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Belize may be a tiny country, but it packs a punch as a destination filled with dazzling reefs, rich culture, pristine rainforest, and intriguing Mayan history.

Belize City, its principal port, basking by the beautiful Caribbean Sea, serves as an excellent base for exploring some of the top attractions the country has to offer. The city is separated into two sections by the Haulover Creek and connected by a swing bridge that was constructed in the 1920s. Both the North and South sections have plenty to do.

Even greater thrills await outside the city. Belize is fringed by the world’s second-largest barrier reef, with dazzling diving and snorkeling. Mysterious Mayan ruins are located close to the city, while adventures in mile upon mile of rainforest beckon, with hiking, ATV driving, and the thrill of cave tubing on offer.

Discover the best things to do in Belize, where you’ll experience the lush nature, history, and lively culture of this beautiful country.

Snorkel With Sharks in Shark Ray Alley

Sharks swimming in Shark Ray Alley

Shark Ray Alley

Going snorkeling in Belize over the dazzling barrier reef is a must. So pack your snorkel gear and board a boat to Caye Caulker, a laid-back fishing village perched on a coral islet within the reef system, speeding past dreamy cays and islets during the one-hour journey.

Local guides will tell you all about the reef and its conservation and ecology. See for yourself as you snorkel over rainbow-colored corals and vast shoals of tropical fish in brilliant hues. Nearby is the marine reserve of Hol Chan and the famous Shark Ray Alley, an area where sharks and rays would traditionally be lured by the offcuts of the day’s catch tossed into the water by local fishermen.

In the knowledge that the dive guides will offer tidbits, the fish arrive en masse when they hear boats coming, and you’ll be able to snorkel in eight feet of crystal clear water, surrounded by nurse sharks and rays. Being this close to large fish is a real thrill, not to mention an adrenaline rush, and something you won’t forget.

See the Baron Bliss Lighthouse

Red and white structure of Baron Bliss Lighthouse

Baron Bliss Lighthouse

Visiting the iconic Baron Bliss Lighthouse is a must while in Belize City. The red and white landmark sits at the harbor entrance and was built in 1885 on Fort George Point. A 10-minute walk from downtown, the lighthouse is easily visited while exploring the area.

Learn about the storied past of this 50-foot-tall monument, erected in honor of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. Known as “Baron Bliss”, the British yachtsman became famous in Belize when he left much of his fortune to the country in his will.

The unique tale behind this 1920s structure makes a visit to the lighthouse an even more intriguing one. He never actually set foot on land, but Baron Bliss became friendly with locals who would visit his ship, anchored offshore, sparking his love for the country and its culture.

After he passed away, his generous donation had a few requests to go along with it, one of  which involved the lighthouse and an annual regatta, held in his honor. He’s buried in the lighthouse grounds, the whole structure a tribute to this local hero as well as a symbol of his love for the people of Belize.

For good reason, the Baron Bliss Lighthouse is one of the top Belize tourist attractions.

Visit the Museum of Belize

Visit Museum of Belize, one of the best things to do in Belize

Museum of Belize Photo by ironypoisoning on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Housed within an old colonial prison, built in the 19th century, the Museum of Belize is centrally located in the historic downtown district and one of the top things to do in Belize City. Tour the restored brick building which was converted into a museum in the early 2000s.

A combination of both temporary and permanent exhibitions, the museum houses interesting historical and cultural exhibits that will help you piece together the history of Belize.

Observe the historical artifacts and photographs, art gallery, Maya treasures such as pottery, and gemstones, as well as models of significant Mayan ruin sites throughout Belize. After traveling through history in the museum exhibits, the gift shop is the perfect place to shop for a souvenir.

Read: Best Places to Visit in Central America 

Ride an ATV Through the Jungle

ATV ride, one of the best things to do in Belize

ATV ride

Embark on an exhilarating 4×4 adventure through the Belizean jungle with an ATV tour. Zip through the rainforest along thrilling trails as you navigate hills, take in the beautiful scenery, and learn about the history of the area.

Prepare to get mud-splattered during this truly tropical off-road adventure, complete with exciting trails and awe-inspiring scenery. Driving your own ATV through the jungle is one of the best ways to get your adrenaline pumping while seeing the country’s lush landscape.

Take a Picture at the Belize Sign Monument

Iconic Belize Sign Monument with view of the water

Belize Sign Monument

Located along Fort Street in downtown Belize City, this sign is a very popular spot for taking photographs. The vibrantly colored “Belize” monument is the perfect spot to capture the start of your vacation against the backdrop of the turquoise Caribbean Sea; unsurprisingly, you’ll see it pop up on many an Instagram feed.

With the Baron Bliss Lighthouse situated so close by, it’s possible to visit both locations in one trip, too. Walk around downtown to visit shops and restaurants before or after your visit to the Belize Sign Monument, or simply stay a while and take in the view.

Shop For Souvenirs at Caribbean Spice Belize

Take the flavors of Belize home with you by purchasing a souvenir from Caribbean Spice Belize, located in the heart of the city’s downtown. A company that started out small with just a few spice blends now produces over 100 gourmet products such as Mango Rum Sauce and seasoned salts.

Their spice blends, salsas, and sauces are well-loved and a staple to Belizean cuisine. In addition to culinary items, you’ll find beauty products as well, all of which are free of preservatives.

Popular buys include coconut oil, pure vanilla extract, and Belizean BBQ Spice Mix. Shopping here also helps to contribute to the environment, as part of the proceeds from sales are donated to protecting Belize’s Great Barrier Reef.

Explore the Archaeological Site of Altun Ha

Historic ruins of Altun Ha

Altun Ha

Step back in time and explore ancient Mayan ruins at Altun Ha, approximately one hour north of Belize City. Translated as “Rock Pond”, Altun Ha has many intriguing highlights such as the Temple of the Green Tomb, a lagoon, and jungle views. Experience both history and the outdoors in one place, surrounded by nature.

Because of its close proximity to the city, this archaeological site is one of the most popular to visit. Previously a cultural ceremonial center during Mayan times, it’s also known for the famous Jade Head, created from jade found in Guatemala and carved in the image of the Maya sun god, Kinich Ahau.

This “Crown Jewel of Belize” piece was originally discovered during excavations within the highest temple in the Altun Ha complex. It is the biggest carved jade item from Maya settlements in the area.

Lush landscape of Altun Ha

Altun Ha

Explore the grounds and learn about the site’s major role in trading between the Caribbean coast and interior Maya centers of population. Tour the main plazas, housing, and collection of 13 temples while venturing through these mossy jungle ruins.

Visiting with a tour guide provides an enriching experience as you listen to the intriguing history from the Mayan times. Climb to the top where you’ll be rewarded with extensive views.

Go Tubing Through a Cave

People going inside the Crystal Caves in Belize

Caves Branch River

Head out on a true adventure in Belize with an exciting tubing expedition down the Caves Branch River, less than 90 minutes’ drive from Belize City. Enjoy a thrilling trip on the longest tube float route in the country.

After working up a sweat by hiking through the rainforest, hopping into the cool water of the river with your tube will be a welcome relief. Marvel at the landscape of the cave system, as you take in geological formations such as stalactites and stalagmites in this shady green underworld.

In addition to absorbing the unique landscape through the mysterious limestone cave passageways, you’ll learn about the history and geology of this amazing place. These caves were used for ceremonial events during the Mayan times, so you’ll hear about the Mayan culture’s connection to the Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve as well.

Explore Caves Branch River, one of the best things to do in Belize

Caves Branch River

Take a dip in a natural swimming hole, spot bats that live in the caves, feel the magic of the underground cathedral as you float along, and view ancient artifacts such as pottery, jade, and altars that date back to 400 A.D.

This relaxing and educational journey through the Caves Branch River will be one of your most memorable activities in Belize.

Visit the Oldest Church in Belize City

Beautiful architecture of St. John Anglican Cathedral

St. John Anglican Cathedral

Constructed in the early 1800s, the brick St. John Anglican Cathedral is an architectural point of interest in the heart of Belize City’s downtown area. Previously built as the Church of England’s headquarters when the city was known as British Honduras, it’s the oldest intact European structure in Belize.

Admire the well-kept architecture and interior details. Observe the antique pipe organ, intricately decorated wood details within the cathedral, stunning stained-glass windows, and colonial-era tombstones that date back to the beginning of Belize City’s settlement. This historic building is one of the top attractions to see while in Belize City.

Visit the Mystical Xunantunich Ruins

Lush landscape of Xunantunich Ruins

Xunantunich Ruins

Meaning “Stone Woman,” the Xunantunich ruins are one of the best-known Mayan archeological sites in Belize, named from the local legend surrounding a mystical stone maiden. Located west of Belize City, the ruins include six plazas, numerous temples and palaces, ball courts, and the star attraction, the pyramid “El Castillo”, meaning “the castle”.

Your experience starts with an adventure; take a short ride on the hand-cranked ferry to cross the Mopan River before arriving at the ruins. With views overlooking the Mopan River and Cayo District from its hilltop limestone ridge perch, this is one of the most picturesque ancient Mayan sites.

Impressive structure of El Castillo

El Castillo

Climb El Castillo, towering an impressive 130 feet above the plaza. Enjoy the vista; views stretch all the way to Guatemala. As you explore the pyramid and its surrounding complex of buildings, take note of dwellings, shrines, and intricately carved friezes of the sun god, the moon and Venus that adorn the summits on two sides. You’ll want to bring your camera on this ancient expedition to capture one of the top Belize tourist attractions.

Unwind on the Beach at Starfish Island

White sand of Starfish Island with starfish lined up

Starfish Island

Also known as Bannister Caye, Starfish Island, part of the barrier reef, is one of the top beaches in Belize. It also has some of the best snorkeling spots to visit within easy reach of Belize City, just a 15-minute skim across the water. Relish in exploring the crystal-clear waters and rich marine life, particularly the colorful starfish that stud the sandy ocean floor.

Bask in the sun on the white sands in between greeting sea life as you snorkel through the underwater world, or paddle in the tide pools. The sea in this sheltered spot is usually calm and a great place to try paddle boarding or kayaking.

Waterfront view of Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker

With rich history, culture, and diverse landscape, Belize is a destination with something to offer every type of traveler. Discover the beauty of the country on a luxury cruise to Belize. Browse itineraries on our website and book your next tropical vacation today.

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