belize

Make time for the adventure of your life and visit the peaceful, friendly English-speaking people in Belize. Experience the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere some 185 miles in length, majestic Maya Mountains threaded with cascading waterfalls hidden amongst jungles canopies where exotic wildlife and tropical flora blossom, the largest cave system in Central America – for the novice or the experienced spelunker, hundreds of Ancient Maya civilizations both excavated and jungle covered, and over 10 diverse cultures living in harmony.

With over 200 islands off the coast of Belize including 3 of the Caribbean’s 4 atolls, the Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and marine activities abound. Home to the famous Blue Hole near Lighthouse Reef Atoll and many marine reserves including Half Moon Caye Natural Monument for red-footed booby, Glover’s Reef atoll, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley for swimming with rays and docile nurse sharks, Gladden Spit for diving with whale shark and South Water Caye Marine Reserve, the largest marine reserve.

Belize was once a main center of Maya civilization with over 15 partially excavated Maya sites throughout the country and hundreds more awaiting discovery. Visit the ancient city of Lamanai by boat; Caracol, Belize’s largest Maya site; Xunantunich, the tallest man-made structure; Altun Ha, Cerros, Mayflower Bocawina or Nim Li Punit.

With over 40% of its land protected, lush tropical rainforest offers hundred of species of birds, exotic tropical flora and fauna, cool, clear rivers, magnificent caves and waterfalls. Explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Rio Bravo, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Guanacaste National Park, Blue Hole National Park, Barton Creek Cave, Mountain Pine Ridge or any of the many private nature reserves.

Although a young nation, Belize is proud of its rich cultural heritage and history. Over ten diverse ethnic groups including the Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Maya, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and East Indian create a blend of culture, personalities, racial and religious harmony that gives Belize a widespread reputation for friendliness. Belizeans are friendly, knowledgeable, hospitable and English-speaking willing to share art, music and tasty local dishes.

AIRPORTS/ GATEWAYS/FLYING TIMES: Airport: Phillip S.W. Goldson International Airport is 9 miles from Belize City with local airlines being the most popular means of tourist travel inside Belize. Belmopan City, the capital, is located 50 miles west of Belize City. Gateways/Flying Times: Atlanta – 3 hours. Houston – 2 hours. Los Angeles (via Houston) – 5 hours. Miami – 2 hours. New York (via Miami) – 5 hours. Newark – 4 hours 45 minutes. Charlotte – 3 hours 29 minutes.

CLIMATE: Temperatures vary from 70 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit during the year. Annual rainfall averages 50 inches in the north and 170 inches in the south during the rainy season – June to August. The driest months are February through to May.

DINING: Belizean cuisine is a mixture of diverse cultures with the signature dish being rice and beans, chicken and potato salad with fried ripe plantains. Tipping is at the discretion of the individual. Dress code is casual.

NIGHTLIFE: Local bars in the main towns have live entertainment most weekends; Las Vegas style casino at the Princess Hotel and Casino in Belize City and San Ignacio.

ATTRACTIONS/SIGHTSEEING: Belize’s tourism regions have distinctive flair: Corozal: flavored with the Mestizo culture. Explore picturesque Corozal Bay with concealed inlets in hidden lagoons; centuries old Maya temples at Cerros, Santa Rita and Cayo Coco and see rare wood storks, parrots and monkeys in Shipstern Nature Reserve. Orange Walk: home to the riverside Maya site of Lamanai, sugar cane plantations, the lush Rio Bravo tropical forest, an orchid farm, coffee plantation, the country’s largest rum distillery, a traditional Mennonite community and quaint Orange Walk Town. Ambergris Caye and San Pedro town is the most popular tourist destination in the country. The ample amenities and restful ambiance on this 20-mile-long, two-mile-wide tropical island is ideally located for daytime excursions to dozens of fishing, diving, and snorkeling sites including Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Caye Caulker: only a 20 mile boat ride from Belize City, this fishing village turned laid back tourist haven offers the charm of local culture and all the marine activities of nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley and the manatees at Swallow Caye. Belize District: home to Belize City the commercial capital, with the national museum, historical sites of the colonial era and restaurant choices including gourmet and local cuisine. Interior Belize District offers the Community Baboon Sanctuary, local wineries, forest zip-lining, cave-tubing and the Maya temples of Altun Ha. Cayo: the heart of Belize offering the best of any Central American travel vacation: starting with the capital city, Belmopan, the ancient temples of Caracol, Xunantunich and Cahal Pech, scenic Macal and Mopan rivers, the caves of Barton Creek and Actun Tunichil Muknal , miles of trails in the Chiquibuil National Park and the pine forests of Mountain Pine Ridge. Stann Creek: Dance to the rhythm of drums rooted in Africa in Dangriga, the largest community in Stann Creek. Explore palm-shaded islands and snorkel offshore in the South Water Caye and Glovers Reef Marine Reserves; a jungle covered temple and waterfalls at Mayflower, forest pathways in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Hopkins: a few miles south of Dangriga, offers a vacation combination of nearby rainforest and offshore cayes in a coastal location. Seaside resorts provide luxury alongside the sleepy traditional seaside Garifuna fishing village of Hopkins. Placencia: a 2 mile peninsula with one of the best beaches in southern Belize. A one mile concrete sidewalk serves as “main street” in this Creole village, one of the oldest inhabited communities in Belize. Attractions include lagoons, rivers, reefs, and flats for bonefishing; diving adventures at Laughingbird Caye and with the whalesharks near Gladden Spit; manatee watching in Placencia lagoon, and nearby jungle trails in Monkey River and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Toledo: This southernmost region of Belize has the greatest concentration of traditional Maya living in picturesque villages offering Maya homestays. The main town, Punta Gorda, offers colorful markets, with produce and handicraft from Garifuna and Maya farmers. There is dense rainforest and beckoning caves near villages like Blue Creek and spectacular cayes like the Sapodilla Cayes offshore.

FIND OUT MORE: Please visit www.travelbelize.org