Belize Travel Guide

San Pedro_Beach, Belize

San Pedro Beach in Ambergris Caye, Belize (Photo Credit: Adam Reeder)

Why Belize?

Belize is one of the most popular countries for tourists in Central America, being home to the second largest coral reef system in the world draws crowds. Unsurprisingly then, the major of tourists attractions here are based around the water and nearby islands referred to as ‘Cayes’ (some inhabited – most not). The Cayes are great for getting a taste of the Caribbean, chilling on sandy beaches and venturing out to explore the beautiful reefs and marine life. The ‘Great Blue Hole’, a frequent visitor on “top natural wonders of the world” lists, is located amongst the reefs of Belize.

Or you can head inland  for a completely separate range of attractions. For a small county, Belize offers good diversity and inland you will find activities based around cave and river networks and Mayan ruins (for Mayan artifacts in a cave, see here). Belize is sparsely populated which has allowed for large tracts of jungle to be kept intact – allowing for an impressive diversity of wildlife (amongst the best in Central America).

Top Things To Do In Belize

  • Great Blue Hole: The second largest coral reef in the world is also home to the Great Blue Hole. Many divers rave about their experience – which is not so much about the marine life – but rather the dive is  popular for those looking for an otherworldly experience and impressive underwater stalagmites. If you are not that keen on SCUBA Diving, you can also charter a plane and enjoy the Great Blue Hole from above! Note: not all divers rave about the experience and some rate it as average.
Main restaurant strip in San Ignacio, Belize(Photo Credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burns_Ave_in_San_Ignacio.jpg"> Kaldari</a>)

Main restaurant strip in San Ignacio, Belize (Photo Credit: Kaldari)

  • San Ignacio: This town was recently voted the number 2 destination in Central America on Trip Advisor.  The town is popular because there are some excellent tours which can be done in the surrounding countryside. The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) tour which is excellent, is based out of San Ignacio (see below for more on this tour). San Ignacio is also used as a base for visiting the Caracol Ruins, considered the most historically significant Mayans ruins in Belize (once the center of Maya Kingdom). The town itself is quite small with little to see or do, although there are some interesting characters floating around town.
  • Explore a Mayan Sacrificial Cave (via San Ignacio): An hours drive from the town of San Ignacio in Belize is one of the more unique tourist offerings in this part of the world, Actun Tunichil Muknal. A narrow cave system which according to archaeologists was viewed by ancient Mayans as an entrance to the underworld. Which meant that when things got bad (drought or natural disaster wise), the Mayans would enter the cave to present offerings and sacrifices to their gods (offerings being food in a big ol’ clay pot and sacrifices being of the human variety). Today Actun Tunichil Muknal offers exceptional tours to the small number of tourists that visit it daily. Read More Here.
  • Belize City: If visiting Belize there is a reasonable chance you will have to pass through here – as it is where several transport options start or end. The city does not rate very highly with tourists though (with little to see). Added to this, Belize City has a dangerous reputation and is not recommended you do too much exploring at night. Get in and get out to your desired location as quickly as possible. If you do have time to kill in, Belize Zoo (50km out of town) is rated pretty highly.
  • Ambergis Caye: Ambergis Caye is the most developed Caye in Belize. Can be used to access the most visited snorkel site in Belize, shark alley (where you can swim up close with large numbers of Spot stingrays, sea turtles and brown nurse sharks!).
Caye_Cualker, Belize (Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/27211043@N00">riginalgrammatique</a>)

Caye Cualker, Belize (Photo Credit: Originalgrammatique)

  • Caye Caulker: Caye Caulker is a  small laid-back island popular with backpackers.
  • Dangriga: The largest town in Southern Belize. The town can be used as a based to visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary or a transit stop before heading further south. Dangriga is home to the worlds world’s first jaguar reserve. Whilst jaguar can be very difficult to spot in the wild, you can give it a shot here.
  • Lamania Mayan Ruins: One of the more picturesque and interesting Maya ruins in Belize. Nearby to Lamanai is the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Shark Ray Alley (via Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker): At Shark Alley you can swim up close and personal with Nurse Sharks and Southern Sting Rays. Tour organizers place feed in the water to attract these animals – then it is up to you to get in there alongside them.

 

This is a list of suggestions for the top things to do in Belize, but travel is all about finding something new and unexpected, so go out and do that too!

Silk Caye, Belize (Photo Credit:  Walter Rodriguez)

Silk Caye, Belize (Photo Credit: Walter Rodriguez)

Map of Belize Travel Destinations

Here is a map to show where some of the more common travel destinations in Belize are located. The backpacker route highlighted on the map can undertaken by bus, and ferries or water taxis can ship you out to the Cayes. If you coming down from Mexico you can catch a water taxi straight from the border town of Chetumal out to the Cayes.

Map Of Belize Travel Destinations

Map Of Belize Travel Destinations

Travel Tips For Belize

  • Prices for activities and tours can be pricey  in Belize. If you are looking for a cheaper destination, head somewhere like Guatemala or Nicaragua.
  • It is okay to drink the tap water in Belize. If you are concerned however, bottled water is normally readily available.
  • The official language of Belize is English.  English creole and Spanish are also commonly spoken. If you only speak English you will easily be able to travel around Belize.
  • The official currency of Belize is the Belize Dollar (BZ$). The Belize Dollar is officially pegged to the U.S Dollars so that always  2 BZ$ = 1 US$. However, U.S Dollars are commonly accepted and occasionally tour prices may be quoted in U.S Dollars. Expect change to be in Belize Dollars however.
  • Don’t flush your toilet paper after use, put it in the bin provided. Otherwise some poor person may have to unblock the toilet after you have left.
  • It is always handy to have small change and notes on you, as many shops and transport options may not have change for large denominations.

 

Want To Know More?

 

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2 Responses

  1. November 28, 2014

    […] English is the official language). This popularity means tours can be expensive. Read more about travel tips or things to do in […]

  2. January 15, 2015

    […] Belize – Many of the tourists attractions are centered around the beautiful tropical islands and reefs off the coast of Belize. The country is home to the second largest coral reef on earth so there is plenty of opportunities for world-class scuba diving and snorkelling). The interior of the country is less visited but contains some worthwhile destinations (forests with diverse wildlife, Mayan ruins and impressive cave tours).  Many North Americans visit Belize on one week holidays. Tours are expensive relative to most of the other countries in Central America. Read More Here. […]

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