Second largest coral reef in the world, remains of The Maya culture are the main attractions of this tiny country between Mexico and Guatemala in Yucatan Peninsula. It is a unique mixture of Amerindian and African cultures. Belize is also a main headquarter of pirates and American confederates. Adventures accompanying expeditions into the rainforests, mysterious Mayan temples and the lack of crowd of tourists are great advantages of the country. However, the greatest treasure is under water. Along the coastline for about 40 km stretches the longest coral reef of the Caribbean Sea.
Belize Travel Tips
Belize is also rich in variety of wildlife, the jungle provides home to thousands species of plants and hundreds species of animals including armadillos, jaguars, scarlet macaws, snakes and monkeys.
In the south a low range of the Maya Mountains with the highest point Doyle’s Delight at 1,124 m gives good trekking and bird watching opportunity.
Over 450 offshore islands, the Belize Barrier Reef, the jungle and the mountains with numerous rivers create excellent conditions for fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, rafting, kayaking and even helicopter touring. Maya ruins attract those interested in the county’s rich history.
The largest cave system in Central America with hundreds of caves is a point of interest for caving fans.
The Belize Barrier Reef belongs to UNESCO – recognized World Heritage Site. Despite protective measures the reef is threatened from water pollution, uncontrolled fishing, shipping and hurricanes. According to the scientists 40% of the reef has been damaged since 1998.
Although English is an official language Kriol and Spanish are commonly spoken, as the nation is a multicultural society. With the population of more than 300 000, Belize has the lowest population density in Central America.
The tropical climate with a short dry season from February to April can vary from region to region. Temperatures are a bit higher inland than along the coast but significantly lower in highland plateaus. Hurricanes often occur and play a devastating role in the history. The former capital Belize City had been twice destroyed before the government decided to move it 80 kilometers inland to Belmopan.
La Isla Bonita – Ambergris Caye
La Isla Bonita – Belongs to Belize and is the center and main destination for professional and amateur divers from the whole world. Centuries ago the island used to be a part of the land on the route of sea trade and was well known for fishing industry and coconuts export. For the last thirty years the island has been changing into a popular tourist destination and diving center but at the same its secluded character has time been protected by the local authorities.
The coral reef is located less than a kilometer away from the east coast. The only town San Pedro offers variety of diving and snorkeling centers as well as water sports activities. Highly qualified instructors ensure not only save diving but also additional equipment such as cameras. While snorkeling or diving you can encounter rays, skates, turtles, sharks and vast schools of colorful fish.
Blue Hole Belize
Blue Hole Belize is accessible from Ambergris Caye or Long Caye and located at Lighthouse Reef Atoli is 124 meters deep and 300 meter wide. Surrounded by a vivid ring of coral reef and blue waters the hole is in fact an underwater well. In ice age times it used to be a huge cave above the sea level. By the time the ice melted and the sea level rose, the cave became a part of underwater cave system. Perhaps due to the earthquake and water pressure the system of caves collapsed creating a crater. Almost vertical walls are 35 meters high. Beautiful stalactites are remains from old times. It was Jacques-Yves Cousteau who brought his ship, The Calypso to the hole and declared it as one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. The divers are lured by a chance of diving in crystal clear waters and encountering different species of animals in the reef around the hole. Several operators offer daily trips. Diving in the Blue Hole is for advanced divers only and requires experience and the right certifications. No reputable dive company would recommend it to the beginners. The boats leave early in the morning. The lunch at Half Moon Caye will be a great adventure.
Half Moon Caye is an ideal location for both diving and wildlife watching. Shallow dive here will be less dangerous than diving in the Blue Hole and even more attractive due to abundance of sea animals. Unique forest eco-system, rare reptiles, colorful birds, white sandy beaches, a historic lighthouse make this place unusual and special. However, intensively developing tourism threatens the fragile environment. Local dive boats are required to anchor in designated areas.
Shark Ray Alley
Another attraction of Ambergris Caye.