Snuggled between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south, relaxed, English-speaking Belize is only a two-hour plane ride from the continental United States. Adventure into a land rich in natural beauty and steeped in the magic of its Maya past. Renowned for pristine waters, exotic marine and wildlife, lush, unspoiled landscapes, and superb diving, Belize is Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret.

Once part of the ancient Mayan empire, and colonized by the British in the 17th century, Belize is the youngest nation in Central America – the country gained independence from Britain in 1981.

Named British Honduras until 1973, Belize is also the only country in Central America where English is the official language. (Spanish, Creole, and other languages are spoken as well.)

Belize is chock full of places to explore. THe stone faces of gods peek out among the ruins at Lamanai and amid the plazas and temples at Altun Ha – must-see sites for travelers interested in learning about Mayan culture. And there are finds belowground, too. To reach such underground hideaways such as Che Chem Ha, filled with ancient pots and other artifacts, you can enter the cave systems on foot or in the water on an inner tuber.

During summer, Belize’s temperature is approximately 80-85°F; during winter, temperatures range from about 70-80°F. High (dry) season runs from late November to late April. The low (rainy) season lasts from June to mid-November, but the amount of rainfall varies widely according to the region (it’s much drier in the north). The best airfare and hotel deals can be had during this rainy season, so this is the best time to visit if you love a bargain and don’t mind experiencing some short-lived afternoon showers.