Belize is quickly becoming one of the hottest travel destinations in all of Central America. So Belize vacations are an option you should consider. Located between Guatemala and Mexico, this relatively small nation is full of lush tropical jungles, ancient Mayan ruins, and some of the best snorkeling sites in the world. The Mayans lived in what we now know as Belize until at least the 16th century. Although the Spanish were the first Europeans to sail to Belize, the British destroyed Spanish fleets in 1798 and formally took over this nation. After centuries of colonial rule, Belize was finally granted independence in 1981. Unlike its Spanish-speaking neighbors, Belize remains an English-dominant nation. This makes it extremely convenient for American tourists.
Today, Belize vacations offer travelers stunning beaches, amazing wildlife, and almost mythic past to explore. In this article, we’ll detail five of the best sites for world-class Belize vacations. You may by into culture, eco-tourism, snorkeling, or just taking it easy. Either way, at least one of these Belize vacations is sure to tickle your tropical fancy. No matter which one of these Belize vacations you choose, you’ll have a marvelous time taking in this land’s untainted scenery and intriguing culture. By the way, all of these Belize vacations are listed in no particular order.
1. Explore Historic Old Belize in Belize City
Located on a peninsula out on the Caribbean Sea, Belize City is the largest one in the entire nation. Belize City is a perfect tourist destination for anyone interested in Belize’s colonial past. Be sure to walk around the well-preserved Old Belize section of the city with its many museums and colonial style buildings. Inside the Old Belize Cultural and Historical Center you’ll learn all about the Mayans, British colonization of the region, and the cultural diversity of this amazing region. While in this city you can also explore architectural gems like St. John’s Cathedral, an Anglican building completed way back in 1812. Interestingly, the Museum of Belize in Belize City actually served as a prison in colonial times. Also the current House of Culture used to be the residence of the British Governor General. Both of these historic sites are very welcoming to tourists.
Even if you aren’t into history, there are still plenty of things to do and see in this bustling port city. For example, you can take in a show at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts, admire Belize’s rich biodiversity at the Eco-museum Belize, or simply relax on the Old Belize Marina. Whatever you choose to do here, you will definitely learn a great deal about Belize’s long history in the process.
Many tourists use Belize City as a home base for their travels around the nation. There are numerous local tour groups all around Belize City. They offer guided tours both of the city and excursions to other hot locations.
2. Snorkel along Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is the largest white beach island in Belize. It’s also one of the most popular islands for honeymooners in all of Central America. Once you get here, you’ll see why so many tourists have been hailing this island in recent years. Mostly all Belize vacations include at least a one-day excursion to Ambergris Caye for some sublime snorkeling.
The Belize Barrier Reef includes the famous Great Blue Hole. It is considered by many to be the finest snorkeling spot in the world. Indeed, the Great Blue Hole is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More specifically, it is a circular submarine sinkhole almost 355 feet deep. As you travel around this island, you’ll find numerous piers offering boat rentals for diving, snorkeling, or just sailing around. This island has been built up over the years due to increased tourism. However, it hasn’t been so contaminated with commercialism to lose its natural charm.
3. Go Kayaking in Placencia
The more southern city Placencia has been gaining a great deal of attention in recent years. This is thanks to its astounding eco-tourism options. The best way to take in the biodiversity of this region is to rent a kayak and explore the lagoon. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the local crocodiles, dolphins, and manatees that call this region of the Caribbean home.
For those who just want to sunbathe, there’s around 16 miles of beaches all around this luxurious peninsula. While in Placencia, you can book from many tour options. They include hiking excursions to local Mayan ruins, fishing tours, and even zip-lining adventures. Perhaps this may not be as popular as Ambergris Caye. But Placentia is a wonderful vacation option for vacationers who just want to take it easy in a more secluded area of Belize.
4. Explore Mayan Ruins in San Ignacio
If you want to experience the best in Mayan architecture, look no further than San Ignacio. Located near the border with Guatemala, San Ignacio is smack dab in the middle of the Cayo district. It is famous for its Mayan ruins. Here you’ll find the Cahal Pech, or the Place of the Ticks. This contains various Mayan ruins dating back to 800 AD. The monumental Caracol is also located here. It is considered by many to be the largest temple in the Mayan world.
Yet another popular Mayan destination is the Actun Tunichil Muknal (or ATM) cave area. It served as a sacrificial burial site for the ancient Mayans. You won’t have any difficulty finding tour guides to any of these Mayan sites in the center of San Ignacio. Indeed, since you’re so close to Guatemala, many tour guides also offer day excursions into the neighboring nation. If you are at all interested in the rich history of the Mayans, definitely put San Ignacio at the top of your travel itinerary.
5. Hike around Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
The southern town of Dangriga is best known for its proximity to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Hikers and nature lovers should definitely plan on spending a day or two exploring this untouched 150 square mile nature reserve. Founded in 1990, the Cockscomb Basin is home to the world’s first jaguar sanctuary. There are marked walking trails all throughout this area. All of them range in difficulty from extreme to mild.
There is a four-day trail leading to the top of Victoria Peak. But you can only sign up for this tour in the dry season with a designated tour guide. If you feel like floating down this sanctuary’s river, you can rent tubes for just a few dollars. As mentioned above, the most convenient town near Cockscomb Sanctuary is Dangriga. It’s quite easy to find a bus company willing to take you into Cockscomb Sanctuary in Dangriga. Any eco-tourist who has been to Cockscomb Basin agrees that it’s one of Belize’s finest jungles to explore.
Planning the Trip
Belize is a country rich in both culture and nature. Whether you want to relax, learn, or adventure, you’ll find numerous opportunities to do just that in this treasured Central American nation.
Take some time to really study all of these locations and decide which Belize vacations you would engage in. Once you’ve decided, book your plane ticket and pack all your essentials. In other words, just get ready for the tropical adventure of a lifetime.
Images from depositphotos.com.