Who doesn’t dream of it? Shallow, white, sandy beaches, tropical climate, and endless time and peace. This is how you feel when you allow yourself a short break in the paradise of Belize. The serenity of the inhabitants of the only English-speaking country in Central America is second to none.
If you are interested in a trip to Belize, whether for your vacation or volunteering, here are 10 things to do in Belize!
Table of Contents
- 1 Stay on Caye Caulker 🌅
- 2 Taste the Food of Belize 🌮
- 3 Discover the hidden Maya Ruins 🌴
- 4 Step into the Caves of Belize 🔦
- 5 Explore the Jungle for Bird Watching 🦜
- 6 Snorkel with Manatees 🏊♂️
- 7 Relax on your “own” Island 🏝
- 8 Visit the Belize Zoo 🐒
- 9 Help out in a Nature Reserve 🌿
- 10 Go Diving 🌊
- 11 How to get to Belize ✈️
Stay on Caye Caulker 🌅
On Caye Caulker one feels the mentioned peace most clearly. Not for nothing is the motto of the island “Go Slow” which is also taken to heart by all the inhabitants. Be it on a bicycle, on foot or one of the golf cart taxis, you won’t move quickly here.
If you have relaxed enough, you can, of course, glide perfectly through the water while snorkeling or diving in Belize. You’ll see rays, sharks, and fish around the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest in the world. These are moments you won’t forget. If you need a very special kick, you’ll be drawn to the Blue Hole: A protected hole in the seabed that goes down to 125 meters. This is another place where completely different creatures cavort!
But also the other animals on and around Caye Caulker are remarkable. If you don’t want to listen to the music all day long, you should head out to the Iguana Reef Beach Bar. There is not only ice-cold Belikin but also a seahorse farm and shortly before sunset a pelican feeding. Of course, one can also enjoy the sunset directly with a cocktail on a deck chair.
A bit to the North there is also the “Tarpon feeding dock”. For a small donation, the fish are having a jumping contest to eat out of your hand. It’s a huge experience for young and old.
Taste the Food of Belize 🌮
No matter where in Belize or the world, good and local food is a must. In addition to a variety of local and fresh fruits, the “Fry Jacks”, for example, know how to convince. Fried dumplings with a selection of fillings are a hit! If you are still diving on Caye Caulker, you should visit Errolyn’s House Of Fryjacks.
Another specialty of the small Caribbean state: lobster. It’s very cheap and freshly grilled on the side of the road when it’s the season. This is usually from June to February. Lobster festivals take place along the coast – from the islands to the mainland, from Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker in the north, via Belize City and Placencia in the south.
Even though Mayan ruins may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of Belize, visiting Mayan ruins is one of the best things to do in Belize.
Caracol is the temple complex with the highest structure in Belize. With 140 feet (almost 43m) the temple stands out between the trees of the green jungle. The best way to get to Caracol is a tour from San Ignacio. The city in western Belize offers many accommodations and mostly your host or the staff of your hotel can help you book a tour. The trip to the Mayan ruins takes about 2.5 hours.
Cerros, the only Belizean Maya site located at the Caribbean Sea, was a trading center back in the times. Although this old city is by far not the largest excavation site, it is certainly one with the most beautiful views.
Lamanai is the old Mayan city that has been inhabited the longest. It can be easily reached from Orange Walk by boat over the New River. From the big pyramid, you have an incredible view over the lagoon and the dense, evergreen rainforest.
Step into the Caves of Belize 🔦
Since way back, when the Mayan Empire ruled over Belize as its first inhabitants, caves have had this mysterious atmosphere. Mayans even believed them to be gateways to the dead’s realm (Xibalba) and the world of gods, which is why until today gruesome remains of rituals like human sacrifices can be found there. But don’t let this scare you, because you would miss out on those beautiful rock formations carved by crystal clear water and breathtaking pathways to a place that truly seems like another world.
The huge network of caves underneath Belize’s surface offers many access points to choose from. The most promising recommendations are the following:
Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave: Sometimes also known as the ATM Cave, a visit is starting off quite adventurous with a hike through Belize’s dense forest and a quick swim to enter the cave. You’ll be able to witness one of the most important remains of Mayan ceremonial traditions.
Actun Loch Tunich Cave: Better known as Black Hole, this cave is for those who get bored easily. You start from 300 feet above and slide into the darkness – sounds fun right?
Barton Creek Cave: This unique experience will let you enjoy a cave tour on a whole other level. Sit comfortably inside a canoe and glide along the river through spacious caverns.
Explore the Jungle for Bird Watching 🦜
As you may have noticed, Belize is a country full of nature. Of course, there are a lot of birds here as well! Especially in the province Cayo, in the west of the country, there are many bird-watching tours around the Maya ruins Caracol and El Pilar. But also the Aguacate Lagoon offers unique experiences and in the south, there are additional national parks like the Blue Hole National Park or the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Anyone who always wanted to mock species like the American Pygmy Kingfisher or the Crested Guan should not miss the chance.
But also rare, big birds call Belize their home. Scarlet Macaw, Ocellated Turkey, or Ornate Hawk-Eagle – you name it. So if you like to call yourself an Early Bird and are ready to go on a discovery tour early in the morning, you should get ready to explore the primeval forests of Belize.
Snorkel with Manatees 🏊♂️
Preferring warm clear waters, these peaceful herbivores roam the shallow areas between Belize’s rivers and islands. With their calm character, they fit perfectly into the slow-paced way of life of the Caribbean Coast, but the number of individuals has been declining. The West-Indian Manatee is listed as vulnerable, which is why their population is being monitored constantly. The main factors are pollution and climate change and, in order to to help to protect the remaining Manatees in Belize, protected areas were established.
There are a lot of tours around to spot manatees. As for the protected areas, Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in the North, the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary south of Belize City, and the Gales Point Manatee Wildlife Sanctuary is worth a visit year-round.
Relax on your “own” Island 🏝
The Belize Barrier Reef has a huge advantage: thousands of small islands are spread all along the coast. Many of them are uninhabited and some can be left to themselves. Besides, they are also optimal starting points for snorkeling and diving tours.
Tobacco Caye: Especially popular with younger travelers, there are just about 30 inhabitants who mostly take care of the guests. On an area of about 5-acre and without TV, you can switch off wonderfully.
Little Harvest Caye: Just 5 minutes from the coast of Placencia, this small 1.5-acre island offers all luxury amenities. You can even rent it as a group for up to 12 persons!
Ray Caye: If you prefer a little more romance, Ray Caye is the perfect place for you. Besides special honeymoon packages, the number of guests is limited and you can indulge in the island life in a relaxed and quiet way.
Tom Owens Caye: Another 1.5-acre island that has a unique atmosphere! There is no holiday resort here, but rather the ReefCI organization, which has promised to preserve the Barrier Reef. As a volunteer, you can discover the underwater world and do good. Who knows, maybe you even have the chance to meet a whale shark during one of the daily dives.
Visit the Belize Zoo 🐒
Belize Zoo is something special. Here you can see 125 species of native animals. On the one hand, this allows the locals to get to know their wildlife, on the other hand, tourists and visitors can get to know so much of Belize. It should be mentioned that there are mainly animals in Belize Zoo that would not be able to survive in the wilderness on their own and thus have found a safe place here.
Located about halfway between Belize City and Belmopan, the zoo may not be right on your route. But if you drive by, you will find an interesting local sight.
Help out in a Nature Reserve 🌿
Who hasn’t noticed it yet: Belize is trying hard to do a lot for its environment. Besides the conservation of the Belize Barrier Reef and the mentioned Manatee Reserves, there are 103 Protected Areas according to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust in Belize. As a result, there are more and more opportunities to volunteer in Belize and become part of the conservation project.
Of course, you can only visit some of the reserves. Nearly the entire southwest of the country, as well as several islands off the coast, are protected. It is therefore highly probable that you will cross some projects on your trip to Belize.
Go Diving 🌊
That is definitely one of the things, Belize is best known for. The Barrier Reef boasts more than 100 coral species as well as over 350 fish species. Scuba Diving in Belize is easily available year-round and next to the Great Blue Hole and the Barrier Reef itself, there even more Highlights!
Whale Sharks are a friendly, although rare encounter. Your chances are highest if you try snorkeling or diving near Placencia from April to June. If you are more interested in smaller species, Shark Ray Alley is a spot where Nurse Sharks and different kinds of rays are seen regularly. For sure, you will find your favorite place. Diving rounds up this list of 10 things to do in Belize! You can discover additional unique diving spots in or post about the Top Destinations for Scuba Diving in 2021.
How to get to Belize ✈️
With the Airplane
The Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) is the gate to Belize if you are traveling by plane. There are direct connections in several US cities (Miami, L.A., Chicago, Houston, …) as well as other countries in Central America such as Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, and Panama.
Small national flights to Belmopan, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and other parts of the country are offered here as well.
Roughly 30 minutes outside of the capital Belize City, it can easily be reached via Taxi or Shuttle.
With the Bus from Cancun
If you are already staying in Cancun (or neighboring Playa Del Carmen), you can also take the bus to Belize City. The easiest and most comfortable way is taking the ADO overnight bus from the Cancun bus terminal through to Belize City. On some days, additional day buses depart. As departure times vary, please check the ADO site for exact times. The travel time is roughly 9 hours.
With the Bus from Flores
For those of you who are coming from Guatemala and have already visited the famous ruins of Tikal, a Fuente del Norte Bus departs at the entrance to the peninsula of Flores. There are several stops on the way, including one at the border for passport control.
Either way, be sure to check for visa information in advance and that you have a valid passport. With the current pandemic, the Belize Tourism Board has the most up-to-date information on the entry requirements. As of August 2021, Belize allows entry to both, vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers, given they can provide a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival or a negative result from any approved Antigen Rapid Test taken within 48 hours of arrival.
Ready for your next adventure? Belize is a great country to find out about Central America and the Caribbean. From Maya ruins to ubiquitous marine and wildlife, to relaxed people all over. You will love it!
Ever been to Belize? Let us know what was your favorite thing to do in Belize in the comments!