The largest island off the north shore of Belize, Ambergris Caye, which boasts bragging rights to being home to the second largest barrier reef after Australia, has been named the most beautiful island in the world by readers of the largest crowd-sourced travel site TripAdvisor.
With a coastline protected by 306 km (190 miles) of coral reef – the largest in the Western hemisphere – Ambergris Caye has become a favorite destination for divers.
The island’s star attraction? The Great Blue Hole, a perfectly circular, underwater sinkhole of limestone that measures 300 feet across (91m) and 400 feet deep (124 m) deep.
The seemingly bottomless pit is home to underwater species like blacktip tiger and hammerhead sharks. Other sightings include angelfish, neon gobies, butterfly fish, and small groupers.
The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is a UN-designated World Heritage Site. Visitors can also visit the ancient Mayan ruins in a day trip, and jungle trek through the island’s lush tropical forests.
Here are the top 10 islands in TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Award 2013:
1. Ambergris Caye, Belize
2. St. John, US Virgin Islands
3. Bora Bora, Society Islands (French Polynesia)
4. San Juan Island, Washington, USA
5. Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
6. Isla Mujeres (off the coast of Mexico)
7. Moorea, Society Islands (French Polynesia)
8. Koh Tao, Surat Thani Provence, Thailand
9. Easter Island, Chile
10. Nosy Be, Antsiranana Province (off coast of Madagascar)