Recently, I traveled to Belize to check out the culture, nightlife, and tourist attractions the Central American nation has to offer. I stayed on Caye Caulker, pronounced “Kee Kakaa” in the native Belizean Kriol. The island is an hour ferry ride from Belize City and is only a few miles long but offers endless opportunities for adventure. If you’re looking to relax, however, the island is the right place to be with its motto being: “Go Slow.”

A favorite attraction on the island is snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley. Ragamuffin Tours offers an experience that allows you to swim with nurse sharks and stingrays! At the end of the day, you can guarantee just about everyone on the island will pass through Barrier Reef Sports Bar & Grill for some good eats and good times.

Locals and tourists alike will tell you that The Split, the division between the northern and southern parts of the island, is a must see. Relaxation, swimming, jumping off the high deck, eating, and playing sports are all on the menu. The Split definitely turns up, so check it out if you’re looking for a good time! Sip & Dip is located right before you reach The Split and serves great food and drinks as well as offering hammocks and tubes so you can enjoy a cold Belikin, the national beer of Belize, right on the water.

On the mainland, hiking through the beautiful forests of Belize will lead you to caves, waterfalls, Mayan ruins, and more. If you’re in or around the Belize City area, there are countless opportunities to visit a Mayan ruin. The closest is Altun Ha, but Lamanai and Xunantunich are also doable in a day. Over a thousand years old, each of the ruins was once a city center for the Mayan peoples of Belize. I went to Lamanai and hiked the high temple (108 feet tall) and the view was simply breathtaking. We saw the Mask Temple as well at Lamanai, where ancient Mayan royalty are buried. The rich history of the Mayan people really intrigued me and provides for a truly immersive experience. From Belize City, you’ll take the Northern Highway up to the New River and then a boat from there to Lamanai – along the way, you’ll see monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, and myriad beautiful species of birds. Along the drive up to the New River, you’ll see locals selling seasonal fruits/wines (think cashew, mango, berries… and coconuts!) along the highway.

You’ll never forget the food or rich culture of Belize. A Caribbean nation, the unofficial national language of the country is a creole derived from the mixture of a host of African dialects mixed with British English. Unlike it’s neighbors, Belize has a huge creole population, which originated from the displaced Africans from the Transatlantic Slave Trade settling along the coast and mixing with the British inhabitants of the time. The country only gained its full independence a short while ago in 1981. Famous Belizean dishes include stewed chicken with rice and beans served with plantain, stewed beans with white rice and pigtail, “boil up” and more. You can find fried fish of all types in Belize as well. If you make it to the Tourist Village in Belize City, go to The Last Drop near the San Pedro Express Water Taxi and ask to talk to “King James” – he’ll tell you all there is to know about Belize and provide an exciting itinerary of things not to be missed.

The Belizean people are all about enjoying life, having a good time, and taking it easy. I am SO glad I was able to make it to Belize. The crystal clear waters of the Cayes and beautiful nature of the mainland made my visit an unforgettable experience.