A mere two-hour flight from Miami, Belize is an exotic, nature-lover’s paradise right in the middle of the Caribbean. Forty percent of the country is protected, set aside as natural reserves, sanctuaries or parks, making Belize the hands-on answer for those craving a little action with their vacation. Mayan temples, tropical forests, intricate cave systems and tremendous birdwatching await. With the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere, (second in the world only to the Great Barrier) snorkeling and diving are top-notch. Discover the origins of punta rock in the gritty coastal town of Dangriga, whose name means “sweet water” in Garifuna. Practice innovative ecotourism like the locals by staying in one of the many solar-powered beach resorts strewn along the coast. English is the official language of Belize, so be sure to chat up as many locals as you can. Belizeans are inherently friendly people, anxious to share both the stunning beauty of their country as well as their devotion to preserving it.