All Other Destinations and Attractions in Belize
Turneffe Islands Atoll
More than 200 small mangrove cayes comprise the Turneffe Islands Atoll, which is a cluster of coral islands surrounding a lagoon. The Turneffe Atoll is 30mi/49km long and 10mi/16km wide, and is one of three atoll reefs in Belize's waters. The Turneffe Islands are described as a myriad of different dive destinations bundled into one, and the eastern side of the atoll is lined with flats ideal for snorkeling and saltwater fly-fishing.The atoll's varied terrain consists of a network of flats, creeks and lagoons and the protected shallow areas are abundant with different species of corals. Different sites along the atoll offer wall and current diving, while the shallow areas are perfect for snorkeling and novice divers. The atoll is a natural nursery for a wide variety of exotic fish including the white spotted toadfish, grouper, giant jewfish, snapper, bonefish and trunkfish. Saltwater anglers have long been attracted to the Turneffe Islands.Other types of tropical marine life commonly viewed include eagle rays, nurse and reef sharks, crabs, shrimp, dolphins and turtles. The mangrove cayes are home to a substantial population of the American crocodile. The atoll is easily accessed from Belize City, Hopkins, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, so the islands are usually visited during a day excursion. However, there are a few resorts on the Turneffe Atoll catering to diving and fishing enthusiasts.
Southern Belize - Blue Hole National Park
Established December 1986, Blue Hole National Park covers 575ac/858ha of forest home to several bird species, three species of wildcats, howler monkeys and several other mammals. Nature trails offer opportunities for hiking. The Blue Hole is a limestone sinkhole, also called a cenote, filled with water headed to the Sibun River.The cenote is 108ft/33m deep and 328ft/98.4m in diameter and also features a nearby pool that is 25ft/7.6m deep and a brilliant shade of blue. Stairs lead into pool for swimming. This is an inland park, unassociated with Blue Hole Natural Monument.
Address: 12 Fort Street, Belize
St Herman's Cave
St Herman's Cave is one of few caves in Belize open to public visitors without a guide or permit. The large cavern was used by the Maya in the Classic period and has great archaeological significance. Several artifacts have been discovered in the cave, including spears, torches and pottery vessels that are now under study by the Belize Department of Archaeology. Inside the cave is a self-guided trail with markers. The cavern is surrounded by a 3mi.4.8km network of hiking trails featuring an observation tower.
Located on the Sarteneja Peninsula, the community of Sarteneja is small traditional fishing village. The name Sarteneja is derived from a Mayan phrase meaning "water between the rocks", which describes fresh water sinkholes (cenotes) used by the Mayans as water wells. Somewhat difficult to reach, Sarteneja is perfect for travelers looking for seclusion and an authentic Belizean experience.Yucatán refugees founded Sarteneja the 19th C, and evidence shows that the village was built over an archaeological site. In 1955, Sarteneja was completely destroyed by Hurricane Janet, leaving only the school and health department buildings. The shallow coastline is lined by mangrove forest and manatees are very common in Sarteneja's waters. The village residents are mainly boat builders, fishermen and farmers and the primary language spoken is Spanish. The small, picturesque village offers a few amenities such as restaurants and hotels.
Shipstern Nature Reserve
Owned by the International Tropical Conservation Foundation, Shipstern Nature Reserve covers about 22,000ac/9,000ha of saline lagoons, hardwood forest, wetlands and mangrove swamps. Several species of wildlife can be seen in the reserve (with the exception of monkeys), including tamanduas, coatis and peccaries as well as 60 species of reptiles and amphibians. At least 250 bird species have been recorded within the boundaries of the reserve.Visitors to the reserve will first visit the site's small museum and then embark on a guided nature walk. There is an on-site butterfly breeding farm displaying the colors and varieties of the 200 species of butterflies in the region. Shipstern is comprised of dense unmarked trails, so guided are needed to explore farther in the reserve. Other options for excursions are offered, such as overnight trips and birding and hiking tours.
Belize City Surroundings - Community Baboon Sanctuary
The Community Baboon Sanctuary is a unique grassroots conservation effort run entirely by volunteer co-operation. Baboons are the local name for howler monkeys in Belize (actual baboons are not found in the country), and the endangered black howler is found nowhere else in the world. In 1985, Creole farmers and American zoologist Robert Horwich signed an agreement protecting the howler's habitat in the vicinity of their privately owned land.The sanctuary covers 20sq.mi/52sq.km and 160 landowners from the surrounding villages have pledged to protect the forest around their farms to support the monkey habitat, which consists of broadleaf forest. The vegetarian black howlers can be seen in the canopy treetops (often howling) in groups of four to eight. A small museum at the sanctuary provides information on other wildlife (200 species) found in the reserve.
Address: Box 1482, Belize
Belize City Surroundings - Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary & Monkey Bay National Park
The Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on 1,070ac/433ha of land bordered by the Sibun River. Across the Sibun, the Monkey Bay National Park covers a more remote 2,250ac/911ha. Visitor's services are located in the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, a non-profit organization.The combined conserved areas create a large wetlands corridor in the Sibun River Valley. The sanctuary offers several ecological education field courses as well as a variety of excursions, including a 14-day canoe trip along the Belize and Sibun Rivers.Popular activities include canoeing and swimming in the river, exploring the grounds and visiting the sanctuary's library. The sanctuary is entirely environmentally friendly featuring solar power, organic composting, and a natural rainwater source.
Address: Box 187, Belize
Southern Belize - Ian Anderson's Cave Branch Tours
Ian Anderson offers a variety of adventure expeditions operating on the Caves Branch Estate, which extends over 58,000ac/23,200ha of tropical jungle. Situated along side the waters of the Caves Branch River, the estate's grounds present caverns and underground river caves, Mayan ruins and ceremonial centers, as well as indigenous wildlife to explore.Ian Anderson pioneered cave-tubing in Belize, a popular activity where participants float along the river through caves and jungle surroundings. Apart from cave-tubing, other popular excursions include rappelling down a 300ft/91m sinkhole, candlelit overnight stays in a cave, bird watching, jungle waterfall treks, tours of Mayan sacred caves and several other options. Tours are offered in varying degrees of difficulty.
Northern Belize - Chan Chich Lodge
The Chan Chich Lodge is very well known in Belize because of its attractive setting. Lodgings are in cabanas found sharing the space of partially excavated ruins in the central plaza of a Mayan archaeological site. The grounds are never crowded since only 32 guests can be accommodated at the lodge at one time.The Chan Chich Lodge offers 9mi/15km of hiking trails and several activities throughout the day. More than 350 bird species have been identified on the grounds, and other wildlife that can be spotted includes coatis, warries, deer, howler and spider monkeys.
Address: Box 37, Belize
St George's Caye
St George's Caye was the site of the Belize settlement's first capital as well as a historic battle between British settlers and invading Spanish forces. The British prevailed at the Battle of St George on September 10, 1798 and Belizeans annually commemorate the day. Today, the attractive, small island holds vacation homes for the Belizean elite, one diving resort and a rest and relaxation complex for the British Army. The island is often visited on diving and snorkeling excursions and features a beach that offers good swimming.
Blue Water Fishing Tournament
The local Blue Water Fishing Tournament is held annually in May.
Gales Point, Belize
The small village of Gales Point is located on 2.5mi/4km of a narrow peninsula that juts into the Southern Lagoon. The Gales Point area is famous for its manatee population, having the highest concentration of Western Manatees in the Caribbean. As well, the Southern Lagoon is the primary breeding ground for 60% of Belize's hawksbill turtles. There are a few options for accommodations, and a few excursions are offered from Gales Point.
Gales Point Turtle Project Tours
Nest protection is the main crusade of Leroy and Teri Hogan Andrewin, who have created the Gales Point Turtle Project. Hawksbill turtles nest from May to November annually, and the project has released as many as 15,000 hatchlings into the sea in past seasons. The tour leads participants to the turtle's nesting areas, where they aid in the protection of their nests. Participant can choose to take the tour via motorboat or canoe.
Manatees are attracted to a fresh water spring near Gales Point, and can often be observed in the sea grass growing in the Southern Lagoon.
Gallon Jug, Belize
Belizean businessman Barry Bowen, a distributor of Coca-Cola, essentially fabricated this small village in 1986. Gallon Jug covers 130,000ac/52,000ha of tropical rainforest, 3,000ac/1,214ha of which has been set aside for experimental farming. Bowen's farming company, Gallon Jug Agro-Industries, has undertaken many projects including the cultivation of corn, soybean, sugarcane, cacao and organic coffee beans. Visitors are able to tour the manicured and intensely controlled fields.
St Margaret's Village, Belize
St Margaret's Village and the surrounding areas are comprised of diverse ethnic groups including Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Maya, Mennonites and North Americans. Community members of St Margaret's are responsible for the adjacent Five Blues National Park, the only national park in Belize operated by a community-based organization. There are very few visitor's facilities in the village, but a few options for dining and accommodation are available.
Five Blues National Park
Five Blues National Park is Belize's only national park operated by a community-based organization, located in the adjacent St Margaret's Village. The park covers 4,292ac/1,738ha of limestone terrain and broadleaf forest. Five Blues Lake is a large water-filled sinkhole reputed to reflect five different shades of blue depending on the time of day. The lake spreads over 10ac/4ha and reaches a depth of an estimated 200ft/61m. Within the boundaries of the park flows Indian Creek, and along its course a series of seven small caves can be found.Over 217 species of birds and several mammals including five species of wildcats reside in the park. In the center of Five Blues Lake is the forested Orchid Island, named for the profusion of wild orchids growing on it. Popular activities at the park include canoeing, swimming, mountain biking and hiking along a series of nature walks.
Address: Box 439, Belize
The very small island of Caye Chapel, half of which is comsumed by an airstrip, is home to a golf course and a deluxe corporate retreat center. While the island has long been privately owned by a single owner, some areas have been put up for sale.
Red Bank Village, Belize
A seasonal population of the rare scarlet macaw nests in the forests surrounding the small Mayan village of Red Bank. The area is often toured on birding excursions offered from nearby towns and villages.
Northern Caye is a small, attractive island featuring an upscale resort catering to fishing and diving enthusiasts.