A former British colony, Central American Belize is very much Caribbean in spirit. Twice the size of Jamaica and larger than El Salvador, this not so tiny country offers a bounty of sun, sand, islands, mountains, caves, rainforests, ancient archaeology and wildlife like no other in the region. Forty three per cent of this English and Spanish speaking tropical paradise is protected park and nature reserve land. Mysterious Maya ruins, most still unexplored, await amid the rainforest cloud canopies.
Spectacular scuba diving, snorkeling and eco-adventures are an everyday part of life along the world’s second-longest barrier reef. The 1000-foot-diameter Great Blue Hole is so big and so Pantone-blue that it can be seen from outer space. To make the most of your visit, consider domestic flights within Belize. Puddle jumpers operate every day of the week and make anywhere in Belize easily accessible in less than one hour.
Top Destinations In Belize
1. Ambergris Caye is the granddaddy of tourism destinations in Belize. An island about the size of Barbados, Ambergris Caye’s population and tourism facilities and hotels are concentrated in the south end of the island around San Pedro Town. This is where a lot of tourists head for and is the most heavily promoted tourism destination in the country.
2. Placencia Peninsula in the south is known for the best beaches in Belize and easy access by air or road. Less congested than Ambergris Caye, Placencia has lots of space and attractions in the surrounding mainland, including the Jaguar Preserve and surrounding mountains and rainforest.
3. Corozal in the north is famous for being right on the border with Mexico – a fifteen minute drive to a modern city at Chetumal with all the amenities of the first world: shopping, restaurants, night life, reasonable prices and a whole new culture. No wonder it is the hideout for a thriving expat community.
4. Orange Walk in northern Belize is not very high on the tourism radar map, being more known an industrial cane sugar and rum producer. But it has much to offer for those looking at inland lagoon and river eco-systems, wildlife and the well-known Lamanai Maya Ruin.
5. Cayo District is Belize’s gateway to the western border with Guatemala and a favorite with tourists and expats. San Ignacio-Santa Elena offer several world-class jungle lodges, the largest concentration of Maya Ruins in Belize, and easy access to Melchor de Mencos a border town Guatemala’s Peten province. The Rural Areas Of Cayo include San Jose Succotz next to the Xunantunich Maya Ruin.
6. Belize City is the ramshackle commercial capital with dusty concrete streets that all cruise ship passengers will experience as their disembarkation point. The city is more into servicing tourists with horse and buggy rides, power boat adventures in the surrounding wetlands, a casino and night life. But look beyond to the rural areas for the highly regarded bird and howler monkey sanctuaries.
7. Stann Creek in the mid-south is the center of Belize’s Garifuna Nation with its main town, Dangriga, also known as Culture Capital. Nothing in Belize comes close to the rich Garifuna music and culture you will find in this region. This district is the home of Placencia, Seine Bight and Sittee River – all top notch tourist destinations in their own right.
8. Toledo is no longer the forgotten district it once was. Although the furthest place to get to from most of Belize, it is home to several jungle resorts, economic lodging, dozens of genuine Maya Ruins, wide open spaces, and the gateway water taxi service to Guatemala’s Izabal Province with daily runs to Puerto Barrios.
9. City Of Belmopan is bypassed by most tourists or used to fill up gas and supplies for journeys to other destinations. This is the capital and seat of government. More a residence for civil servants, the city has good infrastructure and housing and little more beyond that from a tourist perspective. But its annual Agriculture Show is the largest in the country and attracts thousands for the three day event usually held in May.
10. Caye Caulker is 11 miles from Ambergris Caye and regarded as a smaller, less congested and more economical version of the bigger island. Caye Caulker residents are proud of their little island pointing out it suffers no traffic jams, is less noisy, and adheres to its official “Go Slow” motto. Served by daily, on-the-hour water taxi and flights from the Belize International Airport Caye Caulker has most everything Ambergris Caye offers for the vacationer but on a smaller, more fishing-village-like environment.
11. Chetumal, Quintana Roo is right across the border in Belize’s north and sees thousands of Belizeans and tourists crossing over every day to sample Mexico’s rich culture and modern amenities not available in Belize.
12. Guatemala borders Belize to the west and south. These regions while not offering the first-world experience of Mexico’s Chetumal in the north, offer Belizeans and visitors a welcome respite from the same-old Belizean experience. Tikal and Melchor de Mencos are the two of the most popular options for visitors.
13. Puerto Barrios in Guatemala is a beautiful port and tourism destination a half-hour boat ride from Punta Gorda in Toledo popular with Belizeans and visitors. The Izabal Province of Guatemala is rich with Maya Ruins, wildlife, and well-known for its mystic and at once majestic Rio Dulce, Guatemala tourist and expat boating center.