what not to miss in belize

#1 snorkelling and diving

snorkeling collage belize.jpg

Straddling the coast of Belize and described by Charles Darwin as "the most remarkable in the West Indies" is the second largest barrier reef in the world. The cornucopia of sea life that inhabit this remarkable marine attraction are responsible for bringing in a large proportion of Belize's tourist dollars. With a number of scuba hotspots, 'The Blue Hole' represents many a diver's zenith but one need only take a snorkel and fins to the edge of Belize's reef to understand why this is number one.

#2 caye caulker

caye caulker collage belize

Neighbouring the island voted #1 by Trip Advisor for the past two years - Ambergis Caye (San Pedro) - Caye Caulker lets those on a tighter budget sample an island paradise.

Although lacking a beach on the island, the local hangout 'The Split' provides an excellent alternative. 

If you're looking for clear waters, coconut rum and fish curries accompanied by a good-time crowd, then make a bee-line for C.C. 

But remember to live by the Belizean mantra: 'Go Slow'. 

#3 go slow on belizean buses

belize buses collage

"A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure".

Margaret Thatcher had obviously never travelled the length of the Hummingbird highway on a Belizean bus.  Unlike the U.K, a journey of several hours is an absolute delight. 

Recycled from the American Blue Bird school buses, these take on an identity of their own. Colourfully painted, decked in icons of Marley or Jesus (whomever is of greatest importance to the driver) and with a distinctly Caribbean soundtrack, you'll look forward to the next journey. 

With any luck, Megabus and Greyhound can learn a thing or two about inter-city bus travel done right. 

#4 belizean culture - like nowhere else in central america

kriol belize collage

Nestled between Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, Belize is a cultural and linguistic anomaly on the Caribbean coast of Central America; its population a colourful reflection of the country's diasporic history.

The landscape was once dominated by the Maya, but with British colonisation and the importation of African slaves a new and culturally significant demographic was born - the Kriol and the Garifuna. It is the imprint that these people have made on Belize that provides such a vastly different experience than can be garnered from its neighbouring countries. Although the genetic make-up of Belize has changed dramatically in the last 30 years - following an influx from surrounding countries - with the Kriol language, music and lifestyle permeating almost every experience here, it is sometimes difficult to remember you have only one foot in the Caribbean.

#5 marie sharp's hot sauce 

As common-place on the dining room table as a salt shaker, this world-famous hot sauce has been spicing up dishes across the globe for 25 years.

Using the potent red habenero pepper as the base to all her sauces, Marie Sharp has created a condiment not for the faint hearted. Those not familiar with the heat and dousing their dishes in the presence of locals will be met with a jovial warning as they witness yet another 'gringo' about to need a very large glass of water.

But pick a level of spice you can stand, and this will be a welcome addition to every meal. Amazon has it in stock, by the way.

#6 rum days

From pouring it into your freshly purloined coconut, to sticking to a classic with coke or sampling a more adventurous "panty ripper" (with pineapple), you cannot avoid the spirit at the core of Caribbean islander culture.

Local rum comes cheap at as little as $12 BZD / £4 GBP a litre and captures the taste of sand, sunshine and smiles which one encounters in Belize.  

Planning a trip to Belize? Check out the posts below!