Belize Vacation Guide
Belize is small but vibrant country in Central America. It is located East of Guatemala and south of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Belize is the richest country in Central America, and also the only country south of the border with the official language of English. Belize is an amazing meeting point for various cultures, and its people are a mix of Caribbean, Mestizo, and Mayan descent. As a richer nation, Belize is the most expensive place to visit in Central America, but the cheapest in the Caribbean. Come to Belize if you are looking for a destination that is tourist friendly and both culturally and environmentally diverse.
What do in Belize
Belize offers two main hang outs for travelers: the ocean, and the jungle. The country is covered in beautiful rainforests and Mayan ruins. There are numerous eco-resorts throughout the country for an authentic yet luxurious experience. Here are the top activities for your Belizean vacation:
- Mayan Ruins: There are numerous Mayan ruins in Belize, and luckily many are not as crowded as those in Mexico . One of the largest ruins in called Xunantinich and is located right near the Guatemalan border. There are plenty of huge ruins to climb that will get you a great view of the surrounding rainforest. Tikal is also a popular and large ruin that is right over the Guatemalan border. A guidebook will contain complete information on the ruins within Belize.
- Cave exploration: There are lots of tour companies that will take you exploring the ancient caves in Belize around the Mopan River. Cave tubing is a popular tour which entails a relaxing inner-tube float through the caves which are flooded with water. Another great tour is walking through the ATM cave which contains hundreds of calcified Mayan pots and skeletons. This tour involves swimming into the entrance, wading through underground rivers, squeezing through tight walls, and climbing ladders up rock faces. Watch out for cave spiders!
- Scuba Diving: Some of the best diving in the world is in Belize! The best place to dive from is one of the popular large islands off the Belizean coast, Ambergis Caye and Caye Caulker. The dive shops on either island will take you on half or full days tours for multiple dives. Snorkeling is also an option for those who are not certified. The dive trips will take you to several great sites to see ship wrecks and more. You can even go to the Great Blue Hole, and experienced divers can descend over 100 feet to swim amongst stalactites.
- Island Hopping: The two main islands, Ambergis Caye and Caye Caulker, are both large islands that are great places for overnight visits. They are accessible via a short water taxi ride from the terminal in Belize City. There are also dozens of smaller islands that host private resorts for a more luxurious trip. Other islands can only be visited during the day and are protected parks. Some of these islands are major bird nesting grounds that are amazing to tour.
- Wildlife Tours: Belize is home to some amazing wildlife species. The best bet on where to find them? Look to the sea, or the sky. When scuba diving or snorkeling, you can expect to see numerous varieties of fish including turtles, Moray eel, and maybe even a harmless shark or two. As for the birds, they can be seen all around, but especially in the rainforest during dawn. Birding tours are available and you can expect to see colorful birds like the blue-crowned motmot, toucans, and even the rare crested caracal.
Where to Stay
If you are in search of a well rounded vacation, try to stay in both inland and island areas. Here are the top areas to stay:
- San Ignacio: This is one of the main inland towns to stay in. San Ignacio has many beautiful resorts to stay in that are close to the city center. San Ignacio is a small town, so don’t expect to find many amenities here other than a bustling marketplace and a few ATMs. San Ignacio is the perfect home base for visiting Mayan ruins, cave trips, and other rainforest exploration.
- Caye Caulker: This is the second largest island off the Belizean coast. Caye Caulker is the more laid back island of the two, and also much cheaper. You can walk from one end of the island to the other in under an hour, and the whole community of locals and expats are very laidback. The beaches are not the best but there is some swimming opportunities, as well as plenty of boats to take you out further. This is a great place to relax!
- San Pedro, Ambergis Caye. This is the largest Caye and definitely the most luxurious. If you are interested in shopping, dining, and more expensive hotels, this is the place to stay. San Pedro has a large expat community and is a beautiful place to enjoy the ocean and sun.
- Placencia: This is a smaller city on the southern coast of Belize. Placencia is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination. The town is known for having the best beaches on the Belize coast and is a great place for anyone to stay.
Still don't know what to do in Belize? Eat! Because of the mix of cultures, there is also an amazing mix of cuisine to be had. There are traditional Mexican style favorite like pulled pork burritos, as well as tasty seafood on all the islands!
Belize City can be dangerous, and is not a tourist-friendly city. If you are taking a bus to an outlying city from the airport, you will have to take a taxi to the Belize City bus station first. Be careful here as it is in the poorest part of the city. For more detailed information, considering purchasing a Belize guide book.