As fall rolls into winter in much of the United States the dropping temperatures are starting to trigger daydreams of locations where the main pastime is soaking up sun on tropical beaches.

There’s much to recommend in the country of Belize from world class scuba diving, great food, Mayan ruins and spectacular scenery.

It’s a quick two-hour flight from Florida, the natives speak English and there are so many water-oriented activities including some of the best scuba diving in the world that you’ll never be at a loss for things to do.

And adventurers can also enjoy nature hiking in the jungles, visit Mayan ruins or blow off steam dancing the tropical nights away at local nightclubs. The girls in Belize have been twerking on the dance floor long before Miley Cryus was even born. 

The main attractions in Belize are off shore among more than 200 islands. The largest is Ambergris Caye, 25 miles long and 4 miles wide.

Cooling trade winds keep temperatures moderate year-round so visitors can enjoy what they come here for: snorkeling and diving in the barrier reef that runs parallel along the entire coast. Experienced divers saying it’s second to the Great Barrier Reef in diving attractions.

The Caye was a favorite hiding place for 17th century English pirates that transformed when tourists began discovering it in the 1960’s. Today it’s an affordable escape to consider when cold winds blow in winter weather.

Flying here from Belize City offers breathtaking views of three of only four coral atolls located in the western hemisphere – Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse, and Glover’s Reef. This is a world-class scuba destination and a jump-off site for an excursion to the famous Blue Hole near the center of Lighthouse Reef.

The Blue Hole in Belize is actually a large underwater sinkhole, over 984 feet across and more than 400 feet deep. It’s the world’s largest formation of its kind and part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For a look at what it’s like to dive the blue hole click here.

Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a famous face while walking around the laid-back town of San Pedro. Leonardo DeCaprio loved Ambergris so much that he bought a small island nearby to turn into a high-end luxury retreat. Francis Ford Coppola also owns large amounts of property in Belize.

On Ambergris, locals are welcoming and the lifestyle is easy barefoot relaxation. Musicians come from the mainland on Saturday nights for beach parties, and the Lion’s Club hosts a steak and chicken barbeque as the sun sets on Fridays and Saturdays.

If good food is your thing, try the awesome freshly-made tacos and burritos sold nightly by street vendors, or check out one of the many restaurants specializing in fresh seafood – generous portions of lobster and conch in season.

There’s the Belizean national favorite, spicy stewed chicken/rice/beans cooked in coconut milk. Ambergris Caye is as well known for the great food and lively social scene as it is for the tropical waters teaming with colonies of fish and marine life.

That crystal-clear turquoise water is always just a few flip-flopped steps away in Ambergris Caye.