Belize City

This unspoiled Central American eco-tourism center is a perfect blend of natural beauty and compelling history, boasting world-class diving, ancient ruins, rain forests and small islands, like Cayo Espanto, which can be rented out for $12,000 a night.

Visit the Museum of Belize, housed in a former colonial prison dating from 1857, which features exhibits on Mayan and Belize City history and ancient Mayan pottery (Gabourel Lane, 501-223-4524).

See the Old Belize City Swing Bridge, the world's only functioning, manually operated swing bridge, which is swung twice a day to allow boats through (Albert and Queen Streets).

Ride a water taxi to one of Belize's 200 offshore islands, called cayes—Caye Culker is one of the most popular—and stroll along the beach (cayecaulkerwatertaxi.com).

Eat stewed pork and fry jacks (think beignets without the sugar) at Big Daddy's Diner overlooking Haulover Creek, just south of the Swing Bridge (Commercial Center, 501-227-0932).

Try Marie Sharp's Hot Sauces, the famously fiery habanero-pepper sauces infused with vegetables and fruit (mariesharps-bz.com). Cool down with a bottle of Belikin beer.

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