With is eastern seaboard on the Caribbean Coast, Belize has beaches aplenty and most of them uncrowded. To get away from the throngs of tourists, go south and avoid the more traveled tourism corridor that is between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Most people do not know that the best beaches are not in northern Belize.
Starting from a point just out of the coast of Belize City, you will find the more secluded beaches. The best stretch is from Dangriga to the Placencia Peninsula where the jaded traveler will find many cayes and tiny islands most with their own sandy white and powder beaches.
The Placencia Peninsula is hands down the most popular beach area in the country -it is more most people expect in a beach, wide and with warm pink powdery sand to run through your toes. The beach runs from the north at Maya Beach, then to Seine Bight and ends at Placencia Village.
The best thing about these beaches is that they are all open to the public. Hotels, lodges, beach huts, restaurants and bars line this stretch of beach so from accommodation to food and drink, these are never too far away. At night you will always find a party, drumming and dancing on this stretch of beach so it is not only the best beach in Belize but also the most social and fun!
Hopkins is gaining favour with the more discerning traveler. This native Garifuna village is on the coast a short drive down from Dangriga. The Hopkins beach stretches a spectacular five miles, gaily decorated with coconut and sea grape trees with many family owned hotels, lodges and bed and breakfasts and casitas available for rent – most in the budget travel category.
Hopkins is more than laid back, it is simply and sinfully lazy. You can spend your vacation simply soaking up the sun, beachcombing, swinging from a hammock on the beach, or taking some authentic Garifuna drumming lessons from the natives.
TOBACCO AND SOUTHWATER CAYES
Just off the coast of Dangriga can be found some of the more beautiful cayes where the traveler can relax and enjoy the experience of being on an island but not too far from the coast. These tiny islands offer accommodations ranging from the opulent and expensive, to the very basis and very affordable. Southwater and Tobacco Cayes are favorite choices for backpackers and the young at heart. All these islands offer excellent snorkeling, fishing trips, diving and sunbathing.
The Northern Cayes And Half Moon Caye
The Cayes in northern Belize are spectacular and well-kept thanks to continuous work from hotels owners who have workers sweep and manicure the beaches daily. So they do the best with what they have – and here we are talking mainly about Ambergris and Caye Caulker cayes.
As you approach Half Moon Caye you’ll believe you have arrived at some South Sea paradise. Offshore, boaters use the rusted hull of a wreck, once known as the Elksund, as a landmark in these waters. Its dark hulk looms over the surreal blue and black of the reef world. The caye, eight feet above sea level, was formed by the accretion of coral bits, shells, and calcareous algae. It’s divided into two ecosystems. The section on the western side has dense vegetation with rich fertile soil. The eastern section primarily supports coconut palms and little other vegetation.
Besides boasting offshore waters that are among the clearest in Belize, the caye’s beaches are also Robinson-Crusoe-wonderful. You must climb the eight-foot-high central ridge that divides the island and gaze south before you see the striking half-moon beach with its unrelenting surf erupting against limestone rocks. Half Moon Caye’s first lighthouse, built in 1820, sits on the eastern side of the caye. Another was built in 1848 and modernized and enlarged in 1931; today the lighthouse has entered the age of high technology with solar power. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument Dedicated as a monument in 1982, the crescent- shaped island was the first reserve created within the new climate of protecting Belize’s natural beauty The caye, at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef measures 45 square acres.
The beaches here are narrow and just enough to lay out a beach chair and towels. Some of the many property owners in the area tend to have dogs and guards to protect their valuable property and docks so a few stretches are not too friendly. But remember, all beaches in Belize are open to the public. Swimming and snorkeling is limited due to wide stretches of seagrass.
On weekends a few of the hotels on the beach sponsor DJ music, volleyball games and other activities on the beach so there is hardly any shortage of social activity for the visitor!