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8 Best Places to Visit in Belize

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Great Blue Hole, Belize

Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize

Few countries offer as much diversity and beauty in such a small space, and you can uncover it all at these best places to visit in Belize on vacation.

Cruise on subterranean rivers to find impressive cave systems, snorkel through sea gardens in protected marine reserves, follow the trails into dense jungle in search of wildlife, or enjoy bringing the elaborate Mayan ruins to life in ancient preserved sites as you find the point at which adventure and beauty meet.

Cultural fusion and evocative nature create a tropical paradise that you can enjoy as you embrace elegant lagoons or Caribbean landscapes during your trip to Belize.

  1. 1. Ambergris Caye
  2. 2. Hol Chan Marine Reserve
  3. 3. The Great Blue Hole
  4. 4. Caracol Natural Monument Reservation
  5. 5. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve
  6. 6. Placencia Peninsula
  7. 7. Lamanai Archeological Reserve
  8. 8. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve
  9. Explore the Best Places to Visit in Belize

1. Ambergris Caye

Clear turquoise water in Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize

The small and majestic island of Ambergris Caye offers quaint narrow streets, a charming small-town ambiance, and a relaxed lifestyle typical of living near the crystal-clear Caribbean waters. The edges of Belize’s Barrier Reef are close to the island’s shoreline, making Ambergris Caye a center for snorkeling and diving excursions.

You can uncover imaginative cuisine in restaurants that highlight local flavors and delicacies of Belizean Creole, while the small but informative Ambergris Museum and Cultural Center traces the history of the island’s settlement back to Mayan traders to showcase the wide diversity of the gorgeous setting.

Highlights: Shark Ray Alley • Hol Chan Marine Reserve • Bacalar Chico National Park • Marco Gonzalez Archeological Reserve

2. Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Nurse Sharks at Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize

Hol Chan Marine Reserve offers a tropical paradise at the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. As one of the most popular snorkeling spots in Belize, it can introduce you to the marvelous coral formations and abundance of life in the warm Caribbean waters.

From moray eels to black groupers, seagrass to mangroves, nurse sharks to southern stingrays, the beauty of the marine reserve stems from the protected habitat that embodies the wonders of the aquatic world.

Highlights: Sea-grass beds • Mangroves • Nurse sharks • Southern stingrays • Sea turtles

3. The Great Blue Hole

Diving, Great Blue Hole

Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Great Blue Hole is part of the Lighthouse Reef atoll and embodies the mystical grandeur of the sea. The reef is 22 miles long and five miles wide, while the Great Blue Hole reaches more than 407 feet deep.

You can dive into the water to find stalactite formations that are 153,000 years old and reveal the history of ocean levels flooding the former cave. Jacques Cousteau made the Great Blue Hole famous in the 1970s after scuba diving to explore the combination of tropical marine life, sensational depths, and surprising discoveries.

Highlights: Reef sharks • Hammerhead sharks • Squirrel fish • Sponges • Sea fans • Turtles

4. Caracol Natural Monument Reservation

Caana Sky Palace, Caracol

Caracol Natural Monument Reservation, Belize

The ruins of the Mayan city of Caracol are tucked into the jungles of Chiquibul National Park, creating the largest archeological site in Belize. As one of the most powerful cities in the Mayan Empire, the ruins reflect a city once larger than Belize’s modern capital and one that supported twice the population.

You can venture into the jungle to wander the walkways and former roads that lead to a carved altar stone depicting victories of powerful cities like Tikal and Naranjo, as well as the Caana pyramid. Traces of the roads dating back to around 650 AD continue to radiate away from Caracol and into outlying plazas and residential areas.

Highlights: Chiquibul Forest Reserve • Big Rock Falls • Caana Sky Palace • Ball Courts • Plaza B Temple • Astronomic Observatory

5. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve in Belize

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve, Belize

The splendor of Belize’s untamed nature becomes the focus in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve, where mountainous tropical forest provides support for the marvelous wildlife.

Toucans and scarlet macaws highlight the colorful avifauna, with over 290 species recorded in the protected landscape, while howler monkeys, anteaters, and jaguars provide enticing possibilities when looking for wildlife along the trails. Waterfalls offer the feeling of hidden surprises and open vistas add to the unforgettable ambiance of the tropical wilderness.

Highlights: Ben’s Bluff Trail • River Path Loop • Doyle’s Delight • Warrie Trails • Wildlife • Birdlife

6. Placencia Peninsula

The enchanting coastline of the Placencia Peninsula

Placencia Peninsula, Belize

Placencia Peninsula perches against the southern edge of Belize. Beachfront charms, private islands, and dive sites that can lead to whale shark sightings make the peninsula incredibly popular with travelers from around the world.

With some of the best coastline in the country on which you can lounge and indulge in the relaxed ambiance of the Caribbean, Placencia can also connect you to captivating kayak excursions around the Silk Cayes Marine Reserve lagoon. Here you can search out coral reefs and hiking trails in Laughing Bird Caye National Park or learn about Garifuna traditions in the village of Seine Bight.

Highlights: Monkey River • Laughing Bird Caye • Cahal Pech • Xunantunich • Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve

7. Lamanai Archeological Reserve

Mayan Mask Temple at Lamanai Archeological Reserve in northern Belize

Lamanai Archeological Reserve, Belize

Impressive architecture, a distinctive setting, and exciting panoramas make Lamanai the most fascinating Maya site in northern Belize. Travel upriver as the ambiance welcomes you with a mixture of colorful birds and dense jungle canopy. The wildlife adds to the experience by reminding you that the ruins are hidden by jungle terrain at the edge of the New River Lagoon.

The High Temple points out of the treetops to provide you with an exceptional view of the surroundings. You can wander the grounds and uncover the excavated buildings, pottery, and figurines at your pace, including remnants of 16th-century Spanish churches.

Highlights: Jaguar Temple • Mask Temple • High Temple • Ball Court • Stela 9 • Lamanai Museum

8. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

Barracuda in the waters of the Caulker Caye Marine Reserve, Belize

Caulker Caye Marine Reserve, Belize

The small island of Caye Caulker offers a blissful escape from the contemporary pace of life. The balmy breeze and azure waters create a sense of tropical paradise, while the relaxed ambiance only adds to the classic beach spirit.

Whether eager to pass through the sleepy sandy streets or venture into the waters on a more active exploration at Caye Caulker Mini-Reserve, you can find birdlife and serene trails that feel completely undiscovered. The forest reserve brims with wading tricolored herons and songbirds, while the marine reserve supports thriving colorful sponges, queen angelfish, and star coral.

Highlights: Lettuce sea slugs • Lobsters • Moray eels • Southern stingrays • Loggerhead turtles • Hawksbill turtles • Queen angelfish • Star coral

Explore the Best Places to Visit in Belize

Big Rock Waterfall, Karakol Nature Reserve

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Belize

The must-see destinations in Belize create an elaborate perspective of the history, culture, and natural beauty of the country. With stunning waters and captivating ecosystems, the second-largest barrier reef in the world and adventurous excursions, Belize is defined by its enticing possibilities.

Search for wildlife, uncover tropical marine life, or escape into Mayan ruins for the ultimate discovery on our Belize vacations, or learn more in our Belize travel guide.

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