Would you be shocked to learn that some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean aren’t even on islands? Just south of the border from Mexico’s famous Yucatan Peninsula, the country of Belize is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean, with white sand and clear waves everywhere you turn.
In this ultimate guide to the best beaches in Belize, we share twelve of the most impressive beaches located across the country, and they’re calling your name. From tiny islands and barren atolls to long stretches of white sand along the mainland, you’ll find plenty of Belize beaches to pack into your itinerary.
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12 Best Beaches in Belize
1. Tobacco Caye
Little more than a patch of white sand beach barely sticking out from the crystal clear waters surrounding it, it doesn’t get much dreamer than Tobacco Caye. Located just a 35-minute boat ride from the mainland of Belize, laid-back Tobacco Caye feels a world away, making it a pleasure of a hidden gem to visit.
While the actual beachy areas of Tobacco Caye aren’t large, you’ll still have plenty of space – there are only ever a few dozen people on Tobacco Caye at any given time.
While many of the other tiny islands off of Belize’s coast are private islands home to pricey resorts, Tobacco Caye is a more affordable option, with a handful of hotels and even affordable “overwater bungalow” cabins at Tobacco Caye Paradise. Call it a backpacker’s paradise if you will, but you’ll find travelers of all budgets flocking here in increasing numbers to enjoy this true slice of paradise.
Off the mainland near Hopkins Beach and Dangriga, you can find regular (but unscheduled) ferry service daily from Dangriga, as the ferry departs when reasonably full, usually between 9 AM and 12 PM.
2. Silk Caye
Silk Caye is one of the many paradise Belize beaches you truly need to see to believe. This tiny island, almost a sand bar, rises ever so slightly out of pristine waters to reveal a beautiful stretch of pure white sand. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the sunshine between snorkeling expeditions on your Belize vacation.
Silk Caye is accessible as part of a day trip from Placencia, which is about an hour and a half away by boat. You’ll find excellent full-day guided excursions to visit Silk Caye and snorkel in the surrounding waters. With Silk Caye’s perfect spot along the Belize Barrier Reef, you’re sure to find colorful corals and tropical fish, and even sea turtles and rays.
3. Caye Caulker
Located just south of the larger and more lively Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is truly starting to come into its own as a laidback beach paradise worth traveling for. It’s hard to overstate just how cool this white sand island is: think colorful guesthouses and cabins, hammocks strung between palm trees, and sandy “streets” perfect for bike rides under the shade of palm trees.
The most popular area for enjoying the beach on Caye Caulker is called The Split, named for the small section of sea that splits the north and south half of the island. You’ll find plenty of beach bars here, as well as places to grab some gear for snorkeling. It’s a lovely, sandy spot and usually the life of the party on Caye Caulker.
It gets even better: Caye Caulker is quite affordable. You’ll find an array of affordable hostel dorm rooms, private cabins, and hotel suites up and down the island – Colinda Cabanas and Bella’s Backpackers are two favorite choices.
If you’re looking to splurge, go for the multi-stop snorkeling excursion that takes you to some of the most impressive spots around the Caye; it’s still affordable for a full-day excursion! Though you’ll find great swimming anywhere, the guides know where to find the very best corals, fish, and marine life on the reef. It’s one of the best things to do in Caye Caulker.
Getting to Caye Caulker is quite easy. Choose from direct flights from Belize City for about $80 per ticket or by hourly ferry from Belize City for about $25 per ticket.
4. Cayo Espanto
The private island resort of Cayo Espanto is what dreams are made of, with some of the best beaches in Belize to match. With just seven secluded villas, each on its own white sandy beach with a plunge pool and dock, it’s hard to imagine a more romantic destination for a luxe getaway. Cayo Espanto sees to guests’ every dream and desire; each villa comes with a personal butler, while the island’s world-renowned chef is on call to prepare customized meals.
When you’re not enjoying the fine white sand at your private villa, get ready for snorkeling and diving adventures, spa treatments, movies under the stars at the island’s open-air cinema, or cruises on the island’s private yacht. Guests are only limited by their own imagination as they enjoy this slice of paradise.
Guests can access Cayo Espanto via helicopter from the international airport in Belize City or by a quick 10-minute private boat ride from nearby San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Whether you arrive by land or by sea, you’re in for some incredibly beautiful scenery along the way.
5. Ambergris Caye
Belize’s largest cay, Ambergris Caye is by far the most popular island destination in Belize. The well-served airport in San Pedro makes accessing Ambergris Caye a breeze, or take a boat from the mainland – you’ll find plenty of options from Belize City and other nearby towns. While it’s busier than smaller cays like Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye is the perfect choice if you just have a day or two to enjoy the white sand Belize beaches you’ve been dreaming of.
As a relatively large island, there are several great beaches on Ambergris Caye to choose from, though you’ll find plenty of docks that make for great spots for swimming and relaxing as well. Favorite beaches include the stretch of white sand at Ramon’s Village and Matachica Resort & Spa, both among the best places to stay on the island – Matachica Resort & Spa is even one of the best resorts in Belize!
You’ll also find plenty of public beach options in Ambergris Caye, including the not-so-secret Secret Beach, and the many white sand bars along the western leeward side of the island that are perfect for a more private, laid-back beach day.
6. Turneffe Atoll
Located about twenty miles offshore from Belize City, Turneffe Atoll is the largest coral atoll of three located in the Belize Barrier Reef. The perfect spot for travelers looking for snorkeling, diving, and fishing excursions from popular destinations like Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, Turneffe Atoll is more often than not just a spot to visit for the day.
Don’t make the mistake of just visiting the stunning Turneffe Atoll on a day trip – you’ll likely miss some of the most remote yet impressive Belize beaches if you don’t spend at least one night here!
The best beach in Turneffe Atoll is found at Turneffe Island Resort, one of the most impressive resorts in Belize. Perched on a private island among the atolls ringed with white sand and complete with 22 guest rooms and villas, it’s the perfect getaway for adventurous travelers drawn to the snorkeling and diving the atoll is known for.
Or, for those looking for a more relaxing stay, the island’s pristine beaches and plush villas with private plunge pools are the perfect place to unwind.
7. Hopkins Beach
One of the best Belize beaches you’ll find on the mainland, Hopkins Beach is a much-loved, laid-back beach town with long, stunning stretches of sand you don’t often find in other destinations in Belize.
While there are plenty of great beaches here, stay at Coconut Row for the ultimate toes-in-the-sand getaway at this easy breezy resort. The Lodge at Jaguar Reef is a more upscale option, with just as dreamy of a beachfront.
Hopkins Beach is also known for having many native Belizean Garifuna people. You can learn about this fascinating indigenous culture via drumming lessons, trying local foods, and more, adding so much to a typical beach getaway. It’s also a gateway to Belize’s lush southern jungles, home to plenty of ecolodges and eco resorts to show you an entirely different side of the country.
8. Half Moon Caye
Part of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Central America’s first protected marine area, glorious Half Moon Caye boasts white sand beaches and truly spectacular diving. With both impressive spots for snorkeling and a dramatic underwater drop-off wall for some of the most spectacular diving you’ll find in Belize, it’s no wonder that Half Moon Caye is starting to become one of the most popular destinations in Belize.
Half Moon Caye also boasts beautiful old forest growth on its shores that sets it apart from many of the other cays in Belize. It’s a birdwatching paradise, home to the unique red-footed boobies and an endemic species of geckos.
Access the island via boat from the mainland, or choose a multi-day excursion with a guide company, including camping on the island. Many multi-day excursions include a visit to the nearby Great Blue Hole, truly one of Belize’s most famous spots and an out-of-this-world destination you’ll never forget.
9. Sapodilla Cayes
Located in the southernmost area of the Belize Barrier Reef, the Sapodilla Cayes are remote, an almost 2.5-hour boat ride from Punta Gorda. However, for travelers looking for a truly off-the-beaten-path hidden gem, some of the best snorkeling, diving, and beaches in all of Belize await.
Sapodilla Cayes’ best beaches are located on Hunting Caye and Ranguana Caye. Ranguana Caye is a private island resort home to Ranguana Caye Cabanas, a Muy’Ono Resort. A favorite spot for exploring the Sapodilla Cayes, this is also one of the nicest resorts in Belize; of course, white sand beaches and incredible amenities await.
Home to the Sapodilla Caye Marine Reserve, these protected waters are home to several unique species of colorful corals, three different species of marine turtles, plus an unending amount of tropical fish. You can even spot manta rays, sharks, and more in these pristine waters.
10. Glover’s Reef Atoll
The remote Glover’s Reef Atoll is the perfect spot for travelers looking to explore the wonders of the Belize Barrier Reef. This coral atoll comprises five islands lifted above nearly 800 patch reefs, forming the pristine Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, one of seven protected corners of the barrier reef along Belize’s shores.
While most travelers visit Glover’s Reef Atoll with snorkeling and diving in mind, don’t underestimate the beauty of its beaches, which are among the most pristine Belize beaches you’ll find.
Hidden among the atoll’s coral crags is Manta Island Resort, where you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in Belize facing the rich, diverse waters that make this atoll so appealing for travelers. You’ll find nine colorful villas shaded by palm trees and spread across the island’s white sand property for the beach getaway of your dreams. It’s one of the best resorts in Belize.
In addition to offering an array of activities like fishing, watersports, and dreamy sunset cruises, this private island resort also has a dive shop on-site, ready to help make your dreams of exploring corals and swimming with sea turtles come to life!
11. Laughing Bird Caye
Just 12 miles southwest of the famous beach town of Placencia, Laughing Bird Caye is a popular day trip spot from the mainland, and it’s easy to see why. As part of Laughing Bird Caye National Park, this isolated, laid-back cay feels like a natural gem. Home to a bird sanctuary and coral nurseries, plus bountiful populations of fish swarming through the island’s clear waves, you’ll feel close to nature the second you step foot on the beach.
White sand beaches and great beginner’s snorkeling spots await. Though Laughing Bird Caye is small, it has so much to offer.
We’ve saved arguably the most popular beach in Belize for last! Placencia is a favorite mainland beach destination in Belize known for white sand beaches you’d expect to find on any of Belize’s endless cays, but with all the amenities of a proper mainland town. Placencia is certainly bustling, but it’s still charming, making it a true favorite among travelers.
You’ll find private resort and hotel beaches in Placencia along with a good amount of public beachfront. Areas with beachfront restaurants and bars make for lively afternoons and evenings, but you’ll find a good mix of more family-friendly spots as well.
If you’re looking to explore some of Belize’s more remote cays for world-class snorkeling and diving, Placencia is a great place to base yourself, especially if you have a short itinerary. Take a day trip to Laughing Bird Caye or Sapodilla Cayes directly from Placencia, and you’ll visit three stunning Belize beaches in just one trip!
Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway on the Belize mainland or contemplating a stay at one of Belize’s pristine private island resorts surrounded by clear seas, the best beaches in Belize await.
One of the few English-speaking countries in the Caribbean, Belize isn’t the most well-known Caribbean hotspot, but that’s for the better: you’ll have your pick from unique and off-the-beaten-path Belize beaches just calling your name. Which one will you choose?
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.