Located on the Caribbean coast of Central America, to the south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize offers a wide range of attractions for visitors with perhaps the greatest variety of landscapes, peoples, flora and fauna of any country of its size in the world.
Belize City is no longer the capital but offers an unusual combination of rustic, old-fashioned Caribbean charm and bustling modernity. Caracol, meaning ‘snail’ in Spanish, is the most spectacular Mayan site in Belize and was a metropolis with five plazas and 32 large structures. Buried under the jungle of the remote Vaca Plateau for centuries, Caracol now rivals the other great Mayan city of Tikal, nearby.
Belize boasts the longest continuous barrier reef in the western hemisphere, consisting of a multitude of coral cays and spectacular limestone outcroppings that are home to a myriad of underwater flora and fauna, including angelfish and triggerfish. Farther out, there are three atolls, with the Gladden Spit area being one of the world’s top spots to snorkel and dive with giant whale sharks.
The cays also support a unique and endangered forest environment and rich mangroves – a major breeding ground for a broad range of fauna. Belize also has one of the most extensive and easily accessible cave systems for amateur and experienced potholers alike.
The rain forests of Belize are home to some impressive wild cats, including the puma, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, and jaguar; the latter is prevalent in Belize and can reach two meters in length. Howler monkeys, green iguanas, boa constrictors as well as the country’s national animal, the tapir, are also in abundance.
Continuing on the wildlife theme, Belize’s bird population is staggering due in large part to the country’s lowland and offshore sanctuaries that include: Shipstern Nature Reserve, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Half Moon Cay National Monument, and Rio Bravo Conservation Area.
Overall, Belize is the perfect destination for the active and adventurous traveler. Whether your interests are scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, potholing, mountain biking, horseback riding or bird-watching, Belize has some fabulous terrain and opportunities for all.