Sometimes, mathematics just doesn’t seem to apply, and that’s the case with Belize. A compact country that’s only about 9,000 square miles, it has enough landscapes, seascapes and adventure outlets to fit a nation 700 times its size. Plan a visit to Belize, and you’ll get a tropical vacation, wildlife-watching tour, snorkeling adventure, scuba diving exploration, fishing expedition and a trip through history all in one, incredible destination.
On a Belize adventure travel tour that we can help you design, you’ll get to know this Central American nation’s thick, tropical forests; its mountains’ misty heights; its dazzling turquoise shallows and cobalt depths; and its scores of Mayan ruins. In the interior of the country, you’ll discover a network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that not only provide superb hiking trails but refuges for coatis (a raccoon relative), gibnuts (a nocturnal rodent), green iguanas, howler and spider monkeys, peccaries (a pig relative) and more than 570 species of birds, such as the colorful keel-billed toucan. In southern Belize, on the eastern slopes of the Maya Mountains, you’ll explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the first wilderness reserve in the world set aside for jaguars, highly endangered by deforestation.
Out along the coasts, there are more than 450 sand or coral islands, many of them picture-perfect and uninhabited. On your private guided tour in Belize we can arrange for a chartered boat to take you to the ones you’d like to see, such as Caye Caulker, popular with backpackers; or Ambergris Caye, where you can kayak, stand-up paddleboard, swim or windsurf.
If you’re a scuba diver, you can lunge into Belize’s famous, 410-foot-deep Great Blue Hole. Measuring 1,000 feet across, the Great Blue Hole is believed to be the world’s largest and is one of the planet’s most distinguished scuba sites, with schools of polychromatic fish, ancient stalactites, caverns, corals, tunnels and Caribbean reef sharks.
Other underwater adventures are to be had in the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the second longest barrier reef in the world, behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It comprises seven key marine reserve zones, approximately 450 sand and mangrove islands and three atolls. In 1996, this reef was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its significant habitats and natural development. In the reef’s crystal-blue waters, you’ll spot some of the more than 500 species of darting fish, several of the 100 types of vibrant corals and miles of sea anemones.
Belize is also world-famous for its excellent fishing opportunities, and we can set up a deep-sea sportfishing outing for you. Try your hand at saltwater fly-fishing with an expert guide, feeling your rod bow to the hooked fish’s power and might—you and your line alive with adrenaline.
More than 1,400 Maya sites have been recorded in Belize, the greatest concentration in the entire region. At the height of the culture’s civilization (A.D. 250–950), historians believe that as many as one million people lived in Belize. This advanced civilization left behind artifacts that include ceremonial temples; clay, jade and stone artworks; and mostly intact ruins.
On the western edge of the Maya Mountains, you can explore the 141-foot-tall Caana (“Sky Palace”) pyramid in Caracol, one of the most influential cities in Maya times. The ruin sits in a remote jungle location on a high plateau, adding to its ancient feeling. Then, in northern Belize, on the banks of the New River Lagoon, find the 960-acre Maya site Lamanai. Inhabited from about 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1700, Lamanai (which means “submerged crocodile”) is the longest-occupied known Maya site in the world. Its dense compound of more than 719 mapped structures features three pyramids, several plazas and temples, and the remains of a 16th-century Spanish Church. Climb the steps to the top of the Mask Temple or take a guided tour of the lagoon to search for crocodiles. At the Xunantunich (“Stone Woman”) Maya site in western Belize, take the free, hand-cranked ferry across the Mopan River and admire the carvings on the peak of the 130-foot-high El Castillo pyramid.
While Belize may be no bigger than Israel or New Hampshire, you can be hiking in the home of wild jaguars one day and scuba diving on a huge barrier reef the next. In the morning, you could be snorkeling in a UNESCO World Heritage site and zip-lining through a forest canopy, and by afternoon fly-fishing in the ocean or examining the intricate hieroglyphs in an ancient Maya temple.
Mathematically, Belize may be small in size, but you’ll find within it outsize adventures.