Lose the suit and tie, lace up the hikers and get ready for an adventure unlike any other. In Belize, you won't find shopping malls, fast food franchises or big theme parks, but you will find a veritable playground of natural attractions to explore. Belizeans learned the value of nature early-on and have done a wonderful job conserving it for all to see. Over 40% of Belize's land and water is protected, leaving much of the country in pristine condition and sometimes even undiscovered. For the nature lover or wildlife enthusiast, this tiny country has a lot to offer.
Belize has the second largest Barrier Reef in the world, next to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Stretching down Belize's entire coastline, the reef presents countless opportunities for fun. Throw on a mask and go snorkeling to explore vast expanses of coral. Strap on some scuba gear and see massive underwater cliffs plummeting into the deep blue abyss, or dive Belize's world famous Blue Hole. Swim with nurse sharks, dolphins, turtles and hoards of different fish, or cast a line into the clear blue water for some of the best fishing in the world. Jump on a sea kayak and go island hopping on multi-day expeditions, or strap yourself in for an exhilerating parasailing experience. With the water temperatures averaging 80ºF (27ºC) and visibility often upwards of 100 feet, it's no wonder the reef continues to be Belize's biggest tourist attraction.
If you prefer exploring with solid ground under your feet, leave Mother Nature's water park and head over to the jungle gym. Belize has an impressive array of natural attractions inland as well, from towering waterfalls to deep caves. Here, in the homeland of the ancient Maya, unknown wonders lie in store for the curious adventurer. Canoe or kayak along Belize's rivers or lagoons, formerly Mayan highways, or ride an inner tube through the Mayan underworld of Xibalba. Crawl through dark caves, passing by skeletons and long forgotten treasure, or climb the steep steps of ancient ruins to see Belize's lush jungle spread out before you. No matter where you go, you'll be greeted by a plethora of wildlife, from birds to jaguars to monkeys, peeking curiously out from the trees.
To fuel your active pursuits, a wide assortment of hearty, tasty foods are available. Belizeans take great pride in their cooking, drawing from their diverse cultural backgrounds to create dynamic and delicious meals. Rice and beans, stewed chicken and garnaches are great local dishes and other cuisines from Africa, China, India and the U.S. are hugely popular. Throw in mounds of fresh fruit and tons of seafood and wash it all down with a cool Belikin, Belize's favorite - and only - beer.
If you're in the mood for a Belikin or two, you'll have no trouble finding a local restaurant or bar to wet your whistle. For some serious nightlife, however, your options may be limited. A few places cater to night-owls and there's a small handful of casinos, but for the most part Belize is pretty quiet at night. The major partying happens during the country's many festivals and holidays, when Belize's diverse culture bursts to life with music, dancing, food and games. Whether it's Carnival, the International Costa Maya Festival or three separate Lobster Festivals, Belizeans love any excuse to celebrate and often stretch a single holiday into a week of festivities.
While there may be countless activities to keep you moving, the pace of life in Belize is actually rather slow - in fact, relaxing is almost a national sport. For the vacationer with time to kill, nothing beats lazing on a dock or swinging in a hammock, reading a good book or taking a well-deserved nap. Though few in numbers, the beaches in Belize are the perfect places to take it easy and rest. Luckily, because Belize is so small, you can do as much or as little as you like, with another great adventure, or comfy hammock, always within reach.
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