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Whether you’re on your honeymoon or traveling with the entire family, Belize’s beaches, jungles and deep waters are natural wonders that are relatively unspoiled by development. You’ll find an incredible array of activities to keep you busy in this laid back, friendly Caribbean-influenced nation. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five favorite:
1. Wander through the Maya ruins. With more than 6,000 significant Maya sites, it is practically impossible to go to Belize without roaming through a ruin or two. For some easy-to-access history, head to Altun Ha in northern Belize and gape in awe at the pyramids, plazas and jade artifacts.
2. Escape to the Cayes. If you have more than a few days in Belize, hop a short flight or take a ferry to Ambergris Caye, where the waters are crystal clear, the sand is smooth and the go-to mode of transportation is a golf cart. Though Belize is home to more than 200 islands sprinkled off the coastline, Ambergris is the largest, stretching 25 miles along the Barrier Reef. It’s the perfect hub for snorkeling, scuba diving (especially in June, when massive whale sharks migrate through the area) or simply soaking up the sun.
3. Go on a Rainforest hike. Whether you are up for a two-hour tour or want to blaze your own trail, a trek through the jungle is a must-do in Belize. To get the most authentic experience, stay in a rainforest lodge overnight in the Cayo, Stann Creek or Toledo districts. In the evening, eavesdrop on howler monkeys and singing tree frogs, and then watch the sun rise over the canopy in the morning.
4. Kayak on the Mopan. Slip into your swimsuit and grab a paddle. One of the best ways to see the Mayan villages is from the many rivers that snake through Belize. Maybe you prefer a leisurely paddle, or perhaps whipping through white-water waves is more your speed. No matter your ability level, most hotels offer guided tours and rent out equipment.
5. Dive into the Blue Hole. The most famous diving spot in Belize, the Blue Hole is not only a national treasure, but also a World Heritage Site. Located 50 miles east of Belize City, the hole-in-the-ocean is part of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Formed 10,000 years ago and visible from outer space, this 412-ft.-deep underwater crater is filled with stingrays, butterfly fish and barracudas. And what’s that overhead? Above the clusters of coral gardens and swimming sea life hang 100-ft.-long stalactites.