Exotic Western Caribbean
Under the Sea
You've heard that the Belize Barrier Reef is the second longest in the world. But have you heard that this reef is home to more than 100 different kinds of coral and some 500 species of fish? This alluring underwater world is undoubtedly the top attraction in Belize.
Snorkelers swim through translucent seas, gazing at a kaleidoscope of coral, fish and turtles; divers go deeper, investigating underwater caves and walls and the world-renowned Blue Hole.
The turquoise waters are inviting even for those who choose to remain above the surface. Kayakers glide from one sandy, palm-dotted islet to another; windsurfers and sailors skim across the surf by the power of the breeze; sunbathers lounge on the dock, lulled into relaxation by the gentle lapping; and foodies feast on delectable fresh fish, spiny-tailed lobster and other creatures of the sea.
In the Land of the Mayan
If that's not enough adventure for you, Belize is also home to one of the world's most mysterious civilizations – the ancient Maya. The country is sprinkled with archaeological sites that date to the Maya heyday, known as the Classic Period (AD 250–1000). Enormous steps lead to the tops of tall stone temples, often yielding 360-degree jungle views. Curious climbers can explore excavated tombs and examine intricate hieroglyphs, while adventurers can descend deep into natural caves to see where the Maya kings performed rituals and made sacrifices to the gods of their underworld.
In the Jungle
Inland, a vast network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries offer a safe haven for wildlife, which ranges from the industrious cutter ants to the national animal of Belize, Baird's tapir. Birders aim their binoculars at some 570 species, which roost along the rivers and lagoons and in the broadleaf forest. Of course, many of these birds and animals are elusive, but keen-eyed visitors can easily spot both spider monkeys and howler monkeys, peccaries, coatimundis, gibnuts, American and Morelot's crocodiles, green iguanas and countless species of birds. Even the showy keel-billed toucan – the national bird of Belize – occasionally makes an appearance in public.
Cozumel is too resilient, too proud to let itself become just another cruise-ship destination. Leaving the tourist area – and the gringo-friendly souvenir shops behind, you'll see an island of quiet cool and genuine authenticity. Houses still have shrines to the Virgin, there’s a spirited Caribbean energy, and of course there are plenty of holiday things to do, such as diving to some of the best reefs in the world.
While diving and snorkeling are the main draws, the town square is a pleasant place to spend the afternoon, and it's highly gratifying to explore the less-visited parts of the island on a rented scooter or convertible bug. The coastal road leads to small Maya ruins, a marine park and captivating scenery along the unforgettable windswept shore.
With one foot planted in the Central American jungles and the other dipped in the Caribbean Sea, Belize (just one of the Exotic Western Caribbean destinations) combines the best of both worlds.
Cozumel itself was a sleepy little fishing community until 1961, when a Frenchman by the name of Jacques Cousteau declared us one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas of the world. Since that time Cozumel has become an underwater marine park to protect the delicate balance of its dazzling coral reefs & abundant variety of tropical fish. The underwater wildlife is absolutely amazing here & due to the clarity of the water (100 - 200 ft. visibility, depending on the season), you do not have to be a diver to enjoy it. Simply put on a mask & snorkel and jump in & you will feel like you have been dropped into a tropical fish tank!
In addition to the spectacular open water diving, the region of Cozumel and Akumal are well-known for the underground rivers that honeycomb the porous limestone of the Yucatan, which provide some of the most beautiful cave and cavern or "cenote" diving in the world. Many of these caves are very highly decorated and are like floating through the finest dry cave you have ever seen, filled with water that is as clear as air. Because they are supported and protected by their water filled environment, they are pristine and each has its own particular marine life, unique to a water filled cave environment.