With its abundance of golden sunshine, fantastic weather, and hundreds of miles of coastline along the Caribbean, it's no surprise that one of the most iconic attractions in Belize is its many picturesque tropical islands. But Belize has far more to offer than sea and sand; the country is home to enormous nature preserves, pristine jungles, labyrinthine caves, rainforests teeming with life, and some of the most impressive ancient Maya ruins ever discovered.
Below are a few things to add to your bucket list besides the barrier reef and tropical islands:
In its heyday, the ancient Maya empire had more than 1 million citizens and stretched from what is now Mexico down to El Salvador. The heartland of that ancient empire was in Belize, giving modern visitors a chance to marvel at the timeless architecture of elaborately carved friezes, soaring pyramids, and imposing palaces.
The geology of Belize has created hundreds of caves, including many large subterranean spaces that were used by the ancient Maya to conduct some of their most important religious rituals. The ancient Maya priests believed that caves were a sacred space that connected the world of the humans to the world of the gods. Today, visitors can explore caves like Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) where the remains of human sacrificial victims have lain undisturbed for more than 1,000 years.
Whether it's catching sight of the majestic plumage of a tropical bird soaring through the rainforest or climbing up into the canopy to get a bird's eye view of the jungle, bird watching and zip lining are two of the most iconic attractions in Belize.
Not for the faint of heart, rappelling down and through the Black Hole is one of the most exciting adventures that mainland Belize has to offer. Starting with a hike to the mouth of a cave, participants will then rappell down the inky blackness of a natural sink hole before emerging with a glorious view of the rain forest canopy some 200 feet below.
One of the best ways to quietly contemplate the natural beauty of Belize is by visiting the Caves Branch Botanical Gardens. Home to thousands of spectacular plants and flowers, including orchids and bromeliads, the botanical gardens are part of the Belize Wildlife Conservation Network.
When you're ready to see what mainland Belize has to offer, stay at the Caves Branch Lodge located in the beautiful foothills of the Maya Mountains in western Belize. The Caves Branch Lodge offers guests all-inclusive Belize vacation packages that combine the best attractions of the sea and jungle.
Now is a great time to book a vacation to Belize thanks to new routes being launched by major airlines, including American, United, Delta, and Southwest.