Why? If you want all the jungles, ruins, and reefs of Central America but you don’t want to deal with Spanish or changing any money, Belize is for you. Everything that Belize has to offer can be found in neighboring countries, but Belize has it all in a small and safe package. The barrier reef off Belize’s coast (with it’s famous Blue Hole) is second in the world only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in terms of size, and limited coastal development has kept it in great shape. While the Mayan ruins here aren’t as grand as Guatemala, Mexico or Honduras, they’re also not as busy and allow you to soak up the jungle atmosphere.
Where? Belize is a small country, almost the same size as New Jersey, meaning there’s no excuse not to visit several highlights. Much of Belize’s coast has mangrove forests and other natural features instead of beaches, but the waters are warm, calm, and fantastic for kayaking, sailing, snorkeling and diving, so the coast is not to be missed. Small islands known as Cayes dot the coast and are the epitome of laid back island life (think no paved roads and golf carts or bicycles for transport). The jungle is the other big draw for Belize. You can choose a jungle area that includes little-visited Mayan ruins being consumed by the forest or the fun of zip-lining and cave tubing. Whichever you choose, you can expect howler monkeys and other jungle critters to show you why Belize is so well known for eco-tourism.
When? December to April are the most popular months to visit Belize. The Northern half of the country is a little bit drier these months and the whole country is at its coolest from December to February. Hurricane season runs from July to October, which keeps crowds thinner, but the odds that a hurricane actually ruins your vacation aren’t that big (take it from someone who weathered a hurricane in a Cancun hostel). I’d buy travel insurance those months, but you can find some good deals.
How much? Because of the high level of foreign tourism coupled with high taxes, Belize is drastically more expensive than its neighbors. You can get by on under $40-50 USD per day but you’re really going to have to look for deals. At around $100 USD each day you’ll have a nice selection of mid-range options and some tours. Top end lodging, food and tours could easily run over $200 USD per day. Always be sure you know if the price is in Belize dollars or US dollars, because one is worth twice as much as other! However, US dollars are widely accepted by tour companies, nicer hotels and restaurant since the Belize dollar is always pegged to the US dollar: $1 BZD = $0.50 USD
How long? Because of it’s small size, Belize can be seen in a fairly small amount of time. In just a week you can spend a few days exploring the coast and a few days in the jungle. Travel times around the country are also quite short, meaning you won’t lose a day getting from one location to the next. In just a month you can see almost the whole country.