but honestly, I thought they could have done a lot to avoid it in the first place.
The ruins themselves are stunning! There are a number of temples that you are still able to climb, with stairs built along the side. The jungle is teeming with spider monkeys and the views from the top cannot be beat.
This was my favorite activity of our honeymoon and made me realize how much I miss riding! I grew up horseback riding and jumped at the opportunity to ride through the jungle during our stay. The stables were a 5 minute drive from the Lodge and our guide was fantastic! We signed up for a farm ride, but ended up riding through the jungle, up small mountains, that turned out to be an unexcavated Mayan site.
If you are comfortable riding, this will be a breeze for you! Jarrett had never been on a horse and still enjoyed himself! I even got to gallop, which just made my heart so happy. Once we have caught up on the wedding-related bills, I am planning on looking into local stables so I can start lessons again.
We went river tubing while on our transfer back to Belize City. It appeared to be a very popular spot, and I think where all of the cruise ships send their guests! We sat in tubes and took an easy ride through a cave system, which landed you in pitch darkness for a few minutes.
While it was beautiful and relaxing, I do not honestly think it was worth the money. It was not a very long excursion and there was nothing thrilling about it. Unless you really want to do this, I would say its safe to skip.
Bring water shoes for all of the tours in this district. And bug spray. Lots of bug spray.
The ATM Cave is the main attraction in the Cayo district, but is more adventurous. You wade through water, sometimes swimming, and have to go through a few tight spaces. This is after a long hike through the jungle. It is something that we heard great things about, but not something we felt we were ready to embark on. I also want to note that you are not allowed to take any pictures.
If you are staying at Black Rock Lodge, you can pick your tours the night before. This was great because they could be affected by river water levels, weather, etc. Not having to book in advance was a luxury.
Things cost more in this area of Belize. Just be prepared to spend a little more money.
We were told by a number of people that we did our honeymoon backwards. Locals recommended the adventure of the Cayo be completed first, with relaxing on an island second. I, personally, think we did it correctly for us, as we really needed to relax after our wedding festivities.