Belize Travel Guide
Welcome to our comprehensive travel guide for Belize, a vibrant jewel tucked into the eastern coast of Central America. It's a haven for adventurers, nature lovers, and history buffs.
Belize is known for its unparalleled biodiversity, magnificent Mayan ruins, the iconic Great Blue Hole, and a myriad of cultural influences. This compact nation is bursting with wonders waiting to be explored, from its pristine beaches to its lush tropical rainforest.
So whether you're an adrenaline junkie, a marine life enthusiast, or a cultural explorer, Belize has something for you.
Capital city: Belmopan
Currency: Belize Dollar (BZD) – 1 USD = 2 BZD.
Electricity: Power voltage is 110 Volts. Power sockets type A, B, and G.
Languages: Belize is the only country in Central America whose official language is English. Many people also speak Spanish and Creole.
10 Handpicked Highlights of Belize
The Great Blue Hole
No trip to Belize would be complete without visiting the Great Blue Hole. This stunning submarine sinkhole, located near the center of Lighthouse Reef, is a world-class destination for diving.
Its azure waters are teeming with a diverse range of marine life including several species of sharks, giant groupers, and a wealth of colorful fish. At over 300 meters across and 125 meters deep, the Great Blue Hole is a mesmerizing sight to behold and offers a truly unique underwater adventure.
Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest island and a must-visit destination. Known for its beautiful white sandy beaches, it’s a perfect place to relax, swim, or dive. The island’s main town, San Pedro, is full of charm with colorful houses, laid-back beach bars, and delicious seafood.
Just offshore, the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef offers some of the best snorkeling and diving experiences in the world, with a plethora of vibrant corals and exotic marine life.
Caracol Mayan Ruins
Caracol is the largest known Maya site in Belize and one of the biggest in the Maya world. Located in the remote jungles of the Cayo District, Caracol was once a sprawling ancient city, home to over 150,000 people.
Today, visitors can explore the extensive ruins, climb the imposing Caana pyramid, and marvel at intricate stone carvings depicting ancient Maya ceremonies and warfare.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of jaguars, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for nature lovers. The sanctuary, located in the Stann Creek District, also boasts hundreds of bird species, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.
It offers a range of hiking trails through lush jungle, leading to beautiful waterfalls and stunning viewpoints. This is a truly unique place to witness Belize’s incredible biodiversity up close.
The Belize Zoo provides a unique opportunity to see Belize’s diverse wildlife in a natural setting. Home to more than 170 animals from over 45 native species, all animals in the zoo are rescued or born in captivity.
It serves not only as an attraction but also as a conservation and education center, dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of Belize’s indigenous species. A visit here offers an unforgettable chance to see animals like jaguars, tapirs, and toucans up close.
Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
Actun Tunichil Muknal, or the ATM Cave, is not only a natural wonder but also an archaeological treasure. Located in the heart of the Belizean rainforest, this cave system is filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
It also holds an array of ancient Mayan artifacts and remains, providing a fascinating insight into Mayan rituals and beliefs. Visitors should be prepared for an adventurous journey involving hiking, swimming, and crawling to reach the inner chambers.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve, just off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye, is one of the most superb places to explore Belize’s spectacular marine life.
Covering approximately 18 km² of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forest, it’s home to an array of species such as sea turtles, nurse sharks, and colorful tropical fish. Whether you’re snorkeling or diving, Hol Chan offers a stunning underwater experience.
Belize’s Placencia Peninsula is renowned for its palm-lined beaches and the charming, laid-back fishing village of Placencia. The village’s colorful, pedestrian-only main street is lined with delightful shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Offshore, the vibrant coral atolls and cayes offer superb diving and snorkeling. For nature lovers, the nearby Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Monkey River offer great opportunities for wildlife spotting.
Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
Situated near the western border of Belize, Xunantunich is one of the country’s most accessible and impressive Mayan sites. Its centerpiece is “El Castillo,” a massive pyramid that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from its peak.
Xunantunich was once a major ceremonial center, and visitors today can still marvel at its well-preserved carvings and friezes that offer glimpses into the grandeur of the ancient Mayan civilization.
A visit to Belize wouldn’t be complete without sampling its diverse and flavorful cuisine. Belizean food is a mix of Maya, Mestizo, Creole, and Garifuna influences, resulting in unique dishes such as rice and beans, fry jacks, and stew chicken.
For seafood lovers, fresh lobster and conch ceviche are must-tries. Pair it with a glass of local Belikin beer or a fruity rum cocktail for an authentic Belizean culinary experience.
Belize's Geography & Landscapes
Belize is a country of diverse geography and ecosystems that contribute to its rich biodiversity. Here are the primary geographic regions:
- The Caribbean Coast: Belize has 240 miles of coastline along the Caribbean Sea, where you’ll find the Belize Barrier Reef, sandy beaches, mangrove swamps, and numerous offshore islands known as cayes.
- Northern Lowlands: This region is flat and is dominated by agriculture, primarily sugar cane cultivation. It’s also home to Belize’s largest city, Belize City.
- Southern Lowlands: Also known as the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, this region is full of citrus and banana groves, traditional Mayan villages, and the beautiful Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The Maya Mountains: This highland region in the south includes several national parks, and peaks such as Victoria Peak and Doyle’s Delight. It’s a region rich in waterfalls, rivers, and cave systems.
Best Time To Go To Belize
Belize has a tropical climate with pronounced wet and dry seasons, though there are significant variations in weather patterns by region:
- Dry Season (December – May): This is the best time to visit Belize for most tourists, as it provides the most favorable weather for outdoor activities, including diving, snorkeling, and exploring Mayan ruins. The weather is generally warm and there’s less rainfall.
- Wet Season (June – November): During this time, the country experiences more rainfall, which can occasionally interrupt outdoor activities. However, it’s also a great time to visit for birdwatchers and those looking for fewer crowds and lower prices.
- Hurricane Season (June – November): The hurricane season coincides with the wet season. While hurricanes are not common, it’s still something to consider when planning a trip during these months.
Traveling in Belize
- Although Belize is generally safe for tourists, it’s advisable to stay vigilant, especially in Belize City where crime rates are higher.
- Avoid isolated areas, especially at night, and keep your belongings secure.
- Protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated, as Belize has a tropical climate.
- Use reputable tour operators, especially for adventure activities like diving, snorkeling, and jungle treks.
- Always respect local customs and cultural practices.
- Be mindful of local wildlife. While rare, encounters with harmful animals can happen.
- Ensure that you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
- Always keep a copy of your passport and other important documents in a safe place.
- Pay attention to the local weather and avoid traveling during hurricane season.
- If driving, be mindful of the occasionally poor road conditions, especially in rural areas.
Getting to & Around Belize
The Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport is the main international gateway to Belize, located just outside Belize City. Other airports, such as Dangriga Airport and Placencia Airport, serve domestic flights. Belize also has land borders with Mexico and Guatemala.
For getting around, there are several options. Rental cars are available, but note that road conditions can vary. Belize has a relatively efficient bus system, with James Bus Line being one of the main operators. Water taxis are popular for traveling to the cayes, with companies like San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi providing regular services.
Belize offers a wide range of accommodations to fit every budget. From upscale resorts on Ambergris Caye, luxury jungle lodges in the Cayo District, to budget-friendly guesthouses in cities like Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Airbnb also operates in Belize, providing a range of options from entire homes to private rooms.
Prices can range from as little as $20 per night for a budget room to over $300 for luxury resorts.