For children between the ages of 7 and 14, Belize provides an almost unbeatable combination of a long Caribbean coral reef and extensive tracts of pristine tropical forest.
Ambergris Caye lies just 15 minutes by light aircraft from the Belize international airport (which is itself just two-and-a-half hours southeast of Houston). Its principal town, San Pedro, is a colorful and ramshackle place for which the word “funky” might well have been coined.
Another 15 minutes by golf cart, however, brings you to the manicured enclave of Victoria House. An impeccably maintained plantation-style hotel, it is an oasis of order and calm. Victoria House offers several kinds of accommodations, but for families, its Villas and duplex Infinity Suites are ideal. The resort’s Belizean staff members are charm personified and function as willing, but unofficial and unpaid, child-minders.
The Belize Barrier Reef, a 185-mile-long section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System — the second-largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia — is about a half-mile offshore. From the hotel’s clipped lawns and white-sand beach, the surf breaking on its coral ramparts is plainly visible. Victoria House has a well-equipped dive shop, and scuba instruction is available. Obviously, younger children need to learn to snorkel first, and for this, the calm turquoise water between the reef and the shore, which at times seems like a gigantic saltwater swimming pool, is close to ideal.
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