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The Other “Great Barrier Reef” – Belize

One of the world’s most remarkable natural gifts, the coral reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of one of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises a multitude of reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the world’s most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. Because of its natural beauty, the Reef has become one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations.

The above passage was written to describe Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and it certainly paints an accurate picture of the world’s largest reef system. Yet it might easily have been written to reflect the beauty, grandeur, and splendor of the world’s ‘other’ great barrier reef. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and runs from the top of the Yucatan peninsula, down the entire length of Belize, onto the shores of the Guatemala and Honduran border.

Marine life in Belize

This column of natural beauty makes a Belize vacation an easy and close alternative for those looking visit one of the world’s great natural coral reef systems. It allows visitors to mix active activities such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, and golfing with more tranquil pursuits like sun worshipping, dining, fishing, and slow walks on pristine beaches at sunset or sunrise with cocktail or beer in hand.

Extending the trip with even more variety, the lush jungles of Belize’s mainland offer remote lodges situated amongst ancient ruins. Here, you can go caving for lost Mayan artifacts, trek through jungle trails, go river tubing, take a 4 x 4 adventure, or again, simply relax on a terrace watching the myriad of wildlife that surrounds you.

But the Reef is Belize’s biggest natural attraction. Dotted amongst this coral playground are numerous sand atolls, or Cayes (pronounced keys). The most popular and largest of which is Ambergis Caye.

Accessible in about 40 minutes by small aircraft from the main land, Ambergis Caye is home to some of the most sought after resorts in all Belize. These include the family style resort of Ramons Village, the moderate Sun Breeze, and the deluxe Victoria House, which sits on ten acres of white sands.

Beautiful residences and swimming pool at Victoria House Resor

The reef sits practically at the doorstep of all these resorts, where some of the world’s most pristine diving opportunities await. Shore dives, boat dives, wreck dives, and night dives are all available, as is getting your diving license if you arrive to Belize an underwater novice.

More adventurous divers or snorkelers can head to the outer reef and dive the world famous Blue Hole. Made famous by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who declared it one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world, the Blue Hole is a large submarine sinkhole over 300 m (984 ft) across and 124 m (407 ft) deep.

Inside the main reef, the water is shallow with a blue tinge. Outside the reef, the water is deep and from the air looks a dark royal blue. On very clear days the reef appears as a narrow yellow line dividing the two shades of blue. Near Ambergris Caye is an almost solid wall of magnificent coral formations broken only by narrow channels, where a diver, swimmer, or snorkeler can be entertained for hours by the unending varieties of tropical coral.

The beauty of the reef combined with the lush mainland tropical forest and Mayan history make Belize the perfect destination for romance, adventure, education, relaxation, fine dining, budget or luxury experiences, or all of the above. Goway and their Central and South America experts can help you combine all this into your ideal Latin beach and/or jungle getaway.

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General Manager, Central & South America - Born in Australia and raised in Canada and Papua New Guinea, Don took his first solo trip to Bali – aged just 13. Since then, Don’s travels have taken him to every continent. He’s been a backpacker in Asia, Europe and Egypt, an overland adventurer in East and Southern Africa, and an overland driver in South and Central America. He is especially fond of Peru, Patagonia and Namibia, though his longest adventure to date has been a London to Kathmandu run via the Middle East.

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