When you think of Central America, you most likely think of Costa Rica, El Salvador, or even Panama.
But there’s one less well-known Central American destination that could be about to become a whole lot more popular over the coming months and years.
Situated south of Mexico’s Quintana Roo state with Guatemala to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Belize is a world of ancient history, stunning mountains, lush forests, and gorgeous coastline that can rival anything in the Caribbean.
It has a lot to offer, so we have examined 6 reasons why we think Belize could be about to become a much more popular option for American travelers.
It’s Easier Than Ever To Get There
A recent report has revealed that several major airlines are opening up new routes or expanding existing ones to this often-overlooked Central American nation.
The report explains that travelers can reach Belize directly from Seattle and Los Angeles via Alaska Airlines, from Miami, Charlotte, and Dallas with American Airlines, from Atlanta and Minneapolis with Delta, from New York JFK with Jet Blue, and from Houston and Denver with Southwest Airlines.
This focus of attention from major airlines on Belize makes it easier than ever to find either a direct or connecting flight to the country at an affordable price.
Rich Mayan History
While Mexico may be the first place that comes to mind when you think of visiting relics of ancient Central American civilizations such as the Maya, Belize has its own rich and fascinating Mayan history.
Many of the temples you can visit are located in the west of the country near the border with Guatemala.
Highlights include El Pilar, a site that is still being excavated in the present day; Cahal Pech, which provides amazing views of San Ignacio and the Belize River Valley; and Xunantunich, which features an imposing 130-foot-tall pyramid.
Less Discovered Caribbean Coast
As well as providing Mayan ruins you can visit without the crowds of its Mexican counterparts, Belize has a stunning stretch of coastline on the Caribbean Sea with a similar vibe.
While the coast itself is perfect for relaxing in the sun for several days, many of the tiny islands off the coast are the real jewels in the crown.
Koko King is the ideal place for a Caribbean beach party, while Turneffe Atoll is a pristine marine reserve with some of the world’s best saltwater fly fishing.
This whole area is also well-known for its excellent snorkeling and scuba diving, which just proves how crystal clear and beautiful its waters are.
Affordable And You Can Use U.S. Dollar
While Belize is a little more expensive than some of its Central American neighbors, it is still a very affordable place to visit for travelers.
You can make it through a trip to Belize with an average daily cost of between $75 and $125, according to Lonely Planet.
Belize uses its own dollar, but the U.S. dollar is also widely accepted in the country. At the time of writing, one Belize dollar is worth about 50 cents U.S., making the conversion easy.
It’s not unusual to pay for something in U.S. dollars and receive the change in Belize dollars.
No Visa Required
One nice thing about Belize is that it isn’t too strict on visas for entry.
American citizens can enter and stay in Belize for up to 30 days without any kind of visa.
You can then extend that stay by visiting an immigration office and applying for a Belize Visitor’s Permit Extension. Often you will require proof of your intent to depart the country.
Belize offers similar visa-less entry to nationals of Canada and many European nations too.
Combine With A Trip To Mexico
Belize’s unique location and relatively small size mean you can easily tag on a few days visiting it while on a longer trip to Mexico.
The Mexican beach resort of Chetumal is right on the border with Belize, so you could quite easily enjoy a slow meander down the coast of Quintana Roo and then on into Belize, crossing the land border.
If you already have plans to visit this super popular part of Mexico, then venturing a little further south to escape the crowds could make Belize very appealing.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com