Things to do in Belize: snorkel, visit Mayan sites and more

Grab your snorkel: Belize is open for business.

Bird Island could be all yours. | Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Bird Island could be all yours. | Photo courtesy of Airbnb

REMARK: We know COVID-19 continues to impact your travel plans. As of April 2021, official CDC guidelines indicate that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk, although safety precautions are still required. If you must travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC latest directives as well as the local requirements / protocols / restrictions for your destination and city of residence upon your return. Be safe there.

If you’re the type who prefers to vacation underwater, then it’s time to get your snorkel gear out: Belize is officially open for business. As the only Central American country whose official language is English — and a destination that takes US dollars– this underrated adventure center is one of the best places to get back on the road.

Just a little bigger than New Jersey, here you’ll find dense jungles, Caribbean shores, and some of the best places in the world for diving and snorkeling. The country has more than 450 islands; the largest, Ambergris Caye, which is said to have inspired Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”, is full of hotels, nightlife and restaurants (including a shipping container food park).

But if you’d rather hide on your own private island, that’s also totally doable: the surprisingly affordable four-bedroom Bird Island is for rent on Airbnb. The colorful solar-powered hideaway has its own bar, fishing dock, kayaks, swings, and barbecue. And yes, there is Wi-Fi.

Everyone loves a shipping container food truck. | Unsplash / Meritt Thomas

What is open in Belize and how to get there

If you are vaccinated, good for you! You must prove that you are fully vaccinated and that you received your last dose at least two weeks before your arrival. Otherwise, you will need either a negative COVID test taken within 96 hours of arrival or the results of a rapid antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before travel. Find up-to-date requirements on the Belize Travel Site. Keep in mind that you will need to test negative for the virus no more than three days before you return to the United States.

Direct flights are available from Atlanta, Charlotte (NC), Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Newark, some starting at $ 300. Visitors are encouraged to download and complete the Belize Health App within 72 hours of arrival, and respect the Golden standard of tourism tour operators, restaurants and hotels, where they implement procedures that include face masks, online check-in and check-out, social distancing and daily health checks for employees. A curfew is currently in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 4:59 a.m. daily.

It’s a Big Blue Hole. | Schafer & Hill / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Are you looking for activities for your trip to Belize? Go dive, duh

With the Big blue hole—A sea sinkhole 406 feet deep and 1,000 feet wide that Jacques Cousteau called one of the best scuba diving sites in the world-Check Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest living coral reef in the world. You will see 70 types of corals, more than 500 species of fish, sharks, eels and sea turtles. Throw in some lobster or conch for dinner and imagine yourself as a person who lives off the sea.

Discover one of more than 600 historic Mayan sites

Brave the immense jungle for Lamanai, a site with artifacts dating as far back as 1300 BC. Or visit the Cayo District west of Belize City, where you’ll find a collection of historical treasures, including the 25 structures of Xunantunich, a ceremonial site with the pyramid of El Castillo at its axis. Climb the stone steps of El Castillo 135 feet in the air and pace the land like a Mayan ruler, with a view of neighboring Guatemala. Imagine your subjects below playing the pok-ta-pok game; the losing team is sacrificed to the gods. (Apparently the game reappears. But obviously without the dead part.)

Coconuts taste best on your own private island. | Royal Belize, a Muy’Ono Resort

Do the private island thing, but make it chic

If you like the idea of ​​a private island and have a bunch of cash lying around somewhere, you and your 9 closest friends can rent Royal Belize island for $7,100 one night, staff included. Close Thatched cay is also known for its all-inclusive getaways. And Leonardo DiCaprio plans to open a luxury eco-resort on his personal cay, Blackadore. (Or just buy your own island, in some cases for less than an apartment in New York. If you do this, please invite us.)

Or book a chill eco-resort in the forest

On the mainland, Belize is full of unique and affordable ecological resorts, such as the Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge in the rainforest, where you can have breakfast with howler monkeys and collared aracari, birds that look like small toucans (but watch out for kinkajous, they will steal your bananas). If alcohol is a priority, the eco-lodge and the farm Copal Tree Lodge in Punta Gorda recently opened a rum distillery on site. Take your rum and sleep with it too.

Want more thrills? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat!

Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist’s Senior Travel Editor. She’s not kidding about crashing your private island.

Comments are closed.