Belize Barrier Reef: a travel destination for tourists escaping winter 2013

The Mesoamerican Reef System is a six hundred-mile stretch of marine biodiversity, which includes the Belize Barrier Reef. The Belize Barrier Reef has been chosen by the editors of National Geographic as one of several travel destinations for tourists wanting to escape the harsh winter of 2013. The Jewel’s three coral atolls, Glover’s Reef, Lighthouse Reef and the Turneffe Islands, make for some of the best novice-to-expert sea kayaking and snorkeling. They also offer breathtaking views of unspoiled nature reserves and sand beaches. A vacation package recommended by National Geographic Adventures includes safari-style beach camping on Lighthouse Reef, plus snorkeling along the edge of the Great Blue Hole.

Mesoamerican Reef, Belize

Central America’s Mesoamerican Reef system stretches more than 600 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. It’s half the size of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef yet easier to access, with some sections of the underwater reef platform beginning within a few hundred yards of shore. Belize’s three coral atolls—Glover's Reef (36 miles from the mainland), Lighthouse Reef (home to the rare red-footed booby), and Turneffe Islands (the largest and closest at only 25 miles off the coast)—offer exceptional beginner-to-expert sea kayaking and snorkeling along shallow reefs, plus secluded white-sand beaches and unspoiled nature reserves. Belize: Reefs, Rain Forests, and Ruins, a National Geographic Adventures small-group expedition, includes safari-style beach camping on Lighthouse Reef atoll and snorkeling along the perimeter of the Great Blue Hole, the nearly thousand-foot-wide sinkhole first explored by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s. Or book a private villa at all-inclusive and off-the-grid Turneffe Island Resort, a private island located at the southern tip of Turneffe Atoll.