For a balanced vacation that includes equal parts adventure and relaxation time, Belize is emerging as a go-to destination – and for good reason.
The small country, bordering Mexico and Guatemala, offers experiences that run the gamut from immersive cultural activities and luxury living to nature exploration and high adventure.
Belize is also the only Central American country with English as its official language, and it is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef, making it a huge hit with snorkelers, scuba divers, and fishers. With its East Coast bordering the Caribbean Sea and its proximity to the U.S. and Canada, it’s no wonder airlines are adding so many new flights to the destination, while hotel operators are investing in improvements to properties there and even building new ones.
“Belize was seen as a little bit safer than going long distance after Covid, and once people got to know the diversity of Belize, it gave it a lot more traction,” Patricia Johnson, a native Belizean and travel advisor specializing in Belize, told Travel Market Report.
Belize recorded its highest number of overnight guests in 2019 and has been seeing its tourism rates rise closer and closer to pre-pandemic levels since last year.
There is lots of development happening in the country, while at the same time, tourism officials say they have sustainable standards for the types of hotels they’re allowing to be built there.
“Most of these hotel chains that are flocking our doors, they’re not interested in coming to Belize to build a big, 500-room resort; they’re most interested in developing those boutique hotels that have 200 rooms or less,” Gale Malic-Ozaeta, marketing and communications manager for Belize Tourism Board, told TMR. “These types of developments are music to our ears, and we welcome them, because they are in line with the type of development that we as a destination want to see for Belize.”
Accommodations in Belize range from rustic, eco-based stays to resorts with luxurious amenities. Guests can bring the whole family and stay in a four- or five-bedroom villa or come solo and stay in a studio hotel room.
One of the newest hotels is the Margaritaville Beach Resort, Ambergris Caye, which opened in March 2023. The hotel has 55 suite-style rooms, a restaurant, two bars, two pools, and a spa.
There is also a Four Seasons with luxury villas that is under renovations, as well as The Watermark, a Six Senses Residences, and many more.
Things to do
For a small country, there is a whole lot to do in Belize.
“Belize offers visitors the best of both worlds – it's a beach lover’s paradise, but also a haven for thrill-seeking enthusiasts,” Malic-Ozaeta said. “Someone can spend the morning on the beach and two hours later be in the middle of a lush rainforest.”
The country may be best known for the Great Blue Hole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located off its coast, which is extremely popular with diving enthusiasts. Some other adventurous activities available include zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking.
Both on land and at sea, Belize is home to a wide variety of animal species, including 600 species of resident and migratory birds, endangered sea turtles, and more than 500 species of fish. The country has many rain forests, hiking trails, and national parks to explore. Tour operators run catamaran cruises in the area that stop at waterfalls and caves, as well.
In addition, travelers can immerse themselves in the many different cultures in Belize with cooking, dancing, and drumming lessons. There are also a number of ancient Mayan cities and ruins throughout the country that are popular with tourists.
There are many resources for advisors to take advantage of when booking trips for their clients to Belize.
First, advisors can become Belize travel specialists through a program by the Belize Tourism Board. This gets advisors a certification and can qualify them for fam trips to Belize, as well as make them first to know about trade shows in the country.
Belize Tourism Board also offers a rewards program for advisors who book overnight trips for clients in Belize. Points can be redeemed at resorts, with more perks to come in the future.
Advisors can also work with destination management professionals, such as Johnson, who can set up all types of activities and travel in Belize for clients. Johnson is a director at Absolute Belize, which organizes tailor-made trip itineraries in the country.