Population: 270,000 residents
Size: 8,866 square miles
Language: English (primary), Spanish
Part tropical jungle part Caribbean paradise, Belize provides a truly unique experience to it visitors. The Central American nation provides a landscape of lush tropical vegetation lined by gorgeous white coral sand beaches and filled with some of the most exotic wildlife you will find in the Caribbean region. If venturing through its rainforest-draped mountains is not your style, offshore Belize offers an excellent exploration experience. With the longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, Belize offers a truly special chance to snorkel through translucent waters while watching a colorful array of fish and coral. You will find yourself struggling with what all first-time visitors do...what to do first. Belize attracts nearly one million visitors each year and is the only English speaking country in Central America. Its infrastructure does struggle to support the recent popularity of Belize, but does offer a very intimate experience in which the locals are always friendly and value its tourism business. Belize finds itself struggling with a delicate balance of preserving such a pristine tropical ecosystem and the economic opportunities of its tourism. More than 40% of Belize’s land is protected in one form or another.
Sun, Sand, Sea & Shopping
Relax undisturbed in a hammock under a palm tree staring out into the tranquil blue Caribbean waters, or jump into the bath temperature waters to swim amidst schools of colorful fish, or hike deep into the jungle to explore the many Mayan ruins or caves. Whatever your pace, Belize and its barrier islands is the perfect destination for you.
Often listed as one of the best diving sites in the world, Belize’s Great Blue Hole is an underwater sink hole that when viewed from above looks like the pupil of an eye. Measured at 1,000 ft wide and nearly 400 ft deep, this underwater spectacle is a favorite for divers around the world. Day trip tours are very popular to this location and some offer over-night stays aboard the ship. Originally this formation occured above sea level and as our sea levels have changed it is now submerged below the Caribbean sea.
At over 185 miles long, the Belize barrier reef is a snorkeling and scuba diving marvel. Its crystal clear waters are 80° year round and are truly and underwater paradise of vibrant colors and marine life. Dotted along the entire coast of Belize are hundreds of coral and mangrove covered islands within the barrier reef. The Belize barrier reef has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The benefit of Belize's underwater popularity is that there are a number of professional dive shops, all of which are professionally run and friendly shops with well-maintained diving and snorkeling equipment. The dive instructors are full PADI and NAUI certificated. In the unlikely event of a diving accident, Ambergris Caye has a hyperbaric chamber.
For the land-adventerous types, Belizes offers some of the most thrilling zip line excursions offered in the Caribbean. Many of the outfitters will also offer a half day outing that combines a zip line excursion with a float through some of Belize's most amazing caves on a tube. Experience the unforgettable world of the Belize jungle and enjoy an adventure of a lifetime. Encounter indigenous animals and exotic plant life beneath a 100 foot rainforest canopy. Relax and soak up the sun and sounds of the rainforest while you float on a tube through the caves of Belize.
Dining & Nightlife
Belize's food is a fusion of Caribbean, African, and Mayan influences with an emphasis on seafood, however pork, chicken, and various Mexican style meals are also popular. You will also find that beans and rice is a very common dish served throughout the day…and the Belizeans do them well! There is also a very distinct season for the local seafood. Lobster will be found in season from mid-July to mid-February and is typically the most expensive at around US$20. The smell of freshly caught seafood grilling at the sea side restaurants is a delight for the senses. Dining in Belize for the most part is not fancy but provides an experience of local style and tradition. The cost of a moderate meal will run you US$10-20 and more expensive meals around US$30. Very affordable dining options.
Be sure to check out some of these dining options:
Blue Water Grill, Ambergris Caye
The Smoky Mermaid Restaurant & Bar, Belize City
The Bistro at Maya Beach Hotel, Maya Beach (Placencia)
Harbour View, Belize City
Belize is more know for its jungle wildlife than for its island’s nightlife. There are a few exceptions to this however. For those looking to heat up the night, you can find a number of beachfront bars and clubs along San Pedro. Also, if a night of gaming is your style then step over to the Princess Hotel & Casino. While it’s not at the scale of Vegas, you will find it to be a large and modern casino that's well equipped with tables and slots.