Reefs and Rainforests

Overview

Snorkel in the clear waters of the largest Barrier Reef in the Western Hemisphere and enjoy a variety of adventures in the lush forests of the Maya Mountains. Overnights are at Turneffe Island Lodge, whose 12 guest rooms and 8 cabanas are ideally situated a few minutes from the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, and The Lodge at Chaa Creek, voted onto the World’s Best list by Travel & Leisure readers. Optional post-trip extensions include the towering Mayan temples of fabled Tikal, and Guatemala's lovely highland town of Antigua, whose colonial center is a World Heritage Site, the Mayan market village of Chichicastenango, and stunning Lake Atitlán.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1
Belize’s Barrier Reef

The 200-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the natural wonders of the planet, its warm waters (80 degrees) teeming with intriguing marine life, including fascinating coral formations and hundreds of species of exotic fish. Instead of staying on the coast (with long boat rides to snorkeling sites), we’ve chosen wonderful accommodations at Turneffe Island Lodge, set on an idyllic private coral atoll right on the reef, where unbelievably rich snorkeling is just a 10-minute boat ride from the white-sand beaches. In these sheltered waters, many sites are perfect for novice and experienced snorkelers alike.

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Days 2-4
Barrier Reef Snorkeling

From Turneffe Island Lodge—the sole accommodation on the entire island—you’ll venture out to snorkel among eagle rays, rainbow-hued parrotfish, black-and-yellow striped angelfish, sergeant majors, and a host of other jewel-bright fish. There’s also a chance of seeing hawksbill, loggerhead, or green sea turtles, playful dolphins, and flying fish. The waters are so extraordinarily clear that a look through your mask reveals a kaleidoscopic world of flamboyant corals in shades from deep purple to brilliant red. A stay at Turneffe also offers the opportunity to visit the legendary Blue Hole, a dive site discovered by Jacques Cousteau and an amazing marvel of nature, with its incredible walls and drop-offs. Additional activities include sea kayaking, a wonderful way to explore the shallow turquoise waters (no previous experience required), bone fishing, or beachcombing along the pristine beaches. At night you’ll dine with other guests on local Caribbean culinary delights like conch, fresh fish, and tropical fruits, then kick back to gaze at the brilliant star-filled sky and the moonlight reflecting on these magical waters.

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Days 5-8
Chaa Creek

In the lush forests of Belize, with The Lodge at Chaa Creek as your base, choose from a myriad of outdoor adventures. At the end of each day, relax in your private palm-thatched casita under the lush canopy of the rainforest. Half-day activities include canoeing on the Macal River, naturalist hikes on Chaa Creek’s picturesque trail network that leads through a 345-acre forest reserve, horseback riding past ancient Maya sites, and mountain biking. Full-day tours include exploring Xunantunich or El Pilar, Maya ceremonial sites in the Belize River Valley, and Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, home to the famous “Crystal Maiden.” Depart on Day 8 via Belize City.

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Highlights

Highlights

Amazing snorkeling adventures at Turneffe, a delightful lodge on its own private atoll
Optional hiking and Mayan discoveries at Chaa Creek Lodge in the Maya Mountains
Extensions to Tikal, one of the greatest Mayan archaeological sites in the world, and the Guatemala Highlands

Details

Length: 8 days
Cost From: $4795  
Arrive: Belize City, Belize
Depart: Belize City, Belize
Lodging: 7 nights lodges
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

Swimming, snorkeling, easy rainforest walks

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