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Belize

Belize is a popular paradise for tourism and nuptials.

Belize is a small, tropical Central American country. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Belize is a small, tropical Central American country.

Belize

For the tourist searching for a tropical paradise, the small Central American country of Belize may be just the ticket. Rainforests, beaches, caves, marine reserves and ancient Indian ruins all beckon the traveler to this tiny country on the Caribbean. It is a great find for a Mayan history buff or an amateur archeologist. Belize is also a picturesque setting for a wedding ceremony or honeymoon.

Belize, once known as British Honduras, is a popular get-away trip for Americans. It is only two hours away from three U.S. gateway cities and is an easy trip through Mexico. English is the official language of Belize, but Spanish and English Creole are frequently heard. According to the Government of Belize, approximately 300,000 people call Belize home.

Belize Tourism

The tourist season in Belize is late November to late April, but Belize has plenty to offer throughout the year. The weather is similar to Miami, so tourists need summer clothes with a light jacket for rainy, cooler days. The average daily temperature is 80 degrees.

There's plenty to keep the entire family entertained. Belize is a paradise when it comes to outdoor sports. Visitors can go on bird-watching hikes, kayaking runs, cave-tubing trips, snorkeling adventures, fishing expeditions or windsurfing excursions. According to the Belize Tourism Board, there are nine areas tourists enjoy:

  • Orange Walk and Corozal in the north have many of the country's Mayan temples, as well as rainforests and jungles
  • Ambergris Caye is known for its beautiful beaches, water sports and nightlife
  • Belize City is a history-lover's dream, and it is also home to the Belize Zoo
  • Caye Caulker is the place for budget lodging and a quiet beach
  • Palencia has white sand beaches and blue Caribbean waters
  • Cayo is in the mountains and offers ancient Mayan ruins
  • Stann Creek has the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Southern Belize is home of the country's intricate cave system

 

Belize Travel and Accommodations

Americans travelling to Belize will need a valid passport. Most tourists arrive by air, but some come by bus through Guatemala City. It is also possible to enter Belize with a private boat through its six maritime ports of entry.

Lodging choices encompass luxury hotels, island tents and remote nature lodges. Several cruise lines traverse Belize's sparkling waters. Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean both make Belize a port of call. The large cruise ships offer guided tours around Belize, including excursions to the Mayan ruins.

Mayan History in Belize

Belize was at the center of Mayan Indian culture during the Classic period from 250 to 900 CE. Scientists say about one million Mayans lived in Central America. The Mayans were well-developed, intelligent people with an alphabet, a mathematical system and a calendar. There are thousands of Mayan ruins in Belize, and a few are open to tourists. For the more serious archeology buff, Belize offers guided tours of the ruins, with an emphasis on education.

One interesting possibility is spending the night in a Mayan ruin. Chan Chich Lodge is a luxurious nature lodge built on the grounds of a Mayan ceremonial city. The lodge sits close to unexcavated Mayan homes. Chan Chich Lodge calls itself an authentic retreat to the jungle, with 12 thatched roof huts and one two-bedroom villa. However, it is far from rustic with a pool, Jacuzzi and world-class restaurant.

Belize Barrier Reef

With the longest continuous barrier reef in the Western hemisphere, Belize offers delightful snorkeling and scuba-diving opportunities. Visitors can also try night diving to see the colors of the coral and sea life. Serious divers should not miss the Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef. It is a curious geographical mystery, with a perfect circle right in the middle of Lighthouse Reef. The water inside the circle is 480 feet deep and gives off a deep blue color. It is not an adventure for new divers, but the experienced diver will have an incredible experience.

Belize Cave System

The best way to visit Belize's many caves is by riding an inner tube through the cave system. It is a gentle float through the ancient underground caves that were used by the Mayan Indians thousands of years ago. The extensive cave systems in Belize have turned up skeletons, cooking pots and other artifacts from the Mayan tribes. Cave tubers can float by the underground Crystal Cathedral, a religious shrine from the Mayan empire.

Belize Weddings

Belize is becoming a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons. Couples can say their vows on a private beach, in a beautiful garden or at an ancient Mayan site. Couples must obtain a special license by showing their proof of identify and proof that they are both older than 18. There is no residency requirement or blood test needed. Wedding planners from the United States can make the arrangements, or many of the larger hotels will help with event planning.

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