Belize may be best known for its barrier reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world and home to the iconic Blue Hole, but there is much to discover in this tiny corner of Central America, from its friendly and relaxed people to ancient Mayan ruins and rainforest jam-packed with exotic beasties.
Belize has come late to tourism. A British colony until 1981 with a disputed Guatemalan border, the country only really achieved political stability in 1998. As a consequence, much of it is still untouched: there are jaguars and rainforests in the hinterland, and you'll find virgin reefs off the coast. Thankfully the government has committed to protecting these natural resources, linking up with privately-funded conservation groups.
The Mayan Empire has left an indelible mark on Belize, an influence that is still very evident culturally. More tangible marks have been left in the form of a collection of ancient Mayan ruins such as Xunantunich, with its plazas and temples, and Caracol's 138ft tall Sky Palace Pyramid.
Aside from Mayan ruins, Belize's attractions include a rainforest rich in flora and fauna - 40% of the country is dedicated to conservation. And then there's the diving in Belize, the 174-mile coastline fringed with numerous atolls, known as Cayes, and the second greatest barrier reef in the world. The last Original Diving consultant to dive in Belize saw eight whale sharks on a solitary dive. Not a bad return. Apart from the aforementioned big stuff, divers will see everything from groupers, barracudas and jacks to yellow tube sponges and Atlantic spadefish in Belize's fertile waters.
|The Belizean Coast|