Belize is a nature-lovers paradise. This tiny Caribbean nation (it's home to fewer than 500,000 people) not only has the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, it's also home to a whopping 94 protected areas that include marine reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and archeological sites. This country has it all, from Mayan ruins and windswept atolls to jungle rivers and indigenous villages. When is the best time to visit?
The high tourist season occurs between December and May, which is the dry season in Belize. During this time the sun is out and there's less rain than from June through November. Diving conditions are stellar, with visibility around 60-100 feet (18-30 m), and the pleasant weather means great conditions for other outdoor excursions like riverboat trips and hikes around Mayan ruins. There is a bit of a shoulder season in July and August, when the rains slightly abate and the jungles and forests are teeming with wildlife. Learn moreWhere should I go in Belize?
Divers and snorkelers should head straight to Belize's barrier reef, which stretches 180 miles (290 km) along the coast. There's an abundance of marine reserves and dive spots here, from the famous Blue Hole and Turneffe atolls to the waters around Half Moon Caye and Tobacco Caye. Beyond diving, other aquatic activities include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and swimming with sharks and rays.
On the mainland, you can enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Moho River while listening to the calls of green macaws and howler monkeys in the trees. There are also more Mayan archeological sites in this country than you might expect, with some of the best being Altun Ha, Lamanai, and Xunantunich. Some of these ruins date as far back as 1500 BCE. How many days do I need?
The short answer: fewer than you'd think. Because of Belize's small size (it's just 8,867 sq. miles), you can experience both mainland and island highlights in as few as five days. With more time you could visit many more archeological sites and islands. And in two weeks you can do it all, from swimming with sharks, diving at various atolls, relaxing in beach bungalows, dining with indigenous families, and enjoying nature hikes, boat rides, and tours of Mayan ruins. Learn moreGetting around Belize
Driving is a good bet on the mainland. As for the reef, water taxis and ferries run to most of Belize's main islands and dive sites, as they are relatively close to shore. Some major islands, like Ambergris Caye, have their own airstrips and are serviced by small propeller planes. Note the cost of an inter-island flight is significantly more expensive than traveling by boat.