6 reasons to choose Belize for your next holiday
Belize is lovingly referred to as 'the jewel' by locals and Belize-ophiles alike and for good reason. Yet, it has remained relatively under the radar despite all that it has to offer in terms of natural beauty and assets, tropical weather, and adventure.
With more than 200 cayes (pronounced 'keys'), or little islands, off its Caribbean coast, Belize is home to a diverse mix of beaches, dive sites, marine life and wildlife. Then there's the Afro-Caribbean culture, delicious food and variety of activities.
If these don't make you want to jump on the next plane, here are six more reasons why you should choose Belize for your next holiday:
1. You can visit Belize on a budget
Contrary to popular belief, this Central American spot can be an affordable holiday if you eat local and visit at the right time of year.
A trip to Belize during the low season (our summer months) means fewer tourists and big discounts on hotels thanks to the minimal demand. It's also a great time to immerse yourself in the local culture.
If you find yourself in Belize during the high season (roughly late November until April), try staying in one of the affordable guesthouses in Hopkins or Caye Caulker, rather than a hotel. You can even stay overnight in a Mayan Village for a taste of times gone by.
2. The diving is second-to-none
Well, it's actually second to Australia for the longest barrier reef in the world, but the marine life in Belize is completely different from its antipodean alternative. The Blue Hole of Belize was made famous in 1971 by Jacques Cousteau on his television series and continuously appears on lists of surreal places to visit.
Diving in Belize gives you a rare opportunity to see Caribbean sharks, groupers, stingrays, tunicates, and geological phenomena like stalactites and dripstone sheets.
3. There's more to do than diving
Caving, birdwatching, zip-lining, snorkelling - Belize is an outdoor junkie's Caribbean dream. Caves were used by the ancient Mayan civilization and, today, more than 540,000 square feet of grottos are just waiting to be discovered, like the Actun Tunichil Muknal and Actun Halal.
Grab your binoculars and head to the Manovar Bird Sanctuary where you can discover one of Belize's 300 species of birds. Alternatively, you can go ziplining in the Mayflower Bocawina National Forest, which is the longest zip line in Central America. You'll cross the lowland forest, passing waterfalls and those hiking on this mile and a half course.
4. Belize was once the centre of the Mundo Maya
It's been estimated that more than one million Mayan people lived in present-day Belize and more is being uncovered about them all the time in the country's archaeological sites.
There are temples, frescoes and caves that provide evidence to support the theory of the settlements and make for a great day trip. Visit Xunantunich for impressive ruins or settle on a trip to Tikal National Park in neighbouring Guatemala for more ancient ruins.
5. You speak the language
While many Belizeans speak Spanish and Creole, Belize is the only Central American country whose official language is English. That makes it especially easy for British travellers to get around.
6. Belize is a conservation leader
Both Belize's mainland and cayes are home to some of the most fascinating wildlife in the region, from birds and sharks to jaguars. In order to protect the well being of the country's natural ecosystem, 40% of the land is protected, covering plants, birds, reptiles and more.
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is also the only preservation area in the world for jaguars, and where they work to keep jaguars, pumas, margays, ocelots and jaguarundi safe from extinction.
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