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A Tropical Paradise of Adventure and Culture

Belize, a small nation on Central America’s Caribbean coast, is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and vibrant culture. Home to a world famous barrier reef, ancient Mayan ruins, and an array of unique wildlife, Belize is a paradise for eco-tourists and adventure seekers. This article takes a look at Belize’s tourism scene, its must-visit sites, and the experiences that make it a top destination worth exploring.

Belize is a destination packed with adventure, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast, nature lover, history buff, or foodie, Belize will not disappoint. With a plethora of unique experiences to offer, Belize unequivocally captures the essence of a tropical paradise, making it a must-visit destination on any traveler’s bucket list.

belize beach

Basic Facts About Belize

Population: 441,471 (2022 estimate)

Official language: English

Currency: Belize dollar (BZD)

Capital city: Belmopan

Largest city: Belize City

Time zone: UTC-6

Driving side: Right-hand side
Internet TLD: .bz

Belize is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with King Charles III as the monarch. Belize attained self-governance from the United Kingdom in 1946 and independency in 1981, but the monarch of the United Kingdom is still the monarch of Belize too.


Travelling around in Belize and making decisions for your itinerary will be easier if you have at least a basic grasp of Belizian geography.

  • Belize is found in north-eastern Central American, and it is the only Central American country without any coast along the Pacific Ocean.
  • Belize borders Mexico (Quintana Roo state) to the north, Guatemala (Petén department) to the west, Guatemala again to the south (this time, the Izabal department), and has a coastline along the Caribbean Sea to the east.
  • This is one of the smaller Central American countries. It is only 22,960 square kilometres in size, which is just roughly bigger than El Salvador.
  • Belize extends roughly 280 km north-south, but only about 100 km east-west. The rivers Hondo and Sarstoon define much of Belize´s northern and southern limits.

Discovering Belize’s Natural Beauty

Belize’s natural landscape is diverse and abundant, with sandy beaches, lush rainforest, extensive national parks, and striking wildlife reserves. One of the country’s significant natural attractions is the Great Blue Hole, a massive marine sinkhole off the coast. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, it’s a hub for scuba divers who plunge into its dark depths to explore its unique underwater stalactites and diverse marine life.

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is another remarkable feature of Belize’s natural landscape. This sprawling coral reef system, the second-largest globally, boasts an array of vibrant sea life, making it a top spot for snorkeling and diving.

Belize’s mainland is no less captivating. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, known as the world’s first jaguar preserve, allows you to immerse yourself in the country’s rich biodiversity. Meanwhile, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve offers visitors stunning views of waterfalls, rivers, and caves.

Exploring Belize’s Rich History and Culture

For history enthusiasts, Belize’s ancient Mayan ruins are a must-see. The country is dotted with these archaeological sites, with Caracol, Altun Ha, and Lamanai being the most notable. These sites offer a fascinating glimpse into Belize’s ancient past and the sophisticated civilization of the Mayans.

Belizean cuisine is another cultural highlight. Traditional dishes include rice and beans, stew chicken, and ceviche. You can also enjoy international fare and a variety of delicious tropical fruits.

Belize’s rich culture is a blend of influences from various peoples, including Mayans, Creoles, Garifunas, Anglo-Saxons, Spaniards, Central American mestizos, and other ethnic groups. These diverse cultures influence Belize’s art, music, food, and festivals, making it a cultural melting pot. In 2020, over half of the population identified as Mestizos, and roughly a quarter as Creole. The Native American groups Maya and Garifuna accounted for 11.3% and 6.1%, respectively.

When it comes to religion, the dominating faith in Belize is Christianity, with over 87% of the population identifying as Christians in 2020. Nearly 10% stated no religion, 1.5% folk religions, and 1.2% other.

Adventure Tourism in Belize

Adventure tourism thrives in Belize, with a plethora of options for adrenaline junkies. Belize’s extensive cave systems are perfect for cave tubing and exploring. The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave is particularly popular, known for its historical artifacts and skeletal remains.

Belize’s dense rainforests offer opportunities for zip-lining, bird watching, and hiking. Additionally, the country’s rivers are ideal for canoeing, kayaking, and white-water rafting.

Visiting Belize City

Belize City is the most populous city in Belize, and used to be the country’s capital. It is still the country´s main port and also its financial and industrial centre.

Where is it?

Belize City is located at the mouth of Haulover Creek, one of the Belize River´s tributaries. The Belize River reaches the Caribbean Sea roughly 8 km from Belize City.

Understanding the layout

The city proper is divided into two sections: Northside and Southside. Northside is bounded by Haulover Creek, and continues eastward until the Fort George area. Southside extends to the outskirts of the city and the port area, and includes downtown.

Examples of notable spots

  • One of the most colonial areas in the city is Fort George. This neighboorhood includes the Baron Bliss grave, the Museum of Belize, the Memorial Park, and the Baron Bliss Lighthouse.
  • St. Johns Cathedral is the oldest extant Anglican Church in Central America. It is also one of the oldest buildings in all of Belize. The orange bricks used for its construction arrived to Belize as ballast on ships. Construction commenced in 1812 and the building was completed in 1820. This is the only Anglican cathedral outside England where crowning of kings has taken place.

Air travel

Belize City is served by the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (IATA: BZE) (ICAO: MZBZ) in Ladyville, just northwest of Belize City. This is an international airport with flights to and from destinations such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Newark, Miami, Dallas, and Houston in the United States, Roatan and San Pedro Sula in Honduras, and San Salvador in El Salvador.

Belize City can also be used as hub for exploring other parts of the country. The airlines Tropic Air and Maya Island Air both have multiple daily flights to various parts of the country, including the popular Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Using the domestic Belize City airport (IATA:TZA) tends to be significantly cheaper than booking a flight that uses the international airport (IATA:BZE).

Please note that some of the smaller airplanes used for domestic flights only have 8 seats and can fill up quickly. Booking in advance is recommended.

Why is it named Belize City?

What is now Belize City was founded as Belize Town in 1638 by English lumber harvesters, who needed a settlement at the mouth of the Haulover Creek (a distributary of the Belize River). The town was named after the Belize River. The name of this river in the Mayan language is Balis, and the English name Belize is derived from that.

Visiting Belmopan

Belmopan is the capital city of Belize and the third-largest city in the country. An estimated 27,870 people lived here in 2024, making it the least populated capital city in the continental Americas.

Where is it?

Belmopan is located 80 km inland from the Caribbean Sea and 75+ meters above sea level. The city was founded close to the Belizer River Valley, just east of the Belize River, and is off the Hummingbird Highway.

Why is it?

In 1961, Hurricane Hattie destroyed an estimated 75% of the houses and business place in Belize City. This prompted the government to propose the creation of a new capital – one that would not be near sea level and close to the ocean.

A suitable site was picked 75+ metres above sea level and Belmopan was founded. The government moved to Belmopan in 1970.

Understanding the layout

The city layout centres on the Ring Road, which is just under 4 km in circumference. A majority of the government buildings are found within or around the Ring Road.

The focal point of the city is the National Assembly Building, which was designed to resemble a Pre-Columbian Maya temple. The surrounding buildings are in line with this vision, creating the impression of an old Mayan plaza.

Why is it named Belmopan?

Bel- comes from Belize, the longest river in the country.

mopan comes from Mopan, one of the rivers in this part of the country.