Holidays to Belize
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This small Central American country is the epitome of a sun-soaked tropical paradise. But white sandy beaches, tall iced drinks and gorgeous blue seas are only scratching the surface: the country has a rich history, with many ancient Mayan sites scattered throughout, and plenty of activities for visitors to try their hand at.
Part of the Belize Barrier Reef System, this distinctive feature is a deep, round pool which shows up strongly against the surrounding sea: it is a very dark blue, almost navy, while the shallower seas reflect back a beautiful pale aquamarine turquoise shade. The Great Blue Hole is classified as a giant marine sinkhole and it was first brought to the attention of the public by Jacques Cousteau who rated it as one of the best diving sites in the world. At 1,000 feet wide and 124 – 125 metres deep, it is an impressive specimen of what on land would be called a cenote. At about 40 miles off the Belizean shore, a trip to the site is usually a full day trip, starting early, spending some time exploring the reef and the sinkhole, and a meal is often eaten on site before heading back into Belize. Perfect for scuba experts, but also great fun for snorkellers and swimmers.
Just over half a mile from the Guatemalan border, this ancient Mayan city is named for a ghost that is reputed to haunt the site. The 'Stone Lady' is said to appear in front of a building called El Castillo, move up the stairs, and vanish into a solid stone wall. The site is thought to have been built in the 600s AD, and managed to retain its power, even expanding its authority at a time when other Mayan settlements and strongholds were crumbling. Sadly, many of the treasures of the site were lost when explorers and archaeologists were permitted to help themselves to the artefacts: it is possible that some of these all but priceless treasures are still in homes all over the world, thought of as nothing more than quirky pieces of tat! However, more modern sensibilities soon took over, and there is now a comprehensive visitor's centre where you can learn about the Mayans, their empire and way of life and their uniquely decorated squared pyramids.
Hol Chan means 'little channel' and is a marine reserve just off the Belize coast, boasting mangrove swamps, seagrass beds and coral reefs, all of which attract their own unique arrays of marine life, providing cover, food and company to the many species that flock here. Being so richly supplied with fish stocks, the site was very popular with commercial fishermen, but conservation efforts soon stepped in to discourage the practise, which was already beginning to cause the fish populations to dwindle noticeably. At present, the reserve is divided into three zones, which variously allow diving and scuba diving, some sport fishing, and heavily monitored commercial fishing. There is a fourth zone, which is mostly unremarkable except that the commercial fishermen use it as a spot to clean out their nets, leaving behind something of a feast for the sharks and rays that visit regularly in the hope of a free and easy meal: coincidentally providing a wonderful show for visitors who can clearly see the massive creatures moving under the crystal clear water.
In its heyday, Caracol covered an area much larger than the small country's current capital city, but today is reduced to a tame archaeological site – although that site is growing as more and more buildings, roads and structures are uncovered. The site is named 'spiral' or 'snail-shaped' for the winding road that circles around the mountain to the site, but its ancient name has been deciphered from glyphs found on the site. It should, properly, be called Three Hills Water or Three Hills Lord, which is Uxwitza in Mayan. Caracol is difficult to reach, requiring a military escort, and the willingness to drive for around two hours to reach it, but the site's very remoteness makes it a wonderfully unexploited place to visit. This does mean that some of the usual tourist offices are missing: there are no or few informational signs, and the road can be pretty exciting – to the point that you are not permitted to make the attempt without a 4x4; something to bear in mind when hiring a rental vehicle.
Known locally as ATM but much more romantically as the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre, this natural cave is a well-known Mayan site boasting ancient ceramics, stoneware, and tragically macabre, several skeletons, the best known of which is the Crystal Maiden, a young woman of around 18 or so whose bones are so covered in crystals that they seem to sparkle and gleam in the light. The Mayans modified the cave, creating altars and clearing spaces, and it seems to have been used as a religious site of some significance. You can explore the full 3 kilometre length of the cave, exiting through a rather tight fit created by the long-distant collapse of a giant cenote. There are at least fourteen full skeletons in the cave system, and tourists are asked to leave their cameras outside and wear socks after a couple of incidents in which skulls were accidentally damaged by heavy-handed and clumsy-footed visitors. The protection of the cave and its artefacts as well as that of visitors is paramount, and from time to time, the cave will be closed if the weather is bad or for other health and safety purposes.
Settle in to your very own beach house, one of eighteen offered by this resort. Ranging from a modest one-room all the way up to a three-bed house that will sleep six in comfort, each villa boasts its own private garden, easy beach access, a modern bathroom and large airy bedrooms. Eat inside or out, with the lines between the two blurred by open-sided restaurants and social areas. This part of Belize is beautiful and tranquil and makes the perfect base for your Belize explorations.
Snugly close to the Guatemalan border, this resort boasts a variety of suites which have features such as relaxing hammocks, cool wide verandas, wide open living spaces so the whole family can socialise, outdoor showers and even private swimming pools. A bar which serves an array of drinks including professionally blended cocktails, restaurants that produce delicious Belizean cuisine, made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and a choice of full or continental breakfast await your arrival.
Seven night cruises across the ocean taking in a wealth of tropical paradises including Belize are a great way to see a lot of the world without needing to pack up your hotel room with every new destination. Four gourmet restaurants, world-class accommodations and a higher staff to guest ratio mean that this liner offers one of the most comfortable and enjoyable cruises on the market today. Cruises leave from and return to Miami, for ease of planning your connecting flights and organising your itinerary.
Late November to early April is when Belize enjoys its dry season, and this is the best time to visit: perfect for some Christmas or early Easter sun. Late April and May is perhaps the worst time to visit, as temperatures shoot up into the high 30s and 40s and the humidity sits over the land like a warm cloud, leaving you uncomfortably warm and sticky. June to early November is the rainy season, when the temperature reduces slightly and the country is lashed by rain and strong winds.
Several international airlines fly into Belize and this is probably the best way for most visitors to arrive. Getting around once you have landed is easier: there are hire cars, taxis, buses, domestic flights and water taxis – which you need will be decided by where you want to go in the country.
Belize is a great destination for couples who are keen to explore the hinterland, and families that might be more content to stay on the beach or take daytrips on local buses or water tours. You can travel with a pet as long as they have been certified free of diseases by a qualified veterinarian within fourteen days before you travel. Do make sure that your vet understands what the Belizean authorities will be looking for, and if only travelling for a few days, think about leaving your pet with a friend or relative at home instead. LGBT rights are widely accepted in Belize, although there is no recognition of same-sex marriages as yet, but this is a fairly new phenomenon and some individuals or establishment might not be as welcoming as they should be.
A word of warning first: Belize is a relatively unequal country when it comes to the distribution of wealth, and some of the poorer citizens find tourist spots to be a tempting target, especially when they are involved, as some of them are, with gang activities. Always exercise due caution, listen when hotel management warns you against venturing into certain areas, be alert and never carry valuables out in the open for any longer than you absolutely must.
Having said that, and proceeding with sensible caution, Belize is a fascinating place to stay. The tourist industry is small, but growing, and you will be welcomed and well looked after by those involved in the industry. It is a beautiful country, and you should make sure you have plenty of space on your camera as you will need it for all your holiday snaps!
Indigenous, Latin and Caribbean culture and cuisine blend in Belize to create a truly heart-stopping holiday destination. The country is equally popular with those who like to lie on the beach as well as those who enjoy serious adventure. Belize may be small but it offers mountains and forests to one side and the Caribbean Sea to the other. One of the most developed and welcoming of the Central American countries, Belize is popular with everyone from families to couples or groups looking for adventure.
As well as jungle adventure and stunning beaches, Belize is also home to a number of enigmatic and fascinating Mayan sites such as the Caracol pyramid and Lamanai, a vast Mayan settlement for 2000 years. You can experience all this when you book your Belize holiday with us, by signing up to become an exclusive member. We hand-pick the best holiday tours and resort stays in Belize, especially for our valued members. You can enjoy up to 70% off the price on a luxury Belize holiday when you book with us.
The Belize coastline is truly stunning and is home to a large number of islands as well as a barrier reef. Those looking for beach accommodation can choose from a range of seafront apartments and hotels located at boutique resorts. Many visitors choose to stay at Ambergris Caye, a luxury holiday island with a spa, sophisticated nightlife and high-end restaurants.
Many activities in Belize are centred around the coast, whilst the county is a mecca for scuba divers. Experienced divers should sign up to an expedition to the deep Blue Hole Natural Monument or the Belize Barrier Reef. Particularly popular on the reef is shark ray alley, which is also great for snorkelling. If you prefer to stay above water, Glovers Reef Atoll is a great location for kayaking.
The jungle is a major pull for international tourists, who can choose to stay in luxury forest resorts, often in serviced eco-friendly chalets. Belize is a hotspot for outdoor actives which include caving, zip wires, pony-trekking and river kayaking. The jungle wildlife is truly diverse, especially when it comes to birdlife. Visitors are able to get even closer to animals at zoos and sanctuaries such as the Baboon Sanctuary and the Belize Zoo, which both care for injured and rescued animals.
Whether you’re looking to truly relax or for something action-packed, you can enjoy discounts on luxury Belize holidays when you sign up to become one of our valued members. We handpick only the perfect destinations, tours and resorts in Belize, which are available exclusively for our members.