[Editor’s Note: Lily Girma was the first photographer-in-residence to participate in the Road Warrior program, a partnership between MatadorU and the Belize Tourism Board. Lily spent the summer documenting the people of Belize as well as various adventure activities that can be enjoyed around the country. She has been reporting on her experiences for Matador, her personal blog, and for other outlets.]
WITH EASTERN AND SOUTHERN coasts bordering the Caribbean Sea and hundreds of offshore islands (cayes), Belize has a lot of different beaches. Most of the sites below are easily reached from Belize City via regional carrier Tropic Air, or by water taxi, bus, or car.
The sixteen-mile-long peninsula of Placencia in southern Belize has the country’s best beaches. It consists of three areas, which from south to north are: Placencia Village, Maya Beach, and Seine Bight. I spent almost two weeks here and stayed in each area.
The beach in Placencia Village — considered to be the peninsula’s “downtown” — is one of the longest stretches and never feels too crowded.
Some of the northern beaches in Seine Bight and Maya Beach are private and available to hotel guests only, including those at The Placencia Hotel and Robert’s Grove. One exception is the beach at the Maya Breeze Inn, in Maya Beach, which is open to the public.
Hopkins’ beach is one long stretch of sand that’s ideal for morning walks or jogs.
A coastal Garifuna town in eastern Belize, Hopkins has affordable beachfront accommodations and opportunities to experience Garifuna culture — from food to music.
While Caye Caulker’s beaches are not as pretty as Placencia’s, it still has one of the best swimming areas in Belize, known as the Split. Located on the southern tip of the island, it’s easy to reach on foot or by golf cart. The onsite bar, the Lazy Lizard, is where everyone spends the day. Head there to catch the sunset, too.
Like Ambergris Caye (see below), Caye Caulker is close to the Belize Barrier Reef and some of the best snorkeling in the country.
If you get to stay at the northern end of Ambergris Caye, in a place like Victoria House, you’ll be enjoying the island’s few and best beaches.
In town, the most swimmable beach area is in front of Ramon’s Village. But the numerous docks in San Pedro are just as great an option for taking a dip.
A small island with a wide stretch of fine sand and turquoise waters, Laughingbird Caye is a day hop from Placencia, just 15min away. The waters off this island are also a great snorkeling and diving spot.