Trying to make up your mind on why you should visit Belize? Right off the bat, if you like St. Maarten or Cancun, Belize is not for you. But if you like going a little bit off the beaten track to experience a unique adventure vacation, Belize may be just what you are looking for. Here is our list of the Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Visit Belize.
1. Maya Ruins. Belize is chock full of Maya Ruins. I mean they are all over the place. A few have been excavated over the years so that Belizeans and visitors can enjoy them. As the cradle of the ancient Maya Civilization, Belize has literally more Maya Ruins per square mile than any other country. A couple of them are practically a couple hundred yards off the main highway – for example Xunantunich. It is hard to find another country with so many of these majestic pyramids within walking or hitchhiking distance.
2. Wildlife. Belize has a low population density. A little over 350,000 people living in an area slightly larger than El Salvador. There is little no none industrial development. Commercial activity is very slow. Yes, the country is seriously underdeveloped – and very poor. The plus side of this reality is that there is so much bush and tropical rainforest available for wildlife to flourish. The government and people know this is an attraction for tourists and go out of their way to protect wild animals and birds so that you can enjoy them in their natural habitat. The country is home to the world’s only Jaguar preserve, some 128,000 acres in the Cockscomb Wildlife Preserve in the south – and of course a whole lot of animals and birds also live there!
3. The Great Blue Hole. This natural wonder is synonymous with the name Belize. Yes, the ocean has a hole in it and it is a couple miles off the coast of Belize and so distinctive it can be seen from outer space. This gigantic cave is about half a mile in diameter and was once inland. But it became part of the ocean millennia ago, then collapsed to make a spectacular sea hole some 500 feet deep. You would need a mini-sub to get all the way to the bottom! It is one of the biggest attractions for SCUBA divers, and even snorkelers who may just want to paddle around and say they have been in the Great Blue Hole.
4. The Beaches. O.K., we do not have many beaches and no big beaches – Florida has more beaches than Belize. But our beaches, while small and few, are spectacularly beautiful, uncrowded, and some are right next to the tropical rainforest. The best beaches are in the south and snug right up to crystal-clear turquoise colored waters. Did we mention that the water temperature is so mild you can jump in even in winter? And with dozens of little islands and atolls sprinkled all along its coast, the visitor can find many small but sandy and beautiful beaches for a day trip of weekend picnic.
5. Ease Of Travel. Because of its small size, it is easy to get around Belize. By road, sea or air, the entire country can be traversed in a day. But of course it is easier to spend a week or two visiting different areas. Many tourists hire a car for a couple of days and take off along the bumpy highways to explore inland areas and wildlife parks. Its strategic location in northern Central America makes Belize an easy two hour flight from most U.S. destinations. If you are coming from the south, it is two hours from Costa Rica or Cuba and we have flights every day of the week from all major U.S. and Latin American carriers.
6. Diving and Snorkeling. The Great Barrier Reef runs the entire length of Belize, starting with Quintana Roo, Mexico in the North, and ending in the south with border with Puerto Barrios Guatemala. It is as if the barrier reef was designed especially for Belize! This natural formation means that almost the entire coast of Belize is within protected waters – no big breakers here. But brave surfers and even para sailors can venture outside the reef for action. Between the reef and the coast you can find some of the best diving in the Caribbean. World-class diving is especially attractive off the several atolls that dot our coast.
7. Belizean Food. The Michelin Guide is not going to come to Belize any time soon. But the many cultures that make up this little country guarantee gourmet meals that will intrigue your palate. Being a maritime state, Belize enjoys a bounty of seafood and most restaurants will be happy to serve up your favorite lobster, sea bass, shrimp, conch, swordfish and fish fillet. Fresh fruit and vegetables abound in the interior and are shipped daily to all areas of the country – anything from papayas, mangoes, kiwi fruit, watermelon, melons, soursop and pineapples. We are a major producer of oranges and grape fruit so enjoy these refreshing natural juices any way you want!
8. Islands And More Islands. There are about 100 habitable and even more “visitable” islands scattered all over the Belizean coast, from tiny comic book one acre islands with a dozen coconut trees, to big atolls such as Turneffe, and anything in between. Charter a live-aboard or a small boat with captain and take off to visit one of these emerald gems. Spend the day swimming, diving, or nursing a cold one while lazing on a hammock while the captain cooks the day’s catch on the beach. Or rest and camp out for the night then sail off to visit another island!
9. Adventure Travel. The wide open spaces in the interior, mountain ranges, tropical rain forest, jungle, rivers and caves, make for multiple opportunities for adventure travel vacations. You can drive, hike, or have a tour guide take you to your favorite destination, be it birding, spelunking, racing river rapids, or exploring underground rivers once used by the Mayas for sacrificial rituals. Or you can spend a couple nights at a remote jungle lodge and maybe catch a glimpse of a passing tapir or jaguar. Canoe trips down the Macal, Sitee and Belize Rivers are popular options for those on family vacations and looking for a relaxing tour of the countryside without hiking through the jungle.
10. The Weather. Belize is in the tropics, and of course the weather is warm almost year round making for an ideal vacation. Leave those bone crunching winters and frost behind! The average annual temperature is 84F (29C). It can get hot in the summer, but that’s why we have the beaches and fun water activities. In the winter it rarely goes below 65F so even during the Christmas Holidays visitors can be having fun outdoors, and yes, be out on the beach.