Flying into Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, which services Belize City, you're bound to find yourself drooling at the scenery. From the sky, you're treated to a breathtaking view of the beaches and if you listen closely, you'll hear the tranquil turquoise waters beckoning you from below. Belize has over 380 kilometres of beautiful beach coastline with an endless number of beaches for tourists to enjoy. Bordering the Caribbean Sea to the east, beaches in Belize offer a peaceful getaway unlike many of the world's more crowded shorelines. You'll find the atmosphere and the people in Belize both friendly and laid-back … perfect for a beach getaway.
Belize is one of the world's top diving destinations. Following Australia's Great Barrier Reef, The Belize Coral Reef is the second largest coral reef in the world. At 290 kilometres long and stretching the length of the country, The Belize Coral Reef is the largest continuous reef system in the Western Atlantic. And what treasures lie beneath? The reef is home to a vast assortment of marine life, including many rare and endangered species. The American Crocodile and West Indian Manatee both call this place home and there are some 178 plant species and 247 different marine flora as well. For the diving enthusiast, this place is a veritable goldmine.
3. Soft adventure
Turf, not surf? There's no shortage of soft adventure options for those who like to keep their feet planted on terra firma. Well, maybe not exactly planted. The Aerial Trek Canopy Tour, or zip lining, at Jaguar Paw (about 75 minutes from the airport) is a thrill for pros and novices alike. The experts here are friendly and encouraging (particularly for first-timers) and will set you up with all your gear: helmet, body harness, pulley and gloves. After a safety briefing and introductory instructions, you'll be set to soar through the jungle's treetops not unlike Tarzan himself. Leaping from one platform to the next (there are eight in total) is exhilarating and with expert leadership from the guides, you may find yourself wanting to do it again! The Aerial Trek Canopy Tour costs $55 per person. For more information, visit www.jaguarpaw.com.
Belize is a dream vacation for active families seeking adventure. Click here to learn more!
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4. Ka'ana Boutique Resort and Spa
Located about two hours from the airport in the Cayo District, Ka'ana Boutique Resort and Spa is a lovely, tucked away place to stay. It's not close to the beach but is well situated by other must-see sites, such as the jungles and ancient Mayan ruins. Ka'ana is where you'll enjoy all the amenities of a wonderful luxury resort in Belize's interior. The hotel has 15 well-kept guest cottages that are spacious and surrounded by beautiful tropical landscape. The comfortable rooms feature modern amenities like an LCD TV and Internet access, as well as air conditioning for those hot, humid days. The room's verandah is perfect for relaxing on after an action-packed day of soft adventure. An on-site spa, outdoor pool and restaurants mean everything you need is close at hand. Room rates range from $250 US in the low season to $450 US in peak season. For more information, visit www.kaanabelize.com.
It's hard to say what exactly constitutes Belizean cuisine, as it's a delectable mélange of tastes and ingredients. Its inspiration is Mexican, Caribbean, African and Spanish, though local hamburger and pizza joints can be found, too! Rice and beans, typically Mexican, are a staple and accompany most main dishes. Seafood is also another natural choice. You'll find a large selection of fresh fish, lobster and shrimp. If you're a lobster-lover, lobster season is from approximately mid-February to mid-July. As you might suspect, tropical fruits abound in Belize, like mangoes, papayas, pineapples, bananas and star fruit.
6. Mayan ruins
Between 250 AD and 900 AD, Belize became the centre of the ancient Mayan civilization. Beginning as far back as 1500 BC, the Mayan civilization spread throughout Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Today, the legacy of this ancient culture can still be found in Belize. Awe-inspiring palaces and temples are still being uncovered and their magnificence, standing stoically against the Belizean skyline, has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Xunantunich, about 130 kilometres west of Belize City in the Cayo District, is situated on a plot of land about three square kilometres and has more than 26 temples and palaces. But El Castillo is what really draws visitors. This pyramid is the second tallest structure in Belize, following a temple at Caracol, another Mayan ruin in Belize. Climb to the top for an impressive panoramic view of both Belize and Guatemala. NOTE: Wear proper shoes and take your time. The steps are worn and can be tricky to climb.
7. Tropical weather
Good weather is a major consideration for us Canucks as we plot and plan our winter getaways. Belize isn't likely to disappoint. The climate is hot and humid for most of the year; temperatures tend to cool slightly in the coastal areas, thanks to Caribbean breezes, and remain five to 10 degrees warmer in the interior. Temperatures typically peak around June, averaging about 29 degrees C, but throughout the rest of the year, temperatures tend to hold steady at about 27 degrees C. Between February and May is known as the dry season (the least amount of rainfall compared to other months) and hurricane season is from June until the end of November.
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Natalie Bahadur is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com and the editor of StyleAtHome.com.