My Trip to Belize
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Trip Plan Details
- The Great Blue HoleBelizerecommended The Great Blue HoleArlo Hemphill
Great Blue Hole - one of the best dives in Belize!
Here's the thing, Belize is a world-class diving destination. You've made a fantastic choice. The diving will be pristine, amazing, beautiful and unforgettable. However, the clear water and vibrant corals are located on an outer barrier reef, a good bit away from the Belize mainland. Most people coming to dive here, stay on the various Cayes. These are little, flat, white-sand specks of paradise in a turquoise sea. The larger ones have nice restaurants and great bars. But other than diving and drinking, along with snorkeling, sailing and sea kayaking, there's not a whole lot else out there. You go there to dive. And drink. And tan. Period.
On the flip side, Belize itself is also known for its lush Central American rainforests and awe-inspiring Mayan ruins deep in the jungle. These are not an afternoon or even a day trip away. Seeing both spectacular sides of the country requires splitting up your trip. If you want to see something other than the most amazing coral reefs in the Caribbean, you have to pack up, check out and travel to a jungle lodge in the humid interior. It's worth it, for sure, but you need to understand these logistics.
On a side note, you'll pass through Belize City on your way in and out of the country. It's worth a one day stay to see the few historical sites and hit a few of the popular bars. But otherwise, this is the armpit of the country and you want to head out as soon as possible. Belize City is the stepping stone to paradise, but far from being the destination itself!
- Belize Barrier Reef Reserve SystemBelize City Belize
recommended Belize CityBelize City is the only place I felt unsafe in Belize, but it's the best hub for traveling out to the islands or going West to the Belize Zoo (not a typical zoo at all), Actun Tunichil Muknal caves, ... read moreSan Ignacio, or Tikal.Recommended for:Evan Roth-Howe
Everyone we met traveling said to avoid Belize City as much as possible for safety reasons, but the Belize Zoo, 45 minutes or so West of the city, is well worth a visit if you have the time. It's full of rehabilitating animals who wouldn't survive in the wild. But "the wild" comes to the zoo in this case, with a porous exterior that birds and other animals can get right into. Well worth a visit. Pay a little extra to get in the jaguar cage with Buddy the jaguar. Seriously.
recommended San IgnacioA great little town by the Guatemalan border, full of great restaurants and guides for trips to Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM), some incredible caves that the Maya believed were an entrance to the ... read moreunderworld, as well as other spots. If you're going to/from Tikal, this is a good place to stop for a few days.Recommended for:Evan Roth-Howe
You probably don't need to come all the way out to San Ignacio to book an ATM trip (you can probably do that out of Belize City), but this is a much more pleasant place to stay.
recommended Caye CaulkerWith just three main streets, all of them made of sand, there's not a whole lot to do on Caye Caulker besides relax, eat, swim, and snorkel. There are several good operations on the island that will ... read moretake you out on a day-long boat trip to some of the best snorkeling/diving spots to see sharks, rays, manatees, and tons of fish. Well worth a few days.Recommended for:BackpackersEvan Roth-Howe
Supposedly the diving gets better the further out you go into the cayes and atolls, but we had an absolutely great time on Caye Caulker. It's easier (and cheaper) to get to than most of the outer islands because there's a water taxi to/from Belize City, and it's less touristy and developed than San Pedro.