Exploring and Enjoying the Natural Beauty of Belize
Excerpted from Domingo Silvas’ November 2013 interview with Daniel Guerrero, Mayor of San Pedro, Belize.
The Blue Hole is in one of the atolls. It’s in the Lighthouse Reef, and it was discovered by Jacques Cousteau. Basically, it’s a beautiful location for diving and some snorkeling. It’s a beautiful experience. I am a diver myself and I have made probably 1,000 dives or more, and the Blue Hole is a unique dive. It’s a sinkhole with stalactites and stalagmites. The reef system on the atoll just blows your mind. It offers beautiful wall dives and snorkeling. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before.
Belize has the second largest barrier reef system on the entire planet, and it’s the largest living reef system. That’s a big plus for us because our reef is still alive. Yes, we have hurricanes and things that cause some damage, but that’s nature.
Belize has a lot to offer when it comes to the tropical waters, like deep sea fishing and sport fishing. When it comes to water sports, you can start with a jet ski and end up with a kayak, a canoe, sailboat, Hobie Cat, you just name it. Any water activity, we have it here.
Belize’s weather is tropical. Here in the tropics, it’s very hard to predict the weather. Sometimes you will say it will rain, it doesn’t rain. And when you say it wont rain, it rains. Most of the time we have good weather. Right now is the rainy season, and the country and the entire region has received lots of rain. But even with the rain the worst rainy day in Belize is a beautiful day.
After the rain, everything comes back green and a natural color, and it works the same way with the ocean. When it’s cloudy or when it’s dark, you appreciate the color. Once the sun comes out, you appreciate all the colors of the coral and the fish. It makes a big difference if you were to go snorkeling on a cloudy day rather than a clear day.
Early on, the island of Ambergris Caye here had coconut plantations and a thriving copra industry. [Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut used to extract coconut oil.] Later, it became a fishing village. Today, the primary industry is tourism. Most of the fisherman have become tour guides because of their experience on the water and on land. Most of our native tour guides are very good, very seasoned tour guides. They know what they’re doing. They are excellent tour guides for anyone who wants to go out fishing or hunting, or go out on the [Mayan] archeological sites. We have it all.
Almost all of the locals speak English and Spanish. That makes it easy for people to learn the language, plus the Belize Tourism Board offers training for locals on customer service, public relations and tourism management. Our tour guides are very well organized.
Apart from the San Pedro, Belize has some great marine reserves and protected areas, including the world-famous Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Alley. Plus, the Mexico Rocks Marine Reserve is just seven miles north of here. We’re joining some of the inner lagoons in Cayo Frances and the last section of the Corazon Bay with the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. So we’re actually protecting the shores, the natural sand bars, and the flats where people do the sport fishing, and people are appreciating what’s going on when it comes to conservation and tourism.