A whopping 180-mile-long barrier reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and numerous Maya ruins make Belize a beauty to behold. It makes sense, then, that eco-conscious travelers do their part in preserving the beauty when planning their first Belize vacation. Belize as a country has already banned single-use plastic, outlawed offshore drilling, and brought back the reef from danger. It’s now your turn to keep the conservation going. To help you get started, we’ve curated a list of ways you can preserve Belize’s natural beauty when visiting.
1. Respect wildlife.
Belize is a microcosm of the tropical biodiversity found in Central America. From wild cats and tapirs to toucans and jabiru storks, the wildlife here is unparalleled. Which makes respecting them imperative. While there is a beloved little Zoo many travelers swiftly fall in love with, you’ll be reminded that animals are worthy of our utmost respect. Give them their space, don’t feed them if you aren’t welcomed to, and remember that you are in their home, not vice versa. Some good tips include wearing reef-safe sunscreen when out snorkeling to reduce coral bleaching, not chasing after forest mammals, and not stressing out any night critters you might come across with loud noises.
2. Preserve historical attractions.
Souvenirs are best bought locally from talented artisans and craftsmen, not taken directly from historical sites. When climbing the stunning El Castillo at Xunantunich, or summiting Caana Palace at Caracol, fight the urge to take a piece of the ancient relics with you. Preserve the iconic monuments by carefully treading on walkable paths and listening to your tour guides. Respect any signs you may come across and remember most of these sites are sacred grounds for a once-thriving Maya civilization.
3. Stay at an eco-friendly resort.
To truly maximize your environmentally-conscious efforts, opt to stay at an eco-first dwelling in Belize. A sustainability-first resort, like Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn, ensures guests can get directly involved with conservation efforts. Turtle Inn lies along the Placencia Peninsula, but there’s a deeper premise underlying its beautiful beachfront sceneries – the hotel fights to protect it. Guests can volunteer in the resort’s annual beach clean-up campaigns, tag along on Lionfish hunting trips, or plant mangroves at its sister property in Coral Caye.
4. Support local communities.
Belize’s lack of cookie-cutter experiences and mega-all-inclusive resorts makes for an intimate and unique vacation. By booking local food and cultural tours you’re directly supporting fellow Belizeans in marginalized communities and spaces that often fly under the radar of travelers. So the next time you find yourself in Belize, reserve that chocolate-making class in San Ignacio, try your hand at drumming with the Garifuna in Hopkins, or simply sit and chat with the vendors at a local market. When you keep supporting the locals, you keep encouraging them to create even more beautiful and vibrant experiences for travelers.
5. Donate to local NGOs.
Technically, you don’t need to be in Belize for this one but it still indirectly affects your experiences with Belize wildlife. For instance, contributing to the Manatee Program at Wildtracks is a great way to know that the manatee you spot at Swallow Caye benefited from your generosity. Or perhaps you have a soft spot for vibrant corals and want to donate to the Fragments of Hope organization that focuses on restoring coral reefs. And if you want updates on cute critters straight from the world’s best little zoo, “adopt” an animal at The Belize Zoo and know you’ll be providing for their support and care.