Belize’s 6 Most Beautiful Places

The 12 Best Tourist Attractions in Belize

Belize is very lucky with its nature. This country, located in Central America between Mexico and Guatemala, is great for eco-tourism. In colonial times, Belize was known as British Honduras. Few countries can offer such a diversity of ecosystems packed into such a relatively small area. It is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef. There are also jungles with huge numbers of monkeys and jaguars. There are mountain pine forests, palm-fringed beaches, rivers, caves and coral atolls teeming with fish. Not surprisingly, in this area is extremely popular diving, whether scuba diving or snorkeling. One of the best places for this activity is the Big Blue Hole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travelers come here from the other side of the world for fantastic fishing and deep-sea adventures.

Along with the natural beauty, the country’s main asset is its friendly people, whose origins are as diverse as the surrounding scenery. Belize is home to Mayans, Mennonites, English, Creoles, Mestizos, and the Garifuna people, who are descendants of Africans and Indians who have formed their own distinctive culture. Travelers can touch the heritage of the Mayans thanks to the large number of archaeological sites (which, moreover, are not very crowded with tourists). Although the capital is Belmopan, Belize City is considered the main gateway. This is where most tourists fly in, and many of them begin their adventures by checking out the nearby sights before heading inland. In addition to diving and fishing, travelers can kayak through local lagoons, walk through caves along underground rivers, hike through jungle or pine forests, and enjoy seeing wild animals in their natural habitat. Finally, you can relax in a hammock in this tropical paradise.

1. Ambergris Caye Island

Located near the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, Ambergris Caye is the largest of Belize’s two hundred islands. It is also a major tourist destination. Right off the coast is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the most visited place among diving enthusiasts. In Mayan language, the name of the reserve translates as “little piece. It is one of seven reserves in the Belize Barrier Reef System, which, in turn, is the second largest after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The reserve has the following attractions: 1. A gap in the reef with steep coral walls; 2. Cat’s Eye, a crescent-shaped pit; 3. Shark Alley, where divers can swim in company with nurse sharks and southern stingrays. The main population center of the island is the fishing village of San Pedro. It is a vibrant jumble of traditional houses, stray dogs, and free-running chickens. There are also excellent cafes and hotels. Golf carts and bicycles are considered the most popular means of transport on the island. Recently, however, a growing number of cars and trucks can be seen on the sandy streets. The Ambergris Museum and Cultural Center provides an insight into the history of the island from Mayan times to the present. The island is often visited by saltwater fishing enthusiasts who can try to catch quite a variety of trophies here.

2. The lighthouse on the atoll and the Big Blue Hole

The lighthouse atoll is located on the farthest of the three atolls of Belize. This place is a true paradise for nature lovers and divers. Around the turquoise lagoon there are 6 small islands with white sandy beaches, coconut palms and stunning coral formations. The main attraction here is the Big Blue Hole, which is included in the list of World Heritage Sites as a natural monument. Diving into the bright blue waters of the Great Hole, divers can see bizarre limestone stalactites protruding from the steep walls. If swimmers are lucky, they may also see reef sharks. The most visited islet on the atoll is Half Moon Cay. The island is also considered a natural monument and is also included in the list of World Heritage Sites. The reason for this is the bird sanctuary, which is home to a colony of 4,000 red-legged booby and many other bird species. Natural hiking trails lead to special observation platforms from which nesting buzzards and frigates can be viewed. Visitors can also explore the island’s lighthouse or relax on the beautiful beaches. Diving enthusiasts will surely appreciate the variety of marine life in the island’s coastal waters.

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3. Placencia

Placencia is a popular fishing village and beach resort located at the end of the 26 km long sandy peninsula of the same name. Tourists come here to lie on the beautiful beaches, sample fresh seafood in excellent restaurants, fish, kayak around the lagoon or snorkel in the Silk Cay Marine Reserve. In the village itself, you can see interesting houses on stilts, with narrow concrete walkways between them. These are used by fishermen to haul fish in wheelbarrows. Nearby is another World Heritage Site, Lafing Bird Cay National Park. The park is characterized by hiking trails and coral reefs. Popular activities in the park include: swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, and kayaking. On the Placencia Peninsula is a traditional Garifuna Village, where you can get a glimpse of the unique culture of this people, formed by a mix of Indian and African peoples. From Placencia, you can take a mangrove cruise along the Monkey River. In the process, travelers will see birds, monkeys, and crocodiles.

4. Turneffe Islands

This atoll is a true paradise for snorkelers and anglers. It includes about 200 small coral islands located in one lagoon. The seascapes here range from crystalline plains, to ravines and lagoons. Corals sparkle beautifully in the clear water, and the atoll itself is home to a variety of marine life. Among the species that live here, there are sea bass, lucian, a bunch of crustaceans and the famous albula (bony fish). The latter attracts fly fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. The vast expanse of the eastern part of the atoll is great for casting baits or snorkeling in the shoals. Divers will find beautiful seascapes as well as plenty of wildlife such as stingrays, nurse sharks, dolphins and turtles. Most of the resorts on the atoll specialize in divers and fishermen. You can also get to the atoll as part of a day tour from Belize City or from Ambergris Caye and Key Caulker Islands.

5. Cockcomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

This sanctuary will definitely appeal to wildlife lovers. The mountain rainforest of the reserve is home to an impressive number of different animal species: jaguars, ocelots, cougars, anteaters, tapirs, monkeys, and even snakes. However, you don’t get to see wild cats here very often. If you like watching birds, you will like this place too. Among the 290 species of birds, there are toucans and red macaws. The best way to explore the reserve is on foot along an extensive network of trails. The Waterfall Trail is the most popular, as it leads to waterfalls and natural pools. The Deception Ben hiking trail is a more challenging route, but it can offer stunning views of the local wildlife. You can take a guided tour of the preserve. Either way, make sure you are well dressed and have an ample supply of water.

6. K-Colker Island

This rough diamond is considered a favorite vacation spot for tourists on a tight budget. It is a small island surrounded by mangroves and coconut palms. It is located 24 km south of Ambergris Caye. In 1961, Hurricane Hattie split the island into two, resulting in a section called the Rift. Today, it is a small public beach. The area north of the Rift is quieter and less landscaped. Travelers come here to completely relax. The sandy streets are best navigated by golf carts and bicycles. The small guest houses look rustic, but quite comfortable. The island does not have many textbook tropical beaches, but you can always go to the reef, where a real paradise for swimming and diving. There is a beautiful mini nature reserve on the island.

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7. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Preserve (Pine Ridge Mountain Preserve)

This preserve stands in stark contrast to the humid tropics of the coast. The considerable elevation helps keep daytime temperatures relatively cool, which also provides a respite from mosquitoes. Hiking through the pine forests here, you’ll find cool rivers, waterfalls, natural pools, and caves. In recent years, though, the pine beetle has damaged many trees. One of the reserve’s main attractions is the Rio Frio Cave, once used by the Mayans as a burial ground. A river runs through the very center of the cave. The Five Sisters Falls are five streams plunging from above into a beautiful natural pool. If you want some refreshment, take a walk to Rio-on-the-Pulse Cave, where you’ll find small waterfalls connected by several ponds formed right in the granite rocks. The slabs of rock are great for basking in the sun after a swim. Thousand Foot Falls (also known as Hidden Falls) is surrounded by intersecting hiking trails. There is an observation platform from which hikers can view the surrounding area.

8. Lamanai Archaeological Reserve

The reserve is located in the dense jungle, on the banks of the New River. It is the most famous archaeological site of northern Belize and one of the most important ceremonial centers. In Mayan Indian language, “Lamanai” means “submerged crocodile.” Images of these reptiles have been found on excavated houses and pottery, as well as in individual figurines. The journey to the reserve is an interesting adventure in itself. An hour-long boat ride up the New River will allow you to see wildlife. The dense jungle surrounding the site creates a special sense of adventure. In addition, the ruins of the reserve are still not fully excavated. The area of the reserve has been inhabited by the Mayans longer than any other place. In the 16th century the Spaniards discovered a thriving community here. Ruins of churches testify to an attempt to convert Indians to Christianity. The archaeological site includes over 900 different structures as well as a museum featuring pottery, obsidian wares, figurines and gemstone jewelry. Highlights include the Temple of the Masks, the Temple of the Jaguar, and the High Temple. The latter allows you to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding jungle.

9. San Ignacio

San Ignacio lies in the valley between the Mopal and Macal rivers. It is an excellent base for further travels in the Cayo area. The main purpose of such trips are the archaeological sites. The most famous of them is Shunantunich, an ancient structure located on top of a limestone ridge overlooking the Mopal River. El Pilar is the largest archaeological site in Belize. However, not much is known about its history, as excavations here began only in 1993. Visitors can walk among the ruins thanks to a wide network of natural trails. Not far from the town of San Ignacio is the archaeological site of Cajal Pech. It is relatively small, but has the addition of a superb museum. Connoisseurs of underground adventure, can go to the caves Che-Chem-Ha and Aktum-Tunichil-Muknal. Here you can see the skeletons of the Maya and their pottery. At Barton Creek Cave, adventurers can canoe down a river that flows through the cave for about half a kilometer. Other attractions in the region include the Chaa Creek Nature Preserve and the iguana conservation nursery, where tourists can get up close and personal with these creatures. The town of San Ignacio is also a starting point for trips to the Mountain Pine Ridge Preserve.

10. Belize City

Belize City (once a fishing village) was the capital of the country until 1970, when Hurricane Hattie did well here. Today, it is Belize’s largest city and its commercial center, a busy port where cruise ships arrive, and a major gateway to the country. The city’s dilapidated Victorian houses stretch along narrow streets, giving it a somewhat rugged appearance. Despite this, the city boasts an impressive past that includes Mayan Indians, colonial settlers, hurricanes and fires. To learn more about it, check out the Belize Museum, which is located in a former prison. Walk to Government House or visit the Old Belize Cultural and Historical Center. Here you’ll find museums, beaches and restaurants in as compact a package as possible. Built in 1923, the drawbridge of Belize separates the southern and northern parts of the city and is the only hand-operated bridge of its kind in the world. A short drive out of town, and the traveler finds himself at the Altun Ha archaeological site or at the beautiful Belize Zoo, which emphasizes species conservation and educational purposes. Here you can see many of the country’s animals kept in their natural habitat. Most are endangered species. Since the city is located at the mouth of the Belize River on the Caribbean coast, anglers will find plenty of opportunities for great fishing literally five minutes from the center.

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11. Altun Ha Archaeological Site

It is easily accessible directly from Belize City. The name of the site means “stone pond” in Mayan. Once, it was an important trading, ceremonial and agricultural center. Travelers will find 13 temples and two main plazas here. The Temple of the Stone Altar dates back to the beginning of the 7th century and is the largest pyramidal temple. By climbing to its top, tourists can appreciate the magnificent circular panorama. Excavations of the Temple of the Green Tomb have uncovered the burial place of the king-priest, as well as many valuable artifacts, including pottery, pearls, jade jewelry and stingray spikes, which were used for ritual purposes. One of the famous discoveries at the site is the Jade Head. It is a sculptural mask of the sun god, which is the largest Mayan jade object (of those found).

12. Caracol Preserve.

The largest archaeological site of Belize is located on the Waka Plateau, at an altitude of 152 meters above sea level. The ancient Mayan city goes deep into the jungle, right up to the border with Guatemala. Once, the city of Caracol was larger than Belize City, and had twice as many inhabitants. The city’s warriors were widely known for their victories. They defeated such powerful cities as Tikal and Naranjo. Today, tourists can see the stone altar on which these victories are depicted. Another interesting object is the pyramid of Caan (Heavenly Palace), which is 43 meters high. This is the highest man-made structure on the entire territory of Belize. Naturally, there is a stunning view of the jungle. Caracol was abandoned by the inhabitants many centuries ago. However, wild life thrives in the ruins. Cats, monkeys and many birds walk in the surrounding forests or in the ruins themselves. Beyond the city is a series of limestone karst caves, which are considered the largest such formation in the Western Hemisphere.

Attractions of Belize

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One of the smallest countries in Central America – Belize is the most unusual and can amaze with a variety of attractions: sandy beaches, unusual cities, coral reefs, ancient Mayan cities, caves and other attractions will satisfy the curiosity of every tourist.

Big Blue Hole.

The Big Blue Hole is a natural wonder located near the coast of Belize. It is a huge sinkhole of an ideal shape with a diameter of about 300 m and a depth of 120 m.

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Discovered this amazing place the Cousteau brothers. The Great Blue Hole is one of the 10 best places for diving and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

All lovers of diving will love it, at the depths of the Blue Hole you can meet reef sharks, nurse sharks and other species of fish.

Or for those who are indifferent to diving, you can look at this wonder from a plane. It’s inexpensive, with planes flying in from Belize City and other major cities.

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Kahal Pech

The main pyramid of Kahal Pech.

Cajal Peche is one of the most prominent ancient Mayan cities, located in the state of Belize. Cahal Pech is located in a very interesting place: on a high hill, from which you can clearly see the two major Belizean cities of Santa Elena and San Ignacio. Only 34 sites have so far been excavated in the ruined Mayan city, but the nature and atmosphere of the place is worth seeing and experiencing. Read more about Cajal Pech.

Karakol

Caracol is another of the oldest monuments of the Maya civilization, which was found by loggers at the beginning of the last century. It is the largest archaeological site in Belize visited by tourists.

Caan pyramid. Karakol.

The largest structure of the ancient city of Caracol is the pyramid of Caan (45 meters), surrounded by more than 3000 platforms, where there were houses and other household buildings. By the way, the city of Caracol was the largest city of the ancient Maya, and occupied an area of about 30 square kilometers, where according to scientists more than 200 thousand people lived. The heyday of Caracol was in 700 AD, when, according to Mayan legends, he defeated his rival Tikal.

Frescoes on the walls of Karakol.

Excavations began in the 1950s and continue to this day, much remains hidden underground.

The nice thing is that visiting this monument is free, and it works around the clock, but because of the large area of the city, you have to set aside 4-5 hours to visit.

Altun-Ha

Altun Ha. Belize.

Altun-Ha – translated as “Stone Pond” – is one of the major archaeological sites of Belize. Construction of Altun-Ha began around 250 AD, then later turned into the center of the Maya civilization. Two plazas with four temples on each side are found on the site, the most famous of which are: Temple of the Green Grave, Temple of the Stone Altar, and the Eastern Temple, as well as many smaller structures.

Crooked Tree Preserve

The most famous nature reserve with a great diversity of birds is the Crooked Tree. It is located in an extensive marshland area around four lagoons, where it is home to at least 275 different species of birds. Among others, the rarest species is the Brazilian Yabiru Stork, which is why bird-lovers come to the site.

Storks in Crooked Tree Reserve. Belize.

Undoubtedly this place is very interesting and beautiful, gigabytes of interesting and colorful photos are guaranteed. Paradise for birdwatchers (birdwatch).

Birdwatch is located 40km from Orange Wolf. The best way to see the birds is with a guided canoe tour.

Aktun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) – The Crystal Girl Cave

Want an adventure? A real one, Indiana Jones style? Then you must visit this place. Aktun Tunichil Muñal or ATM is a cave near the town of San Ignacio in Belize. But it is not a simple cave, in addition to being very large and consists of many caves and grottos partially or completely filled with water, so it is an archaeological site of the Mayan civilization.

Mayan remains in the cave Aktun-Tunichil-Muknal.

There were found 14 skeletons: 7 adults and 7 children, which over a thousand years are covered with crystals of salt and look as if frozen. The most famous skeleton of the “crystal girl” is the skeleton of a girl who was sacrificed. In addition to the skeletons in the caves found a lot of pottery and jewelry. The caves are open to visitors in 1998 but due to the large number of people wishing to get there, the entrance to the ATM is strictly regulated and only a certain number of tourists are allowed in per day.

During the passage through the caves you have to crawl, swim, dive, climb – it is an adventure to remember for a long time. Entry only with a guide and a group. It costs 90 USD but it is well worth it. Read more about ATM.

Kay Caulker

Easy Life is the motto of this little island 33 km away from Belize City in Belize. At Caye Colker you really relax and you don’t want to do anything, go anywhere, sail anywhere, just sit and watch the pelicans and sunsets.

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Sunset on Key Caulker. Belize.

Population of only 500 people + about 500-1000 tourists, a couple of streets, a few stores and hotels and that’s it. Of transport a couple of excavators, police bike, golf carts and bicycles. On the island you can take interesting snorkeling tours, you can swim on the beach.

The beach on Key Caulker. Belize.

In general, you should definitely visit this island at least for a couple of days just to take a break from the hustle and bustle and traffic of other Belizean cities. Read more about Kay Kalker.

Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris Caye is the largest island on the Caribbean side of Belize. It is about 40 km long and 15 km wide. The island owes such a strange name to the fact that a lot of gray ambergris, a product of sperm whales, was washed up on its shores.

Ambergris Key. Belize.

The island was originally a fishing village, then in 1970 with the development of tourism Ambergris Caye became a mecca of tourism in Belize. No wonder, the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere (and second in the world) is within arm’s reach (200 meters), the water is crystal clear, and a lot of sandy beaches. All this gave impetus to the development of tourism infrastructure and now the largest city in the island of San Pedro in contrast to the quiet Cay Colker looks like a typical tourist center, with a variety of hotels (from 1 * to 5 *), fish restaurants, nightclubs, travel agencies and crowds of American tourists.

You can get to Ambergris Caye from Belize City by ferry in 1.5 hours or by light aircraft in 20 minutes.

Belize City

Belize City is the former capital of the country, built by English colonizers (hence the English language), but because of frequent hurricanes the capital was later moved to Belmopan. Belize City is the largest city of Belize, divided by the Owlover River into 2 parts: the old city (southern part) and the modern city (northern part). There is a drawbridge across the river, both sides have a colorful waterfront, but it’s not the color you think: it’s shabby 2 or 3 story buildings, dirt and trash in the streets and crowds of beggars and vagrants in the streets. And in fact the whole city is like that, in the evening the streets become even more creepy: various types, homeless people, beggars crawl out of all the crevices, gunshots are often heard.

But let’s not talk about the sad stuff, something good is in Belize City as well – some beautiful sights and palaces. Belize City

Belmopan

The capital of Belize is this small town. It does not dare to call it a city. Belmopan was built from scratch in the 1970s for 12 years. The capital of Belize was moved here because of frequent hurricanes in Belize City. The city is essentially a village with scattered farmsteads that look like houses. Belmopan is much cleaner and neater than Belize City, you want to walk around.

Monument of Independence in Belmopan.

Of interest are: the bus terminal, the National Assembly building on Independence Hill, the Bank of Belize, Belmopan Market and the University of Belize. That’s about it. It will take you about 30 minutes to see the whole Belmopan. I don’t think anyone would want to spend more time here, there’s not much else to see. Read more about Belmopan.

San Ignacio

Monument in the town of San Ignacio. Belize.

San Ignacio ( San Ignacio Cayo ) is the capital of the Cayo District, a small Belizean town. It is located on the shore of Macal River, next door is another similar town – Santa Elena, but they merged together and now nponyat where ends San Ignacio, and where begins Santa Elena. Of interest in the town is that the bridge over the Hawkesworth River. And the most interesting thing is in the neighborhood. Read more about San Ignacio.

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