Things to see & do in Belize

Things to do in Belize


Mayan archaeology

Although neighbouring Guatemala is more famous for its Mayan ruins, Belize is also on the Mayan Trail, with over 2 million Mayans living here for over 2,000 years. And indeed, 10 percent of Belize's population today is Mayan, maintaining their own language and culture. The sites of Xunantunich, Altun Ha and Caracol all still in the process of being excavated, slowly but very surely, from the jungle. Xunantunich is the most developed, its central palace masterpiece rising up to 40m. Caracol is less touristy but just as dramatic, enveloped by the Chiquibul Forest Reserve which still conceals remains that may reveal a city as large as modern Belize City. For waterfront Mayan sites, Lamanai can be reached by boat along the New River Lagoon. Or, the highlight for most tourists, Actun Tunichil Muknal limestone cave system was, for Mayans, a spiritual underworld. Humans were sacrificed here and tours of the caves reveal some visible remains, calcified and crystallised in the limestone. Glittering examples of Mayan traditions indeed.

Eat, drink & be
very merry

"Yu kyaahn travl pahn emti stomak" is a popular Creole expression, meaning, literally ‘you can’t travel on an empty stomach’. Nor will you, with street food to tempt you, rice and beans to fill you, fruit cakes and Johnny Cakes to fatten you, and rum or beer to flatten you.

Diving & snorkelling

You’ve got to Belize it, but many don’t. Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world, after Australia’s great one. Also great, and definitely gorgeous, scuba diving and snorkelling are sublime. The north offers more commercial snorkelling trips around Cayes Ambergris, Caulker and Half Moon, as well as the Turneffe Reef Atoll and stunning Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef. Or head to the quieter south for marine conservation volunteering vacations, where you can get your PADI while contributing to management of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Park, on the migratory path for whale sharks between March and June. Learning to spear lionfish is not only good fun, but also of great importance for marine conservation as they are a highly destructive, invasive species. Diving is good all year round in Belize, although June to October is rainy and potentially hurricane season, so waters risk being choppier. Underwater photography vacations are also a feature out on the reefs, for plenty of #nofilter nirvanas.

Sea kayaking

If ever you wanted a vacation that offers total digital detox, sea kayaking from one Belize caye to caye, or cove to cove, is it. This is Belize at its most blissful. You get to discover the coral reef, but spots that are favoured by fishermen rather than boats full of divers. Fish from your kayak, put sails on it, or moor up and dive in.
Responsible Travel would like to thank Belize for their sponsorship of this guide
Photo credits: [Mayan archaeology: Thomas Shahan] [Lobster: Craig Nagy] [turtle, Blackbird Caye: Adam] [sea kayaking: Craig Nagy]
Written by Catherine Mack
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