Belize Vacations

Belize was once a British Colony, but today is an independent nation. It stretches along the eastern section of the Yucatan Peninsula and borders Guatemala and Mexico. At one time Belize was the center of the Mayan civilization that extended throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. There are numerous abandoned Mayan temples scattered throughout the countryside with the most important being "Caracol" which is thought to have been founded in 331 AD. Belize has numerous natural rain forests and is also known world wide for it's Unesco dedicated Barrier Reef and the amazing Blue Hole (a sinkhole off the coast of Belize).

Belize Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Belize Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Belize

Located on the Caribbean Sea, the country of Belize combines natural beauty and modern luxuries to provide a stellar vacation spot for those looking for either a short-term stay or something a little longer. The country has been through many changes in the 20th century, but what has maintained is its connection to the land and ocean throughout. No matter if you are a tourist that goes to the beach, diving, or gorgeous landscapes, Belize has it all! In this article, we are going to be looking at the geography of the area, the history, the culture and the landmarks that you must check out when you are in Belize.

Belize Geography

Located directly south of the Yucatan Peninsula, the country of Belize is home to mountains, swaps, dense tropical jungle and naturally some amazing beaches. To the North sits Mexico, to the west and south is Guatemala and to the east lies the Caribbean Sea which opens to the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal nation has roughly 280 km coastline which includes a few islands and shares the Amatique Bay with Guatemala. The southern half of the country is dominated by the Maya Mountain chain, and its dense tropical jungle. The Cockscombe Range sits in the middle and contains Victoria Peak reaching 1122 m above sea level, the highest peak in the country. Belize is also home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, and it has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. The reef is home to a dozen or so islands on the outskirts, which are locally referred to as the cays.

Belize History and Culture

Present day Belize has been home to people for more than a century, and although now dominated by Spanish ancestry, the area was home to one of the greatest civilizations known to the ancient world. The Mayan’s called Belize home for centuries but with European contact, the civilization would be led to its practical demise in a few short years, and the surviving Mayans would be spread throughout Central America. Although the Spanish was the first to the coastal nation, the British soon began to log on the coast without permission from the Spanish, then with permission via treaty in the mid-1700’s. However, the British continued to expand their interests in the area, and by the late 1700’s had essentially made Belize a colony. British reign over the area continued until the early 1980’s. Belize officially became an independent nation in 1981 but did maintain as part of the Commonwealth, an organization that it continues to be in. The British military left the nation in 1994 and transitioned the defence and border security to the Belize Defence Force which was established in 1978.

Although British and Spanish in origin, the country of Belize is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse nations in Central America. Most of the cultural and ethnic groups intermingle which has created a mosaic of food, music, religions, language and folklore. Due to the mixed background in Belize, the arts can sometimes be dependent on the group that is providing it. There are a few great crossovers that create an amazing product though. One such example is Punta Rock which blends soca, calypso and reggae with merengue, salsa and hip-hop. You can also check out the traditional sounds of brukdown which originated in the logging camps of Belize and is a great example of energetic percussion sound that has been made famous here. The Belize National Dance Company performs to this style of music, and others throughout the country, and you should be on the lookout if they are performing during your vacation. As for food, you should expect corn tortillas, stewed chicken and rice and beans. As well, as some local favourites that include Mayan style tamales, Mexican style chillies and roasts, and tailless gibnut. Rum and beer are common in the nation, and you will quickly fall in love with coconut water and rum.

Belize Landmarks

*The Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole which is located in the Lighthouse Reef roughly 60 miles off the coast of Belize. This natural wonder quickly has become an infamous geographic location off the coast. Measuring 986 feet across and 407 feet deep, the site is now within the top 3 dive locations in the world and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No matter if you are a novice diver, or someone who loves being down deep, this site is always worth a trip for a full day dive.

*Xunantunich
This Mayan site is home to some of the best-preserved ruins in Belize. During the Classic Period, this site was a major ceremonial site for the Mayans and included 6 major plazas, and more than 25 Maya temples and palaces. The largest pyramid sits at 130 feet above the plaza and is called the Castle. The freize on the east has been preserved and you can see masks that represent the sun god, the moon and Venus.

*Nim Li Punit
Nim Li Punit is Mayan site located in the “Mayan Mountains” of the Toledo District. The site contains twenty six stelae. And the location is considered to have been an ancient ceremonial center. One of the stelae is the largest one that has been found in Belize. Nim Li Punit was an ancient Mayan city and you can still see the ancient structure of the town plazas.

*Cerro Maya
Cerro Maya, another Mayan site that was built between 600-300 B.C. The architectural remains are several large temples, plus palace buildings and includes two ballcourts. It is in the northern coastal area of Belize.

*Paynes Creek National Park
Located in southern Belize, Paynes Creek National Park is home to over 30,000 acres of protected land that contains a variety of wetland creatures and extensive coastal ridges. The park itself contains remnants of a gallery forest, a herbaceous marshland and a tropical forest that surrounds existing marshland. The area is also home to the most extensive stretch of coastline that is not lined with mangrove, which makes for great swimming opportunities. The best way to explore the park is by boat, and although you can walk, there is not an extensive trail network. If you choose to go through Punta Tcacos Lagoon you will be able to see manatee, ibis, hawksbill turtles and a large wading bird population. No matter if you are entering the park by foot or by boat, a guide is a necessity due to the true massiveness of the area. Since most wildlife will appear during dusk and dawn, an organized guide and a camping spot is always a great option at Paynes Creek!

*Hol Chan Marine Reserve
If you like snorkeling and diving then head north to explore the island of Amergris Caye and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which has mangrove forests and protected coral reefs.

*Caulker Caye
Visit Caye Caulker, a 4-mile-long peaceful island perfect for visiting the manatee population.

*Altun Ha Temple
Hike and climb the Mayan Temple at Altun Ha which was constructed in 250 BC.

*Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
Explore the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave where the Mayans made sacrifices to the Gods.

*Jaguar Sanctuary
Search for jaguars in the Jaguar Sanctuary, 100,000 acres of tropical forest set aside for the elusive jaguars.