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Belize: home to the world's second-largest barrier reef

Thursday, 27 September 2012 3:34 PM

If you love snorkelling and scuba diving and want to combine your love of these activities with a holiday, a yacht charter around Belize is the perfect break for you. The Caribbean country is home to the second-biggest barrier reef in the world, so you can rest assured there is plenty to see when you delve beneath the waves.

There's no need to worry about getting chilly while out in the Caribbean Sea either, particularly if you have little ones in tow on your sun-drenched getaway. Like the typical annual temperature, the water can be as warm as 27 degrees C, so you can spend hours splashing about without feeling a chill.

The waves are also gentle as a result of the protection of the reef, and the water is crystal clear, meaning you can often see for an impressive 165 ft when scuba diving. Even when snorkelling it only takes 2 ft of water for you and your loved ones to spot small fish darting about.

Should you want as much sun as possible, the Caribbean is a natural choice. However, Belize does have a rainy season, so book your holiday for between November and May to avoid getting drenched when on land! The climate and wind conditions are, of course, perfect for sailing. This means you and your family and friends can enjoy relaxed sailing without fear of tricky obstacles.

When snorkelling, you will have the chance to spot corals, sponges of all colours and some of the 500 species of fish that call the waters around Belize home. One of the fantastic benefits of exploring a destination by yacht is that you can drop anchor at sites that other holidaymakers might not be able to reach. If you come across a secluded stretch of water, you can simply grab a mask and snorkel and jump into the warm sea.

One place that is especially brilliant for snorkelling is the so-called Shark Ray Alley. This might seem like a daunting title, but the nurse shark and rays that swim here are gentle and safe, so there is need to keep your children on deck as you splash about with the creatures.

However, if you really want to see what the country is all about when it comes to its water sports, try your hand at scuba diving. You might be new to the activity or something of a professional, but whatever your abilities you will have a wide choice of dive sites to choose from.

One of the most famous - thanks to its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - is the Blue Hole. This used to be a cave when it was first formed around 10,000 years ago, although it is now a crater following the collapse of its roof. This scuba diving site can be seen from outer space, so you can imagine its sheer size. In fact, it is 1,000 ft in diameter and 412 ft deep, so it truly is a haven for diving enthusiasts.

There are so many things to look at here you won't know where to begin. There are some highlights to keep in mind, though, such as the beautiful 130 ft stalactites. In addition, make sure you dive down to the lip of the crater, which is between 60 and 80 ft underneath the water. Make the effort to dive this deep and you could be lucky enough to be greeted by stingrays, angelfish, butterfly fish and midnight parrot fish. The midnight parrot fish that reside in the waters around Belize are some of the largest in the world, so hopefully you will be lucky enough to spot one or two.

During your time in the sea, you won't help but notice the beautiful beaches that line the coastline of Belize's islands. The offshore isles boast white sand, although Placencia has the only beach of this colour on mainland Belize. The rest have golden sand, but are just as lovely to get stuck into a good book and a spot of sunbathing on. After topping up your tan, you can amble over to one of the beachside shacks to grab a refreshing drink and get stuck into a large bowl of fresh seafood.

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