Little Caye Bokel, Belize

Photo: Turneffe Island Resort

Thirty-two dive sites. Fifteen dives a week. Six dive masters. One famous Great Blue Hole. These should certainly be enough to keep you occupied for the week.

Welcome to the second-longest coral reef system in the world. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) stretches nearly 600 miles from Isla Contoy, at the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, down to the Bay Islands of Honduras. One-third of the reef—about 200 miles—lies off the coast of Belize. Turneffe Atoll, the largest coral atoll on the entire reef, sits right in the middle of that coastline. No wonder it’s a popular spot for scuba divers.

Your destination is Little Caye Bokel. The 14-acre island, a sunken volcanic peak, rests at the southern elbow of the atoll. It’s covered with large mangroves, hidden creeks, and spawning fish. The Mayans first used this point as a fishing outpost. They picked a good spot. The Europeans caught on in the 17th century. A fishing camp was formally established in 1941. Then in the 1960s, one of Belize’s first fishing lodges was built here. The current owners have spent the last 20 years turning it into one of the country’s best scuba diving resorts.

Photo: Turneffe Island Resort

After landing in Belize City, it’s a nearly two-hour ride to reach Turneffe Island Resort. The boat departs on Wednesday and Saturday at 3 pm. A welcome cocktail, a peppermint oil-infused cold towel, and clear turquoise water help you find your sea legs quickly. Plus the fish and the coral below you make you excited for the days ahead.

You pass a lot of little green islands en route to the resort. A long wooden dock, lined with gleaming white boats, gives Turneffe Island Resort away. A wide, white-sand beach, lined with tall palms and usually empty, stretches out behind it. The staff is ready to welcome you home when you step off the boat. Ace and Ginger, the managers’ dogs, are eager to show you to your teak-and-mahogany villa. Cocktail hour, complete with fruity drinks and conch ceviche, await you at the outdoor tiki bar once you settle into your beachfront room. A family-style dinner, with big plates of garden-fresh produce and just-caught seafood, will follow.

Your first dive is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon when your mandatory, 24-hour wait period after flying is over. It looks like you’ll have to waste some time in the pool or on the beach in the morning. Poor you.

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