Belize Vacations

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Laid-Back Belize Vacations

Belize vacations are so removed from modern-day United States that you seem to enter a different world. Set on the eastern seacoast of Central America, tiny Belize looks out onto the Caribbean Sea, and, in many ways, still looks back on its monumental Maya past. Today, this English-speaking country has a population of about 267,000, but the mix of peoples and cultures is astounding: Creoles (African-European), Mestizo (Spanish-Indian), Garifuna (African-Indian), Mayan, Anglo-European, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Mennonites!

Influenced by the casual Caribbean lifestyle, these ethnic groups live harmoniously with each other and with the natural beauty of their countryside. Having gained independence from England in 1981, Belize, formerly British Honduras, has moved smoothly to a parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage for those 18 and older. With few roads--and the existing ones ranging from two lanes to dirt tracks--personal transportation is frequently by foot or bicycle. Cars? Yes, but drivers are likely to stop in the middle of the road to chat with a friend, and they tailgate at top speed! Public transportation consists of buses; there are no trains in this rural country, so Belize family vacations, especially, must be carefully planned.

Life Is Definitely Outdoors!

With a year-round mean temperature of 80 degrees, Belizeans live outdoors! Visitors are advised to bring light-colored clothes, shorts, short-sleeve tops, sandals--and mosquito repellent. Leave the jewels and cocktail dresses at home! This balmy Caribbean coastline is water-sport heaven, so swimsuits and water gear should be the first things you pack! Belize diving and snorkeling are awesome. Water lovers of all ages--this place is your mecca!

Belize has the world's only jaguar preserve--what does that tell you about the wildlife here? Impenetrable jungles and lush rain forests blanket the country, and these areas are filled with orchids, howler monkeys, the prehistoric tapir, limestone caves, and wildly beautiful rivers. Last but not least on the list of must-sees for Belize vacations are the world-famous ruins of the Maya civilization, whose people constructed astonishing buildings in prehistoric times. Significantly, the tallest building in Belize is a 139-foot Maya pyramid!

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