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Home Global Travel Destinations North America Destinations Vist Belize: Free Travel Guide to the Pristine End of the World Discover Rainforests, Mayan Ruins, Coral Reefs and Island Cayes

Vist Belize: Free Travel Guide to the Pristine End of the World Discover Rainforests, Mayan Ruins, Coral Reefs and Island Cayes

To find out more about Belize, start with these Quicklinks to zero in on a particular region or attraction. Learn more from the introductory article and others describing Belizean geography, culture, products and cuisine. Explore recommendations for sights, activities, food, lodging, entertainment, festivals and events. Be sure to review the practical matters section before you go. No time to do all this online? Download a Belize travel guide or have Amazon deliver one to you door.

Belize Quick Links

Regions

Northern Belize  North Islands  Central Coast

Western Belize  Southeast Coast  Southern Belize  Belize Reef

Destinations

Ambergris Caye  Belize City  Blemopan  Big Blue Hole

Corozal  Dangriga  Hopkins  Orange Walk

Placencia  Punta Gorda  San Ignacio  San Pedro  Turneffe Atoll

Discover Belize

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Belize is a small Central American jewel on the southern end of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, but don’t let its diminutive size fool you! It has amazing natural beauty, including tropical rainforests, natural caves, the longest coral reef in the western hemisphere, and a wonder called the Big Blue Hole. Ancient Mayan ruins dot the landscape, and beaches abound for relaxation and water sports.

Did we mention they speak English? Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America.

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These are our top recommendations for visitors to Canada. Why the Faber dozen?

Historical City Tours: Explore Belize’s colonial history either on
foot or by horse-drawn carriage. Maps are available for selfguided
walking tours.
Museum of Belize: On the site of the old jail, the museum has
permanent displays of artifacts as well as special exhibitions.
Belize House of Culture: Once the seat of the colonial
government, this elegant building now houses historic displays
and holds special exhibitions.
St. John’s Cathedral: This is the oldest Anglican cathedral in
Central America.
Old Belize: Located a short distance from the city, this recreational
center offers a historical exhibition, restaurant and beach.

 

Zip-lining and cave-tubing: Travel to the Caves Branch River
Cave system for a two-in-one experience. First you will be riding
the zip line about 70 feet above the forest floor and later float on
an inner tube through the caves by the light of your headlamp.
Equipment and fully trained licensed guides are provided.
Altun Ha Maya Site with Wildlife River Encounter: Combine
exploration of the ancient Maya city with a canoe trip–you might
see a crocodile, as well as iguanas, turtles and a variety of birds.
Snorkel at Shark Ray Alley: Explore the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
and watch the nurse sharks and sting rays. There is an option to
dive for certified SCUBA enthusiasts

River Safari and Lamanai Maya Site: Take a boat trip and
enjoy the flora and fauna of the New River on your way to visit
Lamanai, where howler monkeys will watch as you explore the
buildings and temples and try to imagine the bustle of this once
crowded city.
Xunantunich Maya Site: This important site in western Belize was
a ceremonial center from about 300-800 CE. You can climb
130 feet to the top of the main structure and enjoy the all-round
view over Belize and the Peten district of Guatemala.
Horseback riding: See the countryside from a different perspective.
Your gentle horse will take you through savanna and rainforest,
and your experienced guide will identify birds, animals and
plants as you explore inland Belize.
Airboat adventure: Have an exciting ride on a 450-horsepower
airboat and observe the wildlife in the lagoon sanctuary. This trip
can be combined with a visit to the zoo.

January

KREM NEW YEAR´S CYCLING CLASSIC: This annual cycling race is one of Belize’s most anticipated cycling events of the year. Taking place on 1st January, the race starts in Corozal District for the elite and Orange Walk District for juniors and finishes in Belize City.

Febrruary

SAN PEDRO CARNIVAL: Taking place on the three days leading up to Ash Wednesday, this carnival celebrates the beginning of Easter season.

PLACENCIA SIDEWALK ART AND MUSIC FESTIVAL: Many artists from around the country descend on Placencia to showcase and sell their creations. Handmade items include: jewelry, sculptures, clothing and pictures. Booths sell local foodstuffs and live bands add to the vibrant atmosphere.

March

LA RUTA MAYA BELIZE RIVER CHALLENGE: Is an arduous, four-day cross-country canoe race. Starting in San Ignacio, and ending in Belize City, the contestants paddle east along the Macal and Belize Rivers, following what was once the only link between San Ignacio and the port of Belize City. This is a race for everyone, not just professional racers.

CROSS-COUNTRY CYCLING CLASSIC: This annual cycling event attracts international and Belizean enthusiasts and is held on Holy Saturday. Competitors start early in the morning in Belize City and head west to San Ignacio and back, covering approximately 142 miles.

BURRELL BOOM HORSE RACING: Burrell Boom in the Belize District is one of the few places in the country with a track for horse racing. The main annual all day meeting is held on Easter Monday, although there are also races on Boxing Day. There are races for various classes, held over different distances.

April

SAN PEDRO LAGOON-REEF ECO-CHALLENGE: This 42-mile, two-day kayak race starting on the lagoon side of Ambergris Caye, runs through the many lagoons in the Northern Ambergris Caye area, up to Bacalar Chico, then down to Robles Point, where all teams camp. The race ends in San Pedro Town.

SEMANA SANTA IN BENQUE: In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, the streets of the western border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen are transformed with “carpets” of brightly colored sawdust, which are later trampled underfoot by the traditional processions depicting Christ’s Passion.

BOOK WEEK: The Belize Book Industry Association organizes activities aimed to promote publishing and reading in Belize. Events take place in different locations and are well publicized.

May

CROOKED TREE CASHEW FESTIVAL: Held in Crooked Tree Village, this Festival celebrates the cashew harvest season. Live “brukdown” music, cashew wine, desserts, Caribbean-style dishes and games are the main attractions. NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL AND TRADE SHOW: This trade show is held annually in the capital city of Belmopan. It highlights agricultural diversification, rodeo, livestock, handicraft displays, music, games and food. THE CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL OF BELIZE: The Festival opens on a Friday with the “Wine and Chocolate Night”. The “Taste of Toledo-Street Fair” follows on Saturday, with chocolate demonstrations and a host of cacao-related activities for all ages. The festival finale takes place on Sunday, when traditional Maya dances, cultural musical performances and a host of local chocolate products can be enjoyed.

June

SAN PEDRO, PLACENCIA AND CAYE CAULKER LOBSTER FESTIVALS: In celebration of the opening of the lobster season, these three destinations offer a variety of tasty lobster dishes and lobster inspired activities. HOPKINS MANGO FESTIVAL: The southern village of Hopkins comes alive in celebration of the season with all-things mango. Enjoy the local games, cultural performances, live music, food, and drinks for the entire family.

July

BELIZE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: This festival showcases the best of local and international films of all genres such as documentary, drama, and music videos. Films are usually shown in more than one location throughout the week, ending with a formal awards ceremony. Look out for published schedules.

BENQUE FIESTA: Benque Fiesta is a celebration of Mestizo and Maya cultures held in Benque Viejo Town, Cayo District. Attractions include cultural performances, fireworks, games, local food and beverages and mechanical rides.

FIESTARAMA: This grand celebration is held in Orange Walk District, features local businesses, cultural entertainment, and an abundance of tasty food and drinks.

August

INTERNATIONAL COSTA MAYA FESTIVAL: Held in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, this festival attracts local and international artists from all over the Americas who come together to put on a multicultural spectacle for a celebratory week of dance, music, pageants, food and drinks.

SAN JOAQUIN FESTIVAL: The Catholic Church and Village Council of San Joaquin in Corozal District organize this threeday festival in honor of the village’s patron saint. Highlights include cultural presentations, mechanical rides, live music, food and drinks.

TRES PESCADOS SLAM TOURNAMENT: Local and international anglers descend on San Pedro for this three-day annual event held early in August, each one hoping to achieve the fly-fishing Grand Slam of bonefish, permit and tarpon.

September

CARNIVAL ROAD MARCH: This colorful and lively march through the streets of Belize City includes fantastic costumes and plenty of music highlighting our many cultures.

SEPTEMBER 10TH: This public and bank holiday celebrates the Battle of St. George’s Caye. Official ceremonies, citizens’ parades and street bram are held nationwide, with food and live music for everyone to enjoy.

SEPTEMBER 21ST: This public and bank holiday commemorates the country’s Independence. Independence Day ceremonies and parades are held all over the country. Numerous cultural, religious and sporting events also take place.

October

November

BATTLE OF THE DRUMS: This event in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District, is a celebration of the traditional Garifuna drumming and culture. The actual Battle of the Drums is a drumming competition, which allows local and regional drumming groups to compete and showcase their musical talent in five different categories of Garifuna music.

TACO FESTIVAL: This food and music festival held in Orange Walk Town attracts taco enthusiasts from all over Belize. As well as tacos of many varieties, there is live music, a canoe race and games for everyone.

GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY: Also a public and bank holiday, November 19th marks the arrival of the first Garinagu to Belize. It is celebrated in all Garifuna communities in the country. The re-enactment of their early morning arrival in traditional dories is the main attraction, with religious activities and cultural parades continuing for the rest of the day.

 

December

HOLIDAY BOAT LIGHTING PARADE: During the holiday season
on Ambergris Caye, boats are decorated and sail from Boca del
Rio to Coconuts Hotel in San Pedro. Prizes are awarded to the
most creatively designed boats. The award party provides fun for
the entire family.

Practical Matters

GETTING TO BELIZE
All international commercial airlines land at the Philip
S. W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) in Ladyville, 10 miles
north of Belize City. Private aircraft must be cleared through the
Belize Airport Authority and Civil Aviation Department at the PGIA.
There are two main border points: Santa Elena at
the northern border with Mexico and Benque Viejo del Carmen
at the western border with Guatemala. All-weather highways
connect Mexican cities with the border city of Chetumal, from
which there are regularly scheduled buses to Belize City. ADO
buses operate between Cancun and Belize. Regular bus services
operate between Tikal (Flores) in Guatemala and Belize City.
Cruise ship passengers will be advised of procedures
on board–usually they disembark in Belize City and take
their tours from there. Private vessels may clear Customs and
Immigration in Belize City and San Pedro Town in the Central
Coast; Big Creek and Dangriga on the Southeast Coast; and
Punta Gorda in Southern Belize.

TRAVELING WITHIN BELIZE Belize has a well-planned highway and all-weather road system that connects all mainland towns, villages and attractions. Visitors can rent a vehicle at the airport or major tourist centers, they can join an organized tour, charter a taxi, or take a bus. Buses travel between the towns several times daily– you can stop along the highway at villages and visitor attractions. Small airports on the islands and in most of the major towns allow for fast travel with one of our two national airlines, or by charter. Small aircraft offer a bird’s-eye-view over unexplored parts of the country, leaving passengers wishing flights were longer! Both the Belize Marine Terminal and Fort Street Tourism Zone Water Taxi Terminal provide hourly water taxi services to the popular island destinations of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Water taxis are also available between Caye Caulker and San Pedro, and from San Pedro to Corozal Town and Chetumal in Mexico. Licensed tour operators offer tours and transfers from many parts of the country to the offshore islands and outer atolls.

Officially, the language of Belize is English. Unofficially, it is Belize Kriol. In the melting pot of culture that is Belize, Kriol is both a people and a language, spoken by nearly all people that call this place home.

It is a mixture of British English and West African dialects, originating in the mahogany slave camps in the 17th century. Over time, it has grown to be the first language that most Belizeans speak at home, though English is taught in school. While walking down the street, you are likely to hear Belizean’s speaking Kriol. Why not try to pick up a few phrases? Even when not spoken perfectly, it’s sure to be an ice breaker and a great way to start a conversation.

Belize Kriol is a phonetic language, meaning that it is spelled exactly how it sounds, which can be quite confusing for a native English speaker to read. I’ve found that the best bet is to sound it out, out loud. By and large Belize Kriol is a spoken language, most modern speakers would be hard pressed to read it fluidly.

Weh di go aan? What’s up?

Gud mawnin  Good morning

Dah weh time? What time is it?

Mi naym da…   My name is…

Da how yu di do?  How are you?

Tenk yu  Thank you

Haal up  Come over here

Weh paat…?  Where is…?

Weh taim yu gat? What time is it?

Ah Tayad  I’m tired

Ah pekish I’m hungry

Jres don Scoot over

pickny children

Goma hangover

Tiga jaguar

koomal griddle

faysi disrespectful

Mi luv BileezeAside from the obvious differences in grammar and pronunciation, over the years I have found some expressions that always amuse me, as they are familiar phrases but mean something different here. When a Belizean tells you “right now,” in response to when they are going to do something, it is often a way to placate you and not an actual expression of time. The saying “the other day” can mean anything from last week to ten years ago. Coming from the US, both of these expressions frustrated me until I realized their usage in Belize. After nearly ten years here, I now often say “the other day” in reference to three years ago. Another fun quirk of the language is that instead of using intensifiers, in Kriol you just repeat the word. So “very hot” turns simply into “hot hot hot.” While many words are just pronounced differently, some are altogether unalike, as in the examples below.

 

Basic Phrases in Belizean Kriol

  • Gud maanin! — Good morning!
  • Weh di gaan an? — What’s up?
  • Aarite. — All right.
  • Cho! — What on earth!
  • Weh yuh naym? — What’s your name?
  • Yuh da Belize? — Are you from Belize?
  • Weh gaan ahn gyal? — What’s up, girl?
  • Da weh time? — What time is it?
  • Mi naym da… — My name is…
  • Si yoo lata. — See you later.
  • Ah tayad/mi tayad — I’m tired.
  • Weh/weh-paat… — Where is…?
  • Evryting gud/aarite. — Everything’s fine.
  • Haul your rass! — Get the hell out of here!
  • Fu Chroo? — Really? (Is that right?)
  • Gud night. — Good evening.
  • Mi love Bileez! — I love Belize!

Sayings in Belizean Kriol

  • Wahnti wahnti kyah geti an geti geti nuh wahnti. — You always want what you can’t have.
  • Dah no so, dah naily so. — Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
  • Wait bruk down bridge. — Don’t make me wait too long.
  • Sleep wit’ yo’ own eye. — Only rely on what you know, not what others tell you.
  • One one craboo fill barrel. — Every little bit counts (craboo is a Belizean fruit).
  • Ah wah know who seh Kriol noh gat no kulcha? — Who said the Creole don’t have any culture? (A phrase coined by renown Belizean Creole artist and performer, Leela Vernon).

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Belize Travel Resources

Travel Belize Official website of the Belize Tourism Board.

Country Information Resources

CIA World Factbook: Belize Country profile.

Nations Online One World Database. Belize profile page.

Seoul Travel Guidebooks:

 

Seoul Travel Memoirs:

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