Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America. It offers a unique combination of richly rewarding experiences that make it unlike any destination on the planet. It is considered one of the top diving destinations in the world.
Swim with exotic sea life along the Western Hemisphere's largest barrier reef. Escape to any of the more than 400 tropical islands and three of the Western Hemisphere's four coral atolls surrounded by pristine turquoise waters.
Discover the highest waterfall and the most extensive cave system in Central America and dive in the world famous Blue Hole.
Hike thousands of acres of unspoiled forest, including one of the only jaguar preserves in the world. Explore the fascinating mysteries of the largest concentration of Maya sites in the region.
The harmoniuos blend of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese creates wonderful cultural traditions, including fabulous cuisine.
From the deep Blue Hole to the wonders of the ancient Maya temples, each region of Belize offers a uniquely different experience.
The Central Coast of Belize
Central Belize is perfect to discover a little bit of everything the country has to offer: ancient Maya monuments, British history, cultural diversity and nature.
Here you will find Belize City, the business center of the country. The largest hotels are found here, with conference facilities and professional services, as well as restaurants, bars, nightlife, Belize’s only cruise passenger terminal, the Museum of Belize and numerous historical sites. Quick connections—either by short flight or water taxi—to offshore islands make for great day tours of snorkeling, diving and relaxing.
Just outside of Belize City, there are mysterious archaeological tours and jungle river adventures in the rainforest. Take a hike at Altun Ha, a Maya site that is home to howler monkeys and many colorful, rare bird species.
Belmopan, the capital city, is a great mix of interesting city living and amazing outdoor sites. Take a walk through Market Square for shops and local dining. Independence Plaza is home to the prime minister's offices and the National Assembly Building, which was designed to resemble a Maya temple.
When you’re done with city adventures, go explore Guanacaste National Park for a hike. If you're into cave-tubing, zip-lining or want a dip into the popular “Blue Hole,” try out Caves Branch! Then take a drive on the Hummingbird Highway, where there’s something new and amazing around every turn.
The North Islands
Travel to the Northern Islands for the calming effects of true island-living. Popular for its tranquil and night-life appeal, you can spend the day lounging on the beach, enjoy a snorkeling adventure among docile nurse sharks or simply enjoying the local food and drinks and chat with the friendly locals.
The top activity in this region is Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, where you can snorkel or scuba dive near the largest Barrier Reef in the Northern Hemisphere. You are going to love these islands.
Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize, at 36 miles long, and features the area's best nightlife and local dining. It's right next to the barrier reef, and you can swim with whale sharks here.
From cobblestone streets of bustling San Pedro outward to the northern and southern ends of the island, there are a wide assortment of accommodations, restaurants, bars, shops and tour operators to suit all budgets.
Another of my favorite northern islands is Caye Caulker, where the pace is slow and leisurly, but you'll find a lot going on. The main mode of transportation on this island is by foot or bicycle.
Caye Caulker is home to some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the area, as well as wind surfing, manatee tours and amazing fishing. With all these things to do, you may need some time to relax. Thankfully, there is a great beach, too.
Be sure to stop at the Lazy Lizard Bar & order a Lizard Drink. Check out the huge Tarpons in the island's reserve area. A must-visit tour in the Caye Caulker area is the manatee tour at Swallow Caye. Manatees can be seen year-round in this protected area. Be sure to take in the sun at the “split” and visit the Mini Reserve south of the island.
You'll find much local flavor in the less crowded sugar regions of Northern Belize. The New River, an ancient Maya waterway, showcases the wildlife and beautiful scenery of Northern Belize on the way to the Maya Temples.
Suga City has a little of everything, including some very friendly locals and some of the best night spots.
In Orange Walk you can slow the pace and travel back in time. Stop at cafes and get a first hand look at the everyday life of northern Belizeans. Then head to the Banquitas House of Culture to get a feel for the district’s history, culture and industry. They regularly host special traveling art, cultural and archeological exhibits.
When you’re done taking in the town, check out Honey Camp Lagoon, where the locals go. With its golden sandy beaches and coconut trees you’re sure to fall in love.
Corozal Town, the northernmost urban center in Belize, is a scenic and peaceful town nestled along the waters of Corozal Bay, where you can get off the tourist grid. Located 89 miles north of Belize City and only 7 miles from the Mexican border, the town has a population of almost 10,000.
It is the birthplace and home of the Mestizos (Maya and Spaniard culture). Today, the district encompasses a diverse population of ethnic backgrounds that have blended to give the people a distinctively relaxed outlook on life, making Corozal a tranquil paradise.
There's plenty to do here, everything from sport fishing to touring ancient Maya Temples at Cerros Ancient Maya Site to the Shipstern Nature Reserve, or just spend the afternoon at the water slide park.
Western Belize is known for its spectacular caving systems, waterfalls, rivers, ancient Maya archaeological sites, and lush jungles. Visit ancient Maya sites, such as: Caracol, Xunantunich, and Cahal Pech. Trek into the jungles and explore the magnificent cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave), or get acquainted with nature during a tour at Noj Ka’ax H’Men Eljio Panti National Park.
Going to see Xunantunich? Check out Benque Viejo del Carmen while you’re there. With the motto “Where History and Nature Meet, ” this Spanish-influenced town is located just a mile from the Guatemala border and offers a peaceful, riverfront setting with little shops and restaurants. It makes for a great place to discover something new, which is really what a vacation is all about.
Located 67 miles from Belize City is San Ignacio Town, connected by the Hawksworth Bridge to its twin town Santa Elena, San Ignacio is the largest town in the Cayo District and is a base for tourism activities throughout Cayo.
Whether you’re visiting ancient Maya temples, caving, hiking, kayaking or horseback riding, San Ignacio is a great place to chill out, grab some food and drinks, and get ready for another day. And if you want to spend the day here, there are plenty of great shops and friendly people to pass the time with.
For some of the best BBQ this side of anywhere, try Rodriguez BBQ in Santa Elena. Go to Sweet Ting for the best pastries in town. Head to Burns Ave. for drinks and conversation with locals.
Discover Carocal and see the amazing view from the top. Go spelunking in the caves. Canoe down the Mopan River.
In southern Belize the Maya, Garifuna, East Indians, and Chinese communities live in harmony and in unity. Here, daily living requires some form of farming and tourism. Check out the local market for great deals on handcrafts and hammocks.
Punta Gorda serves as the gateway to a host of activities like offshore fishing, river trips, caving, bird watching and ancient Maya archaeological sites.
Situated along the Caribbean Sea near the bay of Honduras with the dominant Maya Mountains in the background, Punta Gorda – locally known as “PG” – is the smallest and southernmost town in Belize.
Here, modern Maya, Garifuna and East Indian Belizeans live harmoniously while maintaining their individual cultures.
From the remarkable Maya Mountain Massif views to the golden sandy beaches, Placencia, Hopkins and Dangriga are a true fisherman’s village with strong cultural pride. These eco-tourist regions feature exceptional natural amenities, a signature of pristine Belize.
Plan to spend a few days in these areas. The list of must-stops on the picturesque Hummingbird Highway is endless. Visit the world’s only jaguar preserve ,Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, or explore National Parks, such as Mayflower Bocawina and the St. Herman’s Blue Hole.
Water activities are among the best. Enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, saltwater fly-fishing, whale shark watching and just about any other activity that takes place in the water.
The vibrant Garifuna culture of Dangriga remains a unified community, offering visitors the opportunity to join in cultural dances, musical drumming, and sample exotic foods.
Be sure to visit Why Not Island and stop at the Drum Of our Father Monument.
Hopkins is a calm fishing village that is home to some of the best beaches in the country. Hopkins is one of those rare destinations, where nature and culture takes over and explorations are endless. The area is surrounded by 100,000 acres of pristine preserved jungle and rivers within the famous Maya Mountains.
Book a visit with the Lebeha Boys for a truly traditional dancing and drumming demonstration inches away from the Caribbean Sea while you spend a leisurly day at Hopkins Beach immersing yourself in the culture and gorging on delicious cultural foods.
Known locally as “Barefoot Perfect,” Placencia Peninsula is 16 miles of golden sand, the only golden-sand beaches on mainland Belize. After hanging out on the beach, snorkeling and scuba diving, head into town and get a feel for what a traditional Kriol (Creole) fishing village is like. There are also village restaurants, bars and art galleries.
The Belize Reef
We saved the best of Belize for last. The Belize Barrier Reef spans 185 miles of the country’s coastline and is the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere.
As the largest and most intact reef system within the Northern Hemisphere, the Belize Barrier Reef comprises of seven key marine reserve zones, over four hundred cayes (islands) and three atolls. The reef’s crystal blue waters are a haven for its marine community, and an enticing exploratory region for SCUBA divers and snorkelers.
Discover the over five hundred species of fish, seventy hard coral and thirty-six soft coral species among plenty of aesthetic views both above and below water.
In 1996 this reef was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its significant habitats and natural development. Add the cultural appeal of Belize and skilled guides, and you’ve got yourself the dive trip of a lifetime.
Lighthouse Reef offers a great look at coral and sea life in a relatively shallow area. There are many different reefs within Lighthouse Atoll that are also great for exploring. It is another marine lagoon bounded by reef and sand islands, and a nesting site of the rare Red-Footed Booby located on Half Moon Caye. An observation tower and picnic facilities makes this an ideal stop between dives.
Dive boats leave regularly from San Pedro. Be sure to take one. You won’t be disappointed. Check out the Reef Canyons and The Reef Rollacoaster and be sure to dive the three atolls. Don't forget to bring your underwater camera.
Jacques Cousteau called the Great Blue Hole one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. We think it’s #1, but you can decide for yourself. The large submarine sinkhole is 43 miles from the mainland and the crystal-clear blue water allows you to see stalactites, stalagmites and sharks, lots of sharks. The Blue Hole is shaped like a funnel and is 407 feet deep. This is truly a one-of-a-kind diving experience.
If you're not a diver, be sure to snorkel, it's too amazing to miss!
Half Moon Caye is located in the lower southeast corner of the reef and is nothing short of a paradise. Snorkeling around this beautiful island is a fun way to see coral, seagrass beds and an abundance of unique marine life. Check out the conch here.
This small island is home to a national park and protected bird sanctuary (be sure to check out the treetop platform for the best bird watching). Here, you get the best of both worlds, all in a tiny island. You can see the beach and the lush greenery all in a very short walk. And without the crowds. The Old Lighthouse at Half Moon Caye is a Belize landmark.
Glover's Reef Atoll, named after Pirate Brothers John and Rodger Glover, is Belize's most remote atoll. Glover’s Reef is one of four atolls found in the western hemisphere (Belize has three) and is a protected National Reserve, making it one of the most unique and pure diving experiences you’ll ever have. Located 15 miles outside the Great Barrier Reef and some 70 miles from Belize City, it is a World Heritage Site.
On the southeast end, the six coral isles sitting atop the reef provide easy access for diving, snorkeling and sea kayaking. Explore the circular coral formation and see hundreds of different species of marine life in the area.
Turneffe Atoll is a great fishing spot, and you could spend a week just diving here. The islands have been recognized for over three decades as one of the Caribbean's top destinations for bonefish, tarpon and permit as well as a long list of other saltwater game fish. Saltwater fishermen also have the chance at the “Grand Slam,” catching a bonefish, permit and tarpon all in one day.
If fishing isn’t your thing, no worries, the islands are also home to countless aquatic species who’d rather have you look at them than catch them any day. Definitely bring your snorkel or scuba gear.