Top Destinations for 2017: Belize
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Belize is a coastal country with a rich history of Mayan civilization and European influence.
Today it is still home to relics from the past, and ancient artefacts that overwhelm visitors with their history. Belize is well balanced in that for those who prefer relaxation to adventure, and sandy beaches and authentic Creole cuisine are staples of the country's culture.
Whichever activity suits your interests, Belize is a welcoming place full of friendly people and opportunities to see awe-inspiring places.
Where to go
Begin in Northern Belize, where there is plenty to do - ranging from the wildlife and scenery along The New River, to Mayan regions waiting to be explored and tasty foods with Mestizo influences. If you want to avoid large crowds and become one with the earth, Northern Belize is a destination of nature and tranquillity.
To the east of Northern Belize are the North Islands, which follow suit with a slow, relaxed pace of life where individuals are easy-going and the night life is lively. Here you can submerge yourself in the Caribbean Sea by scuba diving near the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere.
For a good dish you will not have to go far, as the Central Coast is known for its meat pies, rice and beans, cowfoot soup and stewed chicken. To put the energy from these meals to use, hiking and exploring ancient Maya sites are popular activities. Belize City is also located in The Central Coast and serves as the cultural and business epicentre of Belize.
Test the true adventurer in you in Western Belize, where you can go cave tubing, hiking, kayaking and horseback riding. In San Ignacio you will be able to find everything you will need to ensure a thrilling experience.
Down the Southeast Coast you will find wildlife in national parks and in sanctuaries, as well as in the Caribbean Sea on whale or shark watching trips. The beaches here are also inviting for anyone who would like to lay back and soak up the sun.
Mayan ruins in Belize
In Southern Belize there are more ancient Maya sites to be discovered, as well as tons of natural wonders. Jungles contain ancient potteries and other artefacts from the history of a region often referred to as “The Forgotten Land.”
What to do
Grace your eyes on the Lamanai Maya temples
On the New River, enjoy a boat ride from Orange Walk to the historical temples that tell the story of Belize’s earliest human habitation and the European contact that came nearly 700 years later. During the boat ride you will see wildlife ranging from snail kites to morelet’s crocodile. Once at the temples, visit a museum containing ancient Mayan artefacts as well as the remnants of two Spanish churches dating from the 16th Century. A well-preserved mask of a Mayan ruler serves as a major attraction of Lamanai.
Snorkel in the Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is home to 500 fish, and over 100 coral species. Guided scuba diving tours are a great way to see the reef from a different perspective as well as to stimulate your senses in unfamiliar territory.
Also in this region, about 43 miles off-shore, is the Great Blue Hole, which reaches 407 feet deep. The Discovery Channel has named this site number one on “The 10 most amazing places on Earth.” The clear blue water here allows for clear visibility of stalactites and sharks. When visiting Belize, this location should be a must on your list of places to see.
The Blue Hole
Dabble in Creole and Garifuna cuisine in the Central Coast
To immerse yourself in further culture while exploring Belize, try the authentic cuisine of Central Coast by visiting Innie's restaurant in Hopkins, or Chef Rob's Gourmet Cafe. Innie's is a relaxing joint where drummers enhance the scene with soothing sounds, children dance to the beat and Garifuna foods, including a variety of fish, are served. Chef Rob's Gourmet Cafe is another welcoming option, with pork and fish dishes that are sure to make your mouth water. With ocean-side dining and a host of respectful and friendly servers, you are sure to feel very comfortable as you enjoy Creole cooking.
Spelunk in Western Belize
After you have had your fill of food and have spent some time enjoying the local hospitality in the Central Coast, pop over to Western Belize for an exhilarating experience exploring the complex cave systems by kayak, foot, or another more adventurous way that spelunking might offer. The Cayo District is a great place to tour caves, including Barton Creek Cave, Chechum Ha and Actun Tunichil Muknal.
See the world’s first wildlife sanctuary for jaguars
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary provides 150 miles of preserved wilderness and is home to a healthy population of jaguar, puma, margay, brocket deer, otter and 300 species of birds. There are several trails ranging in difficulty that can be walked to explore the sanctuary. During the rainy season of June and July wildlife can be seen at its highest activity level, whilst in December on cool and cloudy days the most birds can be observed.
Finally, enjoy a drink in Southern Belize
Have a local drink, perhaps a seaweed shake consisting of dried seaweed, condensed milk, cinnamon and ice. At Barefoot Bar, located on the beach in Placencia, you will find live music, fire dancing, and inexpensive rum. Stay here all throughout the night and contemplate your journey under the moon before bringing your visit to a close.