It's size! The population is just under 330,000, which means no over-development and no hectic hustle. Belizeans are warm, friendly and extremely relaxed. In two weeks you can see and do most of the country, allowing for a rich and diverse experience.
Ysobel , Original Traveller
Belize's many and varied attractions include Mayan ruins and 174 miles of coastline fringed with numerous atolls, known as Cayes, and the second greatest barrier reef in the world.
Why we think you’ll love it
- The wildlife - over 500 species of birds call Belize home, and these share their rainforest habitat with howler monkeys, spider monkeys, coatimundi and tapirs, among others
- If you're really lucky, you may spot the elusive jaguar - or one of its more diminutive cousins such as the puma, ocelot, margay or jaguarundi
- The culture - the rainforests of Belize are literally littered with ancient Mayan ruins, but only a tiny percentage have been excavated. We especially love those at Lamanai and Caracol, but there are many more to explore
From the gallery
Belize Luxury Holidays: The Detail
Divers and snorkellers have long known about the spectacular reefs off the coast of Belize, but the mainland is also rich in flora and fauna, with 40% of the country set aside in conservation areas, which makes for incredible exploratory fodder on a luxury holiday. The lush rainforests are still home to jaguar, puma and various species of monkey, as well as the beautiful, brilliantly plumed quetzal.
Formerly British Honduras, Belize is a country defined by various cultures, languages, and ethnic groups including descendants of the Mayans, whose civilisation dominated this region for centuries. Mayan links are evident in well-preserved remains such as Xunantunich, with its plazas and temples, and Caracol's 138ft tall Sky Palace Pyramid.
Did you know
- Belize is home to the rare howler monkey, which is one of the world's top ten loudest animals
- It is the only Central American country with English as its official language
- Belize is home to the 'Royal Rat' - a delicacy that is said to taste similar to rabbit. It became famous when Queen Elizabeth was served one on her visit to the country
- Roads have speed bumps to control the traffic in place of traffic lights
- The national motto of Belize is 'Under the Shade, I flourish'
The inland area of Belize is home to dense rainforests but also - bizarrely - pine forests more reminiscent of Europe than Central America. There are luxury lodges here that are the perfect place for some luxury holiday downtime before or after the beach, or for anyone crossing over into Belize from Tikal in Guatemala (an excellent combination). And on the subject of Tikal, while none of the Mayan sites in Belize matches the imperious site in Guatemala, the likes of Cahal Pech are definitely worth a visit, as are the cave systems, such as at Actun Tunichil Muknal, which were often used as Mayan sacrificial sites. Spooky but spectacular.
And then there are the beaches and Cayes of the coast with excellent laidback lodges (with more popping up all the time) from which to explore the Lighthouse Reef System, the second longest reef system in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reef is also home to the Blue Hole, a perfectly circular sinkhole filled with countless species of marine life including angelfish, sponges, barracudas and different species of shark as well as impressive coral formations and extraordinary stalactites. The water temperature is a thoroughly civilised 76 degrees (or even warmer) as far down as 130 feet, making this a bucket list essential for divers. Closer to the surface, the cayes and coastline are also home to the extraordinary and endangered manatee or sea cow.
Our Latin America team have stayed in all the best lodges throughout the country and work with the top guides for cultural and wildlife excursions. We only use the finest dive operators and can arrange dive trips to see whale sharks in this, one of the few places on the planet where marine biologists know when, why and where they congregate. The last Original Travel consultant to dive in Belize saw eight whale sharks on his solitary dive. Not a bad return.