PHOTO: A snorkeler comes face-to-fin with sharks and other fish in Belize's vibrant Ambergris Caye.
A little bit of paradise is found 15 minutes from the mainland by plane, 30 minutes by water taxi. Caye Caulker, five miles long and a half mile wide, is a place of swaying palms, white sandy beaches (unusual for Belize), and warm waters. In 1961 Hurricane Hattie expanded a previously narrow cut in the land. Now known as the split, the watery passageway divides the sparsely populated north side of the island from the built-up south, which remains quieter than Ambergris Caye. Manatee tours leave from the split, and speaking of watery denizens, this is where you'll find the annual Caulker Caye Lobster Festival, usually held in mid-June.