Belize is a small country with endless adventure! With its lush and verdant rainforests, crystal clear waters, and surprisingly diverse terrain, we love to boast that we're among the world's last unspoiled travel destinations. Situated at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America, Belize borders Mexico to the North and Guatemala to the South and West, with the Caribbean Sea to the East. We have miles of virgin coast and over 65% of our country is blanketed in lush green forest, parts of which are still unexplored.
This is a country with as many diverse geographical regions as there are cultures, languages and ethnic groups. To help you plan your trip, we've broken down the highlights of every region from the beaches in the east to the untamed jungles of the west.
Cayes and Atolls
Hundreds of palm-swept offshore islands lie between the coast of the mainland and the protection of the 185-mile Belize Barrier Reef. The most developed cayes here, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, are the popular tourist destinations. The reef, which is easily visible from many of the cayes, offers some of the world's most exciting snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing.
In addition to the many cayes, there are two open-ocean atolls here, Turneffe Island Atoll and Lighthouse Reef Atoll, which includes the Great Blue Hole. Each of these unique rings of coral, limestone, and mangroves surrounds a central, protected saltwater lagoon. It's really an incredible sight to see, whether your stay nearby or do it as a day trip from one of the more off-the-beaten path destinations.
Mountainous Region and the Cayo District
This is where adventurers come to play. This lush mountain district near the Guatemalan border has unsurprisingly become Belize's second most popular destination after our white sand beaches! Here you'll find some of the country's most beautiful landscape and fascinating natural and manmade sights… not that we're biased, of course.
The limestone mountains of this region are dotted with numerous caves, jagged peaks, underground rivers, and sparkling waterfalls. There are clear-flowing rivers that are excellent spots for swimming and canoeing, as well as mile after mile of unexplored forest packed full of wild animals and hundreds of bird species.
Explorers, nature lovers, and bird-watchers will definitely want to spend some time in the Cayo District. This is also where you'll find Belize's largest and most impressive Mayan ruins. In the remote Mountain Pine Ridge section of the Cayo District lies Caracol, one of the largest known Classic Maya cities ever uncovered. Closer to the main town of San Ignacio, you'll find Xunantunich, Pilar, and the smaller Cahal Pech. For a truly spectacular experience, take a horseback ride from Ka'ana to Xunantunich and enjoy the feeling of your jaw dropping.
Still craving the beach after the jungle? The beauty of the Cayo district is that the beach is only an hour away! With the nearest airstrip just 10 minutes away from Ka'ana, we'll fly you out to Ambergris Caye for a beach day during your jungle stay – definitely say yes to the best of both worlds!
Southern Belize encompasses two major districts, Stann Creek and Toledo. The first includes the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the coastal towns of Dangriga, Hopkins Village, and Placencia. Dangriga is the country's major center of Garífuna culture, and Placencia boasts what is arguably the country's best beach, as well as our gorgeous soon-to-open sister resort Itz'ana.
Offshore, the waters of Glover's Reef are renowned for their remarkable clarity and the profusion of marine life. Today the attractions found within the atoll are a number of islands which visitors can explore marine life, enjoy sea kayaking, snorkeling, stand up paddling. and scuba diving. In 2000, Glover's Atoll was designated a World Heritage Site under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
Farther south, the Toledo District is Belize's final frontier. The inland hills and jungles are home to numerous Kekchi and Mopan Mayan villages. Hidden in these hills are some lesser known Mayan ruins, including Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. The Toledo District is also emerging as an ecotourism destination, and it houses the country's richest, wettest, and most undisturbed rainforests.
One of the country's agricultural strongholds, northward of Belize City lies Orange Walk Town and Corozal Town. Both of these towns have a strong Spanish/Mayan influence, having been settled largely by refugees from Mexico's Caste War and the Maya that also once lived there as evidenced by the ruins of Altun Ha, Lamanai, Cerros, and Santa Rita, all in this zone.
This is a land that was once submerged and is still primarily swamp and mangrove. Where the land is cleared and settled, sugar cane is the main crop, although bananas, citrus fruits, papaya and pineapples are also grown.
There are so many amazing places to visit in Belize. Our vibrant and diverse Caribbean culture is as much of a reason to visit the country as its breathtaking natural beauty. With more than 40% of our mass protected, the natural beauty is second to none! From the turquoise water scattered with hundreds of little islands with sandy beaches, to the dense inland forests, soaring and sacred Mayan architecture, intricate cave systems, rich sea life and warm, friendly people – Belize will give you a different reason to return each time for new experiences, new adventure and a renewed take on life!
Ready to jump into an epic Belizean adventure? Talk to our friendly Ka'ana team today to plan your perfect escape!