Belize embodies the best of both worlds. Located on the east of Central America, it boasts rugged topography that the region is famous for with dense jungles and ancient Mayan ruins attracting the most adventurous traveler. As you move east, the Caribbean Sea changes the environment into one that’s home to the second-largest coral reef in the world – the Belize Barrier Reef – beautiful atolls, beaches and some of the most incredible marine life you will ever see.
While its natural beauty is what draws most travelers, there is so much more to Belize. In the city, you will find clubs blaring the best of punta rock – a foot-tapping genre of music of the Garifuna – and hip hop while karaoke bars set the stage for locals and tourists to show off their singing skills. The nightlife may not be huge, especially if you are a seasoned big-city-nightclub-hopping traveler, but you certainly will not be left bored!
If this is your first time in Belize, there is no better way to start your adventures than with a visit to the fascinating and mysterious Mayan ruins. A guided tour is the best way you can really appreciate the heritage left behind by the Mayan Empire. As you walk through the jungles, once vibrant stone cities slowly rise up. Your guide will regale you with history and tales of the once mighty civilization and take you to the top Mayan cities like Caracol and Xunantunich. Living descendants of the ancient people still live in Belize although most belong to Mayan groups of other places like Yucatan.
Belize itself is racially diverse with a mix of Maya, Kriol, Garifuna, Mestizo and Mennonites so you can imagine how rich the culture is. Perhaps the best example of this you will find is the cuisine. You can stay here for weeks and still will not be able to sample all that there is to eat! If you are a gastronome, there are few places better to indulge your taste buds than in Belize. Marva’s Restaurant in Belize City is one of the best places to try meat stews with rice and beans, a Belizean favorite so wholesome and comforting that it is a staple for many locals. Do not stop there, however; make your way to wine country in the rural district to sip on craboo wine. Johnny cakes, cochinita pibil, tamales – Belize’s food culture is as diverse as its people!
Come September and there is anticipation in the air. It is the season for festivals and celebration, the biggest of which is Independence Day. But, unlike for the rest of us where festivities are confined to just one day, Belize goes all out. Travel in September and you can catch the Belikin Beer Bash, parades, concerts, a carnival, the Battle of St. George’s Caye Day and more. There is dancing and fireworks, soca music and people in costumes. You may not be Belizean but you cannot help but be drawn into the happy chaos!
September celebrations are not the only reason to party, however; if you go in August, you can catch the International Costa Mayan Festival in San Pedro. Go in June and there is the Mango Festival in Hopkins with delicious mango-themed dishes, dancing, music and competitions. With so much happening over the months, it feels like there is something to celebrate all-year round.
Part Caribbean, part Central American. Home of the ancient Mayas, a gorgeous jungle landscape and the sea and its bounty – Belize is a country that will draw you in. Small but big in culture, action and adventure, this is one destination that will resonate with you long after you are home and much before the humdrum of life resumes.
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