Print this trip dossier

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more

My Enquiry is for
Contact details
2013 and earlier

Belize: a beginner's guide

As an Anglo-Mayan-Hispanic melting pot, Belize is unique.

From 1500BC it was Mayan territory. English and Scottish buccaneers arrived from 1638 onwards, using the coast as a base for operations against the Armada. The country was first christened British Honduras in 1840 and later became a crown colony. In 1973 the now autonomous territory was renamed Belize, but full independence was only granted in 1981. English is the official language and remains a lingua franca, alongside Belizean Creole, Spanish and Mayan languages.

Top five attractions 
  • The peaceful and preened island of Ambergris Caye.
  • The 600km-long barrier reef – often ranked just below the Red Sea and Great Barrier Reef as a dive experience.
  • The Mayan site of Caracol.
  • The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Low-key, laid-back Caye Caulker.

Best city 
Belize City, the former capital, has more wooden buildings than most modern cities and looks like the sort of place Popeye might have lived; catch a Garífuna music gig, and soak up, or slalom, Belize’s street life. Belmopan, the capital since 1970, is dull and functional.

Souvenir to buy 
Just take home the money – it looks like pirate currency with some great treasure island pictures on it, alongside the Queen’s head.

Quirky Belize 
Far from being off the map, Belize has been visited by Ringo Starr, Madonna (the main hamlet in Ambergris Caye is San Pedro as in “I fell in love with…”), Harrison Ford and Cyndi Lauper; Francis Ford Coppola opened a luxury resort, Blancaneaux, in the Maya mountains back in 1993.


‘The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw’ by Bruce Barcott. The dramatic story of one woman’s struggle to save a beautiful bird and her fight against a Canadian power company planning to build a dam that would destroy its habitat.


By Chris Moss, Teleraph Journalist.

Post a comment

Upcoming Events

See full Event Listing

Other holidays you may be interested in

jaguar pantanal

Wildlife Brazil: Jaguars of the Pantanal

Private journey

11 days from £4,270pp

Kayaking on the Macal River

Family Guatemala and Belize: Ancient temples and Caribbean isles

Private journey

14 days from £2,390pp

Hut with flag Lake Titicaca

Value Peru: Sacred Valley of the Incas to Lake Titicaca

Private journey

12 days from £1,760pp


Treasures of Central America: Heritage of the Aztec and Mayan Empires

Private journey

18 days from £4,472pp

Other articles you may like

Browse our inspiration area of the site. It's packed with insider travel tips, Top5s, competitions, events, recipes and holiday ideas for Central and South America sure to whet your travel appetite.

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/travel-inspiration/travel/belize-a-beginners-guide

Page ID: {5E40CB50-EBCD-47E7-9117-CBD1CA3360F5}

Page Name: belize-a-beginners-guide

Page Display Name: Belize: a beginner's guide

Page Template Name: T031-PapagaioBlogPost

Page Template ID: {ECC6A232-9784-4CC7-BA26-18421546B8F5}

Parent ID: {DC65CFB2-D81C-4A04-A7F8-0A1B3D88E7EB}

Parent Name: travel

Parent Display Name: Travel

Parent Template Name: T029-PapagaioCategoryListing

Parent Template ID: {4D163066-ED7E-48E6-AF31-34B6C47536CD}