Belize is a unique part of the Caribbean because it is not an island, but a country located in Central America. American travelers will be comforted by the fact that Belize’s official language is English, despite the country’s location amid a largely Spanish-speaking region. This allows for visitors to enjoy a full immersion in Belize’s culture and heritage without being hassled by language barriers.
|Currency||Belize has their own currency, the Belizean dollar. The exchange rate averages at about $2 BZ to $1 USD, although that sometimes fluctuates. The US dollar is typically accepted anywhere, so currency exchanges are not generally required.|
|Electricity||The electricity in Belize is the same as the United States; 110 volts.|
|GDP Per Capita||The average per capital income of Belize is $4,310(USD).|
|Island Size||Belize has a total area of 8,867 square miles.|
|Language||This country's official language is English, but Spanish and Creole are other popularly spoken languages.|
|Population||Belize has a total population around 324,060 people, making it one of the least densely populated countries in Central America.|
|Entry Requirements||Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand must provide a valid passport upon entering Belize. There is currently no requirement for a visa, but customs authorities may inquire about the length of your stay – it is recommended that you give them the longest possible duration of your visit. Occasionally, customs officials may ask for proof that travelers have sufficient funds for their stay, which is mandated as $50(USD) per day. Click here to read more.|
Bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west, it is Belize's coastline along the Caribbean Sea that makes the country a part of the Caribbean. Off shore, the world's second largest barrier reef, (measuring 240 miles long) protects the marshy, lagoon-laden coast. Inland, the country is comprised of swampy forests to the north and the Maya Mountains to the south. Belize is shaped like a rectangle, and has a total area of 8,867 square miles.
Given that English is the national language of Belize, travelers will find it relatively easy to communicate with locals. Some Belizeans speak other languages, including Spanish and Creole. The local community has a reputation for being friendly, as long as they are treated with mutual respect. The people of Belize tend to be highly religious and conservative, and will become offended if a tourist attempts to take photographs inside a cathedral. As long as you are courteous and approach natives with a smile, travelers will find that the people of Belize are very kind.
...endless supply of attractions and activities...
Belize has a tropical climate, though temperatures and some weather patterns vary by region. For the most part, visitors will find that the four seasons most people are familiar with are not distinct in Belize, and heat is prevalent all year long. Average temperatures range from 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit along the coast, a bit higher as you move inland, and humidity averages at about 82 percent. Click here for information about rainfall in Belize.
Some of the world’s most unique and thrilling accommodations can be found in Belize, as well as more traditional hotel-style lodging. Those with adventurous lifestyles will be tempted by lodges and retreats that offer thatched hut accommodations that sit perched over the water. More traditional travelers will be pleased by options like rental villas, guesthouses, hotels and more. If you’re seeking a lavish stay, you may want to opt for one of the all-inclusive resorts in Belize. Another alternative is camping, which can be enjoyed in a large selection of locations. Some hotels even offer designated areas for guests to camp.
With so much land to cover, there is an endless supply of attractions and activities to keep visitors busy throughout their trip. Along the coast, swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving are popular, plus there are over one thousand islets and cays to explore.
Snorkeling in particular is a wonderful way to delve into Belize's underwater world. The salty waters of the Caribbean sea provide the perfect amount of buoyancy needed to enhance your experience, and Belize in particular has a great deal of shallow reefs available to snorkelers. You can snorkel on your own, or take a snorkeling tour, but note that tours will most likely take you out to deeper waters for your experience. If you do plan to take a tour, try to go on one that will take you to the Barrier Reef, if only so you can say that you have been to the world's second largest barrier reef.
Scuba diving is another great way to explore the Barrier Reef, but one of the can't miss underwater dive spots is Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a part of the Lighthouse Reef System, and located approximately 60 miles off the coast. Right in the middle of the Lighthouse Reef is a perfectly shaped circle about a quarter of a mile around, and through the circle divers can see water that goes 480 feet deep. This structure gives off a slight blue glow, an amazing sight to see.
Further inland, the rivers are safe for boating and fishing, rafting and kayaking. Belize has one of the most extensive cave systems in Central America, and numerous jungles and wildlife preserves give the adventurous vacationer a thrill. To enhance an already thrilling trip into the jungle, try taking a zip line tour. There is nothing like feeling the wind in your hair as you fly – securely harnessed – through the rainforest at about 80 feet above the ground. Many organizations, like Island Expeditions, offer packages that include a variety of these thrilling activities for one price.
Many travelers find their enjoyment in discovering the local culture and history of Belize. Guests are encouraged to tour exciting destinations like ancient Mayan ruins, historic buildings, engaging museums and more. At the House of Culture, guests will explore the former mansion of Belize’s governor during British colonial rule. This site is an excellent way to dive into the historical background of Belize. Whether you’re religious or not, the St. John’s Cathedral gives visitors a phenomenal glimpse into Belize’s past; it is the oldest surviving building from the country’s era of British governing. Another recommended destination is the Baron Bliss Lighthouse, which offers historical insight as well as a beautiful view of the sea. Other top destinations include the popular remains of the Mayan civilization, the culturally rich Gulisi Garifuna Museum, the Hawksworth Bridge and more.
...an adventurous, delicious and culturally enriching getaway...
After an extensive day spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Belize, travelers are guaranteed to work up a demanding appetite. This Caribbean country features a ranging selection of culinary offerings that promise to please hungry travelers of every taste. While the fare found in Belize is not known for its budget-friendly qualities, patrons can find satisfying meals that cost as little as $10 (USD). It is widely accepted that the best restaurants are located in Ambergis Caye, although those seeking a taste of authentic local flavor should head inland to explore family-operated restaurants that serve Belizean Creole. Local flavors typically consist of a fusion of Caribbean, Mexican, African, Spanish and Mayan influences. The majority of local dishes are served with rice and beans. Seafood is a specialty of Belize, and favorite dishes include stewed fish, lobster tail and more. Travelers are encouraged to sample a variety of local meals, like roasted iguana, cowfoot soup, coconut pie, and the famous Johnnycakes. Click here to read more about the culinary styles of Belize.
Cautious travelers will find solace in the fact that Belize is known for having one of the most stringent standards of hygienic health in Central America. While the water is safe in major areas like Belize City, it is advised to only drink bottled water in less developed places that tend to obtain their water from local wells. As with any travel situation, be conscious of what you are eating, specifically in regards to dairy products.
Visitors of Belize are encouraged to apply common sense in terms of maintaining safety. There are significant levels of crime in Belize City, but these incidents typically do not involve travelers. Tourists should avoid walking alone at night, modestly conceal all money and refrain from wearing any attention-drawing jewelry. Women may experience large amounts of cat-calling from local men, but this is usually non-threatening. For more information about health and medical issues, click here.
Although Belize may not fit into the typical island mold most travelers think of when they imagine the Caribbean, it is certainly a top choice for travelers planning an adventurous, delicious and culturally enriching getaway. Given that Belize is so large and the attractions are so varied, every type of traveler can find something they can appreciate. A trip to Belize is a great opportunity to learn about British colonial, Latin, and Caribbean culture in one concentrated area; all the while enjoying the tropical climate and laid back atmosphere. When planning your next Caribbean vacation, why not choose Belize?
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