Wedged between the jungles of Central America and the dazzling Caribbean Sea, Belize is packed with adventure, culture and natural beauty. Swim with whale sharks, hop between islands and delve into Mayan history in this fascinating country.
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Belize Barrier Reef should be high on your agenda. It’s the second largest barrier reef in the world (after Australia’s) and offers fantastic snorkelling and diving opportunities. Sink beneath the waves at this UNESCO World Heritage site and discover more than 100 types of coral and 500 species of tropical fish. Swim past brightly coloured coral, with friendly whale sharks and turtles, or head deeper underwater to explore sunken caves and the Great Blue Hole, a phenomenon of karst topography.
Near the reef, a smattering of islands, known as “cayes”, are perfect for other water activities, such as kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing or simply kicking back in a hammock and feeling the sea breeze on your face. Ambergris Caye is the largest and most developed of the islands with a relaxed and friendly Caribbean vibe.
Venture inland, and you’ll discover lush tropical jungle, stretching from the country’s Southern and Western regions to the misty heights of the Maya Mountains. This network of national parks and protected wildlife sanctuaries is paradise for bird watchers, who can marvel at some 570 species, including the keel-billed toucan (Belize’s national bird). Other wildlife to look out for include howler monkeys, green iguana and even jaguar.
Action and adventure await all over the country – try ziplining through the jungle, horseback riding through the national parks or canoeing through underground rivers in the Cayo District. While for a dose of culture there are archaeological sites to discover dating back to the Maya heyday (AD 250–1000). Expect vast stone temples with panoramic forest views and natural caverns where Maya kings would perform rituals and make sacrifices.
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When to go
The best time to visit Belize is during the dry season, between January and May. Although warm temperatures are standard there are regional variations: Cayo District and the Cayes experience clear, sunny days; the Toledo District and Placencia enjoy a more tropical climate where there’s a chance of rain at any time of year, hence the lush greenery! In April and May the weather in the Cayo District and on the Cayes remains predominantly dry, while heat and humidity gradually increases.
Easter is a very popular time to visit Belize, so you need to book early and it’s worth noting that Carnival Week (just before Lent) sees music and dancing, with particularly lively festivities in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
The wet season runs from June to December, although you can still travel until early August, with rain mostly falling in the afternoon. Travel becomes challenging as the season progresses, and there is a low risk of hurricanes. By December, the rains begin to ease and humidity decreases so the beach hotels can get very busy indeed over Christmas and New Year – we recommend booking well in advance.
Flights: Flying via Miami is the shortest flying time, approx. 9 hours from Heathrow and approx. 2 hours from Miami to Belize City. An alternative route is via Cancun in Mexico. British Airways fly direct to Cancun from London Gatwick daily and you can then connect down to Belize, perhaps after spending a few days exploring the Yucatan Peninsula!
Typical carbon emissions for a return flight (Economy) per person: 690 kg.
FCDO travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/belize
Time Zone: GMT-6
Capital City: Belmopan