The Geography of Belize

Belize is located in the northeastern corner of Central America. It’s bordered to the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. The country stretches 180 miles (290 km) from Mexico to Guatemala, and is only 68 miles (109 km) long at its widest point.

Belize

Geography

Belize is known as a coastal country, and not surprisingly, it boasts over 200 islands off its shore. The islands here are known as cayes (pronounced: keys, like 'lock and key'), and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some cayes are mostly just patches of mangrove, while others are large and support entire towns. The largest cay is about 25 miles (40 km) long and 4.5 miles (7 km) wide. Most cayes are protected by the Belize Barrier Reef, which runs parallel to the mainland. East of the reef are several atolls — these are essentially circular coral islands that surround a lagoon. Belize’s best-known atolls include the Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, and Glover’s Reef.

As if an abundance of natural beauty weren't enough, the country is also blessed to have an ample supply of pleasant weather — the average temerature of Belize is 79°F (26°C). In a traditional sense, the "best time to visit Belize" is during the dry season, which spans from December to May. Because the weather remains balmy year round, you will still be comfortable during the rainy season, and may even pay less if you plan your trip during that period. However, it may be more of a challenge to visit ruins in forests amidst periods of heavy rain.

The northern and coastal regions of Belize are flat, but there are mountains in the south and west of the country. These mountains – including the Cockscomb Range and Maya Mountains – rise some 3,000 feet (914 m). The highest point in Belize is known as Doyle’s Delight, which reaches a height of 3,688 feet (1,127 m).

The Cayo District is home to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. This was once an impressive pine forest, but decades of devastation by lumber companies and pine beetles have seriously reduced the spread of the forest. Even so, some sections of dense forest still remain. This reserve is also home to Thousand Foot Falls, which at 1,600 feet (488 m), is the highest waterfall in Central America. Finally, spelunkers will rejoice at the reserve’s Río Frio cave — this half-mile-long cave has large stalactites and stalagmites, and is fun to explore.

To determine how you want to explore this country's beautiful terrian, please read our "Belize Transport Guide: Getting Around Belize." We suggest booking a hands-off mode of transportation — let someone else do the driving so that you can make the most of your holiday by enjoying every moment of sunlight and natural beauty Belize has to offer.