Things to Do in Belize City
Often the first stop for visitors to beautiful Belize, Belize City is a buzzing metropolitan, and acts as the central hub for business and travel around the country. But before taking off to explore, take time to appreciate all that Belize City has to offer.
Explore the natural beauty of Belize by heading the to the caves in the Belize rainforest. Take a tubing expedition with one of many qualified touring groups, most of which organize free hotel pickup and transportation. If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, look into zip-lining in the rainforest - a truly unforgettable experience.
If you're in the mood for something a little more calming, the Belize Zoo is considered to be one of the finest small zoos in the world, and for good reason. What makes it truly unique is that is only features animals that are native to Belize, such as ocelots, black jaguars, spotted jaguars, pumas, scarlet macaws, crocodiles, dozens of different snakes, and the famous tapir, April.
Just next to the zoo is the wonderful Tropical Education Center. Sitting on 84 acres, experience animals in their natural habitats while hiking or canoeing through the center. Knowledgeable and friendly guides will take you through your visit as you encounter true Belizean wildlife.
For a historic look at Belize, visit the Belize Museum, and discover the plentiful Mayan artifacts that make the country so rich with history. Housed in a former colonial prison, the museum is walk back through time. Be sure to visit the one cell that is still maintained in its original form.
For another encounter with both beauty and history, visit St. John's Cathedral, the oldest Anglican church in all of Central America. Built in 1812, the church is dedicated to its history and legacy.
Overlooking the beautiful Mopan River from a hilltop, the ruins at Xunantunich are some of the most visited Maya sites in the world. Located in the Cayo region, Xunantunich—which means “stone woman” in Mayan—dates back to the Classic Era, around 200–900. The complex comprises about 25 temples and palaces.
The Belize City cruise terminal connects the country’s Caribbean cayes with the mainland and the city’s urban center. Most visitors don’t linger here, but cruise ship passengers pass through on their way to inland attractions like Mayan ruins, and it’s also the main gateway for ferry traffic to islands like Ambergris Caye.
Located near the Guatemalan border, the ancient Maya city of Caracol is the largest archeological site in Belize. Discovered in 1938, Caracol covers about 65 square miles (168 square kilometers) and includes more than 35,000 structures, five plazas, and an abundance of jungle. Visit on a day trip for a unique look at Maya life.
Altun Ha, site of the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, covers about 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) of Belizean countryside. The central area has more than 500 historic structures, mostly built during the Maya Classic era (AD 200 to 900). Join a private or group tour to learn how the city’s 10,000 inhabitants lived.
Meaning "submerged crocodile" in Yucatan Mayan, Lamanai is perhaps the most mysterious Maya site in Belize, because it is not yet completely uncovered. See history in the making as you visit the excavation site, where some temples still remain buried underground. Exposed structures that rise from the jungle floor offer plenty to explore.
In 1983 Richard Foster came to Belize to film a wildlife documentary. Over a dozen animals used in filming became partly tame by the time shooting wrapped, so Sharon Matola, the American biologist in charge of their care, decided to found the Belize Zoo to give them somewhere to call home.
Today, the Belize Zoo covers 29 acres (11.7 hectares) and is home to more than 150 animals representing 45 species native to the country. Many of the zoo’s residents are rescue animals who have been injured, orphaned or donated from other zoos, and the spacious enclosures make it feel more like a wildlife refuge than a typical zoo.
Among the Belize Zoo’s star tenants are the five species of wild cats native to Belize: jaguar, puma, margay, ocelot and jaguarundi. Other animals in residence include spider monkeys, manatees, scarlet macaws, toucans, tree frogs and boa constrictors. If a half-day visit to the zoo isn’t enough, wildlife-loving visitors can stay the night in the neighboring Belize Zoo Lodge, which has its own nature trails and birdwatching deck.
The Community Baboon Sanctuary is dedicated to protecting and preserving Belize's black howler monkey population. The 18-square-mile (29-square-kilometer) reserve in the jungle contains about 1,500 monkeys, as well as anteaters, armadillos, iguanas, turtles, deer, and more than 200 different species of birds.
Sanctuary visitors, including tour groups and independent travelers, are given tours where guides identify the wildlife and vegetation, and explain the local culture. The on-site visitors' center and natural history museum also provide information about the environment, conservation efforts, and the monkeys themselves. Visitors can follow trails through the forest or take canoe rides on the river to spot black howler monkeys (locally called baboons) and other animals.
Things to Know Before You Go
The entrance fee includes a guided nature walk; most third-party tours cover the fee.
The sanctuary recommends bringing water, sunscreen, and bug spray.
Several tour options are offered, including a night hike, bird tour, and a river canoe tour.
St. John’s Cathedral dates back to the early 1800s and is the oldest Anglican church in Central America. The cathedral, located in Belize City, is known not only as a house of worship, but also as a symbol of Belize’s colonial past. It was built by slaves with bricks brought to the country as ballast in ships from Europe.
Lighthouse Reef is an incredible atoll (a coral island encircling a lagoon) in the Caribbean Sea that was made famous by legendary sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, who rightfully declared it one of the top 10 diving locations in the world. Follow in Cousteau's footsteps by diving into the Great Blue Hole, the underwater sinkhole in the center of the lagoon.
Established in 1984, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best bird-watching spots in Central America. Built on a network of lagoons, swamps, and estuaries, the sanctuary is home to thousands of native and migratory birds, including the boat-billed heron, black-collared hawk, pygmy kingfisher, and rufous-tailed jacamars.
More Things to Do in Belize City
Government House, also known as the House of Culture, is one of the most beautiful colonial buildings in Belize City. The stately mansion was built in 1812 to house the colonial government of British Honduras, but it was later turned into a residence for the Governor General. Today, it is a creative community center.
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