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The Top 10 Places to Visit in Belize

 Belize is one of the last unspoiled countries on Earth. This Caribbean nation lies just south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and is home to Mayan ruins, lush jungles and white beaches. Here is your guide to this most incredible of destinations:
 
 
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10. Belize City
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Location: 17.5046° N, 88.1962° W

Population: 57,169 (2010)

Notable for: Being Belize’s historical capital

How to get there: Fly in to Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport

What to see: Beautiful colonial houses, Swing Bridge, Haulover Creek

Go there for: Cultural attractions

The largest city in Belize was once its capital, but the capital was relocated to the planned city of Belmopan in the 1970s following flooding and other damage caused by a hurricane. The cultural center of the nation is well worth a visit.

9. Hopkins
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Location: 16.8535° N, 88.2814° W

Population: 1,000

Notable for: Being the cultural center of the Garifuna people

How to get there: By bus from Belize City, via Dangriga

What to see: The drum shows on Garifuna Day

Go there for: The beaches

Lying south of the town of Dangriga, Hopkins is best-known as being the cultural center of the Garifuna people, which are the descendants of African, Island Carib and Arawak people. It’s a great place to learn about the unique Garifuna culture.

8. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
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Location: 16.7162° N, 88.6608° W

Population: Wildlife reserve

Notable for: Being one of the world’s premier conservation sites for jaguars

How to get there: Hire a motorbike or car in Hopkins

What to see: The waterfalls and wildlife

Climate: Monsoon (wet season runs from May to January, dry season from February to April)

Go there for: Plant-spotting, bird-watching, and hiking

This nature reserve is one of the biggest of its kind in Belize, and is home to 60 of the nation’s 700-strong jaguar population. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll see one on a visit, but the beautiful scenery and outstanding wildlife definitely won’t leave you disappointed.

7. Tobacco Caye
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Location: 16.8983° N, 88.0617° W

Population: 20

Notable for: Being completely rebuilt after 1998’s Hurricane Mitch.

How to get there: Take a 30-minute boat ride from Dangriga

What to see: The locals going about their business, beautiful sunrises and sunsets

Go there for: Swimming, snorkeling, and catching some rays

Some 10 miles of the coast of Dangriga, Tobacco Caye is a small island that is a favorite with shore divers. You can choose from six different modest lodges to stay on the island as you watch the small population of locals go about their day.

6. San Ignacio
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Location: 17.1523° N, 89.0800° W

Population: 17,878 (2010)

Notable for: An abundance of Mayan ruins to explore

How to get there: Fly in to Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport and get an airport transfer

What to see: Actun Tunichil Muknal (an ancient Mayan sacrificial burial site), and Barton Creek Cave

Go there for: A taste of Ancient Mayan civilization

San Ignacio is located some 22 miles from the Belizean capital, and is particularly notable for its friendly, relaxed atmosphere, pleasant climate and proximity to numerous ancient Mayan ruins.

 
5. Ambergris Caye
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Location: 18.0016° N, 87.9433° W

Population: 15,000-20,000

Notable for: Being Belize’s largest island

How to get there: Fly in via Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport on local airlines Maya Island Air or Tropic Air

What to see: The stunning marine life

Go there for: Swimming, snorkeling, and Wahoo’s Lounge

This dreamy, tropical place has sandy, white beaches for you to enjoy, together with world-class accommodation and amazing dining experiences. The primary method of transportation is by golf cart, and be sure to have a flowery shirt and a pair of flip-flops handy for the ultimate Caribbean experience.

4. Placencia 
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Location: 16.5212° N, 88.3713° W

Population: 1,500

Notable for: Being a superb place for outdoor activities.

How to get there: Fly in via Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport on local airlines Maya Island Air or Tropic Air

What to see: All the stunning cayes surrounding the village

Go there for: Jungle tours, kayaking, snorkeling, and fly fishing

If you’re an outdoorsy type, you’ll love Placencia. Some of the activities you can enjoy there include kayaking or canoeing in the wetlands and wildlife spotting – it’s a great place to see manatees, dolphins, crocodiles and birds. Also head to Placencia village to take a look around The Sidewalk, a pedestrian path lined with shops, bars and restaurants.

3. Caracol
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Location: 16.7631° N, 89.1178° W

Population: Archeological site

Notable for: Being the largest Ancient Mayan ruin in Belize

How to get there: Take a Mayawalk tour from San Ignacio. It costs about $80

What to see: Ruins that are some 3,000 years old

Go there for: Insight into Ancient Mayan culture

High above the Vaca Plateau at some 1,650 feet above sea level, Caracol is the largest Mayan site in all of Belize. In its heyday, it was one of the most important cities in the Mayan world, with a population of more than 150,000. Its golden age took place between the 5th and 10th Centuries, when over 40 of its greatest monuments were built.

2. Caye Caulker
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Location: 17.7612° N, 88.0277° W

Population: 2,000

Notable for: Coconut farming and fishing

How to get there: Fly into Caye Caulker Airport from Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport on local airlines Maya Island Air or Tropic Air. You might have to stop in San Pedro, depending on who’s on the plane with you

What to see: The Forest Reserve, and Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

Go there for: Snorkeling, diving, and kayaking

Caye Caulker is a perfect rest and relaxation spot, especially if you happen to be on a tour of Central America. The little island has an abundance of bars and restaurants, as well as cheap accommodation options. It’s not a major sightseeing center, so come here with the intention of taking it easy.

1. Belize Barrier Reef
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Location: 17.1856° N, 87.324° W

Population: None

Notable for: Charles Darwin called it the most remarkable reef in the West Indies

How to get there: By boat from Dangriga

What to see: Over 500 species of fish, as well as spectacular coral formations

Go there for: A view of pristine marine life

The Belize Barrier Reef is the world’s second-largest coral reef, after the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. A large portion of it is protected, including seven marine reserves, 450 cayes and three atolls. The world-famous Great Blue Hole is also within easy reach.

 

Content source: Touropia

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The rest (including cover) by Deposit Photos.

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