Other things to do in Belize

The following places are local attractions and other places to visit in Belize.  They are categorized into the following categories – Mayan ruins, Cayes, natural places and cities or villages.

Local Attractions and Places to Visit in Belize

The following places are local attractions and other places to visit in Belize. They are categorized into the following categories – Mayan ruins, Cayes, natural places and cities or villages.

I should mention off the top that considering how many trips and how much time I have spent in Belize I have experienced fairly few of these places myself. Believe it or not, I love where I live in The Community Baboon Sanctuary and experience so much nature where I live that I am very content to just be at “home.” This all being said, I would encourage you to explore this country that I have come to love since my first step off the plane in 1997.

If I can offer one bit of advice – try not to see the whole country in just one visit. The heat and humidity can be very hard on people sometimes. Take it all in, take it easy, take a few days to acclimate and then explore at a leisurely pace. If there is one universal fact that I have discovered about Belize is that those who explore Belize once they keep coming back again and again for more.

And don’t forget there are other Canadians that live on the farm can and will also help suggest or advise you regarding your travel plans.

Mayan Ruins

The Maya ruins of Belize include a number of well-known and historically important pre-Columbian Maya archaeological sites. Belize is considered part of the southern Maya lowlands of the Mesoamerican culture area, and the sites found there were occupied from the Preclassic (2000 BC–250 AD) until and after the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. (Mesoamerica is the area including central Mexico and most of Central America).

I should also mention that on the farm many Mayan artifacts have been dug up or discovered over the years.  In 2003 when I had a second pond dug in my front yard I discovered a Mayan “garbage dump” and collected a few shoe boxes worth of busted up pottery along with some really cool stone tools made of flint. 

Altun Ha

Altun Ha is the name given to ruins of an ancient Maya city in Belize, located in the Belize District about 50 km north of Belize City and about ten km west of the shore of the Caribbean Sea. The site covers an area of about 8 square km’s. The largest of Altun Ha’s temple, the “Temple of the Masonry Altars” and is 54 feet high. A drawing of this structure is the logo of Belize’s leading brand of beer – “Belikin”.

I include Altun Ha simply because it is the closest Mayan ruin to the farm (53 km’s). I have never been there. I would suggest that you inquire at the farm and see if they have any easy, quick suggestions on how to visit this ruin.

Lamanai

Lamanai, located on the New River in Orange Walk District, is known for being the longest continually-occupied site in Mesoamerica.

Lamanai is the only Mayan ruin in Belize that I have personally visited. I have visited twice now. I enjoyed my visit in part because the only way there is by river boat tour. For my photos of Lamanai; please check Pictures of Belize in my Photo Album section.

Caracol

Caracol is historically the most important Mayan site in Belize. It is located in Western Belize near the border of Guatemala. Caracol was the center of one of the largest Maya kingdoms and today contains the extant remains of thousands of structures.

Cayes

(islands of coral sand) Some 200 cayes dot the coastline of Belize

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is an island in the north, located approximately two km’s west of the Belize barrier Reef. The island is located approximately 32 km’s north-northeast of Belize City. The island is approximately 8 km’s long. The island is easily accessible by regular runs by water taxi or commuter plane. The Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association operates regular water taxi service out of Belize City. Water taxis depart eight times daily from Belize City’s Marine Terminal on North Front Street, arriving 45 minutes later at the main pier on the island.

Caye caulker has a population of approximately 1,300. As with most of Belize, Caye Caulker has a diversity of cultures, made up primarily of a combination of Creole, Garifuna and Mestizo peoples.

Historically Caye Caulker has been known for its boat-building. Fishing and lobster fishing has long been a source of income for the island. While fishing and lobster fishing are still in practice, the island’s economy is based more and more upon the growing tourism industry. Despite its growth over the years, Caye Caulker remains a small village atmosphere with a distinct cultural flavor.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is the name of Belize’s largest island. The history of the island goes back to the days of the Maya, European Pirates, and Mexican Refugees who fled during the Caste War. The descendants from Mexico make up most of the island’s population today. The economy of the island was once dependent on the coconut industry, followed by the fishing industry, but it is now dependent on tourism.

Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize, and the main destination for travelers to Belize. The Caye is 40 km’s long and a little over one and half km’s wide (in some places). Ambergris Caye is located just off the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. San Pedro is the only town on the island. From what I have heard San Pedro is a bit of a touristy kind of place and can be a bit pricy.

Ambergris Caye has been the hub of Belizean area maritime trade for centuries. Fishing, coconuts, and chicle (chewing gum) were historic means of islanders support, but the last thirty years have led to a large growth in both the Belize dive and scuba trade, and ecotourism.

Gallows Caye

Gallows Caye is a Caye that we have private access to. My recommendation would be to talk directly with the other Canadians at the farm as it is through their personal contact that we have access to this Caye. They would be able to find out if the island is being used at the current time or if arrangements can be made to boat you out to the Caye and potential costs of traveling to and staying on the caye. Keep in mind there would be the cost of the fuel and boat driver to consider. Sometimes trips can be made to coincide with the owner’s regular security visits to the Caye which can make visits to the Caye considerably cheaper.

The potential uses for Gallows Caye are numerous; whether it is simple a private day on a deserted island to a place to camp for the weekend to an ideal wedding location.

Natural Places and Reserves

Community Baboon Sanctuary

The Community Baboon Sanctuary is an innovative model of voluntary conservation. Landowners in seven rural villages in the Belize River Valley have signed voluntary pledges to preserve forested land along the river and in corridor along the boundaries of their property in an effort to preserve the habitat for the Black Howler Monkey and other wildlife. This where I call home.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature reserve in south-central Belize of approximately 400 square kilometer area of the eastern slope of the Maya Mountains. The reserve was founded in 1990 as the first wilderness sanctuary for the jaguar. Personally, I really want to make it here someday.

The sanctuary is located off the Southern Highway, approximately 32 km’s south of Dangriga.

Belize Barrier Reef

Belize has the amazing Belize Coral Reef System. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers long section of the 900 kilometer long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras, making this reef the second largest in the world, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia being the largest.

The Great Blue Hole, Turneffe Islands, Shark Ray Alley, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Mexico Rocks, Lighthouse Reef, and many other diving areas are all only a short boat ride away. The reef’s beauty and richness has put Belize among the top ten dive destination in the world.

Great Blue Hole

The Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 70 km from the mainland and Belize City. The hole is circular in shape and over 300m across and 124m deep. It was formed during several episodes of quaternary glaciation when sea levels were much lower – the analysis of stalactites found in Great Blue Hole shows that formation took place 153,000, 66,000, 60,000, and 15,000 years ago. As the ocean began to rise again, the caves were flooded. The Great Blue Hole is a part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In December 2018 Richard Branson was part of a group that explored the bottom of the Blue Hole.

Belize Zoo

While not a “natural place” Belize Zoo is definitely jungle-like and natural. The Belize Zoo was started in 1983 in an effort to provide a home for a collection of wild animals which had been used in making documentary films about tropical forests. Today, the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is settled upon 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits over 150 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize. The zoo keeps animals which were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions.

The Belize Zoo is readily accessible from Belize City. The zoo is located at Mile 29 along the Western Highway.

I have visited Belize Zoo and would definitely recommend it as a stop. It’s a chance to get up close with most of Belize’s animals. And the cool thing is that most all the animals you see at the zoo are all found around the farm and surrounding area. Check out my photo album of Belize Zoo

Cities, towns and Villages

Belize has only two cities and few large towns. Most cities or towns need not be visited but with so few towns or cities one tends to travel through most of them to get anywhere in the country due to the fact Belize as so few highways. Belize is filled with small villages dotted all over the country. For the off the beaten path experience I would recommend visiting a few if you are able.

Belize City

Belize City is the largest city in Belize. Unofficial estimates place the population of Belize City at about 62,000. It is located at the mouth of the Belize River on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country’s principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Several cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tended by local citizens. The city was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31. It was the capital of British Honduras (as Belize was then named) until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970.

Belize City is where I get most of my groceries and supplies. The truth of the matter is there really is no other reason to visit Belize City other than groceries and supplies. My recommendation is to get your food and supplies and be on the noon bus back to the farm. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy my half day in the city after being in the jungle all week. But compared to the peace and quiet of jungle paradise on the farm you won’t be in the mood to deal with city life for very long. Belize City can be rough and very noisy at times. Stay on main streets at all times and never ever walk down vacant streets.

Belmopan

Belmopan’s estimated population is 13,000; it is the capital city of Belize. Belmopan is simply a safer place to run the government in case of hurricanes. I rented a house in Belmopan for a month and half while I participated in a wilderness first responder course. There is simply no reason to ever visit Belmopan other than to drive through to get to another part of the country.

Corozal

Corozal Town is a town in Corozal District. Corozal Town is located about 135 km’s north of Belize City, and 14.5 km from the border with Mexico. The population of Corozal Town is approximately 10,000. Corozal was a private estate before becoming a town in the 1840s. I don’t think there is very much to see or do here.

Orange Walk

Orange Walk Town is the second largest town in the nation of Belize of the Orange Walk District, with a population of about 15,000. Orange Walk Town is located on the left bank of the New River, 85 km’s north of Belize City and 50 km’s south of Corozal Town. I have bused through Orange Walk numerous times going back and forth to catch my flights from Cancun. If you plan to visit the Lamanai Mayan ruin you will have to come to Orange Walk. Other than that any buses traveling north will take a ten minute break here; there is also no other real reason to come here.

Placencia

Placencia is a small town located in the Stann Creek District of southern Belize. My understanding is that Placencia is rather touristy. Perhaps a place to bypass unless you are looking for touristy areas? I suppose touristy areas have their benefits.

Dangriga

Dangriga, formerly known as Stann Creek Town, is a town in southern Belize, located on the Caribbean coast at the mouth of Stann Creek. It is also the largest town in southern Belize. Dangriga sounds like it is much more laid back then Placencia.

Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda, known locally as P.G., is the town of the Toledo District in southern Belize. Punta Gorda is the southernmost sizable town in the nation, with a population of over 5,000 people. Although the town bears a Spanish name, its inhabitants are mostly Kriol/English -speaking, primarily of Garifuna, East Indian, and Kriol descent.

Punta Gorda is a seaport and fishing town on the Caribbean Sea. It was a small fishing village before being settled by a number of Garifuna emigrants from Honduras in 1823. The town is about fifteen feet above sea level.

Reviews

“Arie house was outstanding! When we arrived it was clean and well-equipped, and Dan the Caretaker was extremely helpful in acquainting us with the house and its amenities. The surrounding property is beautiful, and bird-watching from the deck was a favorite morning activity for all of us. As far as I can tell, there just aren't many places that are available right on the banks of the Belize River, at that location made it really special. I loved hearing howler monkeys every morning and evening, seeing spiny and green iguanas in the trees, and turtles on the road in. This place is paradise for lovers of wildlife!”

Day L. a university Associate Professor from Missouri
May 2019

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