Bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the brilliant turquoise Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. Belize is a paradise for anyone looking for adventure, breathtaking sights, and a laid-back Caribbean-esque vibe which entrances its visitors. Belize is a travel destination has much to show and to give, hence why it is sometimes known as the Jewel of Central America. Here are 11 reasons why everyone should add this diverse and exceptionally beautiful country to their travel list…
It’s a great introduction to Central America
Central America is a wonderful place filled with amazing sights, adventures, and fascinating discoveries. Here, you can find numerous Maya landmarks lost in the jungles, excellent beaches, as well as opportunities to scuba dive and snorkel. Belize is the smallest and least populated country in Central America but it wows its guests with a unique culture and traditions. The close proximity to other Central American countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, and beautiful Mexico, English as its official language, and a fairly high level of safety make Belize an attractive destination for tourists wishing to explore Central America.
The Great Blue Hole
The second largest barrier reef is located in Belize, and its focal point is the world famous Great Blue Hole. Since 1996, this giant karst funnel has been protected by UNESCO. The depth of the Blue Hole reaches 120 meters while its diameter is more than 300 meters. According to scientists, a large limestone cave occurred at this place during the ice age. Back then, the water level in the Atlantic was much lower. Over time, the cave flooded, and its arch collapsed. This is how the Great Blue Hole appeared. It owes its world renown to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who put the sinkhole on the list of 10 ideal places for scuba diving. Divers will be amazed at fantastic inhabitants of the coral reef, including reef sharks, giant groupers, and numerous brightly-coloured fish.
The friendly local people
Belizeans are rightfully recognized as one of the happiest people in the world. Indeed, life in stunning nature, relaxed Caribbean lifestyle, and mild climate all year round – isn’t it a paradise? Several cultures get along quite peacefully and harmoniously here. The population of the country is rather heterogeneous but friendly. Belize has many ex-pats from Canada and the United States, Hispanics, and Creoles, which are considered to be the native population along with the Garifuna. The latter are the real Caribs and descendants of the ancient Mayan civilization. Belizeans love tourists and they will go the extra mile to turn your holiday into a never-ceasing fiesta.
If you are looking for the most spectacular sunsets, come to Belize in October. The skies kissed by the incandescent sun rivet all eyes during the golden hour. There must be something in the air that makes the sunsets over the Caribbean so delightful. The most advantageous set to watch the sun sinking beyond the horizon is the Caye Caulker. Find a spot overlooking La Isla Carinosa and enjoy the breathtaking spectacle when the sun sets among the mangrove isles. If the sunset catches you on The Humming Bird Highway you just have to pull over and admire the last rays breaking through the mountains. Don’t miss your chance to join a Sunset Lagoon Cruise providing a unique opportunity to chase the best sunsets in Belize.
The beautiful beaches
Many tourists visit this remote country to bask on the white sand, swim in the crystal clear water, and enjoy snorkelling. Once you spend your holiday on one of the incredible beaches in Belize, you will want to come here again and again. The most popular beaches are located on the peninsula surrounded by the coral reefs. Due to this favourable location, there are no treacherous undercurrents. Belize resorts are suitable for family holidays since children can safely swim in the tranquil coastal waters. Lighthouse Reef Island, set next to the Great Blue Hole, accommodates one of the best beaches in the country. If you prefer a more laid-back getaway, you will benefit from secluded beaches of Half Moon Caye.
The Mayan culture
Belize is one of the largest centres of the Maya culture. Many pre-Colombian archaeological sites are scattered throughout the country. The most impressive Mayan ruins are located in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in western Belize. The ancient complex of Mayan buildings, Caracol, was discovered in 1937 by loggers who searched the jungles for rare woods. Archaeologists believe that about 150,000 people once lived here. The central square of the city had a radius of almost 10 kilometres. Belize boasts many other Maya ruins, such as Cerros, Laminai, Xunantunich, Altun Ha, and three dozen other landmarks.
Belize is famous for its rich and diverse wildlife, which the state honours and protects. Most of the country is covered with dense tropical forests that are habitat for many rare and endangered animals. In total, more than 700 species live in Belize. Of particular interest are jaguars, which can still be found in the wild. You can also see these mighty cats in the Cockscomb wildlife sanctuary and jaguar preserve. The rainforests are also teeming with toucans, beautiful birds with black feathers and brightly coloured beaks, various species of monkeys, birds, and snakes. One of the most unforgettable impressions awaits you at the Green Hills butterfly farm, where more than 80 species of vibrant butterflies are bred.
The vibe (Caribbean influence)
This tiny Central American country washed by the gentle waters of the Caribbean has preserved its appealing Caribbean vibe. A carefree laid-back atmosphere prevails here. Several cultures are tightly intertwined in Belize – the Mayan descendants peacefully coexist with the descendants of the European colonialists, and the Hispanic population freely finds a common language with the Garifuna. This diverse mix is often described as a melting pot of cultures. One thing is certain: Belize guarantees mouth-watering Caribbean cuisine, delicious drinks (we recommend trying cashew wine and rum), as well as songs and dances from the indigenous Garifuna people.
The nature of Belize is amazingly diverse. Here rainforests, mangroves, savannas, mountains, lagoons, islands, and atolls are adjacent to each other. More than 4,000 plant species feel great in the mild tropical climate of the country. With the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Smithsonian Institution, Belize has become a recognized leader in the field of environmental protection. On the initiative of the authorities, more than 40% of the country’s territory is donated to reserves and parks. If you are an eco-tourism buff, we strongly recommend visiting the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve with its unique variety of rare plant and animal species.
Scuba diving and snorkelling
One of the main treasures of Belize is the Barrier Reef. This natural wonder is an ideal place for diving and snorkelling. A huge variety of marine denizens inhabit the reef waters: five species of turtles, colourful fish, several species of sharks, and, of course, corals of all kinds and colours. If you are an avid snorkeler, do not miss your chance to go for a “walk” along the Shark Ray Valley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. If you gravitate towards diving in cloistered areas, welcome to the Caye Islands and atolls. They are located quite far away from the mainland and it takes at least two hours to reach them from Belize City by boat. However, on arrival, a generous reward will await you – pristine reefs and the richest marine world inhabited by stingrays, dolphins, and manatees.
The deserted surrounding islands
The small Caye islands and outer atolls surrounded by coral reefs will amaze you with their beauty. These are the most peaceful and secluded islands of Belize, with white sandy beaches washed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Here you can spend your vacation soaking up the sun, snorkelling or fishing in the clearest sea. Most of the islands are suitable only for a short visit. Normally, there are no hotels and the maximum you can find there are the huts of local fishermen. If you don’t want to spend your vacation far from civilization, you can take advantage of Ambergris. This is the most developed island with wonderful beach resorts. Ambergris resorts are dotted with a large number of nightclubs and restaurants, while the more distant parts of the island are suitable for a relaxing secluded getaway.