From the moment you step off the plane or cruise ship, you’ll know you’ve arrived somewhere that is truly special. A small nation of just 360,000 people wedged between the Caribbean Sea and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize is a wonderland of tropical islands, majestic waterfalls, and lush jungle teeming with colorful birds and wildlife.

Its small size makes it possible to get from just about anywhere in Belize in three hours or less, but geologically and topographically, Belize is enormous. In the west, misty mountains lead to gorgeous valleys, enormous forests, and jungle rivers teeming with fish, crocodiles, and monkeys. In the east, the land slopes down to fertile plains where crops such as cacao (the main ingredient of chocolate), citrus fruits, cashew, and pineapple grow. On the coast, the Caribbean Sea sparkles with hundreds of islands and atolls that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site with outstanding fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

Belize is the only country in the region where English is the official language, and Belizeans are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality. The laid-back attitude and pace of life are exemplified by numerous “Go Slow” street signs and small mom and pop restaurants with a “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” sign posted out front. In many communities, traffic is by bicycle or golf cart, and many local fishermen still ply the waters for fish, lobster, and conch in hand carved boats.

Beyond its natural beauty and incredible biodiversity, Belize is also home to more ancient Maya sites than anywhere else on the planet. Once the beating heart of a vast empire that stretched from El Salvador to Mexico, the Maya left behind vast pyramids, soaring temples, and bloodstained ball courts in enormous cities like Xunantunich, Altun Ha, Caracol, and Lamanai.

Belize is also home to thousands of caves, some of them stretching for miles deep into the ground. The ancient Maya believed that caves were gateways to the underworld of the gods, and sites like ATM Cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal) still contain the grisly remains of men, women, and children who were sacrificed thousands of years ago by Maya priests.

Black Orchid Resort located in the idyllic village of Burrell Boom is the premier jungle resort in Belize. Just a 15-minute drive from the international airport, the Black Orchid Resort is located close to all of the major attractions in the country, including Ambergris Caye, Belize City, and three national parks.