Belize Fishing Lodges—Remote Experience in an Ancient Land
Belize fishing lodges are part of a unique combination of land and marine ecosystems that still support the descendants of the Maya people, the first civilization in Belize. Belize has four distinct marine ecosystems which create the world-class fishing and adventures that await you. Fly fishing is very popular for the angler seeking bonefish, permit, and tarpon.
The Maya produced agriculture products for their use and also traded with other cultures in Central America. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (also known as the Great Maya Reef) is the second largest coral reef system in the world. The open ocean, seagrass, and mangrove ecosystems with the reefs provide habitat for hundreds of fish species and a great variety of fishing. Belize fishing lodges support these ecosystems and practice sustainable farming and fishing so generations more can visit this wonderful place.
Fishing in Belize
Belize is world renowned for fly fishing for permit, bonefish and tarpon. There are more than 200 miles of coastal flats in Belize. The flats extend from the mangrove swamps that provide protection to the shoreline and drop off quickly from shore. The flats especially off Punta Gorda in southern Belize are known for permit fish. Southern Belize is undeveloped and remote with very few people. Belize fishing lodges in the south cater to intermediate and expert fly fishing enthusiasts wanting the “Grand Slam” of catching a permit, bonefish and tarpon on a fly in a single day.
The reef system stretches more than 600 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Sapodilla Cayes in southern Belize. There are four major types of reefs in Belize—barrier, atolls, platform and fringing reefs. The coral atolls and Cayes (pronounced “key”) also have flats and lagoons which are home to permit, bonefish and tarpon.
With the popularity of fly fishing, most Belize fishing lodges and fishermen all but ignore deep sea fishing. The open ocean ecosystem is outside the reef and in most places about a 30 minute run to some fantastic fishing. Sailfish, tuna, dorado and more are plentiful in these waters.
Inside of the reef, fishing for grouper, cubera snapper, king fish and various jack fish is excellent. Belize has an extensive river system where you can fly fish for these fish as well as snook. Some Belize fishing lodges also have fishing at night inside the reef. If you have never fished at night, it is an awesome experience you should try.
January through May is the “dry” season and the best time for fly fishing. Permit fishing is excellent March through May and there is good bonefish angling year around. Deciding the fish species to target and the other activities you may want to do is important as the best Belize fishing lodges fill up for peak times well in advance.
Maya Culture, Rainforest, Sustainable Farming and More
I visited Belcampo in Punta Gorda in 2013. Next to the fly fishing, the activities at Belcampo make it the total Belize adventure package. The heart of Belcampo is the sustainable farm where the resort produces over 70% of the food for the lodge. Belcampo has many must see experiences:
- Culture tours of Mayan ruins and nearby villages and waterfalls
- Culinary tours of spice and chocolate farms and workshops with coffee and chocolate
- The Punta Gorda Town and Market Tour
- Guided snorkeling and diving tours of the reef
- Guided bird watching tours including an intro to bird watching for the beginner
- Complimentary kayaking, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking
These adventures are so unique and authentic you will want to return again and again to experience the people and the lands.
Geography, History and Culture of Belize
Belize (formerly British Honduras) is the only English speaking country in Central America. Residents speak Kriol day to day. Belize’s northern border is with Mexico and its western and southern borders are with Guatemala. The east coast is the Caribbean Sea and is lined with mangrove swamps. Off the coast is also the second largest coral reef on earth and some of the best diving and snorkeling waters in the world. Belize is known for its distinctive ecosystems. There are mountains in the south and many jungles, forests, plant and animal species and the largest cave system in Central America. Approximately 25% of Belize is protected in some fashion including its national parks, wildlife preserves and reefs. Belize is one of the best places to see whale sharks from April to July. Belize has the lowest population density of any Central American country.
Experts believe Belize was the center of the Maya civilization. Artifacts dating back to approximately 1500 B.C. have been discovered. Belize has 1,400 Maya sites—more than any other area. Archeologists have discovered an advanced society and there are numerous ruins you can visit in Belize.
The first contact with Europeans was in the early 1500’s. After about 150 years of turmoil in the area, the first British settlement in Belize was by shipwrecked British sailors. British common law governs Belize. British rule continued and the political system evolved until Belize became independent in 1981. The population made the queen of England the formal head of the government making Belize officially a constitutional monarchy. Political power rests with a prime minister and cabinet responsible to the Belize House of Representatives.
The Belizean people have a very diverse history. Three distinct Maya peoples live in Belize today. The Mopan have always been in Belize. The Q’echi immigrated from Guatemala into southern Belize and the Yucatec Maya came from Mexico in the north. Later, other peoples also came from parts of Nicaragua and Honduras. The British were the first Europeans to establish settlements in Belize and brought slaves from Africa primarily to log timber. The British and African cultures mixed into the Creole culture. The Garinaju culture and the Mestizo culture also migrated to Belize. There are descendants of Confederates from America that came to Belize after the Civil War and of Mennonites that came to Belize fleeing religious persecution. Other peoples from the British West Indies, India, China, the Middle East, Taiwan, Nigeria, and other Central American countries have also come to Belize.
Belize Will Change Your Life
Belcampo is one of the most incredible places I have visited. The fishing is world-class and so is the experience with the people and nature. There are so many cultures mixed together and they live here in peace. They are all happy to share what they have, give you a big smile and make sure you feel at home. At Belcampo Lodge we would awaken to howler monkeys protecting their territories and many species of birds in their morning routine. One morning we saw ten toucans fly in which is highly unusual and we thought it was a show just for us.
When driving around the area you see small homes with foods drying in the open air – coffee, beans, and chocolate. The chocolate farm tour is the best I’ve seen as it is so entirely authentic. The farmer had a dream at seventeen that he was being paid in cacao beans. That is when he knew he needed to devote his life to his farm.
These are the soulful people you meet on this adventure. From our Mayan guide sharing his culture and dreams for his people, to the young man passionate about birding, to the farmer at Belcampo who truly is devoted to nurturing the earth he tends…these are the people of Belize.
You won’t see a fast food outlet or big box retailer in Belize. Small markets and stores are how Belizeans shop and there is only one movie theater in the entire country. It is quite refreshing!
If this sounds like an adventure you would enjoy, give us a buzz. We would love to help you unplug in nature while fishing – the true luxury.