With the breaking waves signifying the reef crest of Belize’s coastal treasure, the world’s 2nd largest barrier reef, clearly visible from its’ sandy shores it is only understandable that the thriving offshore waters of Ambergris Caye would provide some of the country’s most spectacular and acclaimed dive venues. Indeed, dive excursions account for a significant portion of the island’s bustling tourism trade and dive operations can be found on practically ever pier, street corner, and hotel lobby in the central town of San Pedro which is only a short boat ride from any of the area’s 35 major dive sites which span the full perimeter of the 25 mile long island.
Belize City is undoubtedly the country’s main commercial hub with its downtown area being the central location for hundreds of local businesses including the main branches of the five leading commercial banks. The narrow congested city streets are lined with a curious array of deteriorated old colonial structures in addition to newly constructed offices and supermarkets as well as a number of establishments that cater to the large number of travelers that disembark at the rapidly developing tourist village situated in the heart of the Fort George Tourism Zone. Indeed, thousands of tourists traverse the half mile stretch between the tourist village and the downtown area on a daily basis making this a prime commercial venue for a diversity of tourist related ventures ranging from gift shops and tour operators to restaurants and cyber cafes. The city is home to two of the country’s largest hotels as well as the widest range of entertainment facilities including several modern nightclubs, a popular casino, cinema, and the country’s only bowling alley. Particular progress has been made in infrastructural development over recent years with the construction of an attractive seafront promenade on the north side of the city, a state of the art performing arts center as well numerous museums and cultural centers.
As the only facility of its kind within the Latin American and Caribbean region, The Belize Zoo delicately combines all the fascination and appeal of a stereotypical zoo with a well monitored conservation effort which allows native wildlife to flourish within its unique natural habitat. The zoo is located 29 miles west of Belize City, a convenient 45 minute bus ride from the Fort Street Tourism Village cruise port, the only cruise port in Belize City, rendering it accessible to stop-over visitors who wish to sample the splendor of the pristine Belizean wilderness without venturing too far from the ship.
Introduction to Ambergris Caye
Home to Belize’s premier vacation haven, the island of Ambergris Caye is situated 58km NE of Belize City and a mere ¼ mile from the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The caye itself is 25 miles long and up to a mile wide in some areas. San Pedro Town, the central populous and bustling resort metropolis is located on the southern portion of the island. On first glance, San Pedro would appear to resemble a typical commercialized vacation hub; however, upon further inspection it is soon realized that the town is teeming with history and tradition which is clearly rooted in the cultural diversity of its people. Although the modern day economy predominantly thrives on the prosperous tourism trade, this was not always the case. In fact, tourism is still relatively new to the island and its growth is a key component of a rich heritage marked by continuous progress and the integration of many ideas and cultures.
Cayo District is the largest and most populated district, inhabited by a variety of cultural groups, and situated amidst a backdrop of picturesque rolling hills, winding rivers and rich Mayan heritage. The chief residential and commercial areas are located within the capital city of Belmopan and scenic twin towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio while smaller communities can be found in a large number of rural villages as well as the sleepy border town of Benque Viejo.