Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

#10 in Best Things To Do in Belize
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary picture
Victoria Reay/Flickr

Key Info

Southern Coast

Details

Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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.

Recent visitors praised the reserve's beautiful scenery, but some noted the trails are challenging. Still, most said the hikes were worth it simply for the picturesque vistas of the southern tip of the country. Increase your chances of seeing active wildlife by visiting at the beginning of the rainy season or on cooler, cloudy days when animals are more likely to be active.

The reserve welcomes visitors every day between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and entry costs 10 Belize dollars (or $5). You can reach the sanctuary by car from Belize City, a drive that takes about two and a half hours. If you're planning to drive, head on Western Highway, take a left at Hummingbird Highway, turn right on Southern Highway and then make the turn at Maya Center. Learn more by visiting the Belize Audubon Society's Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary page.

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Ambergris Caye
Great Blue Hole
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#1 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.

When you're not underwater, explore San Pedro, Ambergris' main town. Here you'll find beachside restaurants, lounges, shops and luxury hotels. You'll notice the difference between this tourist hub and the more urban Belize City as soon as you step onto its cobblestone streets, which are filled with golf carts and bicycles, rather than cars.

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