Whether you choose to discover the surrounding Caribbean culture, observe the exotic wildlife, visit one of the many new restaurants, or experience all three, it’s evident that Belize should be on your itinerary for 2019.
While Belize was once a best-kept secret among travelers, it has quickly become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean as tourism arrivals continue to skyrocket. During the first half of 2018, Belize registered a 17.1-percent increase in overnight arrivals, according to Ambergris Today. In the past three years, Belize has also added eight new flights and five major airlines servicing the country.
Harvest Caye unveiled its newly built, multi-million-dollar pier in 2017, allowing the country to receive large passenger vessels and cruises. In addition to its new pier, Belize is welcoming a number of resorts that appeal to a broad set of travelers — including the Itz’ana Resort and Residencies in Placencia with its 50 sustainably designed rooms; Blackadore Caye, Leonardo DiCaprio’s eco-resort; and Alaia Belize, a boutique community resort and residential property expected to open in 2020.
If you’re not yet convinced, here are some of the most popular — and most exciting — ways to spend time in Belize:
Enjoy Endless Festivities
A melting pot of cultures, Belize is home to endless celebrations — including Belize Carnival, Cashew Fest, Lobsterfest, Costa Maya Festival, Chocolate Festival, the San Pedro Town Love FM Christmas Parade, and more.
Sitting at the ocean’s edge with a vivid view of the Caribbean seascape, Pier 366 Seafood House was recently transformed to offer visitors a distinctive gastronomic experience.
Embrace Diverse Food Options
Recently, the dining scene options have become more diverse with the establishment of restaurants like Tap Room, Midtown and Wok & Wine. Now, there are more options with the opening of three eateries, including Martha’s Cafe, Lerisi Garifuna Restaurant and Mimi’s Bistro.
Experience Unrivaled Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Belize is home to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the ultimate world-class destination, The Great Blue Hole. Travelers can experience over 100 different coral species, more than 500 endangered and rare marine species, giant stalactites, dripstone sheets, columns and atolls.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve isthe world’s second largest barrier reef in the world.
Discover Local Culture
Belize is home to endless historic offerings — including 200 cayes (pronounced “keys,” Belize’s islands) filled with several preserved Mayan Temples, lush jungles, rainforest canopies, and archaeological sites.
For those looking to take a deeper dive and explore the beauty of Belize’s natural underwater locations, the country is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, several wrecked ships, and The Great Blue Hole.
Observe Exotic Wildlife
Home to the rehabilitated, orphaned and rescued wildlife of Belize, the Belize Zoo is home to exotic wildlife — including tapirs, black jaguars, manatees, spider monkeys, keel-billed toucans, scarlet macaws, and very inquisitive keel billed toucan (Belize’s national bird).
Brand New Resorts & Residences
Belize is welcoming a number of resorts that appeal to a broad set of travelers.
This resort and residential property, expected to open in 2020, was conceived by visionary developer Andrew Ashcroft to embrace the Belizean spirit. The idyllic beachfront property will feature a hotel, 56 two-and-three-bedroom condominiums and eight oceanfront villas with infinity pools.
Itz’ana Resort and Residencies in Placencia
Recently opened, the complex includes 50 sustainably designed rooms and suite.
Expected to open in early 2019, this is the world’s first truly restorative island development, completely powered by renewable energy and designed to increase the biological health of species on the island and in the waters around it.
Unscripted Belize and Dream Belize
The first of two Dream Hotel Group properties planned for Placencia, Unscripted Belize, will debut with 24 beachfront cabanas.
Four Seasons Caye Chapel
This resort is slated to open in 2021 with 30 to 40 overwater bungalows on a private island.
All other photos courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board
Providing high-end amenities and views of the Caribbean Sea, these four luxury developments are gaining traction among homeowners and travelers.
By Brielle Bryan
Photo courtesy of Mahogany Bay Village
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Caye Chapel
Four Seasons Private Estates Caye Chapel
Located in the heart of Belize’s largest marine sanctuary, this private island invites guests to connect with nature while enjoying the level of personal service and luxurious amenities that Four Seasons offers. Opening in 2021, Caye Chapel will feature approximately 50 Four Seasons Private Estates, with opportunities starting at $2 million.
Erasing the line between indoor and outdoor, these exclusive lots encourage owners to take advantage of the unparalleled access to the natural environment of Belize through boat expeditions, snorkeling, paddle boarding, diving, mainland exploration and more. In addition to the private estates, the 2.5-mile island of Caye Chapel will feature a 100-room Four Seasons Resort, 35 Private Residences, a private airstrip, a Fabien Cousteau Nature and Conservation Institute, an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course, bustling Harbor and Marina village, world-class dining options and a stylish Beach Club.
The Ellysian is owned by Belize’s Prime Minister’s wife, Kim Barrow, and opened in May of 2017. The boutique property is ideally located within the charming and vibrant village of Placencia, placed perfectly along Belize’s Southern Coast. Upon arrival, guests are immersed into an incomparably lush escape that is in walking distance to local artisan shops, restaurants and sites the village has to offer.
There are 12 beautiful rooms at The Ellysian, consisting of beach view studios and one-bedroom suites. The limited number of suites at The Ellysian ensures guests are afforded privacy and a higher standard of personalized service. Each suite is fitted with a private veranda, viewing either the Caribbean sea or the famous sidewalk center of the village. The boutique hotel values making a difference in the community, and as a result, it supports several charitable organizations such as the Belize Cancer Center and The Placencia Humane Society.
Photos courtesy of The Ellysian
Mahogany Bay Village
Mahogany Bay Village is a fresh and energized take on the conventional resort community. The Village is made up of Belize’s first global luxury branded resort, a collection of customizable homes, and a bustling retail marketplace. Located on the soulful island of Ambergris Caye, Mahogany Bay Village, which just opened in December, sits no more than 10 minutes from the colorful eateries and shops of the historic San Pedro Town.
Photos courtesy of Mahogany Bay Village
Dream Hotel Group
In January, the Dream Hotel Group announced the development of two new hotels in Belize: Unscripted Belize and Dream Belize. The first of the two Belize openings for the group, Unscripted Belize, will debut in late 2018 with 24 beachfront cabana accommodations that will be steps away from the Caribbean Sea. With an open-air concept, the property will also feature an outdoor restaurant and bar, an expansive pool area and two private boats for snorkeling and scuba diving.
In 2020, Dream Belize will feature 100 guestrooms and suites, 120 hotel condominiums and 40 branded residential home sites. Also included will be four vibrant dining and nightlife concepts, three pools, a luxury spa and fitness center and multiple coworking suites to round out the dynamic resort offerings.
Photo courtesy of Gensler