Belize, previously British Honduras, lies on the East coast of Central America and in the heart of the Caribbean Basin. It is bordered by Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South, and the Caribbean Sea to the East. Geographically Belize is located between 15° 52′ 9″ and 18° 29′ 55″ North Latitude, and 87° 28″ and 89° 13′ 67″ West Longitude with an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands.
The cayes or islands, the offshore atolls, and the barrier reef are the main attractions to Belize. The barrier reef, which is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, is 185 miles long. The cayes and atolls provide great opportunity for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing, and kayaking, and also serve as a habitat for both nesting birds and turtles. In the central part of Belize the land is higher. It is between 1,500 and 3,680 feet above sea level in the Mountain Pine Ridge Area and the Maya Mountains. Breathtaking waterfalls, historic Mayan cities and majestic mountains are but a few of the attractions that can be enjoyed in this area.
CLIMATE & RAINFALL
The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is nicely tempered by the Sea breezes. The variation in weather further emphasizes the interesting difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. Summer high temperatures, are normally around 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows have rarely gone below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. Normally, the rainy season is usually between June and November and the dry season is between February and May. Usually, the weather becomes cooler at the end of October and this lasts up until February. Average humidity is 85 percent. Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the North to 170 inches in the South.
The population of approximately 250,000 people consists of a mixture of Creoles, Garifunas, Mestizos, Mayas, Caucasians, Mennonites, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indians. Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
English is the official language of Belize, Spanish is the second language and Creole is the commonly used dialect you will hear spoken throughout the country.
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. All hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency, traveler’s checks, or credit cards.
Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize.
ABOUT THE ISLAND: SAN PEDRO, AMBERGRIS CAYE
Belmopan may be the capital of Belize, but Ambergris Caye is rapidly becoming one of the most popular destinations for tourists, and the heart of Ambergris Caye is San Pedro Town. That makes it one of the ideal locations to look at whether you’re looking to invest in property or retire in Central America.
About San Pedro Town
It’s fitting that San Pedro Town is named after Saint Peter – the patron saint of fishing. Despite having undergone rapid development in the past few years, San Pedro still holds onto its personality as a sleepy fishing destination. The locals here are friendly and outgoing even though tourism has long ago outstripped fishing as the primary commercial purpose. Despite the presence of a dedicated airport, a variety of culinary options, and great shopping destinations, this isn’t a town dominated by high rise hotels and resorts.
Getting Around San Pedro Town
Things move a little slower in San Pedro Town, and the majority of the town can be covered on foot. English is the native language in Belize, and San Pedro Town has become one of the most popular destinations for expatriates, so you should have little trouble asking for directions or finding people of like mind to show you the ropes or help you have a good time. If you aren’t looking to travel entirely by foot, bicycles and golf carts are the most popular transportation options, and they can be rented all over town.
Exploring Ambergris Caye
If you want to explore the natural beauty of Ambergris Caye and engage in the outdoor activities that are so popular here, San Pedro is going to be the best place to launch your adventures. The sea is never too far away from the island, and while you can spend your time just lounging on the beautiful white shores, activities like kayaking and windsurfing are also available. And the close proximity of the Belize Barrier Reef (less than a mile from town) and the 2nd largest Barrier Reef in the world, it means that you can snorkel, dive, or simply watch the local wildlife from a local boat rental.
Dining in San Pedro Town
San Pedro Town is still a fishing village at heart, and that means that seafood tends to dominate the menus around here, but there’s a surprising amount of variety to the cuisine on offer. If you’re looking to try local specialties, you have to try the ceviche. But lobster and conch are some of the most delicious hidden highlights, at least as long as you visit when they’re in season. If you’d rather stay in, the markets of San Pedro Town offer a wide variety of imported goods as well as some of the most delicious locally caught seafood you’ll find anywhere.
Staying in San Pedro Town
As San Pedro Town transforms into the top tourist destination in Belize, boutique hotels and resorts are becoming more prominent. Despite that, visitors can usually find something within their budget here. Hostels sit comfortably alongside five star hotels, and the town is small enough that you should be able to go anywhere you want without having to worry about the neighborhood in which your lodgings are located.
That increased popularity has made San Pedro Town a popular spot for investors and retirees alike. If you find yourself wanting to stick around, Salt Life Belize is a modern residential community that maintains the laid back island life vibe while offering a rich selection of amenities spread across 50 acres of land.
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