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Best Things To Do in Belize

Belize is compact, occupying about 9,000 square miles. But don't let its size throw you off. Swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers will discover paradisiacal spots along the barrier reef like Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Great Blue Hole. Wildlife-seekers will marvel at Belize's magnificent jaguars, pumas, howler monkeys, parakeets and keel-billed toucans at the Belize Zoo. And culture hounds will reach new heights exploring impressive Mayan archeological sites like Corozal, Altun Ha and Lamanai. With so much to do, it can be difficult to decide where to begin in Belize. But the logical first step is grab your bathing suit and savor a tropical papaya or carambola (star fruit) along the beach.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Belize

Free
With its plentiful outdoor activities, this 25-mile-long island off the coast of northern Belize caters to the snorkeling and diving set. The island was originally inhabited by the Mayans to serve as a far-extending trade route, spanning from present-day Mexico to as far south as Honduras. Today, Ambergris Caye welcomes thousands of visitors seeking easy access to the barrier reef that surrounds the island. Snorkelers and intrepid divers alike will want to explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Most of the diving and snorkeling shops and instructors are found in San Pedro, including the Belize Pro Dive Center, Tuff E Nuff Tours and Scuba School Belize, which all offer a variety of daily excursions. Prices vary depending on the type and length of tours, plus any certification fees for diving.
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Beaches Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Ambergris Caye
With its plentiful outdoor activities, this 25-mile-long island off the coast of northern Belize caters to the snorkeling and diving set. The island was originally inhabited by the Mayans to serve as a far-extending trade route, spanning from present-day Mexico to as far south as Honduras. Today, Ambergris Caye welcomes thousands of visitors seeking easy access to the barrier reef that surrounds the island. Snorkelers and intrepid divers alike will want to explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Most of the diving and snorkeling shops and instructors are found in San Pedro, including the Belize Pro Dive Center, Tuff E Nuff Tours and Scuba School Belize, which all offer a variety of daily excursions. Prices vary depending on the type and length of tours, plus any certification fees for diving.
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#2

#2 in Belize

Plunge into this deep blue hole and you'll discover imposing ancient stalactites (calcium deposits resembling icicles) and coral fringe. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 — along with six other areas surrounding Belize's barrier reef — the Great Blue Hole remains one of the world's most distinguished scuba sites. Created approximately 10,000 years ago after a cave roof crumbled in, this blue channel contains underwater tunnels, caverns and rock formations.
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Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Great Blue Hole
Plunge into this deep blue hole and you'll discover imposing ancient stalactites (calcium deposits resembling icicles) and coral fringe. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 — along with six other areas surrounding Belize's barrier reef — the Great Blue Hole remains one of the world's most distinguished scuba sites. Created approximately 10,000 years ago after a cave roof crumbled in, this blue channel contains underwater tunnels, caverns and rock formations.
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#3

#3 in Belize

Facing the southern edge of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the oldest reserve in Belize. Its name translates to "Little Channel," in reference to a coral-filled gap in Belize's immense barrier reef. Encompassing 3 square miles, this densely populated aquatic zone is a sanctuary for stingrays, eels and sharks, among other creatures.
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Swimming/Pools Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Facing the southern edge of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the oldest reserve in Belize. Its name translates to "Little Channel," in reference to a coral-filled gap in Belize's immense barrier reef. Encompassing 3 square miles, this densely populated aquatic zone is a sanctuary for stingrays, eels and sharks, among other creatures.
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#4

#4 in Belize

Free
Just about 20 miles north of Belize City sits Caye Caulker, a 4-mile-long, sun-soaked island that boasts superb diving and snorkeling spots and a relaxed tropical ambience. Though the island is mostly uninhabited by locals, visitors flock to the restaurants, shops and hotels perched at the northern tip near the Split (the area where Hurricane Hattie parted Caye Caulker into two halves in 1960). 
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Beaches Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Caye Caulker
Just about 20 miles north of Belize City sits Caye Caulker, a 4-mile-long, sun-soaked island that boasts superb diving and snorkeling spots and a relaxed tropical ambience. Though the island is mostly uninhabited by locals, visitors flock to the restaurants, shops and hotels perched at the northern tip near the Split (the area where Hurricane Hattie parted Caye Caulker into two halves in 1960). 
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#5

#5 in Belize

Free
Travel west of Belize City and you'll discover a cluster of ancient Mayan sites, rolling hills, gorgeous sunsets, tranquil butterfly gardens and verdant jungles. In the heart of the Cayo District sits San Ignacio, a small town that boasts traditional culinary dishes and affordable hotels.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Cayo District
Travel west of Belize City and you'll discover a cluster of ancient Mayan sites, rolling hills, gorgeous sunsets, tranquil butterfly gardens and verdant jungles. In the heart of the Cayo District sits San Ignacio, a small town that boasts traditional culinary dishes and affordable hotels.
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#6

#6 in Belize

Free
Imagine tranquil beaches topped with rustling palm trees and backed by pastel-colored beachfront villas and calm Caribbean waters. This is Placencia, Belize's rapidly booming beach town. Stretching across a 16-mile-long peninsula, Placencia boasts a myriad of nature reserves and underwater sanctuaries along with postcard-perfect vistas. The area offers the only golden sands on mainland Belize.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Placencia Peninsula
Imagine tranquil beaches topped with rustling palm trees and backed by pastel-colored beachfront villas and calm Caribbean waters. This is Placencia, Belize's rapidly booming beach town. Stretching across a 16-mile-long peninsula, Placencia boasts a myriad of nature reserves and underwater sanctuaries along with postcard-perfect vistas. The area offers the only golden sands on mainland Belize.
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#7

#7 in Belize

Perched on the New River Lagoon in northern Belize, this sprawling 960-acre Mayan site stands masked in crocodile art. Lamanai means "submerged crocodile" in Yucatec Mayan, which should give you a good idea of what you'll encounter here: artifacts depicting representations of the reptile, plus crocodiles (and iguanas) crawling along the banks of the New River to catch some sunlight.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Lamanai
Perched on the New River Lagoon in northern Belize, this sprawling 960-acre Mayan site stands masked in crocodile art. Lamanai means "submerged crocodile" in Yucatec Mayan, which should give you a good idea of what you'll encounter here: artifacts depicting representations of the reptile, plus crocodiles (and iguanas) crawling along the banks of the New River to catch some sunlight.
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#8

#8 in Belize

This popular Mayan site, speckled with tombs, pyramids and temples, served as a trading nexus during the Mayan Empire's Classic Period (A.D. 250 to 900). Altun Ha —meaning "Rockstone Pond" in Yucatec Maya — features a man-made lagoon, which remains intact. During your visit, you'll likely encounter foxes, deer, birds and perhaps crocodiles occupying Rockstone Pond. Visitors also recommended exploring the Temple of the Green Tomb, where elite priest-kings were buried with luxurious items, such as jade, pottery and pearls.
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Monuments and Memorials Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Altun Ha
This popular Mayan site, speckled with tombs, pyramids and temples, served as a trading nexus during the Mayan Empire's Classic Period (A.D. 250 to 900). Altun Ha —meaning "Rockstone Pond" in Yucatec Maya — features a man-made lagoon, which remains intact. During your visit, you'll likely encounter foxes, deer, birds and perhaps crocodiles occupying Rockstone Pond. Visitors also recommended exploring the Temple of the Green Tomb, where elite priest-kings were buried with luxurious items, such as jade, pottery and pearls.
... more
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#9

#9 in Belize

Stroll through this 29-acre zoo and you might think you've trespassed into a jungle. The small zoo houses more than 45 species: Jaguars roar, keel-billed toucans squawk, colorful scarlet macaws flutter and coral snakes slither across the thick forest floor. Peer through the zoo's leafy canopy trees and you may catch sight of Belize's beloved howler monkeys, or at least one tropical parrot, tapir, Jabiru stork or harpy eagle. And on the zoo's rustic path, especially during the late afternoon, keep your eyes peeled for one of Belize's beautiful native cats, which include margays, ocelots, pumas and jaguarondis.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Belize Zoo
Stroll through this 29-acre zoo and you might think you've trespassed into a jungle. The small zoo houses more than 45 species: Jaguars roar, keel-billed toucans squawk, colorful scarlet macaws flutter and coral snakes slither across the thick forest floor. Peer through the zoo's leafy canopy trees and you may catch sight of Belize's beloved howler monkeys, or at least one tropical parrot, tapir, Jabiru stork or harpy eagle. And on the zoo's rustic path, especially during the late afternoon, keep your eyes peeled for one of Belize's beautiful native cats, which include margays, ocelots, pumas and jaguarondis.
... more

#10

#10 in Belize

In Belize, jaguars rule the land. And the best place to catch a glimpse of these striking wildcats is Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This sprawling reserve was founded in the 1980s to protect Belize's endangered species. Today, Cockscomb also houses ocelots, pumas, peccaries, tapirs, king vultures, armadillos, otters, along with hundreds of native birds. The sanctuary contains 12 miles of nature trails that span across the 150-square-mile sanctuary. You'll likely only have time (and strength) to mosey up a few marked trails, so choose wisely.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
In Belize, jaguars rule the land. And the best place to catch a glimpse of these striking wildcats is Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This sprawling reserve was founded in the 1980s to protect Belize's endangered species. Today, Cockscomb also houses ocelots, pumas, peccaries, tapirs, king vultures, armadillos, otters, along with hundreds of native birds. The sanctuary contains 12 miles of nature trails that span across the 150-square-mile sanctuary. You'll likely only have time (and strength) to mosey up a few marked trails, so choose wisely.
... more
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