Belize, the smallest country in Central America, offers a surprising variety of landscapes and experiences. From the vibrant Barrier Reef, home to an array of dazzling marine life, to the ancient Mayan ruins scattered throughout lush jungles, this tropical paradise is a melting pot of exciting adventures and rich cultural history.
Each region in Belize has its own charm and distinct characteristics. From the laid-back island life of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker to the historical allure of San Ignacio, or the cultural authenticity of Punta Gorda, there's a perfect spot for everyone.
Whether you're a first-time visitor or a frequent traveller to the country, Belize's diverse regions offer unique experiences to suit all travel styles and budgets. Here are some of the best regions in Belize to stay in, depending on your interests and needs.
San Pedro, the bustling town on Ambergris Caye, is an ideal introduction to Belize for first-time visitors. The town is easily accessible by boat or plane and serves as a gateway to the stunning Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This largest town on the island is a paradise for water enthusiasts. From snorkelling and scuba diving, where you can explore the marine life of Hol Chan Marine Reserve, to fishing and sailing, San Pedro offers an array of aquatic adventures. .
Besides water activities, the town itself is vibrant with a mix of Belizean and expat cultures. Stroll down the sandy streets, take in the colourful buildings, or explore the town on a rented golf cart, the island's primary mode of transportation.
When it comes to nightlife, San Pedro is unrivalled in Belize. The town boasts numerous bars, pubs, and clubs, offering a spectrum of atmospheres from laid-back beach bars to lively nightclubs. The town also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, such as the renowned Lobster Fest, which further adds to its appeal.
Stay at the Blue Tang Inn, close to the beach and the town.
If you love history, there's no better place to stay in Belize than San Ignacio, situated in the heart of the Cayo District. This charming town is a hub for exploring numerous Mayan ruins, making it an archaeological paradise.
San Ignacio offers easy access to several significant historical sites. The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) caves are a must-visit, offering an opportunity to journey into Belize's underworld, known as Xibalba to the ancient Mayans. This archaeological site is unique as it houses a multitude of intact Mayan artifacts, including ceramics and human remains, right where they were left hundreds of years ago.
Other accessible Mayan ruins include Xunantunich and Cahal Pech, both providing insight into the ancient civilisation's architectural prowess and societal structure. Day trips to Tikal, one of the most impressive Mayan sites in neighbouring Guatemala, are also possible from San Ignacio.
Aside from historical exploration, San Ignacio offers a range of outdoor adventures. Whether it's canoeing on the Macal River, horseback riding through lush landscapes, or exploring the nearby Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, you're sure to find an activity that piques your interest.
Stay at Ka’ana Resort and Spa just out of town for easy access to major sites by car or with the on-site tours.
Located in the northern reaches of Belize and adjacent to the Mexican border, Corozal offers a secluded and intimate setting that makes it perfect for couples. Far from bustling tourist hubs like San Pedro and Belize City, Corozal remains relatively undiscovered making it a peaceful place to relax.
Corozal's lovely beaches provide the perfect backdrop for romantic walks, with Corozal Bay has some good fishing spots. The area's rich cultural heritage includes the Santa Rita Archaeological Site and the Cerros Mayan Ruins, offer unique opportunities for explore the ancient sites without the typical tourist crowds.
In addition to its natural and historical attractions, Corozal has an excellent food scene with many good seafood restaurants. It's also worth visiting the local market and the Free Zone at the border offers some good opportunities for shopping and fine-dining not far from town.
Stay at Tilt-Ta-Dock Resort in a self-contained cabin with a sea view.
Situated between the Maya Mountains and the Caribbean Sea, Hopkins Village is a serene coastal town in the Stann Creek District of Belize. Known for its rich Garifuna culture, friendly locals, and beautiful beach, it makes for an idyllic family vacation destination.
Hopkins Village offers an array of family-friendly activities that go beyond the typical beachside experience. Besides swimming and building sandcastles on the golden beach, families can venture out on boat tours for a chance to spot dolphins, manatees, and various bird species.
Jungle treks, river tubing, and visiting nearby wildlife sanctuaries like Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world's first jaguar preserve, offer more adventurous outings for the whole family.
The village itself provides a unique cultural immersion. Families can learn about the local Garifuna culture through drumming lessons, traditional cooking classes, and dance performances. It's not only entertaining but also educational, allowing both adults and children to gain insights into a unique aspect of Belizean heritage.
Stay at Coconut Row, a sustainable guesthouse with family rooms near the beach.
If you're travelling on a budget, Caye Caulker is the ideal destination. This small, car-free island is a haven for backpackers and budget travellers, offering a laid-back Caribbean experience without the hefty price tag often associated with such locales.
Caye Caulker embodies the 'go slow' mantra. Life here is unhurried, and it's easy to slip into the relaxed rhythm of island life. Spend your days exploring the sandy streets barefoot, lounging on sun-soaked beaches, or swimming in the island's 'Split', a narrow waterway dividing the island into two.
The island is close to the Belize Barrier Reef, making it a cost-effective base for exploring the underwater world. Snorkelling trips to the reef are affordable, and you can expect to encounter a diverse array of marine life, including nurse sharks and stingrays at Shark Ray Alley. And if you're feeling more adventurous, a thrilling dive at the Great Blue Hole, is just a boat ride away.
The island's dining scene leans towards budget-friendly, with an assortment of food stalls and beachfront restaurants offering delicious, affordable Belizean cuisine, especially seafood.
Caye Caulker has a range of budget accommodations, including hostels, guesthouses, and affordable hotels. Many of these offer beachfront locations or charming sea views.
Stay at Dream Cabanas for peaceful bungalows at an affordable price.
Punta Gorda, often referred to by locals as "PG," is the southernmost town in Belize, providing a less-touristy and more authentic Belizean experience. This laid-back town, situated in the Toledo District, is a melting pot of various cultures, including Maya, Garifuna, East Indian, and Creole.
A visit to Punta Gorda offers a deep dive into the local lifestyle. Here, you can explore local markets bustling with vendors selling fresh produce, seafood, and traditional crafts.
You can also partake in cooking classes and learn how to prepare local Belizean dishes. For a more immersive experience, participate in cultural events and festivities that frequently take place in the town, providing a firsthand look into the region's traditions and customs.
Nature lovers will find Punta Gorda appealing as well. It is a gateway to many natural attractions, including the Rio Blanco National Park, Blue Creek Cave, and several Mayan ruins. There's also the opportunity to visit cacao farms and learn about the process of making chocolate from bean to bar, a unique activity that's particularly popular in the region.
For travellers seeking an authentic Belizean experience, Punta Gorda is the ideal place to stay. It offers a combination of cultural immersion, nature exploration, and local hospitality that truly represents the heart and soul of Belize.
Stay at Beya Suites for comfortable rooms by the beach.
Last Updated 6 September 2023