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You may recall Belize when it was formerly known as
British Honduras. Located on the eastern coast of Central
America, Belize is about the size of New Jersey and
bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the
south and west. The Caribbean Sea lies to the east.
Probably the most famous icon is The Great Blue Hole,
a giant submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize that lies
near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 43 miles
from the mainland and Belize City. This blue hole is
circular in shape, over 984 feet across and 354 feet deep.
Belize is known for its profound biodiversity and
distinctive ecosystems. Along the coastal plains, there are
mangrove swamps. The southern and interior areas are
comprised of hills and low mountains. Most of the land
is undeveloped and forested with hardwoods. This Mesoamerican country has a profusion of jungles and wildlife reserves - one of the richest habitats for flora and fauna including tapirs, toucans, the black orchid and mahogany tree - and the largest cave system in Central America.
At the Xunantunich ruins, you can explore the large plazas, temples, palaces, and pyramids of the once thriving city that reached its peak during the Classical Period between 300 and 900 A.D. The ancient Mayan sacrificial caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal should not be missed. Journey on to Cahal Pech with its commanding views over the Maya Mountains and fertile Belize River valley. Float with the tide down a remote rainforest river in an inflated inner tube; experience the rainforest canopy close up from a thrilling zipline; swim with harmless nurse sharks in the crystal-clear, warm Caribbean Sea; snorkel among vibrant coral gardens; and relax on the lovely beaches of Ambergris Caye (pronounced "key").
Belize is one of the world’s top dive destinations. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 190 mile long section of the 560 mile Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya and up to Honduras, making it the second largest coral reef system in the world. While diving and exploring the underwater world of Belize, you will encounter a number of different reef types (fringing reefs, patch reefs, faroes, barrier reefs, and atolls) and a myriad of tropical fish and other marine creatures. Diving with whale sharks is a popular seasonal event.
A little history ...
This multi-cultural nation is
regarded as both Central American
as well as Caribbean due to its
strong ties with the Latin American
and Caribbean regions. While Belize
enjoys a melting pot of people
(including a healthy ex-pat
population of retirees from North
America), the indigenous people are the Garifuna - mixed-race descendants of West and Central African, Island Carib, and Taíno (who are often called the Arawak) people. The Garifuna live along the Caribbean coast of Belize but are also found in Honduras (largest population), Guatemala, and Nicaragua, and speak their own Garifuna language which is an Arawakan dialect with French, English, and Spanish influences, in addition to English. The Belizean people are also made up of Maya, Mestizo, Kriol (Belizean Creole), East Indian, Arab and Chinese. A small group of Rastafarian from Jamaica live in Dangriga and Belize City. All in all, Belizean traditions and customs represent more than eight diverse cultures.
Additionally, although rarely mentioned, there are considerable
Mennonite communities in Belize originating from Canada, Mexico,
El Salvador and the USA. Often mistaken for or regarded as Amish,
they live in the settlements of Upper Barton Creek, Springfield and
Pine Hill. Mennonites in Belize speak Plautdietsch (mostly) and
Pennsylvania German (some from the USA) in addition to Spanish
and English in everyday life, and contribute to the carpentry,
engineering, and agricultural industries of the country. They produce
milk, cheese, beans, corn, melons, honey, chicken, and eggs. The
Mennonites have turned sections of tropical jungle into highly
productive farmland. They are also skilled in manufacturing
household furniture - for which the country is known - as well as
Officially, however, Belize is part of the British Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as its Monarch and Head of State.
What To Expect and What To Do
Belize has become one of the top travel destinations in the world because of its spectacular and intriguing attractions such as the Belize Barrier Reef, magnificent Blue Hole, white sandy beaches, numerous cayes (pronounced "keys") and islands, virgin rainforests and jungles, abundant flora and fauna, intriguing and eclectic cultures, punta music and laid-back atmosphere. In short, there is something for everyone who enjoys the outdoors, Mesoamerican history architecture, and watersports.
The country has several distinct regions and, depending on your particular interests, it's helpful to know their differences:
San Ignacio Town is the main town in the Cayo District of western Belize. It is an ideal base from which to explore ancient Maya cities like Caracol and Xunantunich and ceremonial caves like Barton Creek and Actun Tunichil Muknal, and cascading waterfalls like Rio on Pools and Big Rock waterfalls in the Mountain Pine Ridge Nature Reserve. Hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, and kayaking are popular activities here.
Caye Caulker is a small and beautiful island off the coast of Belize and is an ideal base for snorkeling and diving adventures.
Located in the Stann Creek District, Placencia is a long, narrow, and sandy peninsula along Belize’s Caribbean coastline. This area offers a laid-back ambiance with the best restaurants in Southern Belize. It is known for scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and fly-fishing. During the full moons of May and June, you can go on a whale shark expedition at the Gladden Spit Reserve where these gentle giants come to spawn. Inland tours worth your time include Monkey River and the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve which can also be explored from Placencia.
Ambergris Caye is the largest island in the northern waters of Belize measuring 25 miles long by five (5) miles wide was once part of Mexico and shares much of its wildlife. With over 200 species of birds, this popular island is located just 35 miles northeast of Belize City and can be reached via 10-minutes by plane or 1-1/2 hour boat ride San Pedro (Saint Peter) Town is the only town on the island, and is about 1-1/2 miles long and in some places about a mile wide. This is where you will find the majority of Ambergris Caye's population as well most of the restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels on the island. The Great Belize Barrier Reef lies on the east side of Ambergris Caye and it is the island’s biggest tourist attraction since it is only a quarter-mile from the beach. Scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, or sail boating to other islands or cayes are just a few good reasons to visit. The Zaak Ba Ajo Lagoon (northern part of the island, San Juan or Saint John) is a great spot to snorkel, boasting unique aquatic life and the lagoon's own little blue hole.
Hopkins is the cultural center of Garifuna life, a peaceful village on the coast of Stann Creek District in Belize. While activities include snorkeling and scuba diving, this is where you would go to experience Garifuna drumming, singing, and cuisine.
Dangriga is the largest town in Stann Creek District in Southern Belize and is considered a major capital of the Garifuna people. The name “Dangriga” is derived from a Garifuna word meaning ‘sweet water’ and the town is also the birthplace of punta rock — a fusion of acoustic Garifuna and electric instruments. Visit the Gulisi Garifuna Museum that highlights the culture and history of the Garifuna people or the Pen Cayetano Gallery, which showcases the artwork of Pen Cayetano. Other stops of cultural interest include the Drums of my Father Monument, the National Garifuna Council headquarters, and the Thomas Vincent Ramos Monument.
Locally known as P.G, Punta Gorda is the southernmost town in Belize and is also the capital of the Toledo District. The population of about six thousand people consists of Garifuna, Maya, East Indians, Creoles and some Lebanese and Chinese. Top attractions include pristine rainforests and jungles, offshore cayes, coastal lowlands, and an extensive network of caves.
South Water Caye was named by local fishermen for the availability of fresh water to be found in shallow wells on the island. Perched on top of the world-renowned Belize Barrier Reef, it is located only 10 miles off the coast of Dangriga and Hopkins in southern Belize and is a world heritage site which has been zoned to protect fishing nurseries and unique marine habitats. With its shallow reefs, the Caye is an ideal spot for snorkeling, fishing, and diving.
Located on the Shipstern Peninsula in the northeast Corozal District, Sarteneja is a quaint and picturesque Mestizo and Creole fishing and pineapple farming community that rests on a tropical bay. "Sarteneja" is derived from the Yucatec Maya “Tzaten-a-Ha” which is thought to translate as “water in the rock”. This Spanish-speaking town is actually the largest village in Belize. Known for its aquamarine blue waters and surrounding natural beauty, it is a good place to get away from it all. The Shipstern Wildlife Reserve, with its wide array of wildlife and tropical foliage, is one of the top attractions in the area and is comprised of 31 square miles of tropical forest.
Private Islands The leeward (western) side of Ambergris Caye is dotted with a handful of private islands, including the luxurious Cayo Espanto and Leonard DiCaprico's Blackadore Caye. This shallow area is a great spot for fly fishing, fishing, snorkeling, birdwatching and even spotting dolphins and manatees.
Belize has an average temperature of 84 F (29 C) where coastal sea breezes and cooling jungle and rainforest zephyrs keep you cool even during the hot summer months. A comfortable climate is one of Belize's attractions where, even in winter (November - March), the temperature rarely falls below 60 F (16 C). Summers (May - September) may run 86 F with a fairly consistent humidity level of 85%.
Belize's dry season runs between February and May. June through December (with June through July receiving the most precipitation) are the wettest months where parts of the country may experience up to 150" of rain, with storms - usually short bursts - brewing in the later afternoon. Late July/August is known as "little dry".
In Belize, you’ll hear familiar words of the English language. In fact, this is the only English language-speaking country in Central America. While English is the official language of Belize, Kriol (Belizean Creole) is the language they all speak. They tend to have a Caribbean lilt and their words seem a bit shorter. But don’t worry, you’ll understand everything and you might pick up a few phrases you don’t know.
Here, even their language is a diverse adventure. Spanish, African-based Garifuna, Maya-Kekchi, Maya Mopan, Mandarin, German are just a few of the languages that form the unique dialects Belizeans speak throughout the country. For example, here are a few different ways you’ll hear “good morning”:
“Gud Mawnin” – Kriol
“Buiti Binafi” – Garifuna
“Buenos dias” – Spanish
Travelers can navigate Belize by plane, bus, car, boat, or horse (that’s right, horse). Below is a list of the many ways to discover this great country.
Transportation includes local airlines, helicopter, rental cars, tour operators, and buses that make getting around Belize easy. Remember to pack your sense of adventure, whether you’re headed to the beach, a dive site, Maya temples or any combination. Be ready for a journey.
For a small nation, Belize has a well-organized highway and road plan that connects all mainland towns, villages, and attractions. This system allows visitors to engage on a unique combination of experiences in one of the last unspoiled places on earth.
There are small airports in Belize centrally located around key points of interest in the country, bus terminals in most towns, and boat services (marinas) operating from all major coastal regions and island towns.
Travel via local airlines in passenger aircraft is the fastest and most popular means of transportation throughout Belize, especially for itineraries that combine different in-country locations. Flight schedules are coordinated with the arrival and departure of international flights, for even more convenient traveling and exploring.
Belize City and the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) are hubs for most rental agencies, with localized services available in the larger tourism destinations.
Boats - known locally as water taxis - are the primary means of transportation between the islands and the mainland and, of course, to barrier reef attractions.
Regularly scheduled water taxis operate between Belize City, Caye Caulker, and San Pedro.
What You Won't Find
There are no high-rise hotels, fast food restaurants, pushy beach peddlers, aggressive shopkeepers, duty-free shopping, timeshares or gambling.
Why People Come Here
Belize is a diver's and snorkeler's paradise, with miles of living coral reef, drawing a wide sweep of visitors from across the globe. It's virgin tropical rainforests and Mayan ruins attract travelers seeking more than just a beach vacation. Newlyweds desiring an adventure honeymoon. Families wanting to explore the ancient Mayan, Garifuna and Taíno culture. It's a 'new'destination just waiting to be explored.
VHR, WORLDWIDE represents a fine selection of deluxe and luxury villas, condominiums, and private islands in Belize for rent. Our offerings include individual dwellings/islands as well as accommodations in a resort setting, ideal for a honeymoon, family, destination wedding, family reunion and small to medium group gathering. We have in our portfolio a number of villas and private islands not available on the open market, as they are the resort hideaways of celebrities and dignitaries and are not publicly promoted.
As we are in the throes of compiling the information on a wide variety of properties that do not appear on the website yet, please contact us directly with your inquiry.