“A nature lover’s paradise” may be a tired cliché but it actually applies to Belize. With forty-two percent of the country protected reserve or preserve land, this small Central American country draws purists and eco-travelers for a good reason. According to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, “Belize has become one of the world’s most biologically diverse nations with the integrity of its natural resources still very much intact. It boasts 93% of its land under forest covers, the largest coral reef in the western hemisphere (second only to Australia’s), the largest cave system in Central America, over 500 species of birds, thousands of Maya archaeological temples and the only jaguar reserve in the world. With only 8,867 square miles and 250,000 people, the population density is the lowest in the Central American region and one of the lowest in the world.” And best of all, the government has recognized and protected these advantages, so eco-sensitive tourism has developed solid roots and now flourishes.
For visitors, Belize’s two biggest draws are its Mayan ruins in the jungle and its coral reef, which offers some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving. The small, former English colonial territory as long attracted devout divers, but only in the past decade has the country begun to develop more sophisticated properties for high-end travelers. One of the best jungle options is Lucy and Mick Fleming’s ecolodge, Lodge at Chaa Creek, which grew out of their own homesteading in the jungle and has become a model for green hoteliers. A cushier approach to living in nature was conceived of by the well-known movie director Francis Ford Coppola. He shot much of Apocalpyse Now in the jungles of the Philippines, which masqueraded well for Vietnam, and hoped to find a similar landscape closer to home. After falling in love with Belize’s scenery and its inhabitants, Coppola bought a house in the highlands of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Blancaneaux Lodge, and then decided to share it with paying guests. Perhaps, recognizing that once people made the trek here, they should also get to the coast, he bought another small hotel on the water, called the Turtle Inn. (His hotels have done so much to raise the profile and possibilities for tourism in Belize that Coppola has been made the country’s honorary ambassador to the U.S.)
Search By Keyword
Ecuador's capital of Quito, home to colonial architecture and grand...
New on Indagare
Give the Gift of Indagare The perfect present for travelers: a membership to Indagare. Buy now
Indagare Insider Trips: Cuba, Myanmar and India: We’re planning trips throughout the year. Contact Indagare (212-988-2611) to be added to the wait list.
- Community: Share advice with fellow members asking about your favorite travel discoveries.
- Indagare Insiders: Three-day itineraries for families in London and art lovers in Vienna. Plus, fashion insider Chiara Ferragamo’s picks on what not to miss in Florence, Bonnie Gokson, owner of Hong Kong’s lofty Sevva on Hong Kong, Culinary Insider: Budapest.
- Rant & Rave: Indagare members can share their advice with the community by logging in first, then clicking here: Rants & Raves.
- Give the Gift: Indagare: Give the gift of travel intelligence with a membership to Indagare. For details or to order, call us at 212-988-2611 or click here: Gift Membership.
- Indagare Plus: Remember that hotels marked by an Indagare Plus symbol offer preferential rates and benefits to members.
- Indagare Share Feature: Share articles, postcards and reviews with family and friends on such networking sites as Twitter, Facebook and Delicious. Simply click on the three small dots that symbolize our connect icon, at the end of every article, and follow the link to the networking site of your preference.
- Sample Indagare: With free bi-weekly email blasts on new hot spots and insider tips when you sign up for our mailing list.
- Profile feature: Members share your profiles, comments, favorite articles and IQs. Just click on the Profile tab on the upper right of your screen and look for the Edit My Profile blue tab.
- Indagare means to discover, explore, seek, scout in Latin.