Experience Belize Before You Die
Experience Belize at least once in your lifetime
The nation of Belize offers a great many things to the tourists who flock to it each and every year. From the jungle-like forests on the mainland that cover the rolling hillsides and mountainous areas to the crystal blue water that laps at Belize's shoreline, the area is simply one of the most beautiful areas found in the world. The waters of Belize are extremely popular with scuba divers and snorkelers alike and offer a great chance to experience the marine life of the Caribbean Sea. One of the best features of Belize though for adventurers seeking out water recreation possibilities are all of the islands that line its coastline.
A look through the different Islands of Belize
The largest island in Belize is Ambergris Caye. This island is about twenty five miles long, but only one mile wide. Ambergris Caye is off the northeastern shore of the country and is largely made up of a long white sandy beach that surrounds a mangrove swamp. The island is home to San Pedro Town which is the second largest city in the entire country. The island is also home to many smaller towns and luxurious resorts that are becoming more and more popular with tourists. There are a number of activities popular in the area including diving, swimming, snorkeling, and even skydiving.
The island's location near the Belize Barrier Reef, the second longest barrier reef in the world, contributes a great deal to its popularity with professional and amateur divers alike.
Blackadore Caye is a small island off the coast of Belize located just west of Ambergris Caye. The island is conveniently located less than a half hour boat ride from both Ambergris Caye and the Belize Barrier Reef. The island is just over two miles long and just over 600 feet wide at its widest point. It has a long history as being a popular diving location, but recently made news when American actor Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the entire island with the intent of building a hotel and a private airport on it.
Caye Caulker is a small island measuring just five miles long and a little less than one mile wide. It is primarily made of limestone and coral and is home to a small community named Caye Caulker Village. The island can be accessed by small airplane or by boat and sits just over twenty miles off the Belize coastline. The island is popular with hikers and other tourists and over time a number of new hotels have slowly been built there.
Caye Chapel sits just three miles south of Caye Caulker and is a popular destination for the rich and famous who come to visit Belize. Caye Chapel is a rather exclusive island with a number of first class resorts, a full 18-hole golf course, and facilities that are equipped to handle large gatherings for either personal or business purposes. One of the growing uses for Caye Caulker has been as a site for destination weddings. The beautiful water is a great backdrop to this gorgeous little island.
Hick's Cayes are a popular diving location in Belize. This small group of islands sits about halfway between San Pedro and Belize City and are largely uninhabited. Much of the islands are swamp-like in nature with very little elevation to offer protection from the sea.
Saint George's Caye
Sitting just eight miles east of Belize City is St. George's Caye, a small island that has a history of European settlement dating back to the mid-1600s. This island is the site of the historically important Battle of St. George's Caye that pitted British settlers against a fleet of Spanish ships. To this day, the British Army maintains a presence on the island in the form of an adventure training facility.
Belize is home to a number of other islands, when counting even the smallest of them there are well over one hundred. Some of the other islands of size in the area include Glover's Reef, Lighthouse Reef, Mauger Cay, South Water Caye, and the Turneffe Islands.
There are a number of reasons to visit the nation of Belize, but the primary things that attract most vacationers who travel there are the water for the diving and the overall remoteness of the location. Belize offers one of the best chances in the Western Hemisphere to escape the hustle and bustle of western life. To make that escape even more enjoyable though, travelers can leave the mainland of Belize and head out to one of the many islands that line the coast. These islands offer great scenery, wonderful recreational activities, and a decent amount of privacy too. Vacationing on the islands of Belize is the perfect way to get away from it all.
Interesting facts on Belize
Don't know much about Belize? Here are five interesting facts about this small Central American country and popular vacation destination.
1. While it is in the middle of Central America, surrounded on all sides by primarily Spanish speaking neighbors, Belize is the only nation in Central America that has English as its official language.
2. Scuba divers, snorkelers, and water recreation enthusiasts are familiar with the Great Barrier Reef that sits off the coast of Australia. It is the largest reef structure in the world and attracts millions of visitors each year. The second longest reef, and longest in the Western Hemisphere, is the Belize Barrier Reef which sits off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea. The Belize Barrier Reef measures in at approximately 200 miles long and lines almost the entire length of the nation's eastern border.
3. People from Belize are known as Belizeans.
4. At different times during its history, the neighboring country of Guatemala has claimed ownership of either all or part of the nation of Belize. This dispute remains constant to this day, and though it is contentious and serious, the nations do remain cooperative and friendly in other areas.
5. Though the nation of Belize is not much larger than the American state of Massachusetts, there are more than 125 islands that sit off its Caribbean shore. These islands vary in size and are a large part of why the country is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers as each one offers a decent amount of seclusion and remoteness, while also offering crystal blue waters and access to the Belize Barrier Reef.
The Central American country of Belize is small in size, but it can sure deliver some giant vacation experiences. From searching out and experiencing the land once maintained and toiled by the Mayan Indians to diving and exploring coral reefs and underwater sinkholes, Belize has more than enough to offer anyone lucky enough to choose it as a destination. A trip to Belize is a great way to experience life in an area that is well off the beaten path.
The Best Places To Enjoy The Natural Wonders Of Belize
The nation of Belize is famous as a tourist destination for a number of reasons, but the overriding reason that people trek there is to experience the natural scenery and wildlife that is abundant in the area. While there are a number of locations along the country's shoreline, and also inland towards the mountains and hillsides, where visitors can experience the great outdoors that Belize has to offer, some of the best chances to see something truly special is to venture to one of the many protected natural areas that the country has set aside. These national parks and wildlife reserves offer a great chance for travelers to mingle with nature in a secure and safe setting.
Here is a look at five of the best protected wildlife areas in the nation of Belize.
Belize Botanical Gardens
Nestled near the location of three important Mayan archaeological sites, Chaa Creek, Cahal Pech, and Xunatunich, sits the Belize Botanical Gardens. Visiting these gardens is a great way to get a first hand look at some of the many plants and flowers that are treasured by the nation of Belize. The purpose of the Belize Botanical Gardens is not just to exhibit and make these plants accessible to locals and visitors from outside of the country, it is also to promote conservation and sustainable agriculture in the area.
Chiquibul National Park
The largest national park in Belize is Chiquibul National Park which is located in the country's Cayo District. The park surrounds the Mayan city of Caracol which is an archaeological reserve and not included as part of the national park itself. The park sits just west of the Mayan Mountains and borders the neighboring nation of Guatemala. The highest mountain in all of Belize, Doyle's Delight, is located within the borders of Chiquibul National Park. One of the most intriguing parts of the park is the Chiquibul Cave System which is located partially within it. This is the longest cave system in all of Central America and the Chiquibul River flows through Belize to reach it and then disappears underground, not resurfacing again until it reaches Guatemala. A number of interesting wildlife can be found within the park including jaguars, kinkajous, motmots, margays, ocelots, spider monkeys, tapirs, and king vultures.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Regarded by many noted conservationists as the premier site for jaguar preservation in the entire world, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary offers some of the best looks at what the natural jungles of Central America are truly like. This nature reserve is located in south-central Belize and serves to protect both wildlife and vegetation from development and exploitation. The dominant trees in this area of Belize are mahogany and cedar, and there are many examples of primary forest present in the reserve. There are also agricultural remnants of the Mayan culture visible here. Some of the best inland scenery in the country can be found in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary with many people treasuring the photographs they take of the area's rivers, creeks, mountain ridges, and waterfalls.
Guanacaste National Park
About fifty miles west of Belize City sits the small Guanacaste National Park. The park received its name from a very large and interesting Guanacaste tree that sits in it. The surrounding area experienced a great deal of logging in its past, but this one tree was spared due to the fact that its trunk divides itself into three separate bases, thus making it harder to cut and of lesser value than more normally shaped trees. This is a popular destination for families and tourists alike who can meander through the more than two miles of maintained trails to examine the different kinds of plant life found there. There is also a visitor's center and a gift shop located at the park that visitors can take advantage of. Some of the other species of trees found in the park include the rain tree, mamey sapote, and the Brazilian firetree. Wildlife viewing is also popular at Guanacaste National Park with glimpses of deer, Jaguarundi, Kinkajou, and armadillo possible. This is also a prime destination for bird watchers visiting the country as a number of species frequent the area on both a permanent and migratory basis.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
One of the target destinations for scuba divers and snorkelers heading to Belize is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This reserve covers more than 4,400 acres of reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests just off the coast of the country in the Gulf of Honduras. The nearest city to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is San Pedro Town and this makes a great jumping off point for heading to this remote and semi-inaccessible area. Purchase of a permit is required for those wishing to enter any area of the marine reserve, but the sights and experiences that can be had there are well worth it. The reserve consists of a number of specific areas including the Hol Chan Cut which is a natural break in the reef that attracts a multitude of marine life, Shark Ray Alley which attracts a phenomenal amount of sharks and stingrays and has a sandy bottom, and the Boca Ciega Blue Hole which is an amazing underwater sinkhole where experienced divers can explore a large undersea cavern. Some of the many types of marine life recorded to have been sighted in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve include dolphin, manatee, eagle rays, stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, gray snappers, French angelfish, parrot fish, hogfish, and more.
Belize is a gorgeous and stunning country with a fascinating history too. The small country offers some of the best chances in all of Central America and the Caribbean to experience great outdoor adventures, whether inland on a hiking trail or in the ocean water snorkeling. The best way to experience these opportunities though is by visiting any of the number of protected wildlife areas, either the nature reserves or the national parks, of Belize. These areas have been set aside with the dual purpose goal of preserving the natural scenery and wildlife of the area and at the same time allowing visitors and locals alike to experience and enjoy those settings. A visit to any of the protected wildlife areas in Belize is a great way to accent or highlight a vacation to this fascinating country.
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