Once upon a time, Belize was a holiday destination for pirates. They lounged on the beaches, swam in the bays and lurked among the reefs and mangroves in their bandanas and eyepatches, waiting for passing galleons. The maps tell their holiday tales. The cayes and islands in these waters sound as if they have been lifted from Treasure Island and the buccaneering spirit still means something in this laid-back little country.
Belize is the natural home for all sorts of vagabonds and drifters, beach bums and runaways – for anyone who cleaves to the idea that a beach, a hammock and a degree of freedom are preferable to a career, a mortgage and membership of the golf club. Belize is a happy harbour for wayward romantics. Running with the trade winds in the Inner Channel, Captain Cliff was philosophical. ‘It’s a great place to forget the rest of the world,’ he said. ‘Out here there’s nothing but the sea, the winds, the islands and the sense that life just doesn’t get a whole lot sweeter.’