The 9 best places to visit in Belize

 

In the eastern centre of the country lies the Actun Tunichil Muknal, translated as 'The Cave Of The Crystal Sepulchre' sometimes known by locals as Xibalba - the Mayan underworld. It is a notable archaeological site that includes ceramics and skeletons, the most well known of which is the 'Crystal Maiden' whose bones have calcified to give a sparkling crystallized appearance. Located in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve the main cave system is around 4.8 kilometres (3 miles) long with a river passage entrance that visitors will need to wade through.

9. Actun Tunichil Muknal

 

North of the capital, Belize City, is the Ancient Mayan city of Altun Ha, dating back to around 900 BC this 8 square kilometre (5 square mile) site includes many ancient structures and temple ruins.

Pictured is the Temple Of Masonry Altars, standing at 16 metres (54 ft) high it is the tallest temple pyramid at the site.

8. Altun Ha

 

In the western centre of the country, covering an area of some 430 square kilometres (166 square miles) is the protected Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, home to the Baird's Tapir, the national animal of Belize. This large forested area of land is also home to many cave systems, rivers, cliffs, mountains and waterfalls, with many considering it to be one of the finest natural landscapes in the country.

Pictured is the 45 metre (150 ft) Big Rock Waterfall.

7. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

 

Between San Pedro and the island of Caye Caulker is one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean, known by the name Shark Ray Alley. Close to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, this protected area of crystal clear shallow ocean waters is teeming with Nurse Sharks, Sting Rays and many other large marine animals, with visitors able to swim among them.

6. Shark Ray Alley

 

In the north of the country is the archaeological remains of the ancient city of Lamanai, dating back to the 16th century BC. Some of the most notable landmarks on the site include the Jaguar Temple, named for its Jaguar decorations, the Mask Temple with its 4 metre (13 ft) stone mask of an ancient Maya king and the 33 metre (108 ft) High Temple from which visitors can see out over the jungle to the new river lagoon.

Pictured is the Mask Temple.

5. Lamanai

 

Dating back to 1200 BC, right on the border with Guatemala is the Ancient Maya archaeological site of Caracol, at one time it held a population twice that of modern day Belize City. Of the site's 53 stone monuments, the most prominent is known as Caana, meaning 'The Sky Palace'. Standing at 42 metres (141 ft) high it is the tallest Maya structure in the country and one of the largest man made buildings in Belize.

4. Caracol

 

In the west of the country, stretching beyond Belize's borders with neighbouring Guatemala are the Maya Mountains, encompassing a number of nature reserves and sanctuary's it is a landscape of rugged mountains, high rocky peaks within thick jungle surroundings.

Pictured is Victoria Peak, reaching 1,120 metres (3,670 ft) above sea level it is the second tallest mountain in Belize.

3. Montanas Mayas

 

In the far west of the country, a mere kilometre from the border with Guatemala is the Ancient Maya archaeological site of Xunantunich, one of the most astonishing Maya structures in Central America. The core of the Ancient city consists of 6 plazas surrounded by 26 temples and palaces, the most prominent of these temples is the 40 metre (130 ft) El Castillo, the second tallest Ancient Maya structure in the country. From its peak it offers fantastic views out across the jungle tops for many miles.

2. Xunantunich

 

At 900 kilometres (560 miles) in length, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef on Earth behind only Australia's Great Barrier Reef. As well as being the countries most visited and celebrated location, it is also home to one of the most diverse eco-systems on the planet. Within the reef is the giant submarine sinkhole known as The Great Blue Hole Of Belize, certainly the jewel of the country, it is also one of the most famous natural landmarks on the planet and one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World. The entire barrier reef has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Belize Barrier Reef

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