Many Rhythms, One Heartbeat

Belizean Culture

Our small country isn’t defined by one culture, but a unique blend of influences from all over the world. It’s this blend that gives the people of Belize the distinct ability to make anyone feel welcome. While you may be far from it when you visit, we’ll make you feel right at home. From cuisine to language to dancing, explore the cultures and traditions that make Belize so unique.

From the language to the food, the Creole (or “Kriol”) culture always leaves you wanting more. Its origins date back to the late 1700s when British settlers and African slaves gave birth to this new Creole population and they remain one of the staple cultures of Belize.

Creole man
Rice & Beans is a different dish than Beans & Rice
Creole woman

Popular Creole dishes are universally enjoyed throughout Belize and include Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice (yes, they are two different dishes), Stew Chicken and Salad, and “Boil Up.”

The Creole culture makes up 24% of the Belize population.
Creole man wearing hat

The Kriol language is best described as a broken English dialect that is understood (mostly) and spoken by all cultures in Belize.

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Mestizo

Mestizo—a culture of the past that is still present today. Mestizo is a vibrant culture whose heritage originated from the Maya and Spanish. Today, the majority of Mestizo descendants populate districts in Northern Belize.

mestizo women
The Mestizo make up 48% of the Belize population
mestizo woman red flower

As documentations indicate, a Spanish sailor named Gonzalo Guerrero had shipwrecked off the coast of Belize shortly after the New World discovery. It was this arrival that eventually sparked a new friendship between the Maya Ruler, Nachanhan, and Guerrero. Eventually, this Spanish ally married Nachanhan’s daughter and their children were seen as the first Mestizo of Belize.

The Mestizo are people of mixed Spanish and Maya descent
metizo women dancing

With the blending of these cultures came a fusion of traditions, practices and foods, unique to Belize. Take a trip to the North to immerse yourself in this foodie-haven and celebrate the many festivities held annually to celebrate Mestizo culture.

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Garifuna

This Belizean culture is known not only for their vibrant colors and delicious food, they’re the creators of a popular hypnotic drumbeat music, punta. The rhythm of the drums will let you hear, feel and move to the Garifuna culture in Southern Belize.

Garifuna drummers
The Garifuna created punta: a hypnotic drumbeat music.
Garifuna drummers

November 19 commemorates the arrival in 1823 of the Garifuna (descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African people) and their contribution to the Belizean landscape. In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance to be among the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated on November 19.
Garifuna drum building

With festivals throughout the year, it’s impossible not to experience the warm and vibrant Garifuna culture during your visit to Belize.

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Maya

The Belizean Maya occupation began as early as 1500 BC, but it was not until sometime between 250 AD and 900 AD that the Maya population is thought to have exceeded 1 million people. However, much about the ancient Maya still remains a mystery.

Maya woman working
The Maya culture began as early as 1500 BC
Maya fire pit

Maya culture is still alive and well in Belize. Today, you can tour authentic sites left by this great culture and, in many cases, be guided through these sites by a direct descendant―a modern-day Maya. In many cities, you can also find Maya cuisine and festivals celebrating this ancient civilization.

Maya population in Belize reached 1 million in 250 AD
Maya woman at table

To explore Maya sites in Belize, check with your hotel or local tour operators throughout the country to see what ancient Maya temples are open for exploration. And if you get the chance, be sure to speak with contemporary Maya families. They will be happy to tell you about their culture and share stories that have been passed down through generations.

Explore Maya Culture  >

Activities

Don't just see the wonder of Belize, Experience it.

Set sail for adventure.

Hidden coral heads make navigation tricky, so if you’re up for it, this could be your most rewarding sailing experience ever. If not, charter a boat and let our people do the work. It’s your vacation....

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The mysteries of Maya without the traps of tourism.

With only a small percentage of our ancient Maya temples uncovered, it’s not uncommon to come across ancient pieces of pottery or hear that a distant hill is actually a temple.

Whether you want to...

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Explore the mysteries of the underworld...

We have thousands of caves in Belize. They range from easy walks to challenging hikes that can often turn into squeezes, crawls, climbs, rappels and swims. Choose your cave accordingly.

In most caves,...

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Attractions

Put these sites on your list, you won't regret it.

Xunantunich

Take the hand-cranked ferry over the river to Xunantunich, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Mopan River and the Cayo District. The area was a major ceremonial site built on a natural limestone...

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Santa Rita

Located about one mile from the town square, this great historical Maya site commemorates the birth place of the Mestizos. Once atop the main temple, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the town. 

...
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Blue Hole

Known as one of the best dive sites in the world, the Blue Hole Natural Monument has become a diver’s pilgrimage. At 406.9 feet in depth and 1,049.8 feet in diameter, this collapsed cave is said to be...

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Perspective

Your curated guide to Belize

Northern Belize in 72 Hours

As more eager travelers arrive to see the Great Blue Hole (among other things) for themselves, they’re often immediately whisked away to the sunny North Islands or to adventurous Western Belize. North...

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A Day at South Water Caye

After a 40-minute boat ride from Hopkins, a cluster of bright green palm trees starts to materialize over the horizon, followed by small wooden cabanas and a dock that welcomes us lucky ones. “It’s...

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(Re)-Discovering the Deep Blue

Just when you think the Great Blue Hole could not instill any more fascination, ocean explorers are determined to find what lies at the very bottom this fall. You know it from the travel brochures,...

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Local

Events

International Costa Maya Festival 2018  | 1

International Costa Maya Festival 2018

By now Belize is known for its umpteen festivals – food, culture, you name it – and the International Costa Maya Festival is no doubt the highlight of the country’s “La Isla Bonita.” Otherwise known...

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Taste of Belize 2018 | 1

Taste of Belize 2018 features best of Belizean Cuisine

Belize continues to thrive in the culinary scene and those dabbing in the art of gastronomy are now able to witness up front nouvelle Belizean cuisine. Taste of Belize, held every two years, is a...

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Placencia Lobster Fest 2018 | 1

Placencia Lobster Fest reels in the masses

For 18 savory years, the not-so-lowly lobster has graced our palates in extravagant ways at every annual Lobster Fest held in Placencia. Spanning three days, this food festival has only grown over the...

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