Belize is a small but beautiful country with a gorgeous Caribbean coastline, a dense rainforest of caves and waterfalls, and the second-largest coral reef in the world. With steep history, diverse culture, and immense biodiversity, this destination is on the bucket list of many travelers, especially those that enjoy adventure travel. So, to help you plan your travel itinerary, here are our picks for the Top 10 things to do.
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Belize offers an assortment of gorgeous cayes to be visited, but Caye Caulker, located 20 miles north of Belize City, is among the most enchanting. This is a hot spot for tourists who want to enjoy the local shopping and cuisine and explore the charming streets on foot or by golf cart or bicycle.
Among the most popular places to visit is The Split, which was created by Hurricane Hattie when it divided the island in two. Here you will find a selection of waterfront restaurants, hammocks, and benches for relaxing, a small public beach, and a great place to swim and snorkel.
Belize boasts an extensive Mayan history, with several pre-Columbian archaeological sites in the Cayo District, located in the western part of the country. Among them is Xunantunich, which borders Guatemala. This site features a series of temples as well as a climbable 130-foot El Castillo pyramid that overlooks the Mopan River and the surrounding jungle.
Caracol is a massive and well-preserved complex that was believed to house 120,000 Mayan people. The impressive Caracol ruins are located in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. The ruins of Pacbitun, which translates to “stone set in earth” are also located in the Cayo District, near the town of San Ignacio. Exploring the ruins is best done with a guided tour.
Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, approximately 450 feet below the surface of the water. It was once a monstrous cave filled with limestone formations but collapsed under the sea.
There are two ways to experience the stunning beauty of the Great Blue Hole – with a flyover offered by helicopter and plane tours, many of which operate out of Ambergris Caye, or with a licensed scuba dive to explore the underwater tunnels and extensive marine life.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Belize is a world-class diving destination, especially as it is located near the second-largest barrier reef in the world (the Mesoamerican Reef System, also called the Great Mayan Reef). Although the region experiences warm weather year-round, the very best dive time is during the dry months from April to June.
In addition to diving the reef, other popular locations in The Great Blue Hole and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is home to nurse sharks and stingrays. Boat tours to Shark Ray Alley are available from Caye Caulker.
Caving and Cave Tubing
Belize has several beautiful caves worth exploring, such as the dry cave of Rio Frio, located in Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. For a wet cave experience, the most popular is Actun Tunichil Muknal – the Cave of the Stone Sepulcher. This hallowed attraction is perfect for adventure lovers and history buffs interested in ancient Mayan rituals. The cave contains artifacts such as clay pots, axe heads, and sacrificial alters. As evidence of the rituals that took place here, the tour allows visitors a peek at the Crystal Maiden, an intact skeleton of a teenager that was sacrificed to the Gods. However, note that cameras are not allowed in the cave.
Like many of Belize’s wet caves, Actun Tunichil Muknal also provides the opportunity for cave tubing.
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Nature and adventure lovers will adore Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, located in the Cayo District. In addition to hiking trails and exploration of Rio Frio Cave, the reserve contains Thousand Foot Falls, the highest waterfall in Central America.
Other popular falls include Five Sisters and Big Rock Waterfalls which tumble into swimmable pools. Plus, there’s a picnic area, a sandy beach, and ziplining available, as well as the opportunity to enjoy Belize’s immense biodiversity of flora and fauna.
Wildlife Spotting and Bird Watching
Visitors to Belize have plenty of opportunities to bird-watch and witness exotic wildlife thanks to an abundance of nature parks. And there’s a lot to see – everything from colorful toucans and parrots to monkeys, tapirs, various reptiles, and big cats. For the most rewarding wildlife experience, it’s best to go with a knowledgeable guide. However, for tourists that don’t want to leave a sighting to chance, there are several facilities and reserves that can be explored. These include the Belize Zoo, the Community Baboon Sanctuary, the Iguana Conservation Project, the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, and The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary which is the only jaguar preserve in the world. The Basin is also home to ocelots, pumas, crocodiles, deer, howler monkeys, and tapirs. Guided tours are available.
The ironic thing about Secret Beach is that it’s no longer a big secret. Located approximately 40 minutes from San Pedro, in Ambergris Caye, it is a popular stop-off among travelers thanks to its beachy vibe of waterside restaurants and tropical cocktails.
The beach itself offers a great place to frolic and swim, plus there is an abundance of activities to be enjoyed including jet skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and wakeboarding.
Ziplining And Rappelling
Belize offers thrilling outdoor adventures by the dozens, including ziplining through tropical rainforests and rappelling alongside beautiful jungle waterfalls that cascade into crystal pools.
Tourists will find zipline and rappelling adventures in several locations throughout the country, including Mayflower Bocawina National Park. This is also a great location for birdwatching.
Selfie with the Signs
Just like Mexico, the country of Belize has created bold and colorful art installations that depict the most popular touristy areas. These highly Instagrammable signs help travelers to create excellent photos and lasting memories. Visitors will find a series of Belize signs, as well as signs that denote a specific region, such as Caye Caulker, Secret Beach, and San Pedro
Lead – San Pedro – Wallpaper Flare
Caye Caulker – by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash
Mayan Ruins – Cute Wallpaper
Great Blue Hole – Wallpaper Flare
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving – by Constanza S Mora on Unsplash
Actun Tunichil Muknal – Wikipedia by – Licence CC BY-SA 3.0
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve – Unsplash
Toucan – Wallpaper Flare
Secret Beach – by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash
Zipline – Midworld
Caye Caulker sign – Meritt Thomas on Unsplash