Nine Places to See During your Belize Vacation

by Larry Waight
caracol maya site Belize

Often times, visitors want to know the local hotspots for the must-do adventures to have when vacationing in Belize. If we had to choose some of the must-see sights and excursions in Belize, these nine places would undoubtedly make the list.

Belize Barrier Reef

It’s the second-largest barrier reef in the world. It’s also the core of Belize’s marine ecosystem. The waters around the reef are protected by reserves and sanctuaries. This allows tropical fish, coral, and sea mammals to thrive. Enjoy world-class snorkeling or scuba diving among manatees, sea turtles, lobsters, dolphins, nurse sharks, stingrays, and colorful fish. 

The Great Blue Hole 

Aerial views of the 185-mile long Belize Barrier Reef.

A natural ocean sinkhole in the shadow of the barrier reef, the Great Blue Hole has fascinated explorers for decades. Jacques Cousteau was the first to explore its depths, and his grandson Fabian recently filmed a documentary about it. For many, diving the Blue Hole is a “bucket list” activity for many experienced divers.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

cockscomb basin

Photo courtesy Belize Audubon Society

This huge preserve was the world’s first jaguar sanctuary. It’s spectacularly scenic with clearly marked trails, colorful fauna, and waterfalls. You may not spot an elusive jaguar, but you will likely see other native animals including peccaries, tapirs, toucans, iguanas, armadillos, howler monkeys, lizards, and butterflies. Not to mention, Cockscomb Basin W.S. is an ideal location for both hiking and bird watching.

The mystical ATM Cave

Explore the secrets of the ancient Maya with a tour of the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave. The ancient Maya used it as a ceremonial site, and many Maya artifacts are still present in the cave. A live ecosystem of bats, crawfish, and tropical fish all call the ATM home. Touring the ATM is a strenuous excursion that is best for experienced, adventurous climbers.

ATM cave interior
about Belize
ATM Cave - Cave of the Stone Sepulcher

Xunantunich Maya Ruins

Belize has many Maya ruins, and Xunantunich is one of the most impressive sites. This wealthy city on the Mopan River was home to the ancient Maya for centuries. It is close to the border with Guatemala. You’ll get spectacular views of the surrounding rainforest. 

Caracol Maya Ruins

Caracol is a well-preserved Maya site with amazing views of Belize. It’s a fascinating site to visit because excavation is still ongoing. You never know what discoveries await you when you visit. Unlike some of the other places listed, plan to spend a full day here. 

Monkey River

This scenic waterway runs from Cockscomb Basin to the Caribbean. People are astonished at the variety of wildlife they’ve seen in the water and on the riverbanks. You can see crocodiles, sea turtles, manatees, iguanas, herons, toucans and the howler monkeys that give the river its name. Monkey River is also an excellent place to fish.

The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center

monkey river tour

Originally founded as a refuge for displaced and orphaned wildlife, the Belize Zoo is nothing like a typical zoo. Animals who wouldn’t survive in the wild have a safe haven here. Not to mention, the many educational programs have taught Belizeans to revere their natural environment.

Mountain Pine Ridge

It’s the oldest and largest preserve in Belize. Mountain Pine Ridge covers 300 square miles of pine forest that might make you forget you’re in a tropical setting. The park offers wonderful hiking, birding, and wildlife spotting. There are many natural pools where you can take a refreshing dip. 

Enjoy these 9 Places while in Belize

These nine places are just a glimpse of the many wild, wonderful adventures you can have in Belize on your next vacation. However, don’t be limited to just these nine in Belize – the country is your oyster! 

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