The return of destination week this year kicks off with a bang. This week’s location is the first in the tropical subregion of Central America; the isthmus connecting North America to South America.
Pristine white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons for visuals – scuba diving, skydiving and beach bars are just a few activities on offer to be enjoyed while in Belize, from the Ambergris Caye Island to the marvel of the Great Blue Hole which lies within the country’s waters. Belize should not be missed.
Location, location, location
Belize is a country nicely tucked between Quintana Roo state of Mexico to the north and Guatemala, in the south and west. In the east it borders the Caribbean Sea. Belize is also comprised of many islands; the largest being Ambergris Caye. These islands extend parallel to the coast and make up the Belize Barrier Reef System- a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second largest coral reef system after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The average price of flights from London (LHR) to Belize City (BZE) ranges from £550-640 inclusive of at least one layover in the USA. A cheaper alternative could be to fly to Cancún, Mexico (lowest fees around £400). Then from Cancún catch a bus to Chetumal (Mexico). From Chetumal a daily water taxi/ferry can take you straight to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye (Belize). (price could range up to £70 collectively).
From San Pedro , your Belize journey begins. This is the most populous town on the Ambergris Caye island with around 20,000 people. The popular mode of transport on the island is golf carts – so it would be best to start out your holiday by renting one (up to £36 for 24-hour rental).
Once you have settled in to your resort/hotel. There is a plethora of activities to do. Including:
Hol Chan Marine Reserve is just south of Ambergris Caye. This is a great place for snorkeling and exploring the variety of fauna indigenous to coral reef ecosystems. Further to this, there is also the option to swim with nurse sharks and stingrays – no worries both are relatively harmless but still make sure not to provoke the stingrays! (prices for these tour can range up to £80). Hol Chan Marine Reserve is also conveniently situated just north of Caye Caulker. A smaller island which offers a more chilled out and relaxed vibe- “Go Slow” is the motto there.
Secret Beach, contrary to its name, is a popular beach on the west coast of Ambergris Caye facing Mexico. It is over a 2-hour walk so it would be the best time to utilise that golf cart you rented!
Other activities include sunset sailing from Ambergris Caye to explore the Belize islands as the sun sets in tranquillity (price from £40) a highly recommended activity.
Great Blue Hole
Behold the main event – this is one of the landmarks synonymous with Belize. The Great Blue Hole is coral atoll with a sinkhole in the middle. It measures an impressive 318m in diameter and 125m in depth. It can be found 70km and 81km from Belize City and San Pedro respectively. The Great Blue hole is contained within the larger Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
So how can you explore what is in our view the eight wonder of the world?
You could take the TropicAir which is a Belize lightcraft airline which organise tours to neighbouring countries and the Great Blue Hole (price from San Pedro departure up to £196 per adult) – This is a general flight with a maximum capacity of 15 passengers – private charters (2 to 3 seats) too are available (prices at least £550 upwards)
*Also look out for skydiving opportunities over the Great Blue Hole – there are a couple of tour companies that have done this over the last few years.
Snorkelling/scuba diving group tours can be arranged (prices from £150 upward)
Coral Reefs are unique, important ecosystems. Shallow marine coral have a symbiotic relationship with marine plankton ( specifically dinoflagellates). Corals provide the sheltered environment for them to thrive and via the process of photosynthesis, they provide nutrients and energy for the corals, this in turn creates a thriving environment of nutrients for other species. Coral reefs make up a small percent of the total marine area in the world, yet are home to 25% of all marine species and counting!
Sinkholes normally form after the chemical dissolution of their calcium carbonates , hence allow further karst formations to develop. This was the case with the Great Blue Hole, but when the average sea water level rose thousands of years ago following the glacial period , this sinkhole was inundated, caves and stalactites (those large hanging spikes) can be found in the depths of the Great Blue Hole.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s location, see you next week!
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