“Sure, you can dive among sharks in the Great Blue Hole or explore a secret cave where the Mayas performed human sacrifices. But can you get a decent latte?”
Why would anyone want to go to a place that has nothing to offer beyond mysterious jungle paths, hidden Mayan pyramids, exotic flora and fauna, spectacular Caribbean beaches and the world’s second-longest barrier reef – where you can dive among undulating rays and schools of iridescent fish – plus hospitable people, political stability and an incredible array of luxury accommodations? Ah. Right. Well then, if you can look past all of that and imagine a bespoke vacation in Belize, we’ll see what we can do…
After decades as a well-kept secret, this small Central American country – bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the south and west – has been popping up on more and more hot destinations lists. Jacques Cousteau first brought Belize to the world’s attention in the 1970s, when he ranked it among his top 10 dive sites worldwide. And for us, the Caribbean coast remains the best place to begin exploring. We can arrange a private yacht for you and your group, dropping anchor anywhere along the 185-mile barrier reef. In contrast to Australia, you’ll have this one mostly to yourself – apart from your PADI-qualified diving guides, on-board marine biologist, documentary film crew and, of course, award-winning personal chef. You can dive among Caribbean reef sharks and Midnight Parrotfish at the aptly named Great Blue Hole – a giant sinkhole in the ocean floor, nearly a thousand feet across. Or snorkel the protected waters around Lighthouse Reef, where hundreds of species of undersea creatures live out their lives among the multi-coloured corals. And after a day beneath the waves, how about a helicopter flight to watch the sun set over a maze of tiny islands and atolls? Belize also offers some of the best salt-water sport fishing anywhere. We’ll introduce you to local anglers who can help refine your fly-casting technique – essential as you wade through the aquamarine tidal flats, going after the hard-fighting bonefish. Out on the waves, the fishing around Ambergris Caye is regarded by professionals as possibly the best in the Caribbean: you’ll find tarpon here weighing in at 170 lbs. or more, plus plenty of black snappers, barracudas and French grunts (which prompt pretty well everyone on deck to supply their own joke). And after your day’s adventure, relax on a private beach as the chef prepares your catch Belize-style: rubbed with pepper, shallow-fried and garnished with lime juice and coriander.
If you’re ready to leave the white-sand beaches behind, venturing into Belize’s interior is a whole other experience. We’ll fly you into the northern rainforest around Chan Chich, where you can join conservationists tracking rare jaguars as howler monkeys taunt you from the jungle canopy. Or trek with archaeologists into the foothills to explore Caracol, once a centre of the Maya empire. We can also lead you, in true Indiana Jones style, through chest-high waters and a labyrinth of underground chambers to Actun Tunichil Muknal – the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre – where the calcified skeleton of a teenage girl, likely a victim of ritual sacrifice, glitters eerily in the beam of your helmet lamp.
And then by sunset you can be back in your luxury villa, stretched out in a hammock on the thatched-roof verandah, sipping a cold Belikin beer or maybe a glass of cashew wine. Tomorrow there will be more weighty decisions: Should you venture on horseback to the temple ruins…or zip-line up among the parrots…or maybe fly back to the coast for another day of diving? But for now you can just take in the jungle stillness, waiting for the howlers to strike up their evening chorus of the unofficial Belizean anthem. And thinking yes, there may indeed be a trip here…
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