When looking for exotic and scenic places, Belize is one of the hottest destinations that comes to mind. Squashed between Mexico and Guatemala in the luxuriantly green heart of Central America, Belize’s natural beauty is staggering for a country of such tiny proportions. Whether you plan to hike the rainforest-draped mountains of Cockscomb Basin (home to endangered jaguars), scuba dive with sharks and kaleidoscopic fish in the world’s second longest barrier reef, or climb to the top of the 1,200 year old Caracol Mayan pyramids – the toughest challenge is deciding what to do first.
Belize offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in Central America: thick tropical forests envelop much of the country’s southern and western regions, stretching up towards the misty heights of the sparsely populated Maya Mountains, while just offshore, dazzling turquoise shallows and cobalt depths surround the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the longest such reef in the Americas, as well as the jewels in Belize’s natural crown: three of the four coral atolls in the Caribbean.
From the moment you arrive in Belize—whether you are an adventure traveler, part of a family trip, or in the country for a relaxing beach vacation— Belize’s people and culture make you feel welcome and comfortable.
MESTIZO: Roughly 48 % of the Belizean population is Mestizo, or a mixture of the Spanish and Maya cultures. Many people of this heritage migrated from Mexico in the mid-1800s, to flee La Guerra de Castas, or the Caste Wars. Mestizos are found everywhere in Belize, but most make their homes in either the northern regions of Corozal and Orange Walk, or in the western district of Cayo. They can also be found in the Northern Islands as well.
GARIFUNA: People of Garifuna descent make up about 6.6 percent of Belize’s population. With their own language and culture, the Garifuna are the descendants of African slaves, Caribbean tribes and Arawak Indians. This group dominates the southern towns of Punta Gorda and Dangriga, as well as the villages of Seine Bight, Hopkins, Georgetown and Barranco. On November 19, Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated to honor the first arrival of the Garifuna to Belize in 1832.
MENNONITES: The Mennonites began arriving in Belize in 1958 from Canada, Chihuahua and Mexico. They reside in the Orange Walk and Cayo Districts in six main communities: Blue Creek, Shipyard, Little Belize, Progresso, Spanish Lookout and Barton Creek.
KRIOLS: Kriols make up 30 percent of the population in Belize. They are the descendants of early British settlers and African slaves, who came to the region in the early 1800s. Two-thirds of the Creole population resides in Belize City.
EAST INDIANS: People from Eastern India first began to arrive in Belize after 1838, and now make up about 2 percent of the population. Originally coming to the country as indentured servants, many Eastern Indians stayed to work on the sugar plantations. People of Indian descent are now spread across Belize in many villages, as well as the larger towns in the Corozal and Toledo districts.
CHINESE & TAIWANESE: In an attempt to escape the Japanese invasion of China just before World War II, many Chinese immigrated to Belize. Currently, there are around 6,000 people of Chinese descent living in the country. More recently, an economic citizenship program was offered by the Belizean government, so many people of Taiwanese descent have also immigrated to Belize to establish businesses.
MIDDLE EASTERN: People of Middle Eastern descent make up a small group of Belizeans. Arriving in the late 19th century, these groups have a strong presence as merchants in towns and cities throughout Belize.
From reefs to jungles to beaches to the mysteries of ancient Maya, Belize has it all. Northern Belize is a destination for those wanting to get closer to Mother Nature, avoid large crowds or experience everything from the archaeological wonders of the Maya sites to exploring the jungles, rainforests and lagoons. Two of the most popular Belizean islands, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, are located off of the northern coast of Belize.
Central Belize is perfect for travelers looking to get into the wild. Consisting of the Belize and Cayo districts, Central Belize brings together some of the country’s best features, including Maya sites, dense jungles, rushing waterfalls and extensive caves. The Central Coast is also home to Belize City, the cultural and business center of the country. For everything from Maya temples to caving to hiking to kayaking or horseback riding, San Ignacio is definitely the place to be in Western Belize.
Belize’s Southeast Coast is a blend of culture and adventure. Dangriga, a laid-back Garifuna seaside community near Hopkins, is a great beach destination, and Placencia, offering water-sport activities like kayaking, snorkeling and diving. Traveling inland, you can explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Mayflower Bocawina, and the Blue Hole National Parks.
Known by many as ‘The Forgotten Land’, Southern Belize’s undiscovered landscapes serve as a threshold for lush rainforests, ancient Maya artifacts, fascinating cultures and enough eco-adventures to impress even the most discerning traveler. Punta Gorda is the gateway to everything from off-shore fishing, to river trips, as well as caving, birding and Maya archaeological sites.
Belize enjoys tropical climate, with an average yearly temperature of 80 F (26 C). It’ is always warm, pretty much near perfect. Even in winter, temperatures in Belize rarely fall below 60 F (16 C). There are basically two seasons – dry season, which is December through May, with significantly lower rainfall than the rest of the years, and rainy season from June through November. With a good balance of sunny and inviting weather, the rainy season is not a deterrent from outdoor activities.
AirlinePros partner Maya Island Air, is Belize’s leading domestic airline, offering daily scheduled flights to premier tourism destinations, such as San Pedro, Dangriga, Placencia, Caye Caulker, and Caye Chapel. With easy international connections, Maya Island Air is your gateway to the many private islands, seaside resorts, and mainland activities unique to Belize.