Whether you’re looking to zip line through the jungle canopy, explore mystifying cave systems or hike to secluded Mayan ruins, Belize is an incredible destination.
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable adventure, head to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in Cayo District. Here you’ll find some of Central America’s most impressive waterfalls and deep cave systems.
1. Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda, also known as PG, is the main city in Belize’s Toledo District and the gateway to the deep south. It’s a laid-back fishing town on the Caribbean coast that’s a great base for exploring nearby rivers, caves, Maya ruins and dreamy offshore islands.
Markets line the colorful main streets of Punta Gorda during market days, with local farmers from surrounding villages selling the most authentic Belizean fruits, vegetables and baked goods. In addition to fresh produce, you can find several local fish markets.
If you’re into the culture of Belize, be sure to check out Garifuna music and dance performances in Punta Gorda. You can join a tour, take a drumming class or watch a performance at a local bar.
Located 195 miles south of Belize City, PG is the gateway to the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. These shallow, island atolls are home to vibrant coral gardens and a variety of marine life.
2. San Ignacio
San Ignacio is the ideal base camp for exploring Belize’s jungles, Maya ruins, and unique wildlife. This inland town is filled with fun attractions, day trips, and great tour guides.
The Cahal Pech ruins are just a short walk from downtown and are one of the best spots to see Mayan ruins in all of Belize! If you’re a history buff, you’ll love roaming the ruins and taking in all of the ancient artifacts.
There’s also the Chaa Creek Natural History Center where you can learn more about the ancient Maya culture and their environment. The ruins are not as well-preserved as others in Belize but they’re still worth a visit.
The city also hosts a thriving weekend market every Saturday where local vendors sell their fresh produce and handmade crafts. This is a fantastic way to buy souvenirs from the region and support small businesses.
The ancient Maya city of Xunantunich is located about 80 miles west of Belize City in the Cayo District. This Classic Maya (200-900 CE) site is on a high ridge above the Mopan River, within sight of the border with Guatemala.
Xunantunich, or "Maiden of the Rock" in Mayan, is one of Belize's most popular archaeological sites. It is most famous for its imposing limestone pyramid, El Castillo, which rises more than 130 feet tall making it the second-tallest structure in Belize.
From the top of the structure, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Belize River Valley, the Cayo District and nearby Guatemala. Xunantunich is also known for its intricate plaster friezes depicting a wide variety of gods.
The best way to explore Xunantunich is to book an excursion with a local guide. These guides are very knowledgeable and can provide a fascinating look at the history of this ancient city.
4. Caye Caulker
Belize's second-largest island is Caye Caulker, a beautiful, rustic paradise that was once primarily a sleepy fishing community. Today, it's a popular destination for scuba divers, snorkelers and travelers looking for an easy-going beach vacation at budget prices.
- This largely undeveloped caye is a great place to experience the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle that's unique to Belize, and it has plenty of attractions to keep you busy. The island is also home to some of the most spectacular snorkeling on the planet, thanks to the world-renowned Belize Barrier Reef System.
- The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to some of the most incredible coral in the world. It's a must-see for anyone interested in scuba diving or snorkeling, and you can take trips out to the 61-square-mile Caye Caulker Marine Reserve to swim with nurse sharks, sting rays, turtles, and even manatees!
- There are plenty of places to hang out and soak up the sun in Caye Caulker, but one of our favorites is The Split. This is a tiny channel in the middle of the island that's dredged out by locals so that they can drive their boats through it, and now hosts some very popular beach bars as well as fun shops and snack shacks.