Breathtaking beaches and wonderfully wild rainforests: our Belize travel guide

Published

17 November, 2022

Edited

20 November, 2022

Nestled on the northeastern coast of Central America, the Caribbean country of Belize has a rich and intriguing history. First settled over 3,000 years ago, this spectacular region still holds many clues to its past; ancient Mayan ruins tower above the trees, while hidden caves deep inside the wild Belizian rainforest offer a glimpse of prehistoric life.

A tropical haven for intrepid explorers and adventure seekers

Of course, you can’t visit Belize without spending some well-deserved downtime along its dazzling coastline. Fringed by powdery white sands and crystalline shores, the beaches here are some of the most stunning you’ll ever see in the world. And it’s not just the mainland you’ll want to explore, either. Just off the coast, the tiny islands of Caye Caulker and Caye Chapel hold even more delights that are just waiting to be discovered.

Sugary sands and azure shores await

A beach day - or ten - should definitely be on the cards during your stay in Belize. Whether you’re stopping close to Belize City or basking in the beauty of Ambergris Caye, you’ll be truly spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the perfect spot to roll out your beach towel. Just offshore is the thriving Belize Barrier Reef, scattered with tiny islands and home to well over 1,350 marine species.

South Water Caye

A couple of miles offshore from the Stann Creek district, South Water Caye is an idyllic 15-acre island bordered by soft white sands and warm, calm waves. You can choose to spend your time basking under the gently rustling palms, soaking up those splendid sea views - or, if you feel a little adventurous, donning your diving gear and getting to know the local marine life.

Placencia

The laidback fishing village of Placencia is a world away from the luxury resorts along the rest of the Belizean coastline. Along its peaceful shores are over 15 miles of gloriously golden beaches, where you’re bound to find a quiet spot to while the day away. And, when you’ve worked up an appetite from all that sun lounging, you can head over to one of the traditional cafes or restaurants in the village for some delicious, home-cooked cuisine.

Hopkins Village Beach

A three-mile stretch of powdery sand and uninterrupted coastal vistas, Hopkins Village Beach is a lovely spot to sit and appreciate the natural beauty of Belize. The village itself is renowned for its celebration of local Garifuna culture; almost every evening, visitors can enjoy cultural dancing and drumming performances in the nearby restaurants and bars lining the beach.

Experience the very best of Belize

With so many exciting things to do in Belize, planning the perfect itinerary can prove quite the challenge. Keen explorers will want to head straight for the national parks and nature reserves, while those who prefer to stay close to the shore will find endless opportunities to sail, snorkel, and dive among the brilliant blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Snorkel with sea turtles at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Lying just a few miles southeast of Ambergris Caye is the spectacular Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Brimming with marine life, visitors have the chance to get up close and personal with a whole host of species while snorkelling or diving in the reserve; friendly sea turtles, nurse sharks, and manta rays are just a few of the local residents you might encounter along the way.

Explore the ancient Xunantunich Mayan Ruins

A 40-minute hike from the village of San Jose Succotz, the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins stand at a mighty 130 feet, rewarding those who climb to their summit with the most stunning panoramas across the surrounding forests and reserves. The name - Xunantunich - translates to ‘Stone Woman’ in the local language; a nod to the legend of a ghostly woman who has been spotted disappearing into the stone walls of the ruins on more than one occasion.

Spend an afternoon at the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center

The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is one of the top-rated attractions in Belize and for good reason. A non-profit organisation focusing on the conservation of endangered species, many of the animals in the zoo have been rescued or rehabilitated from other institutions. Of all the fun things to do in Belize with little travellers, this is one of the most exciting and educational.

Book a diving excursion in The Great Blue Hole

Certainly one for experienced divers to tick off their Belize bucket list. The Great Blue Hole is a huge sinkhole around 43 miles off the coast of Belize City, renowned for its excellent visibility. A guided tour is recommended to really make the most of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and anyone looking to dive into its dramatic depths should have at least 24 dives logged. If you haven’t, there’s always the option of snorkelling closer to the surface.

Take a walk on the wilder side of Belize

We’re not suggesting that you’ll ever tire of Belize’s scintillating shores and buzzing coastal resorts. But if you do feel like exploring a little further inland and heading off the usual track into lush jungles and prehistoric caves, there’s much to be discovered.

Uncover the deep depths of Actun Tunichil Muknal with a private tour

A tour of Actun Tunichil Muknal - or the ATM Cave - is a truly extraordinary experience. Hidden within the verdant jungle of the Mountain Tapir Reserve, the only way to access the cave is to navigate through 12 feet of water, which means a private tour is absolutely necessary to safely explore its mesmerising depths. Among the stalagmites are ancient remains of a Mayan sacrificial site that was used between 300 and 600 AD.

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

If you’d rather stay above ground, then we recommend a full day of hiking in the stunning Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Set along the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains and with almost 100,000 acres of tropical forest to explore, it’s a true haven for nature lovers and experienced hikers. Trek through the lush vegetation and you might even stumble across a Mayan ruin or two - archaeologists have found evidence of habitation in the area dating all the way back to 10,000 BC.

Where to eat in Belize

A feisty fusion of Caribbean and Central American flavours, Belizean cuisine is full of bold flavour. Whether you’re tucking into a crisped-to-perfection panade (Belize’s answer to the empanada) or savouring the freshness of a locally-caught snapper, there’s something for everyone to sink their teeth into.

Palmilla Restaurant

From breakfast through to dinner, the Palmilla Restaurant offers an elegant dining experience. Cool off in the air-conditioned dining hall, or head outside for an evening under the stars on the restaurant’s scenic veranda. There’s a distinctly European influence on many of the restaurant’s dishes, but you can still expect to find plenty of regional favourites here too - grilled Caribbean lobster, fish empanadas, and snapper salsa verde to name just a few.

Rain

Nestled along the picturesque coast of Ambergris Caye is Rain, the island’s only rooftop restaurant with far-reaching views of the Caribbean Sea. At the restaurant’s helm is Samuel Gonzalez, a Belizian native inspired by the traditional flavours and ingredients of his local area. From perfectly seared seafood to expertly handcrafted pasta dishes, there’s almost too much choice when it comes to picking the perfect entrée.

Chef Rob’s Gourmet Cafe

Sat beside the gently lapping shores of the Caribbean Sea, Chef Rob’s Gourmet Cafe is the perfect location for a romantic meal. Feast on fresh seafood and local ingredients as the sun descends in front of you - a captivating, fiery display that is only made better with great food and an excellent wine list. For an extra-special evening, there’s the option of The Chef’s Table where head chef, Rob Pronk, creates a special seven-course menu right in front of your eyes.

The Hidden Treasure Restaurant

A flavoursome fusion of Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, The Hidden Treasure Restaurant offers a wide range of bold dishes in a cosy, intimate setting. Nestled on a quiet backstreet in Escalante - just south of San Pedro Town - it’s a fabulous little spot to enjoy a family meal or a date night together. Dine by candlelight as you tuck into sautéed shrimp, grilled lobster, or a classic Caribbean curry.

The onefinestay experience

At onefinestay, we provide our guests with an exclusive range of concierge services to ensure your stay is as carefree and as memorable as it should be. We’ll tailor your dream getaway from the moment you book your stay. From in-villa spa treatments and private chef services to arranging all of your activities and experiences, your personal Travel Advisor will guide you through all the available options. Best of all, we’ll organise everything long before your arrival, so all you need to do is arrive and make the most of your well-deserved time away.

Bewitched by Belize?

SPEAK TO ONE OF OUR TRAVEL ADVISORS TO BEGIN PLANNING YOUR BELIZE GETAWAY TODAY. WE’LL FIND THE PERFECT VILLA FOR YOU AND CRAFT THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME.