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Howler Monkeys, Stingrays, Coral, Dolphins...Belize Oh My!
Although a small country, Belize is host to more than 87 distinct types of ecosystems, which make ecotourism and agriculture the lifeblood of its economy. Slightly larger than Massachusetts, Belize is located in Central America at the southeastern tip of Mexico and east of Guatemala. The parliamentary democracy, which is part of the British Commonwealth, is well known for its Mayan temples, tropical rainforests and boasts the world’s second longest barrier reef.
There are 150 identified species of mammals found in Belize ranging from the jaguar to the howler monkey. In addition, more than 618 species of resident and migrant birds have been identified. Not to be missed though is the sea life of Belize. Due to having the longest continuous barrier reef in the Americas, Belize can be counted on for great snorkeling and scuba diving where manatees, stingrays, sharks, dolphins, coral and turtles are easy to spot. Lastly, there are many family ecotour destination activities offered including caving and kayaking tours.
The main language is English and there are two main seasons in Belize – dry (November through April) and wet (May through October) with average temperatures all year around in the high 70’s. Some top ecotourism sites include:
- Belize Zoo with its conservation-based zoo concepts and trails
- Cayo District sits at the heart of the Mayan world; there are many ecotourism activities, ancient burial caves, and ruins to keep families busy
- Chaa Creek has its own butterfly breeding project and natural history museum on-site
Although Belize struggles to define a sustainable development policy that incorporates environmental, social and economic issues, it has made great strides including the formation of the Belize Eco-Tourism Association and the Toledo Eco-Tourism Association for southern rainforest villages. In addition, an effort has been made to educate non-governmental organizations and businesses about the importance of strengthening and enforcing existing environmental policies. Nevertheless, Belize is facing several environmental issues including deforestation, water pollution, agriculture runoff, and waste disposal.
Family ecotour destination activities
Belize offers children a good mix of education and water fun. Most hotels in Belize give discounts for children under 12 years old and children under 4 years old are usually allowed to stay for free. Specific children's programs include village arts and crafts, interpretive ecotrail programs and educational visits to Mayan ruins, canoe rides, traditional Mayan music, and butterfly sanctuary visits. With opportunities to experience history, nature, culture and adventure, family ecotours to Belize offer lasting memories and teachable moments for every family.