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On the eastern coast of Central America, with Mexico to its north and Guatemala to its west, Belize is small compared to its neighbors but still manages to pack in plenty of adventure.
Snorkel in the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef system in the world and home to 500 species of fish. Spot toucans, panthers, monkeys and crocodiles in the dense jungles. Visit several Maya ruins to learn about the country’s ancient past. You can even learn to make chocolate from cacao bean to bar.
And, of course, so much of travel is the people you meet along the way. Belizeans are incredibly warm and generous, drawing from several backgrounds themselves. Most locals are Mestizo, a mix of Spanish and Maya heritage, who came from Mexico in the mid-1800s. Kriols, Maya, Garifuna, Mennonites and others make up the remainder of the country’s ethnic groups.
With nature beauty, wildlife, archaeological sites and welcoming people, Belize makes for a perfect family adventure with a little bit of everything. We spoke with our preferred travel partner in the region for insight into the best of Belize with kids. Ready to plan a trip? Contact us — our expert Family Travel Advisors can create a custom vacation just for you!
Belize is a small country in both size and numbers, making it possible to execute a meaningful itinerary that includes reef and jungle within a week — all while having personal interactions with locals that can leave a lasting impression. Its current population is approximately 400,000, compared to Costa Rica’s 5 million or 128 million in Mexico. While Belize is no newbie to tourism, it has far less commercial infrastructure than its neighbors, which can make it still feel relatively untouched. (This means there’s not a single McDonald’s or other U.S. fast food chain across the country to date!) Plus, English is the primary language spoken in Belize, making it easier to communicate with others as well as navigate surroundings.
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The dry season, from November through May, is an ideal time to visit, with comfortable temps and only the occasional shower. February is usually the driest month of all. The wet season is from June to October. That said, even during the wet season, the rain isn’t debilitating and can have its own charm with everything looking incredibly lush and green.
Most families heading to Belize are seeking soft adventure, including snorkeling, ziplining and cave tubing. Kids age 5 and up tend to enjoy these activities more, but it really depends on the individual family. But families with younger children can still visit and have more of a relaxing holiday compared to an active one. Belize is also a fantastic multigenerational destination and itineraries can be tailored to be as active or relaxing as required by the group.
A combination of 3 to 4 days inland followed by 3 to 4 days at the cayes (islands) serves as an ideal itinerary for families. Most international travelers arrive to Belize City International airport. A suggested itinerary could take a family by road and boat inland to the Lamanai area, where they can spot a variety of wildlife and also visit the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, which is one of the best due to the sheer fact that so few people visit it.
From Lamanai, try cave tubing and ziplining experiences near Belmopan, followed by a flight out to Ambergris Caye for snorkeling and fishing. So much of these experiences for families come down to private transport and kid-friendly private guides who can manage the logistics and share their knowledge. Cave canoeing in Barton Creek is another great way to explore the caves.
Many visitors to Belize do cross the border to visit the Tikal complex of Maya ruins, one of the most renowned archaeological sites in Central America. However, it is a 3- to 4-hour road trip each way, so it’s recommended that families spend the night in Tikal rather than try to fit it all into one day.
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.