Any visitor to Belize with a sense of culture will want to visit the many Mayan ruins. Anyone with a sense of adventure should try this Central American country's unique excursion and one of our favorite travel tips -- cave tubing.
Belize is the 13th most popular Caribbean tourism destination, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Nearly three times as many people visit this Central American country via cruise than by a stopover because it is one of the most popular western Caribbean cruise ports.
Belize vacations are an unforgettable mixture of culture and adventure. From the extensive Mayan ruins to exciting water sports and diving opportunities, to the relaxing yet eerie adventure of cave tubing, your options are virtually endless.
Cave Tubing -- Relaxing yet adventurous is how some tourists might sum up their cave tubing experience. Cave tubing is fast becoming the number one tourist attraction for this exotic country. For 1 1/2 hours, you float leisurely on large inner tubes in water the color of sun-ripened limes.
Floating through cool dark caves on the Sibun River Cave Branch, you can relax as you take in the beauty of the caves and learn how ancient Mayans used the caves for spiritual purposes. Mayan footprints, 1,000-year-old pottery shards, underground waterfalls, stalagmites and stalactites are all part of this relaxing, yet eerie adventure.
Mayan Ruins -- Listen. If you're quiet, you can almost hear the rhythmic beating of the drums of this ancient civilization. The Mayan ruins of Altun Hun, Caracol, and Xunantunich become the history buff's playground.
Discover these excavated ruins. Stroll through the pyramids, temples and ceremonial centers rich in the history of this intriguing country. Come away with a new understanding of this time period - one you'll never forget.
The Blue Hole -- Experience diving like never before. The Blue Hole is located in the center of Lighthouse Reef. This reef is an atoll that forms an almost-perfect circle 1,000 feet wide and 412 feet deep -- so large you can see it from space. Formed from a collapsed cave, divers can view stalactites 3-feet in diameter that were once part of the old cave's ceiling.
Experienced instructors take you to depths of 140 feet where you experience the stark beauty of the Blue Hole. Unlike usual diving experiences, where the beauty comes from colorful and exotic marine life, you'll notice there is very little marine life here. Instead, the Blue Hole offers quiet, majestic beauty, unlike anything you've ever seen.
While cave tubing, the Mayan ruins and the Blue Hole are exciting, don't think that Belize is strictly for thrill seekers. Vacations in Belize also offer traditional attractions.
Here, you'll discover beautiful beaches and experience nature trails for hiking. Sailing and fishing are also popular tourist activities as well as birding. Belize is home to over 600 species of birds that migrate to Belize or live there year round.
This great mix of culture, adventure and relaxation makes Belize a great vacationing spot. Where else can you get the chance to learn about ancient cultures, experience thrilling adventures, and then kick back and relax? That's what Belize vacations are all about.
Belize has a large number of Mayan temples and palaces. It also is one of the few locations to promote caving as a tourist attraction. So visitors who do not have an interest in cave tubing can try other caves for a more normal experience.
The barrier reef is 185 miles long; islands lie between the reef and the mainland, creating numerous opportunities for water sports, especially diving and snorkeling.
Tourism / When to Go
U.S. and Canadian citizens require a passport if they are stopover visitors. Cruise visitors need their ship ID to exit and re-enter the ship.
March is the most popular month followed by December and February. The least popular months are October and then September, the CTO says.
Average daytime temperature is 79 dgrees Fahrenheit yearround. Both rainfall and temperatures vary more widely throughout the year than the typical Caribbean island.
The climate is tropical, very hot and humid. The rainy season is May to November and the dry season is February to May. Hurricanes are frequent between June and November.
Currency / Tipping
Currency is the Belizean dollar, but U.S. currency and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Tipping ranges between 10 and 15 percent for hotels, restaurants and tour guides. The hotel room tax is 9 percent.
Culture / Geography
Spanish and Creole are the dominant language, while English is the official language because of the country's history as a Spanish and then English territory. Tourism is the dominant economic sector. Geography ranges widely from plains to savannas to tropical rain forests.
Sources / More information