From the beaches on Ambergris Caye to the Mayan ruins in San Ignacio, Belize is packed with adventurous and dreamy travel destinations. Located on the Caribbean coast of Central America, this small country borders Guatemala and Mexico. Belize is known for its lush jungles, peaceful islands and vibrant coral reefs. Particularly impressive is the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef in the world, and the Great Blue Hole, a giant underwater sinkhole.
Drink a piña colada on the beach or go hiking in the mountains. Tour Mayan ruins or see lots of underwater wildlife on a snorkeling expedition. Belize appeals to all kinds of travels, from beach bums to outdoor adventure-seekers. Accommodation options range from budget-friendly beach cabanas to romantic bungalows to dreamy island resorts. Plan your Belize getaway now with our list of the best places to stay in Belize.
1. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
If it’s your first time in Belize, San Pedro is a great place to start. This popular resort town is located on Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. The island is close to the Belize Barrier Reef, making it a great spot for water sports, specifically snorkeling and scuba diving. If the purpose of your trip is snorkeling, be sure to visit the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a protected zone home to over 160 different fish species.
The Ambergris Caye coast is also sprinkled with beautiful beaches, where you can spend the day swimming, sunbathing or watching the sunset. The popular (and not very secret) Secret Beach is a particularly stunning beach on the west coast of the island. To get to Secret Beach from San Pedro, visitors can drive with a golf cart.
Many of Belize’s most popular resorts, including Alaia Belize, Victoria House Resort and Matachica Resort & Spa are just a short drive from San Pedro. If you’re in the mood to shop, explore the many beach boutiques and gift shops in San Pedro town. There are also cafes, restaurants, ice cream shops and fruit stands.
2. Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is the perfect spot for a slower, more relaxing beach vacation. This island is particularly popular among backpackers, who are attracted to its affordable prices and laid-back atmosphere. Caye Calker is also easy to get to, as it is only a 45-minute water taxi ride from Belize City.
Visitors can sample fresh seafood, meet the locals or try out a variety of water activities, including snorkeling, diving, scuba diving and kayaking. There is a seahorse reserve, a mangrove forest and lots of boat trips that depart from the island. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is also accessible from Caye Caulker.
You won’t find expensive luxury resorts on this island. Accommodations options include boutique hotels and cozy cabanas, all reasonably priced. If you’re traveling with family, Caye Reef Condos is a great option. These beachfront apartments can sleep up to six people and are equipped with kitchens. Backpackers can opt for one of the island’s popular hostels, such as Blue Fin Cabanas and Sophies Guest Rooms.
Placencia sits on the southern tip of a peninsula in southeastern Belize. This charming fishing village is known for its beautiful sand beaches, which stretch for miles. Adventure-seekers can use Placencia as a home-base while heading off on exciting day trips, while those looking to relax can sunbathe on the beaches or explore the lively downtown area. When you’re not relaxing or exploring the jungle, hike to the nearby Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and see jaguars.
The town is home to many luxury beach resorts, many of which have their own dive centers. One popular luxury option is Turtle Inn, a charming beachfront restaurant seated between the Placencia lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. The Turtle Inn boasts an on-site spa, three restaurants, two bars and a pool area.
There are also more affordable hotels for those on a tighter budget. On such option, Miramar Suites, is a popular beachfront hotel located in downtown Placencia. This is a great option for families, as there as an outdoor pool area and many rooms come equipped with kitchens or kitchenettes.
4. San Ignacio
Ready to dive into Mayan history? Travel to San Ignacio. This town is located in the Cayo District, only 20 minutes from the Guatemalan border. Travelers here have easy access to ancient Maya ruins, like Xunantunich and Caracol. The town is surrounded by nature reserves, national parks, waterfalls and caves.
Downtown San Ignacio is full of colorful murals, local markets and locally-owned restaurants. Travelers can stay in jungle lodges or charming boutique hotels. Learn about Iguanas at the Green Iguana Conservation Project or take a Mayan chocolate making tour. To get your adrenaline pumping, take an ATV tour cave tour.
Hotel options in San Ignacio include the Chaa Creek, a luxury resort dedicated to eco-tourism. Guests can opt to stay in suites, cottages, villas or guest rooms. Some of the upscale villas come with jacuzzis, private verandas and private infinity pools. Maya Mountain Lodge is a more affordable option just a short walk from the city center.
Hopkins is a small village on the coast of the Stann Creek. The village is home to a community of Garifuna people, a mix of African and Indigenous Americans who live in small towns along the Caribbean. Enjoy delicious Garifuna cuisine, such as bundiga or cassava bread. The Garifuna people are also known for the lively music, which can be heard at local restaurants and bars. For an even more immersive experience, take a drumming or dancing lesson.
Travelers can also visit an overwater bar, go scuba diving, explore a wildlife sanctuary or rent a bike and explore the village. Accommodation options range from modest guest houses to oceanfront luxury hotels. Particularly popular resorts include Belizean Dreams Resort and Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort.
6. Belize City
Belize City is the largest city in the country, and likely the start of your Belize adventure, as it houses the country’s only international airport. Most travelers fly into Belize City and spend a couple days here before heading off to one of the islands or other vacation destinations.
Although Belize City isn’t known for its beaches, it is home to colonial architecture, historic landmarks and museums. Learn a little history at the Museum of Belize or check out the architecture in St. John’s Cathedral. There’s also a popular zoo and lots of guided nature tours that depart from the city. Some popular accommodation options in Belize City include Villa Boscardi and Harbour View Boutique Hotel & Yoga Retreat.
7. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is the perfect base for nature-lovers. Here, you’ll find waterfalls, caves, natural waterslides, pools and pine forests. Travelers can spend the day hiking, biking or horseback riding through the forests while enjoying breathtaking scenery and spotting a variety of wildlife.
For affordable accommodation options, stay in a rustic cottage, such as Kane Villas vacation rentals. These rental apartments include a kitchen and a private balcony with views of the mountains. If you’re looking to splurge, consider a luxurious forest lodge, such as the Blancaneaux Lodge, operated by the Family Coppola Hideaways. This resort features an outdoor swimming pool, an organic garden and two on-site restaurants.