Looking for a place that makes eco-travel easy? Belize is the destination for sustainable resort stays, nature immersion, and more.
Belize is known for many things: it’s home to the world’s second-largest barrier reef, more than 100 acres of lush rainforests, secret waterfalls, and ancient Mayan ruins. But the Central American country is also angling toward being one of the most sustainable tourist destinations, too.
After a decade on the UNESCO danger list, restoration and preservation efforts have helped Belize move the reef off the list. In 2009, mangrove and marine ecosystems had been neglected and unprotected. But in recent years, Belize stepped up its efforts to ban off-shore drilling exploration, which played a crucial role in reclaiming the reef. The reef was removed from the danger list in 2018.
“The Committee considered that safeguarding measures taken by the country, notably the introduction of a moratorium on oil exploration in the entire maritime zone of Belize and the strengthening of forestry regulations allowing for better protection of mangroves, warranted the removal of the site from the World Heritage List in Danger,” UNESCO said in its decision excerpt.
Belize is tackling other environmental issues, too, like plastic waste. According to the Belize Tourism Board, efforts to reduce plastic and Styrofoam pollution have been in effect since 2020. The ban, which ended the manufacturing of single-use plastic in January, is on all single-use plastic utensils, straws, containers, cups, and bags. The country has transitioned to biodegradable products that benefit both human health and the environment. As of March 31st, possession of single-use plastics is an offense, punishable by fines.
Eco travel destinations in Belize
Belize is also improving sustainability metrics across the tourism industry with Green Globe Certified destinations and resorts and hotels that prioritize sustainable stays and experiences. These seven top the list for nature immersion, luxury, and sustainability.
1. Ka’ana Resort
Set on 17 acres of pristine and peaceful private green jungle, Ka’ana (which means “heavenly place”) brings eco-luxury to life in Western Belize. The resort’s mission is to preserve and protect Belize with light carbon footprint initiatives implemented throughout the property without sacrificing luxury and comfort. From the restaurant to the room amenities, recycling, using biodegradable products, and even producing high-quality drinking water without the use of plastic bottles, Ka’ana’s guests can enjoy a unique jungle experience and luxury eco-living.
2. Bocawina Resort
A true gem centrally located in the heart of the Maya Mountains on over 7,000 acres of pristine tropical rainforest in the Stann Creek District of Belize. This unique off-the-grid eco-lodge is the only resort located inside a National Park in Belize and is a model for sustainable ecotourism and conservation without sacrificing any of the modern conveniences. The all-inclusive experience includes delicious fine dining, unlimited jungle adventures, cultural experiences like chocolate making, Garifuna dancing and drumming, and of course the legendary friendly Belizean service.
3. Black Rock Lodge
Black Rock Lodge is truly an off-the-grid property, meaning it sources none of its power from an electrical utility service. Using mostly clean and renewable energy, through both solar (about 30 percent of supply) and hydro (about 70 percent of supply) power, it’s able to significantly lower its carbon emissions output. Sustainability is the guiding principle of Black Rock Lodge operations, and includes additional green measures such as water waste treatments, natural spring-fed water, and an on-site fresh organic farm.
4. Chaa Creek
Many guests are surprised to hear that 10 percent of all accommodation revenue at Chaa Creek goes directly into environmental and community projects under the Chaa Creek Cares initiative. Rated one of the world’s best Eco Lodges and a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981, the award-winning Belize Jungle Resort, located in the heart of Maya civilization, strives to coexist with nature while creating a true jungle experience; the result is an exquisite blend of natural beauty and man-made comforts.
5. Xanadu Island Resort
Nestled amongst tropical indigenous gardens, eco-friendly Xanadu is situated on the beach overlooking the world’s second-largest barrier reef and the Caribbean Sea. Located a mile south of San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye, Xanadu is close enough to enjoy the amenities of the town yet far enough away to enjoy nature and relaxation.
6. Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort
— Recognized as the first beach resort in Belie to be Green Globe Certified, Hamanasi is nestled between the lush Maya Mountains and the turquoise Caribbean Sea. It is a special place from which you can explore the best of Belize on and offshore. A secluded, intimate boutique resort located on the beach south of Hopkins, Hamanasi sits on hundreds of feet of Caribbean Sea beachfront surrounded by tropical flora on the finest stretch of beach in Belize.
7. Gaïa River Lodge
Named after Gaïa, the mother of life and all creation-the Greek goddess of Earth, is perched atop of the magnificent Five-Sisters Waterfalls in Belize’s famed Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve; Gaia will fulfill its promise to reconnect you to your adventurous and truest being by disconnecting you from everything else. The quiet of the rainforest, its birds and butterflies, magnificent flora, the pink and orange sunsets glowing upon the pine trees, and finally, the distant roaring of the waterfall will work their magic.