The outer atolls are the country’s biggest asset. The Turneffe atoll with its thick green mangroves and shallow lagoon gives shelter to a constant flow of marine life. Snorkelling and diving here you will see enormous schools of snappers, permits, eagle rays and groupers. Fishing is also superb here. On the lighthouse reef, the 400 foot deep, perfectly round sinkhole called The Blue Hole is one of Belize’s natural wonders and a remarkable site where you can see up to 5 species of shark.
Belize is probably the best place to snorkel and dive in the whole of Latin America. The reef is close enough to surrounding Cayes (islands) that you can kayak to the reef on your own, giving you independence to explore. Certain things are not me missed when you come here; the Hol Chan Marine reserve is home to a large proportion of both colourful reef and fish, whilst the ‘sting ray and shark alley’ is a unique experience where you can swim around both nurse sharks and sting rays.
For divers and the more adventurous snorkelers, the outer atolls of Turneffe and Lighthouse are not to be missed. Here you will find close encounters with hammer head sharks, incredible diving and if you really want, there is some remote accommodation from which to base yourself.
Hopkins is a small Garifuna fishing village of around 1000 villagers and is considered by many to be the cultural centre of the Garifuna population in Belize. Situated on the Caribbean coast it has sandy beaches with gently swaying coconut palms and is a great base from which to enjoy the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere offering some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling.
Placencia is a traditional Creole fishing village with an enviable location. Its brightly painted wooden shacks are found at the end of a palm-covered, 16-mile finger of sand on the south coast of Belize. The superb beaches of this sandy point are met by Caribbean rollers on one side while a sheltered lagoon lies on the other side.
The Belizean Cayes are a series of tiny islands off the Belizean coast with porcelain-white beaches and turquoise waters. With a concentration of over a hundred islands, two stunning atolls and miles of barrier reef, it is hard to find a better place!
Belmont House, 23 New Street, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2BP