If you’re having trouble justifying a vacation in the sun, tell your boss that you’re heading to a beach because your doctor ordered you to go based on scientific research. Tell her that lying on a beach activates the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that impacts emotion. Inform her that ocean waves generate negative ions that increase the body’s oxygen absorption capacity and add the fact that beaches lower stress hormone levels.
If she still doesn’t believe you, quote Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich. He has proven that staring at the ocean’s surface has a calming effect and increases one’s feeling of safety and security. Finalize your position by explaining that you don’t need a long vacation to experience all of these benefits because you’ve set your sights on the best beaches in Belize – just a few hours from home. Don’t be surprised if she asks if she can join you!
Which 10 beaches are the best ones in Belize?
1. Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest and most popular island so it stands to reason that there are several beaches that should get your attention.
They’re located to the south and north of San Pedro. These are the beaches you’ll want to visit if you’re eager to be close to the action, be that action diving and snorkeling or enjoying the Ambergris party scene. Target the Hol Chan Marine Reserve to swim with nurse sharks and southern stingrays if lying on a beach simply isn’t your style!
2. Caye Caulker, a close enough island that can be reached by plane or water taxi from Belize City, is your destination if you’re the antithesis of the vacationer who can’t get enough action.
This tranquil beach attracts folks who seek serenity, peace and introspection and for travelers vacationing on a shoestring budget, this is mecca. There are no cars on this caye so the air is devoid of carbon emissions and if crave more than the beach, head inland for a relaxing cave tubing experience.
3. Glover’s Reef Atoll, reachable by boat from Dangriga, is part of Belize’s legendary barrier reef and the ideal destination for day trippers and visitors seeking one the most highly-rated snorkeling and diving areas in addition to stellar beaches popular with folks who don’t want to move a muscle.
If you want to stick around, check out spartan fishing lodges and beach huts. Named for a couple of Brit bros whose avocation was pirating, Glover’s Reef Atoll’s most talked-about beach is found on neighboring Long Caye located off the atoll’s coast.
4. Half Moon Caye, since the moment you arrive at this crescent-shaped beach you’ll get why its name is so appropriate.
Although, once you settle down into the sand beneath breeze-blown palm fronds while listening to sea waves roll in, you’ll call this beach heaven. Protected by the Belize government as a sea turtle nesting site (it’s part of the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument), this beach is a haven for rare red-footed boobies, 4,000 of which hang out here. These boobies live in harmony with 98 other bird species and you can spot many of them if you pry yourself away from your beach towel to climb an observation tower that treats you to a lush green vista guaranteed to delight all of your senses.
5. Hopkins Village Beach offers visitors a delightful sojourn that pairs time spent on this beautiful, 5-mile-long beach filled with palm trees with access to the local town.
There, Garifuna culture surrounds visitors and most find themselves making hard decisions: Should I spend my time lying in the sun at this gorgeous beach, take advantage of access to the best saltwater fly fishing and big game sport fishing in Belize or explore Hopkins where restaurants, shops and the Lebeha Drumming Center are sure to captivate me? The correct answer? All of the above.
6. Placencia peninsula, which regularly make “world’s best beaches” lists.
No question about it, this 16 mile stretch of beach is spectacular and three specific beaches deserve your attention: Maya Beach, Seine Bight and Placencia Beach. If being close to Placencia Village is your goal, the third is your best bet but all three offer opportunities to charter boats for diving and fishing and you couldn’t choose a bad beach if you tried. Explore both the Caribbean and the lagoon sides where endangered manatees may be found if your timing is right.
7. Sapodilla Cayes are remote and uninhabited so if you crave a beach that will literally get you away from today’s crazy world, these 14 sand and mangrove cayes located at the southern tip of the barrier reef should top your must-see list.
Located 40 miles east of Punta Gorda, you won’t mind the effort it takes to reach these spots because this isolation is exactly why these primitive beaches are so stunning. Dive, spot sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks throughout these areas, and if you’re lucky, you could catch glimpses of frolicking dolphins during your visit.
8. Silk Caye is your destination if you like to snorkel and dive.
This small parcel of land is also known as Queen Caye, but you don’t have to be royalty to book a day trip charter from Placencia Village. Beaches are pristine, desolate and quiet, so what happens at Silk Caye stays on Silk Caye. Your passion for snorkeling is best enjoyed here because you’ll be privy to colorful aquatic life like Hawksbill turtles and possibly whale sharks plus gorgeous coral formations. Now that the Belize Barrier Reef is no longer endangered, this area is especially idyllic to visit.
9. South Water Caye – a part of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve.
This is the place to go if you want to do more than lie in the sand. Home to Pelican Beach, a place photographers can’t get enough of, this is the beach that shows you why travel writers refer to sand as powdered sugar and describe offshore water as turquoise blue, emerald green or both. Dive and snorkel the waters with great abandon at this neighboring barrier reef location and since it’s located just 11 miles off Dangriga’s coastline you won’t have to travel far to reach this unspoiled caye. Lodgings? Only two, which is why South Water Caye’s frequent visitors know to reserve in advance!
10. Southwest Caye, but why does this caye make our top 10 list despite being part of the Glover’s Reef coral atoll?
Because it’s a remarkable beach area in its own right. Known for fabulous snorkeling and diving, an extended stay on this beachfront offers you two resort choices: the safari-style lodging that promises a taste of adventure and a resort designed for visitors who’s taste for adventure consists of lying on a towel beneath the Belize sun. Both cater to travelers whose goal is discovering the beach that suits their sensibilities this close to the U.S.
There you have it. Ten exceptional Belize beaches that offer endless options. Which one best describes the one you’ve been searching for when you’re ready to get away?