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Nicholas DeRenzo
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Dive in the Great Blue Hole

Part of the Belize Barrier Reef, this massive marine sinkhole is 984 feet wide and 410 feet deep. You’ll pass through a coral reef surrounding the hole's edge before you descend into the eerie cave system that makes this a bucket-list destination for experienced divers.

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Discover Maya ruins at Lamanai

This Maya ceremonial center can only be accessed via a jungle boat ride. The highlight of the settlement—which was occupied for more than 3,000 years—is the Mask Temple, adorned with a 13-foot-high limestone face of an ancient king.

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Snorkel at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Just off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye, this marine reserve offers up-close access to seagrass beds, mangrove forests and the Belize Barrier Reef. Don’t miss Shark Ray Alley, a shallow portion of the reef that’s a popular gathering place for nurse sharks and stingrays.

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Search for jaguars at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Cat lovers rejoice! The world’s first jaguar reserve also offers the chance to spot Belize’s four other wild cats: pumas, ocelots, margays and jaguarundis. If the feline residents are being elusive, keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for black howler monkeys — you can’t miss their booming calls.

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Soak up the sun on the Placencia Peninsula

With 16 miles of golden sand, this is the kind of place where you could happily do nothing but tan and swim for days. If you need a little more “action,” a pedestrian-only boardwalk — dubbed “the world’s narrowest Main Street” by the Guinness Book of World Records — runs through the village, connecting shops, bars and restaurants.

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