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Belize

General Information

Languages : Spanish, Creole, Mayan dialects, English (official)
Currency : Belizean dollar (BZD)
Time Zone : EST -1hrs
Capital City : Belmopan
Population : 0.2 Million
Government : Parliamentary democracy
Total Area : 8,867 mi²
Climate : Tropical; very hot and humid; rainy season (May to November); dry season (February to May)
National Holidays: Independence Day, 21 September
Additional Info: An adventurer's paradise, Belize is a peaceful, English-speaking country just two hours away from 3 major U.S. Gateways.  In a single day, one can go from tropical forest to the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.

Destination Activities

Activity Details

Note: Though Belize is considered a year-round destination, your best bet is to visit during the dry season, which runs from January to May. To get the full sea kayaking/snorkeling/river kayaking/camping experience, this travel writer recommends Island Expeditions' 9 day/10 night Ultimate Adventure. I went in February 2007 and it was a mind-blowing experience that I'll never forget. Enjoy!

Scuba Diving

Belize's preternaturally crystalline waters are the perfect place to don face mask and snorkel and get up close and personal with some of the more colorful denizens of the deep. While much of the coral in other parts of the world is suffering greatly from the impact of tourism and bleaching, Belize's barrier reef (the second largest in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere) remains miraculously intact and healthy.

The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 0.2 miles offshore in the north and 25 miles in the south. It extends for about 185 miles, making it the second largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Destination_Australia. It is Belize's top tourist destination, attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors, and vital to its fishing industry. The Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole off of the coast of Belize. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 60 miles from the mainland and Belize City. The hole, circular in shape, is over 1,000ft across and 400ft deep. It was formed as a limestone cave system during the last ice age when sea levels were much lower. As the ocean began to rise again the caves flooded, and the roof collapsed. This site was made famous by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world.



Fishing

Belize is the fly fishing capital of the world. The most recognized location is Turneffe Flats, located 30 miles off the coast. It has the largest coral atoll in the Western Hemisphere, and is best known for its variety of saltwater fishing.



Ecotourism

In addition to undersea exploration, Belize offers remote jungles that are home to primitive Mayan dwellings, as well as a wealth of off-the-beaten-track adventures.



Kayaking

The Moho River in southwestern Belize offers the perfect balance of lazy floating and heart-in-your-throat action. As howler monkeys shriek overhead and candy-colored parrots dart through the dense foliage, visitors navigate inflatable kayaks down several miles of pristine river. Though it can be rather languid at times, this river has a few surprises in store, including a number of precipitous plunges down waterfalls - some as much as 15 feet! After a pulse-pounding day on the river, nothing beats a cold Belikin beer (the local favorite) before hitting the hay in a tent by the riverbank as the gentle sounds of the jungle loll you to sleep.



An excellent place to explore your inner amphibian is out on Glover's Reef Atoll, which lies 70 miles southeast of Belize City and a bit off the tourist track. Perfect tropical islands out of Robinson Crusoe dot an unimaginably blue sea, where the plentiful undersea life includes turtles, rays, sharks, barracuda, and a seemingly endless array of vividly colored fish. You'll also be treated to the sight of magnificent coral gardens reaching towards the surface, abuzz with the comings and goings of myriad sea creatures. The Atoll is best explored by kayak, and there are a number of tour companies that can get you there.

Photography



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