A wooden Ambergris Caye ocean home, Belize
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Why Belize Should Be Your Next Stop on a Tropical Vacation

6 min read
Published on Feb 26, 2024
Colin Rusch
By Colin RuschDirector, The Americas

Belize is gaining in popularity. It’s a beautiful country, with warm weather, lush rainforests, and long beaches. It’s also close for North American travellers and offers an appealing alternative to other Caribbean getaways. 

Located just to the south of Mexico on the Caribbean Sea, Belize is a relatively small country and the only one in Central America with English as the official language (which speaks to its history as a British colony). Thus, it’s a comfortable place with some amazing sights that more travellers need to be aware of. If you’re hoping to escape south on a tropical vacation this winter, there are several reasons why Belize should be top of your travel list. And Goway has some exciting new travel packages to Belize that give you even more options when exploring Central America.

Why should you go on a Belize vacation?

Belize has some of the best rainforest regions in Central America.

Two hikers looking out at the Macal River from above, Belize

If you want to explore tropical rainforests, Belize has you covered with several great regions to explore. The Cayo District in western Belize stretches into the Mayan Mountains and crosses the Macal and Mopan Rivers. The town of San Ignacio is the area’s hub, but the best place to stay is in one of the rainforest lodges in the region. Based at one of these eco-conscious accommodations, you can explore the rainforest, spelunk caves, go cave tubing, zipline through the rainforest canopy or explore the Mayan temples of Caracol or Xunantunich on horseback.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, commonly known as the world’s first jaguar preserve, is the largest protected area in the country. Located in the country’s southeast, it’s a tropical rainforest offers excellent hiking trails, hidden waterfalls, and lots of exotic wildlife and plants, including birds, deer, and, yes, jaguars. If you want to see this big cat in the wild, you have a better chance in Cockscomb Basin than in just about any preserve in the Americas, but remember: these beautiful animals are extremely elusive and actual sightings ultimately rely on a lot of luck.

Belize offers great beaches for a sunny escape.

Two people siting on the end of a dock in Ambergris Caye at sunset

Located on the Caribbean Sea, Belize has two excellent beach areas that offer some great vacation opportunities for travellers. The most popular is Ambergris Caye, which is a small island just off the mainland from Belize City. It takes about 20 minutes to get there by air or 90 minutes by boat. San Pedro is the caye’s main town, which offers a surprisingly bustling island centre, but if you go just north or south on the island, you’ll discover a quiet beachside escape. The island is close to the Belize Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest, so it’s a great spot for snorkelling tours and water excursions. But on the island itself, you can easily dip into San Pedro to hit up restaurants and enjoy the nightlife before retiring to your beachside resort for some relaxation.

Hopkins and Placencia, which are around two or three hours south of Belize City, respectively, are the other great beach areas in the nation. While less famous than Ambergris Caye, Hopkins and Placencia are culturally vibrant with a great atmosphere in and around the resorts. The region is strongly influenced by the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna people, whose language, dance, and music is enshrined in one of UNESCO’s Heritage of Humanity chapters. These are great areas to try some local dishes, including hudut (a fish and coconut milk stew), and enjoy an evening at a local bar playing Garifuna music.

Belize is home to incredible Maya ruins.

Stairways leading to the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins, overgrown with lush green plants and trees

When we think about the big Mayan centres, Mexico and Guatemala are very much top of mind. What a surprise then to find that Belize has an incredible number of Mayan sites that are well worth a visit. Caracol, in the Cayo District, is the largest and boasts the imposing Caana (Sky Palace) pyramid. Also in the Cayo District is Xunantunich, which is not far from San Ignacio. Its El Castillo temple offers magnificent views of the surrounding rainforest. Further north are Lamanai, with its gorgeous jungle and river location, and Altun Ha, while Lubaantun in the south are additional sites that should be on your Mayan shortlist.

It’s easy to combine several parts of Belize on a single trip.

An overhead shot of two boats in the Great Blue Hole, Belize

One of the best parts of a Belize vacation is that you can easily visit several regions of the country on a single trip. It’s never more than two or three hours to connect from one part of the country to another, which allows you to enjoy diverse travel experiences all within the country’s borders. It’s also easy to add on day trips to some of the country’s natural and historical landmarks, including the Belize Barrier Reef from Ambergris Caye. You can book a scenic flight or helicopter ride over the iconic Great Blue Hole, which is a massive sinkhole off the coast, or explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve or Shark Ray Alley.

You can also easily head on a day trip or stay for a night in nearby Guatemala. It’s only two and a half hours to the famous Maya archeological site of Tikal in Guatemala. If you want to explore Maya history in Central America, combine Belize with Guatemala on a single vacation.

Book ahead to secure the best rates and availability for a trip to Belize.

An overhead shot of a Portofino Beach resort

Belize’s travel season is relatively short, from mid-December to early April for the dry season, so it’s important to book ahead. There are no high-rise hotels here, only small lodges and resorts that offer a boutique tropical vacation experience. This guarantees a more exclusive experience when travelling to Belize, but it also makes it necessary to plan ahead to secure your spot.

Belize is only going to grow more popular in the coming years. It has beautiful landscapes, fascinating history, and friendly people. And perhaps best of all, it’s easy to get to for North American travellers. If you want to escape to a tropical beach this winter, go to Belize. Blaze a trail and experience one of the best-kept secrets in Central America.

Related Topics
Central America
Colin Rusch
Colin Rusch
Goway - Director, The Americas

Working as an intern to become a journalist, Colin came across an article about Guatemala which triggered a huge interest in all things Latin America. His travel career started in London, England with a trip to Mexico cementing his love for that part of the world. With a keen interest in culture and music, Colin has seen much of Asia, Australia, and Europe. His favourite travel experiences include a week on Easter Island when there wasn’t a single paved road (not that long ago) and watching a soccer game and spending a few days in Damascus a few months before the Civil War shut down tourism to Syria.

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