Lamanai Maya Monument and River Tour
The journey back in time to the ancient Maya city of Lamanai begins by a boat ride up the New River. The name means “Submerged Crocodile” and the site is comprised of 958.5 acres, located north of Belize City. Crocodile motifs were found throughout the site when official excavations began in 1974. Explore the temples and terraces, including the High Temple, which is the third tallest Maya building in Belize. Day trips to Lamanai can be made from many home bases throughout Belize, the most popular being Ambergris Caye.
The Great Blue Hole
Perhaps the most famous of Belize’s landmarks, the Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient limestone cave collapsed and left the perfectly circular formation we see today, located on Lighthouse Reef Atoll. A true must-do for scuba divers, the site has underwater stalactites and is 407 feet deep. For more on how to dive the Blue Hole, check out our blog post, here. In addition, experiencing the Blue Hole underwater, getting a birds-eye-view from above is a perspective you won’t soon forget. An aerial tour is a lovely way to spend a clear afternoon.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Dedicated in 1986, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world’s first protected area set up specifically for the protection of jaguars. This 400 square kilometer area is known for its well-maintained network of hiking trails, spectacular mountain views, breathtaking waterfalls and high diversity of wildlife. The most notable of course is the mighty jaguar. This is a haven for birders as well and is co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society, located in the Stann Creek District of south-central Belize.
The largest of Belize’s islands, or “Cayes,” (pronounced, “key”) Ambergris Caye is 25 miles long and located north of Belize City. The island’s only town, San Pedro, is a hub of fine dining, scuba outfitters and has a thriving resort presence. The Belize Barrier Reef is just offshore, offering world-class scuba diving and snorkeling. Other water sports, such as sailing and deep sea fishing, are prevalent. Ambergris Caye is conveniently accessed from the International Airport in Belize City via a short local flight to the airstrip in San Pedro.
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
For a taste of spectacular rolling granite mountains, clear waterfalls, Mayan monuments, and lush jungles, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is a must. Located in the north west of the country, this protected area is one of the last strongholds in Belize for Scarlet Macaws. The 430 square kilometer area was established in 1944 to protect the pine forests found here. Resorts can be found in this remote area and day trips can be done from the western town of San Ignacio.
With such diversity contained in a small country, movement between sites is easy and convenient. If island life is your preference, day trips to the mainland are easy to do. Belize is a destination that easily works its way into your traveling heart and entices you to return. The five attractions detailed here are just the tip of the iceberg, it’s entirely possible to plan multiple return trips and never repeat an activity due to the wealth of hotspots, tours, and excursions.