The ten mile drive from the Phillip Goldson International Airport to Belize City takes you along the historic Belize River. In Belize’s colonial past, tens as Belize of thousands of mahogany logs were set afloat from camps up river as part of their journey to European buyers. Rumor is a number of the valuable logs sank en route and are still sitting on the riverbed waiting to be reclaimed.
As a seaport, the city built itself from the east inwards so most of the older colonial structures are near the coast. Efforts are ongoing to preserve several of these buildings, such ’s Supreme Court, the Government House (once the home of the British Governor) and the oldest Anglican Church in Central America, St. John’s Cathedral. These impressive structures have survived direct hurricane hits and the threat of devastating city fires. Traffic is an adventure in Belize City as many streets were only designed to accommodate bicycles and “mule and carts,” a once popular mode of transporting goods. The city is cut in half by the downtown Swing Bridge. The bridge is still swung manually regularly to give sailboats and sloops access to calmer waters further from the coast. Small as it is, Belize City is the country’s most populated municipality and does have many of the same challenges as growing cities. Heed advice from your tour operators and hoteliers about where to go in the city. Be sure to apply the same common sense, care and attention as you would to stay safe at home or in any city environment.
Just as Belize City built up around the port, the rest of the Belize District built itself along the highways. The Western and Northern Highways might appear populated from a car, but a flyover reveals extensive savannahs, broadleaf forests and wetlands in the interior. During the dry season, thousands of migrating birds descend on the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. The black, white and red colours of the impressive Jabiru storks stand out in the sea of feathers. From the Black Orchid Resort in Burrell Boom Village, visitors can spot the noisiest animal in Belize—the Black Howler Monkey. Day trippers can also travel to the village of Maskall for panoramic views from atop an ancient Maya temple, Altun Ha. For a truly serene setting, visit the tiny village of Gales Point, which sits on a narrow peninsula jutting out into a lagoon. Visitors get to watch the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea and, in one turn, take in majestic mountain views.
No matter what part of the Belize District you choose to explore, it promises to be a beautiful part of your Belize adventure.
- Meet the Manatees: Located just ten minutes from Belize City, Swallow Caye Marine Reserve guarantees visitors sightings of these gentle creatures.
- Tour the Museum: Once the country’s prison, the Museum of Belize provides views of the cells and tour exhibitions showcasing Maya treasures, impressive stamps and general historical memorabilia.
- Take a Walk on the Wild Side: The enclosures at the Belize Zoo simulate natural habitats so it’s almost like you are seeing the residents in the wild.
- Explore Belize City: Hop aboard an open air trolley or horse drawn buggy to tour the old capital. Popular stops include the Baron Bliss Lighthouse, St. John’s Anglican Cathedral and the Belize City House of Culture.
- Howl with the Howlers: Visitors can hang out with our Black Howler Monkeys at the Community Baboon Sanctuary in Bermudian Landing.
- Rice and beans, chicken and salad: A main meal in the Kriol culture is coconut white rice and red kidney beans cooked together and served with stewed chicken, chunky potato salad and strips of fried ripe plantains. To sound like a local when you order it, say rice and beans, chicken and salad like it’s one word.
- Fry Jacks: A breakfast favorite. At local markets, fry jacks are served alongside refried beans and stewed chicken. Warning: you can never eat just one!
- Cow Foot Soup: If you can get past the name, the hoofs of a cow are the main ingredient; this deliciously hearty soup is a lunch specialty but locals also enjoy as a late night meal.
- Meat pies: The verdict is still out on which of the three Belize City connoisseurs make the best pie, but everyone agrees meat pies should be eaten hot.
- Cashew: The fruit is stewed with sugar for a delicious sweet treat and used as the main ingredient of a sweet wine. But most deliciously, freshly prepared cashew nuts make the stuff in the can pale in comparison.
WHERE TO STAY
Advertised accommodations are listed here. For a full list of the Belize District properties, please turn to the directory in this book