When a small country like Belize is stacked with unparalleled diversity, expect your tour to be high on sensory experiences. In lush rainforests jaguars prowl and howler monkeys ride the canopy. Off the coast is the Belize Barrier Reef, the western hemisphere’s largest, revealing a prismatic world of sea creatures. While Altun Ha and Lamanai, archaeological ruins of the Mayan civilization, are easily reached from Belize City, there are numerous others like Caracol deep in the country’s jungles.
Any adventure in Belize should include a visit to at least one of its unique subterranean sinkholes, caverns, and caves. Most famous is the cenote of Blue Hole National Park, but there is also Actun Tunichil Muknal, a jungle cave in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, which has Mayan artefacts and 1,000-year-old skeletons of victims of ritual sacrifice. At Mountain Pine Ridge forest reserve in the Maya Mountains you can canoe with a guide in Barton Creek Cave, and observe stalactites, stalagmites, and other limestone formations.
Astounding natural beauty is the hallmark of this country, both on land and water. Visitors to Ambergris Caye, the largest of the country’s 400 coral islands, can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive with stingrays, sea turtles, and other treasures of the ocean. You can spot manatees, sharks, and the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. For a true-blue beach vacation San Pedro, on Ambergris, and Placencia, an emerald peninsula on the mainland, are winners.
Unlike the rest of Central America, Belize is largely English-speaking, and its people, culture, and cuisines represent a medley of unique influences. For a truly immersive experience of this fascinating country, or tying in a visit with neighboring Guatemala, you’ve paused at the right place. An Enchanting Travels professional is the perfect person to help you embrace the full extent of the region’s beauty and cultural richness.
Like everything else in Belize, it’s culture is the product of many different countries and influences, creating a melting pot that is both dynamic yet comfortably familiar. Belize City, being the former capital, is a wonderful place to explore this culture.
Belizean people are extremely courteous and friendly; it is quite possible you’ll come across strangers talking to each other like old friends. You may even be kindly greeted by friendly locals during your stay.
If you are interested in history, then visit the Museum of Belize which is located in the Fort George District. The museum is filled with fascinating insights of the country’s past, in particular, focusing on Belize’s colonial history. Recently the museum was expanded to include a Modern Art Gallery, showcasing the best of contemporary Belizean art. The building was once the country’s main jail built in 1857, so even the museum itself is a testament to the country’s fascinating history!
Take a walk down Fort Street Tourism Village – a colorful promenade of shops and restaurants on the city’s beautiful coastline. It’s the perfect place to buy a gift or souvenir of your time in this colorful tropical paradise.
Detached from Belize’s mainland, the island of Ambergris Caye boasts a culture that is truly distinct from the rest of the mainland. Where the mainland bears a clear British influence, Ambergris Caye, being historically frequented by the Spanish and Mexicans, offers a rich Latin culture not found elsewhere in Belize. Here Spanish is more frequently spoken than English.
For example, though Mainland Belize is protestant, Ambergris Caye is devoutly Catholic,with Catholic holidays being regularly observed. Some holidays such as Easter often involve the entire population of the Island’s capital San Pedro joining together in a spectacular celebration. Planning your trip during such holidays is certainly worthwhile – such a celebration can be the highlight of any trip to Ambergris Caye.
Of course, if you really want to make the most of your trip to Ambergris Caye, settle down and relax on one of the Island’s pristine white sandy beaches and pure azure waters and you won’t be disappointed!
Belize’s cuisine deliciously blends culinary traditions of the many nationalities and peoples who have called it home. This gives the food in Belize a wonderful diversity -every meal you have can be a new experience! There is nowhere better to discover Belize’s cuisine than in Belize City,where, aside from traditional Belizean food, you will also be able to enjoy the best of European and Global cuisines thanks to Belize’s international population.
Rice and Beans
As with most dishes in central and South America, rice and beans are a staple of the menu. But what makes Belize’s interpretation of Rice and Beans special is the surprising way it’s cooked in coconut milk,giving it a richness and a fragrance you won’t find elsewhere. Rice and Beans in Belize is a Creole classic and is something you’ll easily be able to find in restaurants all across the city. Rice and Beans are also particularly abundant in Ambergris Caye,where the Latin American, Mexican and Creole influence is particularly prevalent.
Cow Foot Soup
Cow foot soup might sound unusual,, but if you brave it, you’ll find yourself enjoying a rich, healthy, and hearty soup. The meat, as you would expect, comes from the foot of a cow, or in some cases, a pig’s tail. This is served with cilantro, potato and other vegetables on a bed of rice. The dish feels like a fusion of traditional British food, with the added influence of Mayan and Caribbean fare to make it a meal that is filling and delicious.
Ambergris Caye is a seafood lovers paradise, with most restaurants on the island specializing in it.
Given its Caribbean location, expect all kinds of fish, squid, and sometimes even shark on the menu! This may just be your chance to eat something you have never sampled before. Depending on the season, lobsters and conches are also available everywhere.
Elsewhere on the island, you will find delicious and fresh tropical fruit, ensuring a new taste sensation everywhere you go!
Belize has a unique history, quite unlike any other country in Latin America. For centuries it was controlled by the Mayan empire, and to this day the pyramids and ruins of these ancient people dot Belize’s countryside. Indeed, Belize City sits on the site of the ancient Mayan city of Holzuz.
The first European to set foot in Belize didn’t come with some vast army, or as a conqueror, but instead, as the survivor of a dramatic shipwreck off the coast. This survivor was Gonzalo Guerro, who was taken in by the Maya and lived with them for the rest of his life.
Unlike most countries in the region, Belize was not governed by Spain, but by Britain. To this day English is the country’s official language. The first European settlement in Belize was a hideout used by British pirates and privateers, from where they launched raids on the nearby Spanish settlements. This settlement grew and became a hub for the harvesting of timber and logwood, a form of dye common in Belize.
Belize city too was built on the logging industry. Its location, on the coast and close to the outlets of several rivers, made it brilliant for trade. This location continues to make it a wonderful place to visit. Looking at it from the air, the city is flanked by water on three sides, and seems to dramatically stretch out to sea.
Due to its prominence and importance to the British, the city become the country’s first capital. In 1961, the city was almost destroyed by the devastating Hurricane Hattie and, perhaps as a consequence, the capital city changed to the newer city of Belmopan.
On September 21, 1981, the country gained full independence from Britain, and with it, changed its name from British Honduras to Belize.
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