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Mexico and Belize’s coast - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

If you know someone or can hire a small yacht then this is a journey you should do.

The trip started at lively Cancun which is nestled on the tip of the Yucatan and the ideal starting point with easy access flights from the U. S. Once on board the real journey begins. Head to the waters of Isla Mujeres. Here you can explore the glistening blue water which conceals an aquatic wish list of extraordinary encounters and unique scenery. Keep your camera at the ready as whale sharks glide deceptively fast through the water, occasionally surfacing to sample a plankton lunch.

Take the plunge into the waters at Akumal, which translates as ‘Place of the Turtles’, this is just one hour south of Cancun in the Mayan Riviera. These usually shy animals can be seen swimming in their natural habitat, even floating within inches of oblivious snorkelers. Underwater explorers can also swim the underground caves at Playa del Carmen, decorated from top to bottom with stalactites and stalagmites. However, there are more remarkable animals to be seen above the waters. Discover over 70 species of birdlife on Isla Contoy, a national park 30km north of Cancun, on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. This small island is an important nesting place for sea birds and it’s also a crucial breeding ground for endangered green, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Just as omnipresent as the Yucatan Peninsula’s wildlife is its Mayan culture, with relics of this lost, ancient civilisation emerging from the landscape. The famous fortress of Tulum played a pivotal role for the Mayan people. It was a place of worship for royalty and is now an icon for culture buffs, with its 13th century ruins teetering on a 12m cliff above a pristine beach. An easy southern commute from Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is another great way to experience Mexico’s wildlife. With its privately guided boat tours, you can find yourself face to flipper with wild manatees, turtles and sometimes even a black-tipped shark.

As you head south you cross over the border into Belize. Belize combines most of the highlights of Latin America, the Mayan history, the remarkable wildlife and world class diving all in one convenient place. The limestone coral island of Caye Caulker is the perfect place to start immersing yourself in the country’s culture. Only accessible by water taxi or ferry, this 8km strip is home to over 1, 300 villagers who live amid its shady palm trees. It’s hidden away from the tourist developments of the mainland so this small village and its inhabitants still maintain a distinct flavour built on the local fishing trade. Aquatic activity is also the big draw at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve to the north. The area is filled with nurse sharks, stingrays, brain and elkhorn corals, the island reserve is also host to mangrove forests that act as a nursery for many fish. It is also part of the Belize Barrier Reef. A section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, it is the second largest reef in the world, straddling the Belize coast for over 290km. The reserve’s highlight is about 96km out to sea and is the Great Blue Hole. A massive aquatic sinkhole for divers and travellers. It is a Unesco world heritage site and the hole is 318 m in diameter and 407 ft deep. Midnight parrotfish, Caribbean reef shark and other juvenile species frequent the 125m depths of this perfectly circular sinkhole, fringed by coral reef that traces back to the Yucatan Peninsula.

If you ever get the chance this is a trip you should most certainly take.

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