There are many reasons why Belize is touted as the best island in the Americas . First and foremost it is legendary for its magnificent 25 mile coral reef, and the snorkeling and diving opportunities it provides.
It is a fortunate thing that the Belizeans are an eco-savvy and forward-thinking populace, otherwise much if not all of this idyllic isle would soon be a deforested, depleted, concrete-dominated wasteland. The country offers innumerable ways for visitors to leave the smallest carbon footprints as possible: solar energy is used to power beach resorts and lodges in the tropical rain forests are designed and built using domestic salvaged mahogany.
Certified tour guides not only entertain tourists; they educate them, as well. Visitors learn about the fragile and delicate nature of the coral reef, the curative elements of the indigenous plant life and the precarious state of wildlife habitats; especially that of the jaguar.
Conservation Efforts and Eco-Friendly Tourism
The Belizean flag reads Sub Umbra Florero which translates as “Under the shade, I flourish.” This maxim refers to the majestic mahogany tree which, unfortunately, is not as abundant as it once was. Nevertheless, the mahogany’s depletion has brought about a collective awareness of its importance and intrinsic value. The Belizeans have come to realize that their homeland’s greatest asset is under siege and must be cherished and protected for future generations.
As well, they’ve recognized that tourists play a fundamental role in the preservation of the country’s natural resources and pristine beauty. It is this progressive methodology that has warranted the Utopian isle its status as the exemplar of ecotourism, as well as the best island in the Americas.
An Historical and Cultural Wellspring
In another direction, the island has more to offer than pristine beaches and the stunning coral reef. Its diverse attractions include helicopter tours, kayaking, fishing, a charming zoo, spelunking and exploring the temples and archaeological ruins of Altun Ha, an erstwhile agricultural community dating back to 560 AD.
For the less adventurous tourist, the innovative Image Factory art gallery showcases the works of local artists and also sells books and souvenirs. There is also the extraordinary Belizean Museum which is located in the Fort George district―an absolute must-see for the history buff. Set in the country’s previous central jail this unique museum keeps a single jail cell in its original condition, including the preserved graffiti art of former inmates. The cramped quarters are mind-boggling!
In an adjacent section of the museum, you’ll find a display of Belize’s vibrantly colored postage stamps, as well as its insect life forms, with complete detail as to the repulsive manner in which the botfly exploits living human flesh in order to feed its larvae.
To conclude, it is the conservation efforts, unassuming culture, natural beauty and more that conspire to make Belize truly the best island in the Americas .