It’s a common question. When someone says they are going to Belize, many ask, “Where exactly is that?” Granted, Belize is not one of those highly-touted travel destinations, but it should be, for many reasons.

So, Where the Heck is Belize?

Belize is a tiny country nestled between Mexico and Guatemala, sitting on the Gulf of Mexico. It is often considered a Caribbean country, although it is on the other side of the Gulf from what we normally consider “Caribbean.”

The country is 180 miles long and 68 miles wide. But don’t this size fool you. Packed into those roughly 8800 sq. miles are gorgeous beaches, tropical rainforests, mountains, the second-largest coral reef in the world, and a native population of peaceful, welcoming people whose lifestyle is simple and unhurried.

A Bit of History

Unlike most of Latin America, Belize was colonized by the British and gained its independence in 1981. It is now a democratic country with its own constitution and universal suffrage.

This background has resulted in some interesting features about Belize today. First, everyone speaks English so an American traveler has no language barrier. Second, the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere, along with the Belize dollar of course – the fixed exchange rate is 2$ Belize = 1$ U.S.

Today, Belize’s economy is based primarily on coffee, bananas, timber, and tourism.

Something for Everyone

Are you looking for a tropical paradise with beautiful beaches and water play? Belize has it – some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Are you looking for a diving adventure? The second-largest coral reef is right there. And newer government protections are in place to sustain it.

Are you looking for some history? You’ll want to visit the ancient Mayan ruins and marvel at the architecture of this ancient civilization. – pyramids and amazing temples.


Are you an eco-tourist? The rainforests offer you a chance to explore the natural habitat of plant and animal life. Again, these are under government protection for sustainability.

Want a resort vacation with amazing accommodations? You will find these up and down the coast from the northern towns of San Pedro and Ambergris Caye, to Hopkins in the middle of the country, all the way down to Placencia in the south. You can plan a great getaway with a new-found love or spouse. And the great thing? Diversity rules in Belize, no matter what the racial or ethnic background. Read more here. The indigenous population is dark-skinned, with ethnicities ranging from Creoles to Mestizos and plenty of combinations, but there are vacationers and settlers of every possible racial makeup. And guess what? They all get along.

Geographical Diversity

There are not many places in the world that offer the diversity that Belize is in such a small area. Beautiful mountains growing coffee give way to grassy plains, river valleys, and banana plantations. The interior rainforests support an amazing array of wildlife. Some 35 major and minor rivers crisscross Belize, either emptying into the Gulf or into other rivers that then empty there. Both freshwater and saltwater fishing are a livelihood for lots of people. And of course, the barrier reef is a national treasure.

How You Get to Belize

Most people arrive in Belize by air – several major airlines fly into the Belize City airport. Those who want to take their time can also drive through Mexico.

From Belize City, there are small “island hopper” planes that go to smaller airports up and down the country. Or, tourists can rent a car at the airport and take a more scenic route. To their destinations. The roads have vastly improved over the past decade.

The Expat Life in Belize

Much of the expat community is from the US and Canada, although Germans, Asians, and others have found a home in Belize.

Especially for retirees, Belize is a major haven. They enjoy lots of benefits, and living costs are so reasonable – a retired couple can live very well on 2500$ US/month income. Add to that the quieter, laid-back lifestyle, and Belize is rather a “golden retreat.”

Put Belize on Your Bucket List

If you have never been, it’s time. Most who travel there fall in love with the country and its people – you will too.


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