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You’ll Be Amazed By These Belize Beaches

Belize Beaches


There are a few things you should consider when planning a trip to explore the beautiful Belize beaches on your next vacation.

With almost 240 miles of coastline and hundreds of offshore islands and cayes, you might expect the nation to be home to dozens of the world’s most pristine sandy beaches.  Well, that’s not exactly the case.

While there are a number of gorgeous stretches of coastline, among which we’re going to share with you some of our favorites, much of Belize’s coast is occupied by mangrove forests.

These important eco-systems house many species of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and even mammals. They also protect the shores from erosion and damage from hurricanes.

However, they don’t necessarily provide the best conditions for swimming or sunbathing.  As a result it’s important to thoroughly research any areas you plan to visit to make sure that each offers the types of activities and atmosphere you’re seeking.

Whether you’re looking to spend your days relaxing in the sand, enjoying some of the world’s best scuba diving in Belize, or soaking up the local culture, Belize has a beach that’s sure to suit your tastes.

belize beaches

Side 78

1. Ambergris Caye: Best for Aquatic Adventures

Ambergris Caye is a 36-mile long island off the northernmost coast of Belize.  In fact, it’s believed that it was once part of the Yucatan Peninsula before the Mayans dug a narrow channel to separate it from Mexico.

One of the largest islands, it’s also the country’s most popular tourist destination due to its beautiful scenery, friendly locals, and great access to a number of water sports.

The island has a great tourist infrastructure, with plenty of hotels, bars, restaurants, and shopping.  San Pedro Town, the only city on the island, has all the amenities visitors need.

However, despite its popularity, the island still enjoys a relaxed, laid-back feel.  This is largely due to the lack of high-rise hotels and other large developments.

Most of the beaches in the tourist areas have been cleared, and some have even had sand brought in to further enhance guests’ enjoyment of the shoreline.  However the real star of the show in Ambergris Caye is the wealth of activities that are available just short distance from the coast.

A mere half mile off the coast of the island lies the Belize coral reef system, the second largest in the world.  In just a few minutes you can access dive sights like Mexico Rocks and the world-famous Great Blue Hole.

For those who don’t dive, you can also snorkel in 3 feet of water with brightly-colored parrot fish in spots like Shark Ray Alley and the Hol Chan Reserve.

Other popular aquatic activities include deep sea fishing and sailing the cayes.  The shore is dotted with piers where you can rent a boat for diving, fishing, or exploring.  Diving schools and equipment rentals are also widely available.

belize beaches

Unquencahble Fire

2. Caye Caulker: Best Laid-Back Atmosphere

Just a short distance from Ambergris Caye is Caye Caulker, one of the most easy-going of all the Belize beaches. It also has a number of cleared sections of beach, as well as an area called the Split on the southern tip of the island which is one of the area’s best swimming spots.

The island’s motto is “Go Slow”, and this sentiment is echoed throughout the attitudes of the locals, as well as their methods of transportation.

Cars aren’t allowed on the island, with the exception of a few delivery trucks, so folks get around via golf carts, one-speed bikes, and their own two–usually bare–feet.

Much like the disposition of its residents, the island itself is also fairly unassuming.  Businesses are locally owned.  Tourist accommodations are small-scale and affordable.  The island also remains true to its distinct cultural flavor, without seeming too overly touristy.

Much smaller (only four miles long) than nearby Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker also enjoys the same close proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef, just a mile away.  As a result, it’s also a popular destination for those interested in diving, sailing, and fishing.

Among its other offerings are manatee tours.  You can swim alongside these friendly sea cows or just watch as they swim right up to the edge of your boat.

Caye Caulker also enjoys a strong eastward wind throughout most of the year, making it a great place for wind surfing.

Land loving adventurers can explore the jungles and mangrove forests, which are home to over 190 species of birds.  Several areas of the island are designated as protected reserves.

belize beaches

Walter Rodriguez

3. Placencia: Best of the Mainland Belize Beaches

If you’re still looking for that pristine stretch of sandy coastline that goes on for miles, you’ll find it in Placencia.  In fact, there are 12 miles of it.

The beaches here are wide and welcoming, with fantastic views of the nearby cayes.  Of all the Belize beaches, it’s undeniably one of the most postcard-worthy.

But just because it’s on the mainland, that doesn’t mean it lags behind its island neighbors in the adventure category.  Placencia lies only a short boat ride from the Belize barrier reef so, like several on our list, it also offers some amazing diving and snorkeling opportunities.

It’s also a good place for fly fishing and trolling, as well as spotting the area’s famous whale sharks.  However, in Placencia, the story doesn’t end with the aquatic adventures.

Just inland from Placencia lies the majestic Maya Mountains, which are packed with culture, history, rushing rivers, and cascading waterfalls.  These attractions are so close, you can even experience the thrill of the beach and the mountains in the same day.

Placencia is also a cultural and culinary hub.  The abundance of fresh seafood lends itself to a wide variety of local ethnic preparations, as well as international cuisines.  There’s also a Lobsterfest each year in June. The Placencia Sidewalk Arts and Music Festival in February is another popular event.

Placencia also boasts a vibrant nightlife, with many local bars and nightclubs where patrons can dance to local rhythms ’til the wee hours of the morning.

However, due to its beautiful beaches, festivals, and abundance of tourist attractions, Placencia has a tendency to become a bit crowded.

belize beaches

Joshua Skaroff

4.  Hopkins: Best for Authentic Culture

Hopkins is the least known of all the Belize beaches on our list.  As a result, it’s a great option for those who hope to avoid the crowds.

It’s also jam-packed with culture, as it’s considered by some to be the cultural center of Belize’s Garifuna population, a people of African, Carib, and Arawak descent.  The town hosts Hopkins Day, as well as Garifuna Independence Day, with drum ceremonies and other festivities.

Though it’s gaining popularity, Hopkins is home to only about 1,500 residents, most of whom make a living by farming or fishing.  Due to its growth, more and more are finding work in the tourism industry.

The locals are welcoming to visitors, and the area was even recently voted “The Friendliest Village in Belize” by Belize First Magazine.

The town’s shoreline boasts a long stretch of sand that’s perfect for walking or jogging.  While tourist attractions are still few, there are a number of restaurants, gift shops, and small bars.  Hopkins is also a short 20 minute boat ride from the reef, making it likely to continue to grow in popularity as an up-and-coming dive destination.

Due to their fishing background, the Garifuna people are excellent navigators and tour guides.  They can also lead you to some of the area’s best fishing. Some also offer lessons on how to play the Garifuna Drums, a unique instrument of African and Amerindian design played to authentic Caribbean beats.

Hopkins also offers a number of inland attractions to explore, such as Mayan temples, caves, waterfalls, and a dense rainforest.  Another site unique to Hopkins is the nearby Cockscomb Basin, a jaguar preserve that offers hiking, camping, and jaguar sightings among fantastic mountain and rainforest views.

Which Beach is Right For You?

Whether your ideal vacation involves long walks on white stretches of sand, world-class fishing and diving, or even both you’re sure to find what you’re looking for somewhere on these beautiful Belize beaches.

You can choose a long span of beach on the mainland, an island getaway, or–better yet–a combination of the two.  Just pack your laid-back attitude and your casual attire (shoes optional) and head on down.

Map of Best Beaches in Belize

Belize Fast Facts

  • Population: About 324,000
  • Typical temperature: 84 degrees
  • Nearest airport with U.S. flights: Belize City, Belize
  • Nearest U.S. Consulate: Belmopan, Cayo, Belize

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