To coincide with the start of the new year, legendary travel publisher Rough Guides has released their 2018 list of recommended destinations, which included Belize in the top 20 of all global locations.

The Rough Guides gave high marks for Belize for its relative lack of crowding and its full range of ancient Maya sites to visit, including temples, palaces, and sacred caves. The Rough Guides recommended Belize over Costa Rica thanks to Belize’s small population (just 375,000 people versus Costa Rica’s five million) and the incredible range of pristine natural landscapes to explore.

Rough Guides also highlighted the fact that traveling in Belize and speaking to locals is very easy in Belize thanks to the fact that English is the country’s official language. Yet despite the small population, Belize’s melting pot society is formed of widely different cultures, an additional attraction for visitors wanting a unique travel experience.

Belize was also praised in the Rough Guides 2018 report for being accessible to travelers of all budgets. Ranging from luxury eco-resorts with a full range of modern comforts to budget family-run hotels and simple home stays in some of Belize’s more remote villages, travelers have a full panoply of options when it comes to accommodations.

Rough Guides also made favorable mention of the Belizean government’s commitment to preserving and protecting the environment. Having escaped the mass tourism that has overwhelmed other neighboring countries like Costa Rica, Belize has had time to develop at a more organic pace, allowing travelers to feel as though they are the first to visit the thriving rainforests and hidden Maya pyramids deep in the jungle.

Rough Guides also focused on Belize’s offshore coral reefs, part of the largest barrier reef system in the Western Hemisphere and the second-largest in the world. Using a photo of the Great Blue Hole, a popular diving spot made famous in 1971 by Jacques Cousteau, the French marine biologists who declared the location one of his favorite places to dive, the Rough Guides list recommended visiting the reefs, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you’re coming to Belize in 2018 and want to explore the country at your own pace, consider renting a vehicle from Tour Belize Auto Rental. With two convenient locations in the country, one at the international airport and one in downtown Belize City, Tour Belize Auto Rental has a full range of modern, rugged vehicles perfectly suited for exploring the highways and byways of Belize.