Tastemaker Colu Henry knows a thing or two about beauty—and about how to capture it through a lens. The former Director of Special Projects for Bon Appétit spends her days on the hunt for photogenic people, places, and experiences, sharing images of them with loyal followers on Instagram (@coluhenry). From shots of her test-kitchen recipes (she's currently writing a pasta cookbook) to snaps taken around her home in Hudson, New York, Henry's feed is deliciously tantalizing.
Though well traveled, Henry had never been to Belize before she was sent to the Central American nation on assignment for AFAR. Her mission? Do what she does best: eat, drink, and immerse herself while capturing it all with gorgeous photos.
We spoke with Henry to find out what she loved most about her trip and what tips she has for travelers considering a Belize vacation.
AFAR: Colu, what did you know about Belize before your trip and what were your first impressions of the country?
Colu Henry: Belize had always sounded exotic to me, but I honestly didn't know much about the country before my trip. Friends had visited recently, and I had been hearing some amazing things, but had yet to experience them. I'm so lucky I was able to! I was totally awestruck by Belize's beauty. My jaw dropped as we flew over the sea. The color of the water alone was like nothing I had ever seen.
AFAR: What were your most memorable experiences in Belize?
Colu Henry: That's a tough one! This was my first solo out-of-the-country trip, and I went into the experience worried I would be on guard and nervous. But it was just the opposite because everyone I encountered was kind, helpful, and warm. The man who took me on the Monkey River tour and jungle hike was especially amazing. He had been born and raised in the area and knew every single bird and plant we came across.
Belize's food was memorable, too. The fry jack at Pop's and chicken curry at Elvi's Kitchen were delicious. And don't tell my mom, but Chef Jennie of Elvi's drove me back to the hotel on the back of her motorcycle.
Speaking of hotels, I had over-the-top amazing accommodations at the three places where I stayed: Victoria House, Ka'ana Belize, Chabil Mar. I have never felt safer. I felt right at home.
AFAR: Why do you think more travelers should consider exploring Belize? And what should they keep in mind?
Colu Henry: Belize really does have something for everyone. If you want to hike through the rain forest, explore ruins, snorkel with incredibly beautiful fish, or just lie on the beach with a drink in your hand, you can. It's a perfect “choose your own adventure” destination!
I recommend that travelers spend a week or so in Belize. Flights throughout the country are frequent and affordable, making it easy to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time and see all of the country's diversity.
AFAR: You have an eye for photography; what do you think makes Belize so Instagram-friendly? Do you have any tips for capturing compelling images there?
Colu Henry: There is beauty everywhere in Belize! The colors are incredibly vibrant, and the people are so friendly. When Instagramming, I always try to look for moments that really telegraph a sense of place, whether that's through a colorful cocktail, a bustling market, or a local mastering his or her craft. I use the VSCO app to take and filter images, and natural light is key.