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24-hour In-Room Dining

Belize City, Belize

Pristine Belize sets aside a fifth of its area as nature preserves, and the human history dates back 4,000 years. Today, gregarious Belizeans include mestizo, Creole, Maya, Garinagu, Mennonite, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Belize City pivots around its beloved Swing Bridge. When boats need to navigate Haulover Creek, several strong-armed Belizeans crank open the relic. North of Swing Bridge, the Museum of Belize, once a prison, displays amazing ceramics, jade, and Maya artifacts. To the south, visit stately Government House, a museum with Victorian artifacts.

On local tours, you can see manatees lumbering, crocodiles sunning, black howler monkeys screeching, and colorful parrots swooping. West of Belize City, the Belize Zoo is home to powerful jaguars, jabiru storks, and howler monkeys. The huge Belize Barrier Reef offers spectacular diving, snorkeling, and fishing. You can take a boat to Ambergris Caye or Rendezvous Caye. At Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the famous Blue Hole plunges 400 feet deep.

You can also explore the history of the Mayan ruins on your cruise to Belize. At Altun Ha, climb the 60-foot Temple of the Sun God, look down onto the plaza, and imagine the ceremonies that took place there 3,000 years ago. You can also visit Xunantunich, near Guatemala, or take a river safari to remote Lamanai.

Shop here for jade, which makes beautiful jewelry and gifts. Distinctive arts and crafts also include watercolors, oils, prints, baskets, turquoise jewelry, mahogany sculptures, and black slate carvings. Chefs fuse traditional dishes with papaya, mango, and other Caribbean fruits to create new flavors and aromas. Seafood caught this morning becomes the ceviche served tonight, and the local version incorporates lobster, shrimp, or conch, with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices. Popular local “stew chicken” gets spiked with habanero peppers.

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Tip from Travel + Leisure

Smoky Mermaid Restaurant & Bar

Soak up the sultry atmosphere at Smoky Mermaid Restaurant & Bar, where strings of lights hang from the trees in the backyard of a former mansion. The restaurant is popular for its relaxed garden setting (casual plastic seating) and Caribbean-accented food (cassava-crusted snapper; ecstasy-chocolate coconut pie).

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