The un-Belize-able beauty of this Caribbean paradise

This sparsely populated nation in central America – 334,000 people in a country of just under 23,000 square kilometers – is an alluring wonderland for those busy, hard-pressed city dwellers looking to escape autumn in the northern hemisphere.

With its myriad terrestrial and marine species, and the diversity of its eco systems, Belize is a magnet for tourists wanting to connect to nature. The top attraction is undoubtedly the Belize barrier reef, described by Charles Darwin in 1842 as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies.” Home to one of the most diverse eco-systems in the world, the reef – the second largest barrier reef in the world – has 500 species of fish and 70 hard coral species, although it’s estimated that only 10 per cent of existing species have actually been discovered.

The wonderful climate, the reef and its 450 offshore cayes (islands), abundant fishing opportunities, jungle and wildlife reserves, and opportunities for scuba diving, snorkeling, rafting, kayaking as well as hiking, bird watching, and exploration of Mayan ruins make this an unbeatable attraction.

Here are 5 destinations ideal for dive and adventure exploration.

Tambako the Jaguar / Foter / CC BY-ND

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What is Adventure Travel?

Adventure travel is another of those terms that can mean many things, as there is no official definition for it. We use the term to mean traveling with an adventurous spirit. Basically, if you want to take a trip that is just like being at home, that isn’t an adventure. Having an adventurous spirit means seeking out different places, ecosystems, and cultures, and the desire to explore and learn on your trip. While it has been said that an adventure doesn’t begin “until you lose your luggage,” we feel you don’t need things to go wrong to have and adventure. What you do need is to be willing to move outside the comfort of the world you live in to experience something new.

Traditionally, the phrase soft adventure has been used to define hiking or walking tirps, jungle lodges, etc, while “hard adventure” has referred to more active or dangerous activities such as whitewater rafting or skiing.

Check out our adventure travel activities at Detour, The Adventure Travel Marketplace

5 of the best beaches in South America

South America has many fine beaches – and ones that can be far more unspoiled than those found in traditional European hot-spots. We have, however, concentrated on those accessible to Detour travelers, although we have also included an add-on for those who want to see the beach near Argentina’s capital.

Detour offers many packages that allow you to explore areas on your own, including some of the fine beach resorts in Belize and Costa Rica that we mention below and that make for such relaxing times.

ajdoudt / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

#1. Jaco – Costa Rica

Jaco, south of Puntarenas and north of Manuel Antonio on the Central Coast, boasts one of Costa Rica’s finest shorelines – and this in a country famed for its beaches. Once one of those archetypal dozy beach towns whose inhabitants looked sleepy at all hours of the day, foreign surfers from all over the world have now flooded the place, drawn to the excellent high waves.

Jaco, like many of the resorts featured here, lies in a tropical climate zone mainly defined by distinct dry and wet seasons. Generally speaking, August through early December are wet, and late December through early April are dry. The remaining months have irregular rainy spells.

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SUP Love – Stand Up Paddleboard Adventures in Latin America

Stand up paddling in the Galapagos

Spring is here in Montana, and as the weather has warmed up I’ve been stoked to get out and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)! Of course it’s warm somewhere all year long, so we at Detour are developing SUP trips in Latin America you can do any month of the year so you don’t have to wait for spring to get your paddle on. We have been spreading the SUP love with outfitter friends in South America for a few years, and now we are getting set up with some sweet new trips that include SUP in numerous destinations – especially near Cusco, Peru, and in the Galapagos Islands.  Check back with us for more details on these, and other, great new SUP adventures soon. The trips are perfect for beginners or experienced paddlers alike.

Stand Up Paddleboarding the Pacific, Nuqui, Colombia

Stand Up Paddleboarding the Pacific, Nuqui, Colombia

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Is the water safe to drink?

The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Belize. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don’t forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well.  Ice is not always made with boiled/ bottled water. Order your beverages without ice or ask your tour leader if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant.

What immunizations are recommended/ required?

No immunizations are currently required for visiting Belize. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended. Medications to prevent malaria are also recommended, though some travelers opt not to take them. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control’s page on Traveler’s Health in Belize.

What kind of currency is used in Belize?

Waterfall pool in Belize

Waterfall pool in Belize

The local currency in Belize is the Belizean dollar. The exchange rate is about US$1 = BZ$2, though many banks will give you a slightly lower rate. Most restaurants, markets, and other service providers will readily accept US dollars. They will generally give you change in Belizean dollars unless you request otherwise.

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Looking for a great trip to Belize? Check out Detour’s Belize Trips here

What type of electrical outlets and currency is used in Belize?

Belize Palm & Beach

Belize uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not need a converter or adapter.

Stand Up Paddleboarding Belize

Stand Up Paddleboarding Belize

Looking for a great trip to Belize? Check out Detour’s Belize Trips.