Each year I try to put together my dream destination list, a list which is ever-growing and rarely gets smaller. While we’ve already checked off some major dream destinations so far, we sure can’t get to everywhere all at once, which is why we have to dream a little bit, something every traveler should do.
One of the best parts of traveling is hearing about places we have never been from passionate travelers around the world. Belize seems to keep popping up, so we’ve compiled a list of all the things we have to do when we finally get to Belize. From adventures to the food, excursions to unique hotels, we’ve mapped it all out – and there is so much to do!
Belize has an interesting classification as being the only English speaking country in its region while also being part of the Caribbean and Central America simultaneously which makes for a diverse and rich culture, ripe for exploring!
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Explore Mayan Ruins
Modern-day Belize was the very center of the ancient Mayan civilization, and there is no better place to explore these ancient ruins anywhere in the world. Belize is home to the largest concentration of Mayan temples, artifacts, tunnels, paintings, etc. and you can get lost forever exploring these fascination sites. While the Mayan civilization might have reached its peak 1,000 years ago, descendants of the great Maya still live in Belize, including members of the Yucatec, the Mopan and the Ketchi tribes.
While there are endless ruins to explore, the Caracol, Altun Ha, and Lubaantun ruins are among the most popular and easy to explore. But don’t just take our word for it, check out the top 10 Maya sites to see in Belize and read more about each one.
You may have explored ancient temples in Guatemala and climbed the famous steps to Machu Picchu but still, there is so much exploring to do. There is something about ancient ruins that is endlessly fascinating, and if you let yourself explore and allow your imagination to run wild you are in for a real treat!
Fun in the Sun
When we say head to the beach, we really mean it in Belize. With over 270 miles of stretching white sandy beaches, there are truly endless possibilities for water activities in Belize. Aside from the gorgeous beaches, Belize offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world – including the Belize Barrier Reef and the Great Blue Hole, one of the most jaw-dropping sites in the world, over 400 feet deep.
So whether you fancy simply laying on the beach, diving in for a refreshing swim, exploring the sea life with a snorkel or going all in for a dive, Belize has some of the best sea life in the world and we cannot wait to explore all it has to offer. The best beaches in Belize are Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia and Hopkins Bay so take the time to map them out and don’t miss a single one!
The Right Place to Stay
On every adventure the right accommodation is key, and Belize is no different. But with so much to explore and experience we have tried to find the best hotel options that offer both a comfortable and elegant place to stay and a full offering of all Belize has to offer without being over the top or insincere, which is hard to find.
Our pick for the best hotel to enjoy the sun and seaside fun is Hopkins Bay Belize, which seems to offer the best of both worlds. With comfortable 1, 2 and 3 bedroom bungalows, it is secluded away from tourist activity, right on the beach and close enough to town to not feet completely cut off from the world, while remaining private and quiet.
While located right on the beach, they offer great fishing, diving, and snorkeling tours while also offer complete caving, ziplining, and Mayan ruin tours, a list so long we’ll never get through it.
Hopkins bay also offers some really great ways to interact with the local Garifuna people in the village just minutes away. Take a Garifuna drumming lesson and learn the rhythms of the village or jump on the back of a bicycle and join in on a cultural immersion tour, both will leave you with special memories of the native people of Belize.
No matter where we travel in the world we are always on the lookout for the freshest, authentic and real local food we can find. With the rich diversity of the Central American and Caribbean influences, Belize truly has a unique and absolutely delicious cuisine.
We are most excited to try Serre la sus, a soup made from coconut milk, onions and fish, which sounds very similar to our favorite Thai soups. Obviously the seafood is of huge popularity, which only makes us more excited to try their local seafood dishes, especially the lobster.
Huge fans of spice and pepper, we’ll be putting local Habanero Pepper Sauce on just about everything and washing it all down with a local ginger beer, hows that for a kick to your palette! (We might even have to add in a bit of world-famous Belizian rum!)
Explore the Jungles
While jungles can be found in many countries around the world, few countries can boast such a truly wild and diverse jungle as Belize. With over 60% of Belize covered in forest landscapes, a staggering 38% is protected, and safe from deforestation. This fact alone should have and jungle loving hiker packing their bags and booking their flight to Belize as there is simply endless untouched jungle to explore.
There is no other feeling like being completely surrounded by nature and few locations that have the magical feeling of getting lost while exploring a jungle. The sounds are different and unique, there is often the constant sound of dripping water and gorgeous greenery around every turn. Paynes Creek National Park is one of the vastest expanses of protected areas in Belize at over 30,000 acres.
While we love exploring the jungles, always make sure you are covered up and have taken every precaution against insect and bug bites. As anyone who regularly reads this blog will know, I came down with a nasty case of Dengue Fever in Phuket on my birthday last year and it was no fun at all, so always cover up!
Go Kayaking & Canoeing
With so much of the land area of Belize covered with dense forest, the waterways became popular years ago as the number one way to get around for locals. With the mighty Mopan river starting in Guatemala and meeting the Macal river, the two bodies of water came together to form the Belize River which winds its way across the country to the sea.
Not only is there great kayaking and canoeing along the river where you will often see a wide selection of beautiful wild birds and large iguanas sunbathing on the banks, but there are also many class I and II whitewater rapids which can make for quite an adventurous and exciting afternoon.
Not only does Belize offer some amazing kayaking options, but you can also go canoeing through ancient caves, an exciting and thrilling way to explore the vast natural wonders Belize has to offer.
The waterways are so good for canoeing that each year Belize is home to the La Ruta Maya Belize Canoe Race which is an endurance race through 170 miles of the Belize River, the longest canoe race in South and Central America.
So whether your style is a long-distance endurance race or a slower pace exploration of the river during a sunny afternoon, the rive provides endless varieties of activities and sites to see.
Stay at a Unique Hotel
Let’s be honest, the first thing that pops into our heads when thinking about trekking into and exploring the jungle is a comfortable and safe place to sleep. While we love a good sweaty afternoon hiking in a hot and humid jungle, it really makes the day worth it when you have a clean and quiet place to relax after a long day of exploring.
Lucky for you, we found just the spot in the middle of the Belizean jungle. The Ka’ana Resort, located in San Ignacio is nestled among the lush green jungle and provides not only a clean and quiet place to stay during your stay but a downright beautiful and modern one at that.
Watch this video and tell me you don’t want to jump on a plane to Belize right now?
Check out the Animals!
What trip to the middle of the jungle would be complete without seeing all the wildlife there is to experience? In reading all we can about Belize, we have come to the conclusion that it might just have one of the most diverse animal populations on Earth. World-famous of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Belize offers hands down some of the best diving, snorkeling, and fishing anywhere in the world.
With such a dense and diverse jungle area, Belize offers visitors an absolutely vast array of wildlife from exotic birds to reptiles, wild insects and monkey species. But what is the most unique animal Belize offers? The jaguar.
The Jaguar Preserve at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the vastest protected areas for jaguars in the world, if not the most. The preserve offers visitors the chance to hike one of the longest hiking trails in the country as well as dorms to sleep in and camping for the super adventurous. The entrance fee is $10, camping is $5 per person and dorms are available for $20 per night.
While the most popular trail, the Victoria Peak trail, is only accessible in the dry season, with over 128,000 acres, there is endless land to explore for any traveler, from novice to expert.
We have learned about the Belize Barrier Reef, the beaches, food, culture, wildlife, jungles and some amazing looking place to stay along the way. I hope you’ll join us in adding a trip to Belize to your dream destination list and we hope to see you there!
If you have already been to Belize, will be going soon or have any suggestions, tips or stories to share, leave them in the comments – we can’t wait to hear from you. Remember, be safe, smile and travel like you mean it!