For many years, Belize, once known as British Honduras, and especially its southernmost areas were out of bounds to most traveler for a number of reasons. Lack of basic infrastructure, bad communications coupled with equally bad roads because of the high density of rainfall had made this beautiful region off-limits to most except the very adventurous ones.
The amount of precipitation may not have changed significantly but the improvements certainly have been made to make moving around in Belize easy. The remarkable changes have today converted Belize to a place of immense natural beauty, and spectacular attractions like the Mayan ruins and some of the ideal places to dive in the whole world. While Belize is considered to be the most costly country to visit in Central America, the breathtaking scenery on offer more than makes up for the price paid. A Belize overwater bungalow can easily set you off your budget but the experience of staying in one can be unparalleled to no other.
When to go
Due to the subtropical climate,Belize stays more or less warm all through the year, having both a dry and wet season. Having said that, the ideal time to visit Belize is between the months of January and March when the temperatures stay in the low twenties and out of the hurricane season which spans from June to November.This is the peak tourist season and prices will be high at this time.
Citizens of some designated nations like USA, Canada and the EU (European Community) do not require a visa to visit Belize. In addition residents of CARICOM countries are exempted from visa requirements. All visitors, however, except for cruise ship passengers, must present a valid passport before entering Belize. The validity of the passport must be a minimum of three months from date of entry, together with a return ticket and proof of funds to cover your stay. For those who need a visa, they must be obtained prior to arrival, either through a travel portal or hotel you have booked in Belize.
Belize can be accessed easily in a number of ways like, air, sea or land all of which are equally popular with tourists. Many visitors visit Belize by sailing in their yachts but this requires extra skill to navigate past the Barrier Reef. Many airlines, especially those from USA, offer direct connection to Belize. The regional airlines like, Maya Island Air and Tropic provide flights to Mexico and Honduras for the cheap fares, from where Belize is a five hour drive by bus.
Where to go
Belize is popular the world over for a special chain of islands, known as cayes. These islands not only form a protective barrier to the mainland from the swells of the ocean but make great spots for diving, making these cayes a most sought after tourist destination. Some of the most famous ones are Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye.
The tropical forests of the Cayo District and its cave systems provide ample opportunities to thrillseekers. One can utilise the country’s cheap transport system San Ignacio to access some of the popular places like, Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and go rafting on the fast rapids of the Mopan and Macal rivers.
While the main city of Belize offers visitors a great insight on the cultural spirit of the country, it also serves as a base for visiting Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. The once isolated south part of Belize holds the misty Maya mountains and within it the only rainforest of the country with some of the most ancient archaeological treasures of the Mayan civilisation.
Interesting facts about Belize
The baboons of Belize, also referred to as the Black Howler Monkeys are some of the loudest in the world.
The country is home to nearly 1000 ancient Maya ruins, which are spread all over the country. Till date many of them are either unexplored or in a sad state of misuse.
If by chance you happen to order Gibnut in a local restaurant, then you are about to taste a popular local delicacy that is a rodent known by the name Royal Rat.
A list of some popular spots in Belize with interesting names would include Double Head Cabbage, Baking Pot, Crooked Tree, Monkey River, Never Delay and Labouring Creek.
Belizeans are deeply religious and shun swimming anywhere on Good Friday believing that it may bring them bad luck.
Though Spanish, Creole and Maya are spoken in Belize, it happens to be the only country in Central America which has English as its official language.
The local currency is the Belize Dollar, which is worth about fifty cents in US currency. In other words one US dollar is equal to two Belize dollars.
Must visit places
The Great Belize Blue Hole is a top tourist attraction the world over. The crystal clear waters act as a magnet for scuba diving enthusiasts who throng here to dive and witness the spectacular coral formations, apart from the diverse marine life. Full day tours to this place include a dive in the Blue Hole and a few more in the adjacent reef areas.
The Blue Hole is actually a massive underwater sinkhole situated just off the coast of Belize, about 100 km from the Belize mainland. This is said to be the largest natural formation in the world and a World Heritage Site of great importance.
Belize is democratic, English speaking, enjoys mild weather and has some of the best beaches. It is a country of swaying palms, rich history and spectacular sunsets.