Thursday, 6 December 2012 2:42 PM
When thinking of a holiday in the Caribbean, Belize is perhaps not the first place that springs to mind for many people. However, the Central American country is a great place to visit for bright blue skies and crystal-clear waters, with the island of Caye Caulker being among the nation's top destinations.
Sun, sea and sand…
Caye Caulker is an ideal location to head to if you're looking for a beach getaway, with the island offering excellent weather and warm waters where you can come face-to-face with the marine life of the Caribbean Sea.
The island is situated off the east coast of America and, with the average temperature for Belize being 26 degrees C, you can expect long sunny days on your trip here. Another reason why the isle is so popular among tourists – particularly holidaymakers from the USA – is its charm. If you come here, you'll instantly notice a calm, relaxed atmosphere that is characteristic of the Caribbean.
There are no high-rise buildings, huge hotels or even many roads. You'll struggle to spot many cars, and travellers tend to stay in quaint wooden lodges by the beach and dine in rustic restaurants along the shore.
An excellent place for diving
Many people head to Belize – either by plane or on a Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas cruise – to visit its famous barrier reef. This is because the location is a great destination to go scuba diving and see tropical marine life up close.
The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere and the second biggest in the world – following the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. You'll see an abundance of brightly-coloured corals when you head underwater here, but it is also home to hundreds of other species, including threatened animals like marine turtles and manatees.
You might also spot American marine crocodiles, octopuses, moray eels and other large marine creatures as you submerge yourself in the water. Indeed, the reef is an excellent place to visit if you want to see exotic underwater life in the flesh and there are numerous day trips you can take here. Many people also come to Caye Caulker to embark on a scuba diving trip to the Blue Hole, a huge perfectly circular dip in the sea floor that is thought to have been formed more than 150,000 years ago.
If you head to Shark Ray Alley, meanwhile, you get to swim with sharks and rays, which will be a unique experience you won't forget quickly!
Enjoy delicious food and drink
Caye Caulker has a mix of ethnicities, including Garifunas, Mennonites, Mayans and Mestizos. You'll certainly recognise the influence of the Creole culture here, from hearing the Caribbean accents of the islanders to tasting the delicious food served on the island.
Creole food is very popular on Caye Caulker and you can tuck into a plate of rice and peas with jerk chicken at nearly every restaurant. You can also expect to see the likes of fish curries, ceviche and other Caribbean flavours of spicy marinades, tropical fruits and rich, tender meat in most, if not all, eateries.
It is typical to wash down your dinner with a rum cocktail, and there's no better way to enjoy the peace and quiet on the island as the sun sets than by sitting in a hammock sipping on an exotic fruit punch while reggae music plays softly in the distance.