From mangrove swamps to mountains, jungles, beaches, rainforests, and wildlife, Belize is known for its biodiversity. Ancient Mayan ruins, remote islands, waterfalls, and the world’s second-largest barrier reef attract visitors to the country’s natural beauty. By Patricia Doherty
English is the official language of Belize, and visitors will also hear the local Kriol language spoken. Once called British Honduras, the country’s name was changed in 1973, and it became fully independent in 1981. US dollars are widely accepted, and currently, two Belizean dollars are equivalent to one US dollar (INR 77). Flights arrive at the main airport near Belize City, and from there, visitors reach their destinations by local flights, boat, or vehicle.
Where is Belize?
Located on Central America’s northeastern coast just south of Mexico, Belize borders the Caribbean Sea and consists of a diverse mainland area and about 450 islands called “cays” or “cayes” (pronounced “keys”). Belize is home to the largest cave system in Central America and the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef in the world.
Best times to go to Belize
While the climate is comfortable year-round, the weather varies by region with the heaviest rain in the south and jungle areas. Rain is the lightest in the north and on the cays. In general, the best time to visit in terms of weather is from late November through April/May. The driest months are February through May. The rainiest months are August through October, but those who don’t mind the weather will find lower prices, abundant wildlife, and flowers in bloom.
Things to do in Belize
Scuba diving and snorkelling are the main attraction for many visitors to Belize for its crystal clear water, coral, marine life, barrier reef, and Great Blue Hole.
Many visitors enjoy hiking and exploring the hills, rainforests, and jungles with self-guided maps or tour guides to see birds, exotic plants, and wildlife or exploring caves to find stalactite and stalagmite formations, waterfalls, and underground adventure.
What is the Belize blue hole?
Known to divers around the world, the Great Blue Hole is part of the Belize Barrier Reef System located about 45 miles (72 km) off the mainland of Belize. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the circular-shaped Blue Hole gets its rich colour from its depth which reaches more than 400 feet at its deepest point. Geological formations and a variety of coral, tropical fish, sharks, shrimp, and unique marine life are the attractions. French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau called it one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
Where to stay in Belize
This luxury property features spacious guest rooms, suites, and three-bedroom beachfront villas. Amenities include a spa, three restaurants, and three pools, including a rooftop pool and lounge. The Dive Shop is conveniently located on the property’s beach, and San Pedro’s shops and restaurants are a short walk or golf cart ride away.
Turneffe Island Resort
This luxury resort, a favourite with travellers who love fishing, diving, and snorkelling, is set on a 14-acre private island about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Belize City. Guests arrive by boat or helicopter from the international airport where they’re met by a resort representative. A variety of guest rooms and beachfront villas are available.
Matachica Resort & Spa
Located five miles (eight km) north of San Pedro Town, adults-only (16 and older) Matachica offers 32 individual casitas, villas, bungalows, and suites with sea and garden views, thatched roofs, patios, and hammocks. On-site activities include spa treatments, kayaking, snorkelling, and biking, and the resort will arrange excursions and tours.
This eco-tourism resort is known for some of the best saltwater fishing, diving, and snorkelling in Belize’s largest marine reserve in the Caribbean. Family-owned for more than 35 years, the resort offers air-conditioned accommodations, naturalist guides, eco-tours, and educational activities.
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort
This secluded boutique resort is located on the beach along the Caribbean on the Belize mainland. Accommodations include beachfront suites and spacious treehouse rooms set in the coastal forest. Relax by the pool, explore the sea, or arrange inland tours through the Adventure Center.
Set on its own private four-acre island off San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Cayo Espanto offers luxury beachfront one and two-bedroom villas as well as an overwater bungalow with a private dock. Gourmet dining with world-class wines, spa, fishing, diving, water sports, birdwatching, jungle adventures, and Belize tours are part of the experience.
This luxury boutique hideaway hotel is set in western Belize in the 1,07,000-acre Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve among tropical trees, shrubs, waterfalls, and jungle. Twenty elegant accommodations include cabanas, villas, and the ultra-luxe two-bedroom Coppola Villa with dramatic views and a full-time attendant. Montagna features Italian cuisine, and poolside and garden dining are also available.
Manta Island Resort
Set on a 12-acre private island about 36 miles (58 km) off the southern coast of Belize, the resort offers nine oceanfront cabanas and three two-bedroom villas. The all-inclusive package includes meals, beverages, airport and boat transfers, water sports gear, and snorkelling tours. The resort is a “sister property” of Belizean Dreams Resort as well as adults-only Coco Plum Island Resort and Laru Beya Resort.
Royal Palm Island
This private island resort is less than nine miles (14.4 km) from Belize City, accessible by boat. Accommodations are luxurious one and two-bedroom air-conditioned cottages with private palapas and kitchenettes. Three meals, beverages, snorkelling equipment, and use of a jacuzzi are included, and spa treatments, excursions, and Belize tours are available.
Bocawina Rainforest Resort
Located in the heart of the Maya Mountains in a tropical rainforest, this eco-lodge is the only resort inside a national park in Belize. Your stay includes meals, snacks, and cultural experiences like chocolate making. Guests have access to adventures like Belize’s longest canopy zip line, waterfall rappelling and ropes courses, guided birding, and more.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek
This eco-lodge is located along the Macal River in the foothills of the Maya Mountains about two hours southwest of Belize City. Accommodations include budget-friendly eco-pods, cottages, garden or tree-top suites, and villas with private plunge pools. There’s a spa, horse stables, organic farm, and Natural History Center.