The Top 5 Places to Visit in Belize

Belize is not your typical Central American country, for instance it is the only country whose official language is English. A mix of ethnic groups ranging from Garifuna and Mayan is another unique feature. Not to mention the fact that it was formerly ruled by the British Empire, being known as British Honduras until 1973 and gaining full independence in 1981. Belize is bordered by Mexico in the North and Guatemala in the West and South. To the East there are almost up to four hundred kilometres of coastline with the Caribbean Sea and right in front of it is the second-longest barrier reef in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef. Belize is home to about 350,000 people and covers around 23,000 square kilometers, slightly bigger as Slovenia (but Slovenia has almost six times more inhabitants) and smaller than Belgium (~ 30,000 square kilometres, Belize being roughly 77% of the area of it). The capitol is Belmopan though the biggest city is Belize City. Adjacent to Belize City, in Ladyville, is the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, the largest and busiest airport of Belize. Keep on reading to find out about the top five places to visit while staying in Belize.

Map of Belize

Punta Gorda

PG, as the locals call it, lies in the South of Belize. From here you can continue or start your travels when going/coming to/from Guatemala, as there are frequent ferry connections to Livingston and Puerto Barrios. The city itself is tiny, only around 5,000 people live there, so don't expect any fancy hotels or restaurants. A lot of tour agencies offer tours to the southern cayes. Be sure to check out the town market, hang with the locals at the clock tower and eat at April's Snack Shack.


Dangriga

Daily buses connect the city with Punta Gorda, Belmopan and Belize City. Travelling by bus in Belize is safe although it can be tiring because air conditioning is non existent and the buses stop very frequently. Most likely you'll find repurposed old school buses from the US in use. Dangriga is the heart of the Punta music and other Garifuna culture in Belize. Most tourists use Dangriga as an access point to the central cayes or on there way further South, but the city has more to offer. It's slightly dirty and shabby, but that partly accounts for it's laid-back character and funky attitude.


San Ignacio

San Ignacio is a true insider's tip: Nice restaurants, good accommodation and tons of stuff to discover close-by. It lies in the heart of the Cayo District close to the border to Guatemala (Tikal easy accessible once you're at the border). The Maya ruins of Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, El Pilar and the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave are all pleasant day-trips away. Be sure to check out the vibrant night life, drink some cheap beers downtown and eat at some nice restaurants, e.g. at the The Guava Limb (featuring beautiful views of the Macal River Park), Ko-Ox Han Nah (Let's Go Eat) and Yoli's Pizza (at the bus stop). For a night out start at the Sunset Karaoke Bar and work your way through Burns Avenue.


Caye Caulker

Once you've got your fair share of the inland transfer to the cayes. The most prominent, besides the central and southern cayes, are the northern cayes which are easily accessible via water taxi from Belize City. Caye Caulker covers only about eight kilometres from North to South and less than two kilometres from East to West but has a lot to offer. Relax at one of the many beach bars or simply explore the tiny island by foot (always adhering to the local slogan "Go Slow") soaking up the laid-back atmosphere. Healthy breakfasts can be found at Amor y Café. If you're into scuba diving connect with a local tour agency to visit the Great Blue Hole.


Ambergris Caye

This caye is another beautiful island located in the northern cayes. It's also reachable by water taxi from Belize City, Caye Caulker being about 45 minutes away and Ambergris Caye 60 minutes away. The island is slightly bigger than Caye Caulker, spanning almost forty kilometres from North to South. The biggest and only town is San Pedro and the main transportation on the island is by golf carts. When you're there check out the Belize Chocolate Company close to the airport, and one of the many eateries on Barrier Reef Drive. From here you can also continue by boat to Chetumal in Mexico.