Belize

Things to do in Belize

Activities in Belize tend to focus around the country's natural wonders. Divers, snorkelers, and canoeists in particular are drawn to the Belize Barrier Reef, which is the world's second largest barrier reef. Along the southern coast of Belize is Glover's Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's widely regarded as the most fascinating place in the world to scuba dive.
There are also plenty of things to do in Belize that don't require getting wet. The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Centre is spread over 29 acres of tropical savannah; there, you'll be able to marvel at more than 125 animals, all native to Belize, including rescued animals, as well as animals born at the Zoo.
Travel to Belize's countryside to see what remains of the Mayan civilization. At the lost city of Lamanai, formerly a large Mayan city with three temples, there's an onsite that explains the 3,000 years of history on display - see if you can find some copper relics while you're navigating the grounds. After you've explored the pre-classic Mayan ruins and Spanish colonial buildings, take a dip in one of the several refreshing swimming holes. All of that history works up a sweat!

Reggae music blares from the speakers outside this tiny store; inside there's an assortment of Caribbean-music CDs. Look for Belize-based label Stonetree
Records, which specializes in homegrown genres such as accordion-centric brukdown
and infectious punta rock.

The three-square-mile Hol Chan Marine Reserve was created in 1987 to protect marine habitats in Belize’s coral reef, seagrass beds, Mangrove beds, and Shark Ray Alley. The reserve can be reached by a 15-minute boat ride from San Pedro.

Skip the predictable coconut-shell earrings and head straight for this souvenir store's real draw: locally made condiments and spirits. Pick up jugs of sorrel wine, jars of mango jam or habanero jelly, and bottles of Belizean entrepreneur Marie Sharp's renowned hot sauces.

Set on a tranquil plot dotted with teak trees, the steepled 1826 church is the oldest in Central America, and the only Anglican building outside of England where kings have been crowned (four Mosquito Coast regents).

Run by a nonprofit group promoting contemporary Central American and Caribbean artists, this shop features an impressive range of work, from quirky wire-and-masking-tape sculptures to large-format fine-art photographs.

With its wicker armchairs, hanging vines, and vintage botanical prints, the Radisson Fort George Hotel's cocktail bar has a colonial-chic vibe. There's live music every night, along with inventive cocktails made from ingredients such as cucumber, honey, and coconut cream.

This small, trim shop has a no-nonsense atmosphere: two desks, four humidors, and one smoking chair, which keeps the focus squarely on cigars. Many of the offerings—Bolivars, Cohibas—are from Cuba, so you'll have to light up before disembarking in the United States.

Wander the streets of Fort George, a residential neighborhood of clapboard houses on stilts and yards lush with banana trees and bougainvillea. Look for the giant wooden barrels behind the buildings, relics of a time when rainwater was fastidiously collected for household use.

The 120-year-old dry-goods store is still the go-to emporium downtown. Its atmospheric interior has cast-iron Doric columns, and aisles are stocked with skillets, bath towels, and more than a dozen kinds of rum.

Belize City has no naturally sandy stretches, but the man-made Cucumber Beach, five miles outside of town, is a sugary expanse that's worth a visit. In the lagoon-like saltwater pool, kids bounce on a floating trampoline and jump from rope swings as lifeguards supervise the goings-on.