The bustling port town of Belize City offers a dose of Caribbean culture, coral reef views, and animal encounters. Given the city’s small size and nearness to the airport, it’s also easy to see in a day. Here’s how to maximize one day in this laid-back Central American hub.
Even if you don't have time to venture into the Belizean rain forest, you can still get up close to creatures of the jungle at the Belize Zoo, located less than an hour’s drive from Belize City. The small zoo began as a wildlife rescue center and today is home to more than 45 native species. Book a guided tour to get there without a car and learn about zoo residents such as jaguars, howler monkeys, toucans, and crocodiles. Best of all, your visit supports conservation efforts to protect these animals and their natural habitats. If you prefer the city, learn about ancient and colonial history on a bus tour that covers top urban sights in a short amount of time.
Resting just offshore from Belize City's bustling port is the world’s second-largest coral reef. There's no better way to appreciate the scope of this barrier reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, than from the air on a helicopter tour. Treat yourself to an aerial perspective while soaring above protected marine reserves, coral gardens, and islands such as Ambergris Caye and Turneffe Atoll. For the ultimate fly-over, book a tour that goes all the way to the Great Blue Hole, a massive ocean sinkhole ringed by reef.
Though it's no longer the Belizean capital (that honor moved to Belmopan after destructive hurricane Hattie), Belize City still showcases the small country’s diverse culture and cuisine. Dig into Creole, Afro-Caribbean, and Maya dishes at relaxed restaurants and street vendors. Or, hit the town on a party bus extravaganza.