Bathed by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, Belize is in Central America, south of Mexico, and east of Guatemala. Although it is a small country, about the size of New Jersey, there is a wealth of “must see” natural resources and wonders.
Here are some of the top places to visit in Belize:
1. Blue Hole
The Blue Hole is a marine “sinkhole” about a three-hour boat ride from Ambergris Caye. It is a major part of the second biggest barrier reef system in the world. In fact, Jacques Cousteau even called it one of the top dive spots in the world. It is known as a very challenging dive site due to the depth, but you also have the option to parasail over it, fly over it, or take a boat tour through it.
2. Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave Tour
This is a real “can’t be missed” tour. Visitors come from all over the world, and it is well worth the journey. The tour involves hiking deep into the jungle, then entering a small pond and pulling yourself up into the cave. You venture far into the cave for about two hours until you come to an area where the Maya’s sacrificed their people, in fact, the remains can still be seen today. Overall, it is a challenging and truly awe-inspiring experience.
3. Hol Chan
Visiting Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley is one of the best things to do on the island of Ambergris Caye. You can see the reef from the shore, so it’s a very short, easy boat ride. You can dive or snorkel parts of the reef system, seeing tropical fish, turtles, rays, and sharks, and end your experience at Shark Ray Alley, where you can swim within a school of sharks as they feed.
4. Mexico Rocks
This is an equally impressive snorkel site where you can see a vast array of coral reef and fish, and is almost as popular as Hol Chan. Both sites are recommended for those looking for shallow diving and snorkelling in northern Belize.
5. Silk Caye
Silk Caye, just off Placencia in southern Belize, gives you the opportunity for deeper diving. It is a gorgeous, tiny island teeming with wildlife, including rays, sharks, fish, turtles, and more. It is almost an hour away from the shore and is one of the most popular activities from Placencia.
6. Ranguana Caye
This is a spectacular private island that has recently become one of the most popular excursions from southern Belize. As you pull up in your boat, you will feel like you are seeing a mirage, as it looks like something from a poster in a travel agents office. Here you can enjoy a perfect island experience, with a night in the rustic cabins, enjoying a drink in the bar, and relaxing in the hammocks, or partaking in some great snorkelling.
7. Placencia Village
Placencia Village, on the southern tip of the 16-mile Placencia Peninsula is a very special place. Funky, artistic, warm, and friendly, it is still considered a remote fishing village. It too looks picture perfect, with a tiny, pedestrian-only sidewalk, and only one main street in town. Although it counts only 1,500 full-time residents, it is frequently featured worldwide on travel programs.
8. San Pedro, Belize
San Pedro is the only town on the island of Ambergris Caye and is like a Margaritaville paradise. While not exactly a beach town, as it is mostly docked seawalls, there is a fantastic beach experience at Secret Beach, remarkable excursions, live music, and a party-hard live music atmosphere, starting in the morning and continuing every day of the week.
9. San Ignacio, Belize
San Ignacio has a truly unique atmosphere, while it has no beaches, you will instead find a unique mix of Mennonite culture, Maya ruins, rolling hills, jungle, and small villages that look like they haven’t changed in over 100 years. Close to the Guatemalan border, it has a lot of upscale jungle lodges, rivers, and outdoor adventures of all kinds. If you stay in San Ignacio, don’t miss the jungle resort experience where you can sleep overnight in the jungle in a treehouse-like structure, where you will hear howler monkeys all around you. This is a truly rare experience only available in a handful of places in the world.
This is one of the most popular sites in Belize to see breath-taking ancient Maya ruins—you can climb to the top of this archaeological gem and when you do you will be astounded by the 360-degree views of the jungles around you.
11. Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is the little sister of Ambergris Caye, but with a style all its own. Picture the most perfect Caribbean island, with brightly colored wood shacks on stilts, few vehicles, sand roads, a go-slow attitude, and friendly, warm locals. Here you can visit the “split” where the island was split in two by a hurricane and have lunch in the water at Lazy Lizard. Make sure to check out the north of the island, and Koko King, for some perfect beach.
12. Private Island Experience
Something that draws visitors to Belize is the chance to stay overnight on one of the hundreds of cayes (islands) in the country. There are world-class islands in Belize such as on Coco Plum, or Cayo Rosario where you can be one of only a handful of visitors. Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio is set to open his own eco-resort island experience, and a new golf course, on Caye Chapel soon.
13. Belize food stands and food tours
One of the greatest experiences in Belize is the food, as everything is handmade. You can even do a world-class food tour in southern Belize called Taste Belize, where you can make food as they did in the Maya culture, hundreds of years ago, tour an exotic spice farm, or make chocolate from scratch. Wherever you go in the country be sure to hit the local food stands for stewed chicken, rice and beans, with plantain. This is the national dish and is simple and delicious every time, for only a few dollars.
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