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Belize

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Belize

The barrier reef that runs along the Caribbean coast of Belize is second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Jacques Cousteau first brought Belize into the limelight when he documented his dive on Belize’s famous “Blue Hole”. The offshore islands of Ambergris Caye, Turneffe, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Half Moon Caye and Glovers Reef have been attracting avid divers ever since. Eco-tours abound throughout the region from jungle tours to the exploration of Mayan ruins making Belize an adventurer’s paradise.

Belize Information

Diving in Belize

Belize is one of the world's top spots for scuba diving and snorkeling with the second largest barrier reef (second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef), as well as three spectacular mid-ocean atolls.

Spanning Belize's coastline for 185 miles is the Belize Barrier Reef with dive sites inside and outside of the reef. This reef has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The underwater terrain is spur and grove formations - narrow canyons of corals are great for spotting grouper, stingrays, and moray eels. Inside the reef, patch reefs are covered with hundreds of brightly colored fish and coral species.

Diving and snorkeling are superb all along the barrier reef; the following are just a few of the truly standout sites and dives:

Shark-Ray Alley & Hol Chan Marine Reserve (reachable from Ambergris Caye). Shark-Ray Alley guarantees a very close encounter with schools of large stingrays and nurse sharks. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is an excellent snorkeling destination comprised of a narrow channel cutting through a rich and well-maintained shallow coral reef.

Turneffe Island & Lighthouse Reef Atolls (Northern Cayes and Atolls). For many divers coming to Belize, these spots are the Holy Grail, and justifiably so. Both of these mid-ocean atoll formations feature nearly endless opportunities for world-class wall, drift, and coral garden diving. This is also where you'll find the world-famous Blue Hole. Most dive operators offer day trips to dive these sites, although these usually involve a 2- to 3-hour boat ride each way. Alternatively, you can stay at one of the very few lodges out on the atolls, or take a vacation on a live-aboard dive boat.

Water visibility commonly reaches 100+ feet; water temperature hovers around 80°F; and the barrier reef makes for calm water most of the year.

Belize is great destination for the active and adventurous traveler. Whether your interests are scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing, spelunking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or bird-watching, Belize has some fabulous terrain and opportunities that are perfect for you.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements

A current passport, valid through your departure date, is required for entry into Belize. In some cases you may be asked to show an onward or return plane ticket.

Check the entry/exit requirements here.

Immunizations

There are no serious epidemic diseases in Belize. No inoculations are required for entry, but anti-malaria tablets are recommended for extended stays in the jungle.

Check with the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel www.cdc.gov.

Culture and Customs

Belize is a country of various cultures, languages, and ethnic groups. Approximately 292,000 people in Belize consist of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indian. Due to racial harmony and religious tolerance, all of these different elements have mixed and blended successfully, and Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly peoples.

There are no overarching etiquette or customs concerns for visitors to Belize. This is a hot, humid tropical country, and dress is uniformly light and casual. For all intents and purposes, Belize is also a very Western country. A simple handshake is the most common form of greeting. Read more about Belize here.

Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access

Electricity in Belize is provided by Diesel/Generator Sets, and the power is stable at 110 Volts A/C, which is the same voltage as in the United States. Most outlets are either two- or three-prong U.S. style outlets.

Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system. Country code information is here.

Cybercafes can be found at most major tourist destinations around Belize. WIFI is also increasingly more common, and many hotels are offering it for free. Alternatively, BTL (tel. 0800/112-4636; www.btl.net), the state Internet monopoly, sells prepaid cards for connecting your laptop to the Web via a local phone call.

Water Quality

The water in most major cities and tourist destinations in Belize is safe to drink. However, many travelers react adversely to water in foreign countries, and it is probably best to drink bottled water throughout your visit to Belize.

Language & Currency

English is the official language, but Spanish is widely spoken. Other languages spoken are Mayan, Garifuna, and Creole.

The Belize dollar is pegged to the US dollar at 2:1 - always verify whether you are paying US or Belize dollars. It's easy to change US dollars just about anywhere, and travelers checks can be changed at any bank.

Belize Bank ATMs accept foreign cards (international Visa, MasterCard, Plus and Cirrus) in Belize City, Belmopan, Corozal, Dangriga, Orange Walk, Punta Gorda, San Ignacio and San Pedro. ATMs give only Belizean dollars and the exchange rate is usually a cent or two under the rate used to exchange cash or travelers checks. Check the current exchange rate here.

Most businesses will accept US cash without question. They usually give change in Belizean dollars, though they may return US change if you ask.

Time

Belize is on Central Standard Time, 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Belize does not observe daylight saving time.

History, Art, and Culture

Belize was the site of several Mayan city states until their decline at the end of the first millennium A.D.

The first British settlement came in 1638, and the British and Spanish disputed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. It formally became the colony of British Honduras in 1854. Territorial disputes between the UK and Guatemala delayed the independence of Belize until 1981.

Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation until 1992.

Peace and plentiful land attract refugees from troubled neighboring countries. Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy. Visitors flock to see Maya ruins like Altun Ha, Xunantunich and Lamanai; wildlife such as jaguars, howler monkeys, and toucans; and the Western Hemisphere's longest coral reef.

Location and Size

Belize lies along the Caribbean coast of Central America. It's captial city is Belmopan.

Belize is bounded on the North by Mexico, South and West by Guatemala, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea washes its 174 mile coastline to the East.

Belize has an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands.

Dive primer
  • Water Temp: 78-80°
  • Visibility: 100'+
  • Wetsuit: 1.5mm to 3mm
Best time to travel
  • Year-round
Favorite dive sites
  • Hol-Chan Cut, Ambergris
  • M&M Caverns, Ambergris
  • Blue Hole
  • Glover's Reef
Topside attractions
  • Day trip to Lamanai or Tikai ruins
  • Snorkel at Shark-Ray Alley
  • CARIBBEAN
    0-CARIBBEAN,CARIBBEAN,http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Caribbean.aspx
    • Aruba
    • CDA-AUA|Aruba|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Aruba.aspx
    • Bahamas
    • CDA-BS|Bahamas|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Bahamas.aspx
    • Barbados
    • CDA-BGI|Barbados|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Barbados.aspx
    • Bonaire
    • CDA-BON|Bonaire|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Bonaire.aspx
    • CDA-KY|Cayman Islands - Grand Cayman|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/GrandCayman.aspx
      CDA-KY|Cayman Islands - Little Cayman|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/LittleCayman.aspx
      CDA-KY|Cayman Islands - Cayman Brac|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/CaymanBrac.aspx
    • Curacao
    • CDA-CUR|Curacao|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Curacao.aspx
    • Dominica
    • CDA-DOM|Dominica|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Dominica.aspx
    • Grenada
    • CDA-GND|Grenada|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Grenada.aspx
    • Puerto Rico
    • CDA-SJU|Puerto Rico|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/PuertoRico.aspx
    • Saba
    • CDA-SAB|Saba|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Saba.aspx
    • St. Eustatius
    • CDA-EUX|St. Eustatius|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/StEustatius.aspx
    • St. Kitts & Nevis
    • CDA-SKB|St. Kitts & Nevis|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/StKitts.aspx
    • St. Lucia
    • CDA-SLU|St. Lucia|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/StLucia.aspx
    • St. Vincent & The Grenadines
    • CDA-SVD|St. Vincent & The Grenadines|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/StVincent.aspx
    • Tobago
    • CDA-TAB|Tobago|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Tobago.aspx
    • Turks and Caicos
    • CDA-PLS|Turks and Caicos|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Turks-Caicos.aspx
    • British Virgin Islands
    • CDA-BVI|British Virgin Islands|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/BritishVirginIslands.aspx
    • United States Virgin Islands
    • CDA-USVI|United States Virgin Islands|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/USVirginIslands.aspx
  • MEXICO
    1-MEXICO,MEXICO,http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Mexico.aspx
    • Baja
    • CDA-BAJ|Baja|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Baja/Mexico.aspx
    • Cozumel
    • CDA-CZM|Cozumel|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Cozumel/Mexico.aspx
    • Riviera Maya
    • CDA-RIV|Riviera Maya|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/RivieraMaya/Mexico.aspx
  • CENTRAL-AMERICA
    2-CENTRAL-AMERICA,CENTRAL-AMERICA,http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/CentralAmerica.aspx
    • Belize
    • CDA-BEL|Belize|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Belize.aspx
    • Costa Rica
    • CDA-COS|Costa Rica|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/CostaRica.aspx
    • Honduras
    • CDA-HON|Honduras|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Honduras.aspx
  • PACIFIC
    4-PACIFIC,PACIFIC,http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Pacific.aspx
    • Australia
    • CDA-AUS|Australia|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Australia.aspx
    • Fiji
    • CDA-FIJ|Fiji|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Fiji.aspx
    • Galapagos
    • CDA-GAL|Galapagos|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Galapagos.aspx
    • Hawaii
    • CDA-HAW|Hawaii|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Hawaii.aspx
    • Micronesia
    • CDA-MIC|Micronesia|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Micronesia.aspx
    • Solomons
    • CDA-SOL|Solomons|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Solomons.aspx
    • Tahiti
    • CDA-TAH|Tahiti|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Tahiti.aspx
    • Tonga
    • CDA-TON|Tonga|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Tonga.aspx
    • Vanuatu
    • CDA-VAN|Vanuatu|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Vanuatu.aspx
  • EXOTIC
    5-EXOTIC,EXOTIC,http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Exotic.aspx
    • Indonesia
    • CDA-IND|Indonesia|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Indonesia.aspx
    • Malaysia
    • CDA-MAL|Malaysia|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Malaysia.aspx
    • Maldives
    • CDA-MAV|Maldives|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Maldives.aspx
    • Papua New Guinea
    • CDA-PNG|Papua New Guinea|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/PapuaNewGuinea.aspx
    • Philippines
    • CDA-PHI|Philippines|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Philippines.aspx
    • Red Sea
    • CDA-RED|Red Sea|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/RedSea.aspx
    • Thailand
    • CDA-THA|Thailand|http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Thailand.aspx
  • ADVENTURE
    6-ADVENTURE,ADVENTURE,http://www.caradonna.com/Scuba-Diving-Vacations/Ultimate-Adventure.aspx
    • Great White Expeditions
    • CDA-GWE|Great White Expeditions|http://www.caradonna.com/Adventure/Ultimate/Shark/Index.aspx
    • Photography Expeditions
    • CDA-PHEXP|Photography Expeditions|http://www.caradonna.com/Adventures/photos.aspx
    • Sardine Run
    • CDA-SARDINE|Sardine Run|http://www.caradonna.com/Adventures/Sardine.aspx

Packages booked online are subject to availability. You will be contacted by a booking agent upon completion of your booking. Not responsible for errors in typesetting.