Belize is a small country nestled on the Caribbean coast between Mexico and Guatemala. But there is plenty to do and see in this pristine nation dubbed “The Jewel” for its cornucopia of lush landscapes and uninhabited tropical islands.

Here are 6 great reasons you have to pack your bags and visit Belize in 2018.

Gorgeous Beaches

Few other places in the world have as many beautiful, white sandy beaches as Belize. The coastline stretches for more than 180 miles, and Belize has more than 400 offshore islands, all with fantastic beaches. Whether you come to work on your tan or simply admire an unforgettable sunrise over the water, the beaches in Belize are truly spectacular.

Action and Adventure

Adrenaline junkies love Belize because of all of the exciting activities that abound, including zip lining through the jungle, horseback riding in a national park, windsurfing, canoeing, sea kayaking, stand-up paddling, cave tubing (exploring underground rivers), and rappelling down steep cliffs and waterfalls.

The Wildlife

Belize is home to an incredibly diverse and vibrant ecosystem teeming with 500 species of birds, endangered sea turtles, playful manatees, dolphins, ocelots, jaguarundis, tapirs, monkeys, giant iguanas, and even jaguars.

A Spicy Melting Pot of Cultures

Despite having a population of less than 400,000, Belize is a spicy melting pot of different cultures and traditions. Touring Belize, travelers can meet Creoles, Mestizos, Maya, Mennonites, Chinese, East Indian, and Garifuna, each with their unique foods, music, dance, and history.

The Ancient Maya

Belize was the beating heart of the ancient Maya world and is now home to more ancient Maya palaces, pyramids, sacred caves, and ball courts than anywhere else on the planet. Cities such as Xunantunich and Caracol once battled Tikal for domination of the region while the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave still holds the remains of more than a dozen people, including young children, who were sacrificed to the angry Maya gods.

The Belize Barrier Reef

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest in the world. Gorgeous islands and coral atolls make the perfect location to enjoy activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, stand-up paddling, sailing, or simply enjoying a beach barbecue of freshly caught seafood.

Once in Belize, travelers can rent a vehicle from Tour Belize Auto Rental and explore the country on their own, at their own pace. Tour Belize Auto Rental has two convenient locations in the country, including at the Philip Goldson International Airport and Belize City.