This tiny country that is sandwiched between Mexico and Guatemala is quickly becoming one of the hottest eco-tourist destinations in the world. Here is where you will find amazing preserved ancient Mayan cities, lush tropical jungles and stunning white sand beaches with brilliant blue waters to swim in. Throw in the fact that English is the official language, the weather is beautiful all year round and there are hundreds of islands to visit just a boat ride away and it’s no wonder people are flocking here year after year. From beaches to ruins to the famous Blue Hole; here are 10 awesome things to see and do in Belize.
10. Take a Helicopter Ride
There is diving into the Blue Hole, another experience unlike any other and then there is flying over the Blue Hole, an experience that will absolutely blow your mind. If you have never taken a helicopter ride, Belize is the perfect country to do so. Flying over the Blue Hole can be costly, but seeing the near perfect circle of indigo surrounded by coral reefs is truly breathtaking. Helicopters will hover allowing you to take fabulous photos. Other helicopter tours are offered throughout the country taking visitors above the city itself and the barrier reef. The pilot will also take you over many of the islands just offshore. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and divers on these tours! Whether you are floating through the air above the world famous Blue Hole or discovering what the reef looks like from above, we can promise it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
9. Visit the Ruins of Lamanai
It is one of the biggest and best excavated Mayan sites in Belize and worth a visit if you are in Belize. The ruins are known for both their marvelous architecture and the stunning scenery they are set in. They are surrounded by dense rain forests overlooking the New River Lagoon and most visitors choose to get there by boat. Visitors will enjoy the beautiful jungle, wildlife and local archaeology as they make their way to the ruins. Many of the ruins here are open to tourists and can be climbed, giving panoramic views of the surrounding area. Beautiful trails lead from ruin to ruin while spider and howler monkeys can be seen all over the place. If you are interested in the fascinating history of the Maya civilization, Lamanai is not to be missed.
8. Head to the Beach
The country itself has over 240 miles of coastline and hundreds of islands and therefore no surprise one of the top things to do here is hit the beach. The Placencia Peninsula is the longest stretch of beach in mainland Belize and dubbed as “barefoot perfect”. It stretches across three villages, offers restaurants and nightlife and all of the beaches here are public. If you are looking for something a little quieter, head to Half Moon Caye where Caribbean waters, a crescent shaped beach and white sand set the stage for a magical day. Part of the Caye is a protected turtle nesting site while the other half is home to a littoral forest with a protected red-footed booby sanctuary. There are countless beaches in this country, whether you get there by boat, plane or foot and be sure take some time to explore more than just one of them.
7. Dive the Blue Hole
The Blue Hole descends over 400 feet and only experienced divers can sink into this world famous sinkhole. Snorkelers can explore the surrounding coral reefs but only experienced divers can descend along the wall down to 130 feet. Here is where you will find an array of limestone formations and bizarre stalactites. There are no colorful fish or coral down in these depths but you may be privy to a hammerhead shark or two that like to hang around. Other marine life that likes to hang out down there is barracudas, rays and reef sharks. There is nothing quite like the silence that surrounds you when you are 130 feet deep, surrounded by the stalactites of the collapsed prehistoric cavern. This is a dive you have to check off your bucket list.
6. Tube the Caves Branch River
There is nothing quite like floating seven miles underground in the river of caves with only a headlight to guide your way. The adventure starts with a 20-30 minute hike through the jungle lead by a guide you have hired beforehand or one of many that hang around the entrance. The guide will provide you with interesting facts about the flora and fauna on your way to the river. When you reach the river, the tubes are tied together and off you go immediately into the caves. The cave formations are unique and inside you are privy to waterfalls, rock formations and crystals. The water is cool and refreshing and the cave portion lasts about 30 minutes. The tour ends with a final tube ride through the river where it is possible to spot toucans and howler monkeys. Inner tubes, hard hats and lights are all provided by the guides.
5. Stay in a Jungle Lodge
Belize is certainly the place to visit if you are looking for a stay in a unique lodge in the heart of a jungle. This country is home to many eco-lodges whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation or something of luxury. When you think about a jungle lodge in this country, think about world-class spas, infinity pools overlooking the treetops, elegant thatched cabins, exotic birds flying overhead and delicious food. Depending on what you are looking for, you can find a jungle lodge right on the river where zip lining and canoe adventures await, or one tucked deep in the jungle that demands a helicopter ride to reach it. Staying at one of these unique lodges means everything is taken care of and you can simply sit back and relax.
4. Visit the Zoo
The history of the zoo is an interesting one. It was created back in the 1980’s after a documentary being filmed about the animals of Belize left many of the animals too tame to be reintroduced into the wild. Sharon Matola who was in charge of taking care of these animals decided to start the zoo and made it into something of a rescue facility. The Belize Zoo is known for displaying species that are endemic to the region and housing animals that were orphaned, injured and bred in captivity. Taking a night tour at the zoo is highly recommended as many of the animals are nocturnal. One of the most amazing things about this zoo is the interaction between the zoo animals and wild animals from the surrounding jungle. Don’t be surprised to see snakes, birds and iguanas roaming the grounds as well as howler monkeys talking to their nearby jungle relatives.
3. Escape to the Islands
Visiting the islands and islets of Belize is a must for any traveler who is craving white sand beaches, brilliant blue water and a place to relax. Visitors have their choice of hundreds of islands, over 450 to be exact, and some are much more accessible than others. Caye Caulker is a popular spot for backpackers and those not wanting as much luxury. Here no cars are allowed and people get around by golf carts and foot. If you want something a little bigger with more options Ambergris Caye is where you will find more hotels, water sports and plenty of restaurants and bars. If you are looking to escape reality and curl up in a hammock under the sun you should head to Tobacco Caye where this tiny island is only home to a handful of locals who are willing to rent out their guesthouses.
2. Climb Ca’ana
Caracol is the most spectacular Mayan site in Belize and it is here where visitors will find the large pyramid of Ca’ana. There are actual 35,000 buildings on this site and many have not been excavated yet, but the ones that have begged to be climbed. Ca’ana is the highest of them all and it is a grueling trip to the top. What makes the trip worth it though is the view from the top. The pyramid stands 143 feet high and is the highest man made structure in Belize. The stairs to the top look like they are made of giants and climbing them is certainly an adventure in itself. Once at the top you have striking views of the jungle and the treetops, keeping your eyes peeled for jaguars, monkeys, toucans, tapirs and scarlet macaws.
1. Snorkel in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Belize’s oldest marine reserve provides an unparalleled diving and snorkeling experience while protecting marine life along the north section of the Belize Barrier Reef. To get here visitors have to hire a boat and a guide and trips usually run twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The marine reserve is essentially divided into four zones, the first being the Hol Cut Chan. Here divers and snorkelers will find a huge abundance of colorful and friendly fish. Rays, lobsters and eels also make an appearance in these waters. The second and third zones are home to sea grass beds and mangroves. Shark Ray Alley is the fourth zone and divers are guaranteed to see a school of nurse sharks that loiter around in these waters. Stingrays also call this place home and while not dangerous, it is important to remember these are all wild animals.