Why Visit Belize
Wedged between Mexico and Guatemala, the tiny and eclectic country of Belize has become one of the most popular eco tourism destinations in Central America for the intrepid traveler.
Lush tropical rain forests, pristine beaches, ancient Maya cities, diverse flora and fauna, and the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere are just a few of the many natural attractions that allure the adventure traveler to visit.
Belize has some of the most intriguing and fascinating wildlife in Central America. In fact 40 percent of the land is classified as protected and is habitat to a variety of species of plants, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine life.
There are more than 200 islands in Belize that are known as cayes (pronounced “keys”) that are easy accessible and can serve as ideal bases for fishing, snorkeling and diving. Some of the top islands to explore are: Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, South Water Caye, Silk Caye, St George’s Caye, Laughing Bird Caye and Tobacco Caye. Belize is known for one of the largest still existing coral reefs which makes a great spot to snorkel or deep dive.
The gigantic underwater Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is believed to be the world’s largest hole measuring 1000 ft across and 412 ft deep. It offers divers the ideal opportunity to see geological wonders like giant stalactites, dripstone sheets and amazing marine life such as nurse sharks, groupers and a vast array of fishes and Caribbean sharks.
The Blue Hole was made famous in 1971 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the French Explorer in the television series – The Undersea world of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
You can also find one of the only existing Water Buffalo herds in Belize at The Mayan Garden, where The Sacred Healing Center has many of their yoga retreats.
The food in Belize is as diverse as its population and consists of a vast array of elements from the different ethnic groups like the Garifuna, Maya, Mestizo, East Indian and Creole. Some of the top must eats are: Rice and Beans, Fry Jacks, Johnny Cakes, Stew Chicken, Gibnut, Escabeche, Tamales, Hudut, and Fish Sere.
While English is still the official language of Belize, Spanish is the first language of the majority. Most Spanish speakers in Belize are also fluent in English, making Belize a bilingual country. And if you count the third, informal language (but still a real, accredited language) Belizean Kriol, it’s a trilingual country.
The other major ethnic group in Belize are the original Mayans who make up over 10 percent of the population. There are also the Garifuna, who account for six percent of all Belizeans. The Garifuna are descendants of shipwrecked Africans and native islanders from the Antilles. Over time the shipwrecked slaves and the native cultures intermingled and became one. The British deported the Garifuna from the Antilles to Central America in the 1730s. They have lived there ever since, in Belize and on the Caribbean coasts of Guatemala and Honduras.
- Snorkeling at the Coral Reef
- Deep Diving at The Coral Reef
- Blue Hole
- Hiking to Mayan Ruins
- Cave Tubing
- Zip Lining
Top Favorite Cities & Destinations
Caye Caulker Island
‘No Shirt, No Shoes…No Problem.’ You’ll see this sign everywhere in Belize, but no place is it more apt than Caye Caulker. On this tiny island, where cars, too, are blissfully absent, dogs nap in the middle of the dirt road and suntanned cyclists pedal around them. The only traffic sign on the island instructs golf carts and bicycles to ‘go slow,’ and that directive is taken seriously.
In place of hassles, Caulker offers balmy breezes, fresh seafood, azure waters and a fantastic barrier reef at its doorstep. The easygoing attitude is due in part to the strong Creole presence on the island, which pulses to a classic reggae beat and is home to a small community of Rastafarians. This has long been a budget traveler’s mecca, but in recent years tourists of all ages and incomes have begun to appreciate the island’s unique atmosphere.
San Pedro Island
Pedro Town is the major settlement on the island. San Pedro’s populace has grown to 10,000 plus year-round inhabitants, with many newcomers from the mainland and from abroad as well. The original “San Pedranos” (from the 1800’s til the 1970’s or so) are Mestizo, and speak both Spanish and English. The island has the largest concentration of visitor accommodations in Belize and its hotels, fishing and diving facilities are some of the best in the country.
The town is a picture postcard setting beside the clear turquoise sea. Coconut palms sway and rustle in the gentle cooling trade winds. Low rise hotels, guest houses and boutique style resorts & condos, from modest to magnificent, are nestled along the coast and throughout the town.
If you want a comfortable, shorts-and-sandals seaside vacation, at a moderate price, just a bit off the beaten path but not too far, where the seafood is fresh and beer is cold, where the water won’t make you sick, an island with most of the modern conveniences without the plastic tackiness, with great diving, excellent snorkeling, beautiful water and beautiful white sand beaches, where local folks are mostly friendly and speak English (though they may speak Spanish at home), with dependably beautiful weather most of the time, then I guarantee you’ll enjoy Ambergris Caye.
Lamanai Mayan Ruins
Lamanai, located on 950 ares (the site’s core is about a 12 square miles), is one of the largest Maya ceremonial sites in Belize, including more than 100 minor structures, a ball court and about 12 major buildings, most notably the Temple of the Mask, thought to be an Olmec God or Kinich Ahau, the Maya Sun God, the Temple of the Jaguar Masks and the High Temple (so-called because of its height).
Lamanai’s lay-out was quite different from most other Maya sites in Belize that were generally organized in plazas around a ceremonal structure. However, at Lamanai, most ceremonial buildings were built along the west bank of the New River and the New River Lagoon, with residential structures to the north, west and south.
Access to the Lamanai ruins is by boat up the New River from Orange Walk. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is located 8 miles west of the Lamanai Archological reserve.
Jaguar Paw Cave Tubing
Your journey takes you through a series of caves, each filled with fascinating discoveries. Learn where the Maya worshiped, sacrificed, and got their sacred water from. This adventure is filled with much humor and excitement as much as it is refreshing.
Your day starts at 9:00 AM with a 1.5-hour drive to the site. At the park, you grab an inner tube, then embark on a 45 minutes hike across the clear blue Caves Branch River and along a trail heading upstream alongside the river. Your guide will point out interesting aspects of the local flora&fauna – the perfect time to take out your cameras!
Upon arrival at the designated starting point, your guide will brief you on the proper safety techniques for boarding & floating on your tube. If you’re adventurous, you’ll want to dive or splash into the water from a rock at the starting point.
You’ll set yourself afloat through a series of cavers which periodically open up to the sunshine & jungle. Your guide will occasionally point out various Maya artifacts. You may unboard your tube & walk up for a closer look if you wish.