Our list of 30 epic things is just the beginning of Belize’s story, so start here when you visit. We’re happy to come up with 30 more when you’re done!
It is a favorite of beginners, veterans and Jacques Cousteau. This unique sink hole is so dramatic, just helicoptering over it is awe-inspiring – so if you don’t want to dive, substitute this fly-over.
2. Scuba the Belize Barrier Reef
It’s the second longest on the planet. Life beneath the surface is a feast for the eyes: colorful corals, exotic fish and strange marine creatures.
3. Fill your itinerary with thrills
Drop 200 feet through a forest canopy into the mother of all caves, The Black Hole. Add a zip line adventure to your must-do list.
Chocolate making originated with Maya cooks who prepared it with chili. A visit to the Che’il Mayan Chocolate Farm and Factory can turn you into an expert on the subject.
5. Eat like a native.
Belize cuisine borrows from so many traditions, a simple bowl of beans and rice Belize style will surprise your taste buds. Who needs boring pancakes for breakfast when you can feast on fry jacks?
6. Meet the Garifuna people
Called the friendliest Belizeans of all, these folks are happy to give you drumming lessons and share stories about their heritage that are more enticing than the last novel you read.
One cave trek reveals sparkling skeletal remains of a maiden while another is less scary because you’ll float into the recesses on rubber tubes for a leisurely float into spectacular canyons of wonder.
8. Let the spirits move you
Explore Belize’s burgeoning wine, beer and spirits industry, home to cashew, soursop and ginger wines, Belikin beers and rums. Don’t leave until you order at least one “Panti Rippa.”
Whether you want to photograph them or go waterfall repelling, tell friends you climbed 1,000 feet to the Antelope Falls summit before repelling down and their respect for you will skyrocket.
This little island is filled with delights that include mangroves, dive sites and don’t miss the Split, a remarkable strip where salt water flows between two halves of the caye.
11. Consort with sharks
Don’t be scared. Whale sharks at Gladden Split find humans scary. Friends not impressed by your waterfall ascent will be when they receive photos of your toothy encounters.
Gentle, endangered manatees are vegetarians so you’re in no danger. These sea cows are protected in hopes they will continue to breed. Seeing one up close promises you a magical moment.
13. Bungle in the Jungle
Half of Belize is covered by dense jungle and a single tour can introduce you to wildlife, exotic medicinal herbs and a chance meet-up with the loudest apes on the planet: Howler monkeys.
14. Rainforests galore
Around 80-percent of Belize’s rainforests are protected by the government, thus jaguar, puma, ocelot, tapir, crocodile and armadillo stay safe within habitats. Take a tour and see if you spot one.
15. Get your night hike on
Nocturnal animals living in Bocawina National Park only come out at night so a guided tour at night is likely to be one of the most exciting experiences you have during your Belize visit.
This invasive species has become a pain in the neck, so if you learn to spear these fish, you provide a public service, helping save precious reefs. You can even dine on your catch that evening.
17. Pick up a paddle
Belize offers you the perfect refresher course: paddle down the Mopan River where those Howler monkeys mentioned above become cheerleaders, encouraging you to keep paddling.
One of the most humane destinations on the planet, this zoo is filled with orphans and animals being rehabilitated in addition to gorgeous indigenous animals in residence.
19. Meet the ghost of Xunantunich
This Maya ruin is haunted by a ghost dressed in white whose eyes are bloodshot. Even if she doesn’t show up, you’ll enjoy every minute you spend exploring this fascinating site.
20. See skeletons
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM), called the world’s most sacred cave, was once the site of ancient rituals and sacrifices. Wait until you see the skeletal remains of victims and artifacts residing within these chambers.
21. Visit “La Isla Bonita”
Follow Madonna’s advice to San Pedro. This town is filled with delights that include art galleries, cultural sights, dive shops and laid-back beaches.
22. Dance ‘til you drop
Within the town of Dangriga, Belize’s cultural capital, impromptu dance parties are not unusual. Listen for music. Wear your dancing shoes. The rest will follow naturally.
23. Make a furry friend
If you need a pet fix, find it at the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter where a dude named Kenny Sampson does a fabulous job of finding homes for cats and dogs. Bring treats. Bring a donation.
24. Horseback ride
Saddle up during your Belize visit, but don’t expect the ordinary. You’ll roam jungles and other fascinating landscapes from your vantage point.
The Belize Spice Farm and Botanic Gardens showcase agricultural traditions and a tour will reveal secrets you’ll want to bring home. There’s a restaurant on the premises, just in case you get hungry.
Belize is the western hemisphere’s bird mecca. Bring your bird diary and binoculars to record avian species that live in Belize year-round. Plus, those who stop over one their way to other lands depending on the time of year.
Kids and adults call the San Ignacio-based Green Iguana Conservation Project awesome. You will too. Interactive exhibits and programs enlighten visitors (you’ll have fun, too).
28. Channel your inner archaeologist
Roam the Lubaantun Archeological Reserve, a favorite destination for folks intrigued by the idea of unearthing pottery shards, teeth and primitive tools left behind by these ancient people.
Travelers may not agree on much, but there’s consensus when the question of Belize’s beaches arise. There is no equal to beaches along the Placencia peninsula coastline, on either the lagoon or ocean side.
30. History lessons
Stop at Hopkins where Belize history is showcased through the eyes of the Garifuna. Battles, migrations and tales of colonization and independence make this a one-of-a-kind learning experience you won’t forget.
Header image by Duarte Dellarole.