The sunny sky, warm water, and beautiful white sand beaches are reason enough to visit Belize. This small Caribbean nation has so much more to offer though. Here we will outline some of the most popular land attractions you must visit while in Belize.
Located 500 meters (1,650 ft) above sea level, Caracol is the largest Mayan site in Belize. The Caracol Mayan Ruins consist of 35,000 buildings that used to be a large Mayan city around 650 AD with an estimated population of almost 200,000, which is more than twice the size of the Belize City population today. Most of this ancient city is underground, but a small fraction of buildings left on the surface talks about the city’s majesty. The largest structure is the pyramid Canaa, meaning “Sky Place,” at 43 meters (143 ft), which is the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize. From the top one can see all the way to Guatemala. Caracol Mayan Ruins is also home of a variety of wildlife, such as ocellated turkey, keel-billed toucans, and the legendary mot-mot.
Once a major city of the Mayan civilization, Lamanai is a popular archaeological site, located in northern Belize. Getting here is a scenic adventure on its own and involves a 26-mile boat ride up the New River Lagoon departing from Orange Walk Town. Lamanai encompasses 950 acres and is one of the largest Mayan ceremonial sites, featuring more than 100 minor structures, a ball court and about 12 major buildings – the most popular among them are the Temple of the Mask, the Maya Sun God, the Temple of the Jaguar Masks and the High Temple. Contrary to the typical Mayan layout, which consists of plazas around a ceremonial structure, this site’s layout is quite different – most ceremonial buildings were built along the west bank of the New River and the New River Lagoon. The ancient ruins at Lamanai are not completely uncovered yet, and archaeological projects continue to work on the restoration of the larger structures of the High Temple.
San Pedro Town
San Pedro Town is located in Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. The town is the typical laid-back beach town with no high-rises or traffic, making it a very attractive destination for travelers. The town offers family-style accommodation options. Even if you don’t stay in town, most of the resorts are within a mile from town. San Pedro also has a great choice of restaurants and bars.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is known as the world’s first jaguar preserve. It is home to 60 out of 700 Belize jaguars and a must-visit for nature lovers. Here you can see beautiful waterfalls, unique flora and fauna and spend a day hiking off the beaten path, where seeing wildcats, tapir, deer, and other wildlife is not unusual. There is so much to do and see here that visitors usually stay longer. The park has basic accommodation options – cabins and campgrounds – so this is something to consider if you would like to spend more than a day here.