Belize is a hidden gem in Central America. Picture white sand beaches, a huge barrier reef, lots of seafood and reggae music, everywhere. Not many tourists venture over, choosing to visit Mexico or Cuba instead, so if you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten path then it will be right up your street.
For a beach-y holiday you’re going to want to visit the islands off the coast of Belize, rather than the mainland. The mainland is much more lively but less idyllic and also has a bit of a reputation for street crime. Although the islands are more touristy they’re much safer and also beautiful. The two main ones are Ambergis Caye and Caye Caulker.
The first thing to bear in mind is that island life is slow – really slow. No one is in a rush here so it’s ideal if you want to unwind and relax. I’m usually the first one to say we’ll stay somewhere cheap and spend the money exploring instead, but here you’re going to want somewhere nice.
If you like seafood you’re going to be in heaven because it’s their specialty and something they do really, really well…
So what is there to actually do?
First off you should check out the Belize Barrier Reef. At 300km long it’s the third largest coral reef system in the world. Whether you try snorkelling or diving you’re bound to see a ton of marine life. The area has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well worth a visit.
Whilst your at the barrier reef try swimming with sharks. And no they won’t bite. Shark Ray Alley is a hotspot for hundreds of nurse sharks. Local fishermen used to visit the area to clean their catches, attracting the animals who came to snack on the remains. They told the dive-masters who started bringing tourists along in return for food for the sharks. Now at the sound of approaching boats the sharks swarm and eagerly swim up to the boats allowing you to get up close and personal. It’s an experience you definitely won’t forget!
Next you should seriously consider hiring out a golf buggy. It’s the best way to get around the islands and they’re incredibly fun. Make sure you have a valid drivers license and pay attention to the rules of the road.
HIGHLIGHT: How cool is this place!? If you’re in San Pedro on the island of Ambergis Caye make sure you head to The Truck Stop – Belize’s first shipping container food park and beer garden. Along with loads of different types of food and drink there’s also loads of games to play and a pool. It’s seriously worth a visit.
If you’re willing to splash the cash then an absolute must-see is the Great Blue Hole. It’s a giant submarine sink hole which is 124m deep. You can snorkel or dive it but the most impressive view is from above. Tropic Air run private charters to the site which last an hour, but it doesn’t come cheap at several hundred pounds.
For the adrenaline junkies have a go at paragliding. Up in the air you’ll be able to see the whole island and it’s actually way smoother than you’d imagine! You don’t even get wet. You should also allocate a lot of time drinking at bars, sunbathing on the beach and just relaxing and listening to music, which the islanders absolutely love.
One thing you should know is that the beaches have a lot of sea grass which can sometimes spoil the idyllic setting. But the reason there’s so much seagrass is because of the massive barrier reed just off the coast so it’s actually pretty cool. And if you’re that concerned then just get a hotel with a pool and you’ll be set!