Belize's Best Beaches
Thanks to a magnificent coastline hugging the Caribbean Sea and more than 200 offshore islands -- at least 20 of which are inhabited -- Belize has golden and white-sand beaches that are a boat or plane ride away from Belize City. Many of these beaches remain a well-kept secret, discovered only by dive enthusiasts and anglers who venture off the beaten track. Here are our recommendations for the best beaches to visit in Belize, ranging from 15 miles of the Placencia Peninsula to the little-known, secluded plots floating atop turquoise waters.
Placencia PeninsulaThe Placencia Peninsula is home to the longest stretch of beach in mainland Belize. Dubbed “barefoot perfect,” it’s the most popular sea and sand getaway in the country and stretches across 3 villages: Maya Beach, Seine Bight and Placencia Village. Take your pick -- all of these beaches are public. Placencia Village’s tourist strip area has several bars and restaurants along its golden sandy coastline; whereas fine, white sand beaches are found along quiet Seine Bight and Maya Beach. Placencia is also an easy best beach pick because of its top-notch food, accommodations, nightlife and its decent mix of travelers and locals.
Hopkins Village BeachHopkins Village Beach is located in the eastern Garífuna village of Hopkins, a mere 40-minute drive south of the town of Dangriga. This uninterrupted, quiet 5-mile beach is lined with coconut trees, locals’ homes, colorful guesthouses and a few local eateries. The waters aren’t Caribbean turquoise, but clear and refreshing nonetheless.
In between swimming and sunning, experience Garífuna culture at its best. Stop by Innie’s Restaurant for a plate of hudut, fish soaked in a coconut stew, served with mashed plantains. Take drumming lessons at the Lebeha Drumming Center or play dominoes with residents of this Afro-Amerindian village. You can also bike your way over to neighboring False Sittee, where you’ll find more glorious, bare stretches of beaches facing resorts, bars and restaurants.
Half Moon CayePrepare to gasp at the paradisiacal views of Caribbean waters and a crescent-shaped beach made up of magnificent white sand, dotted with coconut palms. Half Moon Caye’s no-frills, untouched beach is also a protected turtle-nesting site. The other half of the caye is made up of littoral forest, home to a protected red-footed booby sanctuary. When you’re done gasping and frolicking, hike over to the forest side to climb the observation tower and bird watch above the canopy.
Ambergris CayeYou’ll be disappointed if you look for the perfect beach right in San Pedro Town. In Ambergris Caye, there is plenty of sand to lie on, but seagrass populates the shores due to a magnificent barrier reef just a half-mile away. Across from Ramon's Village Resort is the most popular sunning and swimming section, with raked sands and clear waters. But south or north of the island are the best, most isolated stretches on la isla bonita. Banyan Bay Villas is a short walk from town, facing a beautiful beach, and Tranquility Bay Resort is a stunning north side retreat and private beach, just a short boat ride away.
South Water CayeLocated 14 miles from Dangriga’s coast, South Water Caye’s sand is soft, soothing and powdery white. Visitors can find this perfect stretch of beach beside Pelican Beach Resort, dotted by a maze of coconut trees and hammocks. Stay in a cabana for a splendid view of the reef and beach below, and take a snooze on your balcony at night, under the stars. South Water is also a worthwhile day trip from Dangriga or Hopkins.
Laughingbird Caye and Silk CayesAn easy and popular dayhop from Placencia, Laughingbird Caye and Silk Cayes (2 islands) are 11 miles from Placencia and located a stone’s throw from each other. The beaches on these islands are located in marine reserves and are less than a mile long. Overnight stays aren’t permitted, but visitors can spend the day sunning by the Caribbean Sea or exploring the water’s rich marine life with no one else in sight.
Southwest Caye, Glover's Reef AtollOne of several islands on this coral atoll, Southwest Caye has wide, virtually crowd-free beaches that face the wooden cabanas or reef villas at Isla Marisol Resort and Islands Expedition’s north-side adventure camp. Southwest Caye is a great honeymoon destination, but it is also ideal for solo travelers. In addition to perfect sands, Glover's Reef -- about an hour’s boat ride away from Dangriga -- offers some of the best snorkeling and dive spots in Belize.
Sapodilla CayesFly to Punta Gorda, Belize, and catch a worthwhile 90-minute boat ride to Lime Caye, a private island and resort owned by Garbutt’s Marine fishing lodge. Open to visitors from November through April, this resort has no-frills, modest cabins that are a step away from shore.
Hunting Caye, less than a 5-minute boat ride away from Lime Caye, is an ideal day trip to see turtles nesting and to enjoy sunbathing on white-sand beaches. In the southernmost area of the marine reserve, the diving and snorkeling are spectacular due, in part, to light boat traffic. Day trips to the Sapodilla Cayes are also an option, but prepare yourself for the temptation to stay overnight.
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