If you like nature and wildlife, Belize is the Central American country for you. The bird watching is epic, it’s home to the world’s first jaguar park, there are caves, waterfalls, and coastal beauty to explore, whale sharks appear annually, and there’s plenty of jungle as well. Belize is also home to a handful of compelling Mayan archaeological sites. We spent a total of 78 days traveling 1,540 miles (2,478 km) through just about every inch of Belize, which is the size of New Hampshire with the population of Anchorage. The US dollar is the official currency of Belize and English is almost universally spoken (though Spanish is creeping in due to immigration). In the end, we produced more than 50 posts about travel in Belize. Start your own Belize trip planning with the travel advice and hand-picked destination highlights in our Belize Travel Guide.
You’ll fly into and out of Belize City. There’s no reason to linger, but here’s how to make the most of Belize City.
There are many islands off the coast of Belize (called cayes). The most famous, most accessible, and most developed is Ambergris Caye.
Placencia is the most charming and diverse beach town on mainland Belize offering a wide range of hotel options, good food, and beach beauty.
For a small country there are a surprising number of luxury hotel options in Belize.
Director Francis Ford Coppola was an early adopter in Belize, opening Turtle Inn in Plancencia and Blancanaeux Lodge in the Mountain Pine Ridge area years ago.
There are many hotels to choose from on Ambergris Caye. The most stylish boutique option is adults-only Matachica Beach Resort.
In the north, Chan Chich Lodge delivers great food, charming casita accommodations, a pool, plenty of wildlife, and private Mayan ruins on the property.
Adventure Travel in Belize
Belize has just one UNESCO World Heritage site, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. The best way to explore it is by SCUBA diving from Turneffe Flats Lodge or from a live aboard dive boat.
Ian Anderson has been offering cave-based adventures in Belize for years. There’s something for every adrenaline level, including jumping off waterfalls inside dark caves.
Whale sharks congregate off the coast of Hopkins, Belize every year and SCUBA divers can (and should) go in search of these gentle giants.
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary claims to be the world’s first jaguar park and it is home to a population of wild cats (including jaguars) plus waterfalls, hiking trails, lots of birds, and a great campsite.
Exploring the famous Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave in Belize requires hiking, caving, a bit of climbing, and a lot of guts (there are dead people in there).
Hiking in the Mountain Pine Ridge area of Belize is a delight with miles of trails and very few people on them.
As we mentioned, the bird watching in Belize is epic. Here’s a look at just some of the birds we saw in Belize. If you really want to do some serious bird watching, we suggest a trip to La Milpa Field Station.
Eating & Drinking in Belize
Belize is not known for its food, though the country’s chocolate is celebrated. Let’s leave it at that.
Cultural Travel in Belize
Modern Belize is a melting pot, but the Mayans were there first. Belize does not have the density of Mayan archaeological sites that Guatemala has, but there are some stars.
The Caracol archaeological site is the most remote in Belize, but worth the effort (and the military escort) to visit for its classic temples and well-kept carving.
The Lamanai archaeological site has a dramatic location on Crab-Catcher Lagoon and is fascinating to explore.
The Lubaantun archaeological site may or may not be the source of the so-called Crystal Skull (the site does have some unique architecture) and the nearby Nim Li Punit site is (rightly) famous for its carved stone stele.
If you want to see the temple that’s on the labels of Belize’s Belikin Beer, head to the Altun Ha archaeological site.
Entering the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave, which Mayans used for sacred rituals, is like a world-class museum inside a cave with all of the amazing artifacts (including human bones) left in their original positions. It’s an anthropological adventure.