• Marine Conservation
  • Scuba-diving

Discovering the culture and cuisine of Belize

Article by GVI


Posted: February 24, 2023

Belize is an often-overlooked country nestled in Central America, but it’s a gem that offers stunning views, an interesting history, and a unique culture all worth exploring. With its Caribbean climate and stunning beaches, tourists flock to Belize for its tropical setting, but the culture and local cuisine of this small nation should also be celebrated. From exploring its history and geography to understanding its music, art and traditions, let’s dive into all the incredible things Belize has to offer.

History and geography

Belize has a long and storied history, having been part of the Maya Empire in Pre-Columbian times. As European nations colonised, Spain asserted its control to the West of Belize while British settlers occupied the area due to the many timber resources. Belize officially gained political independence in 1981, but its cultural roots can still be seen all throughout the country. Geographically, Belize is located on the Caribbean Sea at the bottom of the Yucatan Peninsula. This location means that it shares a long coastline along with beautiful scenery in both its mainland area and many islands.

The country is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including jaguars, tapirs, and toucans. The Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world, is also located off the coast of Belize and is a popular destination for snorkelling and diving. The country is also known for its many Mayan ruins, which are scattered throughout the country and offer a glimpse into the past.

People and language

Belize has a largely diverse population of just over 360,000 people. While Spanish remains the official language in this nation, English and Belize Kriol are spoken by the majority of people. The cultural makeup is quite distinct, with a mix of Creole, Mayan, Mestizo, Garifuna, East Indian and Euro-American heritage. The diversity of cultures creates an interesting mixture of music, food, art and customs.

The country is also home to a variety of religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Belize is known for its vibrant festivals, which celebrate the country’s unique cultural heritage. These festivals often feature traditional music, dance, and cuisine, and are a great way to experience the culture of Belize. Additionally, the country is home to a number of national parks and reserves, which are great places to explore the natural beauty of Belize.

Music, art and local traditions

Belize has a deep history of cultural engagement. The country possesses a unique heritage that combines Miami bass music with reggae, Spanish ballads and Mexican rancheras. This rich landscape combines with a vibrant art scene in which traditional Mayan crafts are common alongside contemporary brushwork and sculptures. There are also many unique traditions that keep alive the history of Belize. Traditional Mayan festivities include Xunantunich, which celebrates a sacred ancient city; and Costa Maya, a festival dedicated to local seafood cuisine; while other popular celebrations include Baron Bliss Day and St. George’s Caye Day.

Climate and landscape

Due to its location on the Caribbean Sea, Belize has generally warm temperatures throughout most of the year, although rainfall does vary depending on where you visit. Places like South Water Caye Marine Reserve can offer both wet and dry seasons. The landscape boasts tropical jungle vegetation, lush beaches with white sand, coral islands and rainforest that provide the ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife. People visiting can partake in activities such as river rafting, hiking, kayaking and deep sea fishing.

Tamales wrapped in banana palm tree leaves on wooden plates, gray stone background.

Local cuisine

Belizean cuisine is a fascinating blend of various cultures that have shaped the country’s culinary traditions. The food draws inspiration from the indigenous Mayan people, the Spanish, and the Creole. The unique mix of flavors and techniques results in a diverse range of dishes that satisfy any palate. Visitors to Belize can enjoy a rich array of food, from classic staples like Rice and Beans and Stewed Chicken to international dishes like burgers and fries.

Seafood is a staple of Belizean cuisine, given the country’s location on the Caribbean coast. Visitors can enjoy fresh catches of fish, lobster, shrimp and conch in various forms. Ceviche, a dish made of raw fish marinated in citrus juices, is a must-try, as is chimole, a soup made with conch, chilies and spices. Whether you are a foodie or just looking to experience something new, Belizean cuisine offers a unique and unforgettable culinary adventure.

Popular attractions

Belize has plenty of attractions for visitors to explore. Some highlights include Cahal Pech near San Ignacio for Mayan ruins; Barton Creek Cave for stunning underground passages; and Lighthouse Reef Island for snorkelling adventures. Meanwhile popular city attractions such as Marine Parade in Belize City help combine all the cultural and historical aspects into one destination. Other sites such as the Belize Zoo provide visitors with an educational opportunity to learn about local wildlife.


Belize is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The country is teeming with an abundance of exotic animals, many of which are unique to the region. Visitors can explore the lush tropical jungles, home to over one hundred species of birds, such as the vibrant Keel-billed Toucan, the national bird of Belize. The coral reefs around the country’s coastline offer an incredible underwater experience with the opportunity to spot a variety of sea creatures, including tropical fish, rays, and even whale sharks. On land, visitors can encounter different reptiles such as iguanas, geckos, and crocodiles. Belize is also home to several monkey species, including the howler monkey, which can often be heard from afar with its distinctive call. The elusive jaguar and puma, the largest cats in the Americas, also roam the jungles and rainforests of Belize, although they are not often seen by visitors. Finally, visitors can observe the slow-moving sloths, and the gentle sea turtles, both of which are protected species in Belize.

Authentic experiences

To get a true sense of what life is like in Belize, you should consider volunteering with GVI where you can spend your days exploring Belize’s blue waters, contributing toward marine conservation and getting your PADI qualifications. In your free time with your newfound friends, visit nearby ancient ruins for historical insights or take boat trips with local fishermen who will share stories about their adventures.

what’s up next?
Endangered Species That Have Recovered: Stories of Hope

Discover the inspiring stories of endangered species that have recovered from the brink of extinction. Learn how you can get involved in conservation efforts.

You might also like these articles

The Rising Tide of Marine Plastic Pollution
Read the article
What Degree Do You Need to Be a Marine Biologist?
Read the article
Marine Conservation
Endangered Marine Animals: The Crisis Beneath the Waves
Read the article
Exploring Marine Biology Jobs
Read the article
Marine Biomes: Understanding the Different Types of Ocean Ecosystems
Read the article
The Fastest Marine Mammal: Exploring the Top Contenders
Read the article
How Many Marine Animals Die From Plastic Pollution?
Read the article
Marine Conservation Volunteering: How You Can Make a Difference
Read the article
The Fascinating World of Marine Animals
Read the article