Belize

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If to­tal es­cape is the goal, then Belize is the place to char­ter a yacht. Its cruis­ing grounds are rich in blue holes and bar­rier reefs—all si­t­u­ated in what feels bliss­fully like the mid­dle of nowhere.

A rare di­chotomy ex­ists when ven­tur­ing to such a raw and rugged aquatic play­ground aboard a su­pery­acht. While the yacht comes with all the finer­ies and ser­vice ex­pected of a five-star ho­tel in the heart of civ­i­liza­tion, it is of­ten an­chored in the lee of a re­mote cay, miles from the main­land, where the only sign of hu­man life may be a faint strobe from an air­plane in the dis­tance. Many yacht char­ter des­ti­na­tions claim to of­fer this type of “best of both worlds” ex­pe­ri­ence, but Belize is ar­guably one of the places on Earth where it is best ex­em­pli­fied.

Sit­ting on deck, per­haps in the yacht’s hot tub, and sim­ply gaz­ing out at the re­gion is an ex­er­cise in fan­tas­tic sights, sounds and feel­ings. The evening dark­ness ad­vances from the east like a smooth jib un­furl­ing over the di­a­mond-speck­led wa­ter. To the west, the moun­tain­tops of southern Belize squeeze the last droplets from a drench­ing sun­set, un­til wa­ter gen­tly licks the yacht’s hull sides—the only sound to be heard. There are no throngs of cruise-ship pas­sen­gers vy­ing for the best cam­era an­gle; only soli­tude in its purest form. The iso­la­tion and feel­ing of vast­ness can be dif­fi­cult for main­lan­ders to com­pre­hend, and the sen­sa­tions be­come some­thing that char­ter clients re­mem­ber for many years to come.

The southern out-is­lands of Belize en­com­pass a panorama of jewel-tone wa­ter dot­ted with se­cluded sand spits, cays and atolls with lazily sway­ing palms and white sand beaches, all pro­tected by the world’s se­cond-largest bar­rier reef (first is the Great Bar­rier Reef in Aus­tralia). In fact, rolling back­wards off a ten­der into the turquoise and emer­ald wa­ters off Belize places char­ter guests above what is per­haps the rich­est coral reef sys­tem in the trop­ics. The wa­ters are crys­talline, and the lo­cal in­hab­i­tants range from in­quis­i­tive rays and skit­tish sea tur­tles to fiery sea fans and colos­sal coral heads.

Hun­dreds of man­grove-cov­ered is­lands in­ter­spersed with creeks and pic­turesque la­goons make up Belize’s largest atoll, Turn­effe. This un­spoiled par­adise has some of the best div­ing world­wide, for ev­ery level of diver. Wrecks, drop-offs and cur­rents can make for chal­leng­ing dives at cer­tain sites, so Se­quel P has a cer­ti­fied dive in­struc­tor on board. The ex­posed southern point of Turn­effe Atoll, known as “The El­bow,” is a con­gre­ga­tion area for schools of jacks and snap­pers. Thou­sands of groupers come here to spawn, and all the fish ac­tion at­tracts sharks and rays. “The El­bow” is a must-do for un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tur­ers.

On the bucket list of nearly ev­ery dive en­thu­si­ast, Belize’s fa­mous Blue Hole is an un­der­wa­ter shaft nearly 1,000 feet wide and more than 400 feet deep.

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