The words “tropical vacation” mean different things to different people. While there's no shortage of folks who are happiest when prone by the pool, relaxing and letting the world go by, more and more travelers arrive in beautiful, friendly Belize pumped up for action. Zip-lining, river rafting, rappelling into caves are all can-dos in this English-speaking country the size of Massachusetts.
Here's a brief look at some of what gets pulses pounding these days.
Belize is a synonym for world-class diving and snorkeling along the western hemisphere's longest barrier reef. Unclouded water and rainbows of tropical fish draw experienced divers and mask-and-fins newbies alike. The town of San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye, is home to many local tour operators who are practiced, knowledgeable and reliable. Winter visitors can take advantage of seasonal winds and soar across the waves while kitesailing or windsurfing or rise above the waves on a parasail. Winds not blowing? Rent a motorized personal watercraft and jet around the bay at your own speed. Sleek catamarans offer tours to hideaway beaches along with popular options like sunset cruises or fishing jaunts. Don't forget about kayaking, either, as there are dozens of small, palm-fringed islands scattered around the bay just waiting to be discovered.
Caves & Things to Do in Caves
Caves make for terrific adventure tours in Belize. Challenge-seekers will relish excursions like the Black Hole Drop, which begins with a 10-foot drop at the end of a rope and ends at the bottom of a 300-foot sinkhole, and yes, you have to climb back out. For a simpler experience there's cave tubing, during which an inner tube becomes the vehicle for an unforgettable exploration through magnificent caves lit only by visitors' headlamps. Other expeditions take the intrepid traveler to the base of waterfalls, along underground rivers, or on horseback along jungle trails. Like the Yucatan peninsula on its southern border, Belize is mostly limestone and riddled with underground wonders.
Jungles & Temples
Then there's the other kind of adventure, journeys into the past and among different cultures. From the reggae-flavored Garifuna celebrations of Belize's coast to the enigmatic Mayan ruins deep in the rain forest, there are almost unlimited choices for the culturally curious. A sojourn into neighboring Guatemala takes tourists to unforgettable Tikal, home to some of the Mayan world's most outstanding temples and ceremonial sculptures. Fascinating animals like the ring-tailed coatimundi and birds like the yellow-billed toucan are everyday sights in the jungle, and slow-moving blue butterflies the size of dinner plates wander about under the canopy, accompanied by the shrieks and chatterings of howler monkeys.
Adventure tours in Belize continue to lead the way in the region. If you can do it on the water, in the water, on the ground or below ground, you can do it in Belize. There's plenty of “soft” adventure too, for those unwilling or unable to swing at the end of ropes or work up a sweat paddling, but those who like to test themselves, their endurance and their outdoor skills will find new things to do every day of their stay. Come see Belize, the nearby Caribbean paradise.