With its lush tropical sites, impressive mountains and caves, and intriguing ancient Mayan ruins, Belize is a haven for ecotourism and exploration. Belize is so well suited to ecotourism, that it has become the country’s largest industry. Unfortunately, the ecotourists have also brought with them, albeit unintentionally, environmental degradation of many of Belize’s most popular ecotourism sites. Since neither the government nor local tourism managers have the funds or the capacity to repair the damage, there has been a call for ecotourists to increase their awareness and act more sustainably as they travel. The government, local tourism managers, and the private sector, however, are dedicated to preservation of their fragile environment, and there are many options for ecotourists to ensure they are treading sustainably.
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort
For an holistic Belize ecotourism experience, head to Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort. Not only does Hamanasi offer beautiful accommodation and idyllic resort conditions, it can also take you on off- and on-shore adventures. Fancy some scuba diving? Hamanasi is the largest dive operation in Southern Belize, and provide divers access to some of the most pristine diving sites, all with sustainability in mind. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned diver, this PADI certified diving operator will impress you with their skill, safety, and reef dive sites.
Once you’ve spent some time underwater, head in to the tropical rainforest Belize is famous for. Ecotourists the world over have visited Belize to experience the rainforest, magnificent waterfalls, gorgeous limestone caves, and unique birds and wildlife. Hamanasi have a variety of inland day tour adventures for all interests and ability levels, including hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and birding.
Hamanasi believes in responsible, nature and culture-based ecotourism, and are dedicated to preserving their environment and local indigenous communities. The resort is green certified by a number of environmental and sustainable organisations, and every sector of their operations are comprised of sustainable initiatives. Their dedication to sustainable ecotourism is admirable, impressive, and necessary, and it is encouraging to see such a committed local tourism operator.
Another industry leader in ecotourism and sustainable operations is Chaa Creek, and eco-lodge and adventure travel pioneer that have been operating in Belize for thirty years. Chaa Creek offers vacation packages and tours, but the best thing they do has to be their deeply impressive resort property. Spanning 365 acres, their private reserve on the banks of the Macal River in the foothills of the Mayan Mountains is its own exotic eco-system, offering visitors an endless vista of exploration.
The accommodations are equally as impressive, with cottages, villas, and treetop suites to suit every taste and style. Chaa Creek is also home to one of Belize’s best restaurants, and a hilltop spa that immerses guests in the comfort and relaxation of the surrounding rainforest.
All of Chaa Creek’s operations are centred on their commitment and dedication to conservation and sustainable tourism development in Belize. They operate on a low-impact model that emphasises local involvement, cultural preservation, reduction in emissions and pollutants, and educating guests on appropriate sustainable behaviour and conduct. The owners of Chaa Creek have also founded the Belize Foundation for Conservation, a local NGO based at Chaa Creek and designed to preserve and conserve Belize, and educate locals and visitors regarding cultural and environmental awareness and sustainable practices. Chaa Creek’s policies, commitments, and affiliations are lengthy, as is their ability to preserve and sustain the country they love so much.
Ecotourism in Belize
Belize is an important ecotourism destination due to its lush tropical vegetation, historical sites, and unique natural features, however it is also significant because of its necessity for travellers to truly understand their impact. Many believe that simply by participating in an ecotourism activity, or by staying at a green hotel, they’re being sustainable, however that’s not always the case. Being knowledgeable of the environment, contemplating your actions, and making every effort possible not to leave any footprints, are the kinds of considerations ecotourists should be making not only in Belize, but in other destinations as well. By behaving responsibly and sustainably, both in your choices and actions, will help to ensure that ecotourism destinations like Belize are sustained for the future.
Photo Credit: World Resources; Drew Cogbill; Dan Cross