Belize is home to a large mainland island and hundreds of smaller surrounding barrier islands. The island nation is one of the Caribbean's premiere spots for snorkeling and diving, surrounded by the beautiful 190-mile Belize Barrier Reef, part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Pristine beaches abound at a variety of tourist areas, including the charming San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye and the nightlife-heavy Caye Caulker.

Nearby trips: Best Beaches, Best Weekend Getaways, Best Day Trips


1.Placencia

Placencia
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Placencia is a beach resort area on Belize's Placencia Peninsula, which spans 16 miles along the island's southern coastline, the longest stretch of beachfront on the island's mainland. The beach is frequently referred to as "barefoot perfect" and is the island nation's most popular beachfront getaway, home to the charming villages of Seine Bight, Maya Beach, and Placencia Village. Wide stretches of white sand beaches front the Caribbean Sea and the Placencia Lagoon, flanked by a backdrop of the majestic Maya Mountains. Visitors can kayaking, saltwater fly fish, dive, and snorkel among the Belize Barrier Reef by day and enjoy top-tier dining and nightlife options in all three villages during the evening hours. Annual events held on the peninsula include a Lobster Fest and frequent whale shark watching opportunities and tours between April and July.

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2.Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker
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Caye Caulker is Belize's second-largest island, spanning four miles in the Caribbean approximately 21 miles northeast of the coast of Belize City. The island's formerly fishing-based economy has given way to tourism in recent years, known today for its vibrant nightlife and affordable lodging options. Calm, clear waters on the island's reef side make for perfect swimming conditions, while the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve makes for a prime spot for diving and snorkeling due to its proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef. Eco-tours offer opportunities to see manatees, mangrove lagoons, and more than 120 species of tropical birds up close. After a long day of watersports and beach activities, visitors can enjoy many fine and casual dining restaurants on the island or peruse the island's shops and nightlife spots.

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3.Silk Caye

Silk Caye
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Silk Caye is the name for two deserted islands approximately 20 nautical miles off the eastern coast of the Placencia Peninsula, home to the Silk Caye Marine Reserve, which has been a protected natural area since 2003. The islands serve as a jumping-off point for scuba divers looking to explore the region's beautiful coral reef marine ecosystem, which is home to protected wildlife such as staghorn, fire, and elkhorn coral, loggerhead and Hawksbill sea turtles, and great hammerhead sharks. Many licensed eco-tours offer guided opportunities to snorkel throughout the region in groups. Visitor boats embark daily to the islands from Placencia Village, though visitors are welcome to sail their own boats to the island for diving or relaxing, secluded picnics.

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4.Hopkins Village

Hopkins Village
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Hopkins Village is a lovely beachfront village that is home to Belize's largest current population of Garifuna people, who are a mixed-race ethnic group of Native Caribbean and enslaved African descent. The laid-back village is known for its picturesque beachfront, which provides swimming, snorkeling, and watersports access to the beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean and the Belize Barrier Reef, located only 20 miles offshore. Mayan architectural sites can be viewed in the nearby Belizean rainforest, which can be explored as part of guided eco-tours. The vibrant village is also known for its unique local culture, which showcases plentiful daily dancing and drumming demonstrations. Delicious Caribbean, South and Central American, and seafood restaurants abound for visitors to enjoy after a long day on the beach or in the rainforest.

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5.Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye
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Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and serves as its primary tourist destination, formerly connected to the Yucatan as a peninsula during the time of the Mayan civilization. The island is best known for its amazing scuba diving and snorkeling conditions, providing convenient access to the Belize Barrier Reef, which spans the entire island shoreline approximately one mile east of its coastline. Many certified diving schools on the island offer lessons and equipment rentals, providing visitors with a chance to observe sea turtles, manta rays, nurse sharks, and tropical fish in their natural environments. In charming San Pedro Town, delicious restaurants and quaint tourist shops line the main thoroughfares, with affordable hotels and bungalows available for overnight rental.

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6.Half Moon Caye

Half Moon Caye
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Half Moon Caye is a charming island located along the Lighthouse Reef Atoll's southwestern corner, noted as a top snorkeling and diving site in North America by a number of national and international publications. The caye is home to gorgeous sand beaches surrounded by crystal-clear waters that are densely populated with native marine life, including loggerhead turtles, stingrays, sand eels, hogfish, and a variety of coral species. On the protected national park island, habitats provide the only known home for the Belize Atoll gecko in the world, along with the only viable breeding site in the western Caribbean for the red-footed booby.

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7.Southwest Caye

Southwest Caye
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Southwest Caye is a privately-owned island along the eastern portion of the Belize Barrier Reef, located 36 miles due east of Dangriga. The island is one of Belize's best diving spots, noted for its steep shoreline cliffs at heights of 130 and 350 feet that make for excellent unique diving platforms for experienced divers to see sea turtles, eagle rays, and a wide variety of corals and sponges. Snorkeling, SUP paddleboarding, kayaking, and saltwater fishing are also popular activities on the island, which is populated by tarpon, marlin, sailfish, and bonefish in its surrounding waters. The Isla Marisol private resort on the island offers 12 rental cabins and two large guest houses.

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7 Best Beaches in Belize


  • Placencia, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
  • Caye Caulker, Photo: Courtesy of Aleksandar Todorovic - Fotolia.com
  • Silk Caye, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
  • Hopkins Village, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
  • Ambergris Caye, Photo: Courtesy of Simon Dannhauer - Fotolia.com
  • Half Moon Caye, Photo: Courtesy of Etienne - Fotolia.com
  • Southwest Caye, Photo: Courtesy of marabelo - Fotolia.com
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of Duarte - Fotolia.com