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Nestled in Central America just south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, with an idyllic Caribbean coastline, Belize boasts the world's second largest barrier reef -- making it a prime spot for Scuba divers and snorkelers -- as well as thick interior jungles and Mayan ruins to explore. While it's a quick flight from the United States, Belize offers plenty in the way of exotic tropical attractions, outdoor adventure, and Mayan culture both old and new. A Belize tour will get you far beyond the beaches so you can discover the heart and soul of this beautiful and increasingly popular destination.
Belize boasts an idyllic locale in Central America, perched between Yucatan Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea. Despite it's small size, the country packs a punch when it comes to adventure and cultural offerings. The long stretch of Caribbean coastline provides countless sandy cayes and beaches, many uninhabited for an island-hopping dream come true. The world's second longest barrier reef just offshore (home to the stunning Blue Hole) draws scuba divers and snorkelers worldwide.
The interior of Belize is a tangle of jungle, with all of the adventure activities and wildlife viewing opportunities such a rich tropical forest entails. In fact, 60% of the country is covered in forest and more than 36% of the country is under some form of protected status. Eco-travel is possible and encouraged, from the UNESCO World Heritage reef on the coast to surprisingly luxurious eco-lodges in the rainforest.
Aside from the varied microclimates and topography, Belize is also a melting pot of people and languages. Soak up Latin American culture and history alongside laid-back Caribbean hospitality, with a touch of post-colonial influence from the UK (Belize was a British territory until 1981). The blend is intoxicating. English is the official language, but Belizean Creole, Garifuna, and Maya dialects are also widely spoken. The cuisine is a similar jumble of influence, brought to life with fresh seafood, salsas, rum, cacao, and tropical fruits.
The backbone of any trip to Belize is the extraordinary Mayan history of the area, once the epicenter of the ancient Maya civilization. Mayan influence courses throughout the country and is essential to its core. The captivating, crumbling ruin complexes spread throughout the interior are well worth a day trip - some of these mysterious cities and temples are said to be inspiration for the Indiana Jones films.
Belize is a multifaceted destination that offers something for everyone, from archeological splendors to cacao plantations. That aforementioned small size comes in handy - this compact country is easy to navigate, meaning a staggering variety experiences can be had in a relatively short amount of time.
Already been to Belize or it doesn't sound as exciting for your next trip? Though the Central American region countries all share spectacular beaches, sunshine, jungle, and enough varied wildlife to please nature lovers everywhere, they all have distince cultures, cuisines, and languages. Here are two other Central America destinations to consider that are similar to Belize:
Despite being about the size of Kentucky, Guatemala packs a punch. Known for the extensive Mayan ruins of Tikal (famously used as a filming location for Star Wars: Episode IV), Guatemala is a great place to travel for history buffs.
Guatemala has a bit of a reputation for uneasy political conditions and safety concerns have caused many tourists to turn to more traditionally safe Central American countries. Guided tours of Gatemala are a great way to experience the culture and history without needing to worry about traveling alone and figuring out where to go.
On the opposite coast and south to Belize, Costa Rica is known as one of the adventure travel capitals of the world. But there is so much more to this exciting country than just ziplines through the canopy. The best vacation packages to Costa Rica incorporate adventure as well as ample wildlife viewing to see hundreds of rare and beautiful birds and other nature wonders who live in the many distinct rainforests of Costa Rica.
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