I am not one that really needs reasons to visit new places. Pretty much any country on earth catches my attention for one reason or another, and is on my bucket list – whether for an interest in its rich culture or history; in its nature – mountains, beaches, forests; in its food and in its people. Having said this, I have to admit that while other countries such as Nicaragua or Guatemala and even less popular Honduras caught my attention, I have never thought much of Belize and I never really considered visiting so much as that it required planning.
Needless to say, a few days in this country, which I visited on one of my tour leading missions, made me change my mind. Belize attractions are many! I am now not only eager to go back and spend more time exploring it, but I also highly recommend visiting! It may not take too long to explore – Belize is a small country, and roughly 350000 people live in it, the biggest city being Belize City and the capital set in tiny Belmopan, where it was established after that hurricaine Hattie flooded Belize City in 1961.
So, are you in search of what to do in Belize? I can’t speak for everyone, but here are my
Top 5 things to do in Belize
1) Exploring the fabulous nature
From mountains to tropical rainforest, fertile subtropical foothills where cattle is reared, rivers and jungle covered Mayan archeological sites , Belize is a fabulous Caribbean country, yet set in Central America. It has enough to inspire adventure seekers, animal lovers, birdwatchers, trekkers and sport addicts, as well as Mayan history enthusiasts. When researching about what to do in Belize, remember that a trip to Belize isn’t complete without a visit to the archeological sites.
2) Visiting one of Belize beaches and barrier reef
Hundreds of cayes (such as Ambergris and St. George’s Cayes) contribute to the small land surface of Belize. The reefs and cayes spread to over 200 km of barrier reef with crystal clear water that rightly attracts those interested in diving, snorkeling and sport fishing. The reef and its islands became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Belize is also home to the blue Hole, one of the world’s best dives. Any search on what to do in Belize will come up with some great dives!
Ok, it may not be Mexico, which was inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, but food in Belize is actually delicious. The local staple is rice and beans, just as in most of Central America, and it is usually accompanied with either beef, chicken or pork, in the form of stews. Fruit is so abundant, so fresh and so sweet that I don’t think I will be able to eat pineapple back home! Not to mention, here I could find some of the best burritos in the continent (I had to scout for them in the street!), as well as incredible seafood on the coast.
4) Interacting with the locals
Less than 350000 people live in Belize, and for as little as this may seem, there is a great mixture of ethnicities, languages and cultures. Here I could hear English (did you know that Belize was under British domination, and it used to be called British Honduras?), Spanish, Creole and Mayan. This reflects the population, which consists of Creoles, West Indians, Mayans, Chinese as well as Garifunas. Most importantly, people in Belize are extremely friendly and laid back, always willing to lend a hand to travellers, make jokes and ensuring everyone feels welcome. Belize’s Love FM advert says “be kind to tourists”. I guess people take this quite literally! Not to mention, the fact that everybody here speaks English makes it so easy for travelers…
5) Relaxing at Chaa Creek
Last, but definitely not least, Chaa Creek Ecolodge and the Macal River Camp are also great reasons to love Belize. If I have to pick a postcard for the country, it would have to be it. About 20 minutes drive from San Ignacio (not far from the Guatemala border and from Tikal, this is the second largest city in the country, with as many as 20000 people!), this is where to stay in Belize: a great lodge immersed in the rain forest (and rain you will get!), with lovely rooms (some so huge that they look more like mansions), a great infinity pool, a bar and a restaurant serving delicious drinks (including the good Belikin, best enjoyed on a hammock!)
and meals, and about a million free of the best things to do in Belize to keep me busy just in case I am tired to relax on my hammock or by the pool. While the lodge is definitely not suitable for a backpacker’s budget, the Macal River Camp (a 10 minutes jungle walk from the lodge) can be factored in. At $ 65 USD per night, it may seem expensive.
However, for that price I can get breakfast and dinner, and use of all the facilities and excursions at the lodge, such as tubing, canoeing, birdwatching, touring the butterfly farm and the medicinal route. There is no electricity at the camp (well, just in the bathrooms and in the dining area), nor wifi (it’s the jungle, baby! And if I am desperate, I can walk to the lodge). Bungalows, which fit up to 4 persons, are lit by kerosene lamps and surrounded by mosquito nests.
There are 4 spotless toilets and showers. Each night a fire is lit for guests to sit about, tell stories and share their wisdom. It simply is the perfect place to relax, to listen to the sound of nature and to be stranded in tropical rain.
All that is needed now is gathering appropriate hiking and diving gear and start planning a trip to Belize.
Planning to visit Belize? Let us know in the comments below!
Other resources: Backpacking Belize on a Budget by Road Affair.