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A Gap Year in Belize

Why go backpacking in Belize?

Backpacking in Belize has so much to offer. It’s a country that offers everything. On one side you can swim and dive in the Caribbean Sea, and on the other you can trek in jungles and rainforests. And that’s not mentioning the ancient Mayan ruins found inland!

One of the biggest draws to travellers is the coral reef, the longest in the Americas. With turquoise shallows and underwater caves, it charms snorkelers and divers alike. The country’s incredible biodiversity also means there are loads of opportunities to volunteer with animals or on conservation projects. Check out a few of our favourite Belize wildlife experiences.

Further inland, Belize boasts of a number of archaeological sites. Hidden in the depths of the jungles are the ruins of the Maya civilisation, rising mysteriously out of the jungle. Ruins such as Altun Ha and Lamanai have been delighting travellers for centuries.

And for those looking to chillax, Belize has Caye Caulker, a secluded beach destination and the perfect place to lose yourself.

With magnificent landscapes, vast archaeological sites and diverse wildlife, it’s easy to see why the number of visitors to this tiny country increases year on year.

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Get to know Belize

You’ll find Belize at the top of Central America on the Caribbean coast, bordering Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west, as well as being just a short hop across the sea to Cuba and Jamaica. This makes it a great central spot for any itinerary in the area.

Belize only covers 8,867 square miles, which makes it roughly the same size as Wales in the UK. Despite its small size, it has the lowest population density of any country in Central America, at around 35 people per square mile, so you won’t have to worry about crowds.


Belize has an incredibly long history, first developed by the Maya around 1500 B.C.E. Ruins of their settlements are now among the most popular tourist spots in Belize, including Caracol, Lamanai, and Lubaantun.

Belize first came into contact with Europe when Christopher Columbus arrived on its shores during his fourth voyage in 1502, though the first European settlement wasn’t established there until 1638 by England.

It eventually became a British crown colony known as British Honduras in 1862, and didn’t get a full self government system until 1964. The country was renamed Belize in 1973, and achieved full independence in 1981.

As a result of its history as a British colony, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language, although most residents commonly speak Kriol. This makes it a great place to visit for travellers from the UK.


Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet. It is home to over 5000 species of plants, 500 species of birds, 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 56 species of snakes. This means it offers some of the best wildlife experiences in the world.

What’s more, Belize Barrier Reef sits just off the coast and is the second largest coral reef system in the world, making it a world-class spot for scuba diving and snorkelling. It’s home to some 500 species of fish, over 100 species of corals, and hundreds of invertebrate species. Estimates suggest only 10% of total species there have yet been discovered. Wherever you go in Belize, you’re not far from incredible wildlife.

This area is also where you’ll find the Great Blue Hole, a submarine sinkhole thought to be one of the deepest in the world at 407ft deep. Stalactites found inside the sinkhole confirm it was formed as an above-water cave that was subsequently swallowed by rising sea levels.

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