The Beauty of Belize

White sand beaches, untouched coral reefs, ancient Mayan civilizations and impressive marine life – Belize has it all.

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Sea Lion
Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Some travel companies on the Galapagos Islands offer tours that provide tourists with an opportunity to see sea lions chillin’ in the sun. There are 2 species of sea lions on the islands. A sea lion (featured) has a thin fur coat and usually hangs out on beaches and rocky shorelines. Fur sea lions only live on rocky shorelines and have a thick fur coat. 960 1280

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San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal Island -- aka Chatham Island to English speakers -- is the easternmost island in the Galapagos Islands, and one of the oldest geologically. The island has 2 popular dive sites, Kicker Rock and Isla de Lobos. If you’re into birdwatching, then head to the Laguna El Junco, the largest freshwater lake in the archipelago. The lake harbors a large population of birdlife. 960 1280

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Blue-Footed Boobies

Blue-Footed Boobies

Birdwatchers flock to this part of the world to see a variety of wildlife unique only to the Galapagos Islands. Visit Espanola Island and North Seymour Island for an up-close-and-personal view of the blue-footed booby. Males and younger birds usually have lighter feet than females. 960 1280

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Giant Tortoises

Giant Tortoises

Some Galapagos tortoises can weigh over 500pounds and measure 6 feet from head to tail. These turtles have a unique water storage capacity; they can go more than a year without any food or water. Some subspecies are threatened or in danger of extinction, while others have stable and growing populations, thanks to the efforts of conservationists and the Charles Darwin Foundation. 960 1280

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Land Iguanas

Land Iguanas

Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Espanola and South Plaza Islands are home to between 5,000 and 10,000 land iguanas. English naturalist Charles Darwin claimed that there were so many iguanas on James Island that setting up a tent was a monumental task. 960 1280

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Galapagos Hawks

Galapagos Hawks

These hawks are the largest birds on the Galapagos Islands. The buzzard-like birds feed on lava lizards, snakes, young marine iguanas and chicks of sea birds. The best places to spot these feathered creatures are on Espanola, Santiago, Santa Fe, Isabela and Fernandina Islands. 960 1280

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Barthlomé Island

Barthlomé Island

Take a stroll along a path to Pinnacle Rock Overlook to get an awe-inspiring view of Bartolomé Island, a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island. The island was named after Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, a lifelong friend of naturalist Charles Darwin. 960 1280

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Galapagos Penguins

Galapagos Penguins

The biggest populations of Galapagos penguins are on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela. This type of penguin is distinguishable from other species because of an upside-down horseshoe shape around its stomach, which extends down to its legs. 960 1280

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Surfing

Surfing

Hit the waves! The Galapagos Islands are a popular destination for surfers. Baltra Island’s Aeolian Cove, San Cristóbal Island’s Punta Carola, Santa Cruz Island’s Las Palmas and Isabela Island’s Playa Barahona are just a few of the best surfing spots in the archipelago. 960 1280

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Darwin Island

Darwin Island

Take a dive near Darwin’s Arch off the coast of Darwin Island. This island was named in honor of naturalist Charles Darwin, and it is among the smallest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. The tropical waters around the island are a prime spot for divers to explore the marine life, including whale sharks, green turtles, manta rays and dolphins. Darwin Island is not open to land visits. 960 1280

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Whitetip Reef Sharks

Whitetip Reef Sharks

Whitetip reef sharks can be easily identified by their pointed nose, silver-gray color and the white tips on their tail. Fearless and curious, whitetip reef sharks may approach swimmers closely but are seldom aggressive unless provoked. Devil’s Crown on Floreana Island and Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz Island are just a couple prime places to see this specific species of sharks. 960 1280

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Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island

The second largest island after Isabela, Santa Cruz Island is a large dormant volcano, located in the center of the archipelago. Its capital, Puerto Ayora, is the most populated urban center in the islands. The town’s southern shore is lined with cactus, marine iguanas, pelicans and the blue-footed booby that coexist among tourist boats, restaurants, small hotels and houses. 960 1280

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Snorkeling

Snorkeling

Go snorkeling to see batfish (pictured), hawkfish, blue-chin parrotfish, bumphead damselfish and more. The myriad fish in the Galapagos are enough to keep any swimmer entranced for hours. The best time for snorkeling is from December to May. 960 1280

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Lava Lizards

Lava Lizards

Head to Santiago, San Cristóbal or Santa Cruz Islands for your chance to get a glimpse of a lava lizard. There are 7 different species of lava lizards found in the Galapagos. The male lava lizard is larger than the female and they look distinctly different. The overall color patterns are different, and the females have bright red skin under their throats. 960 1280

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Brown-Throated Sloth
Brown-Throated Sloth

Brown-Throated Sloth

Found in the Amazon rainforest, the brown-throated sloth is the most common of the 4 species of the 3-toed sloth. Its guard hairs are very coarse and stiff, and they have no gall bladder or appendix. Although they can swim and walk along the ground, sloths spend most of their lives high in the tree tops, eating leaves. 960 1280

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Macaw

Macaw

Tourists will find this colorful-feathered friend in the Amazon. Macaws are the largest tropical parrots, reaching up to 3 feet from head to tail. The blue and yellow macaw -- also called the blue and gold macaw -- is one of seven species of macaws that live in the Amazon. And you won’t have to go far to spot these birds -- they generally hang around popular food sources, including hotels and lodges. 960 1280

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Piranha

Piranha

Contrary to popular belief, most piranhas eat fallen fruit. No, it’s not as thrilling as stripping the meat off the bone. Rest easy -- no confirmed fatalities have occurred from a mass attack. Some tour companies offer fishing expeditions, providing tourists with the opportunity to fish for piranhas with just a stick, a hook and a piece of meat. 960 1280

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White-Knee Tarantula

White-Knee Tarantula

The White-knee tarantula is a species of tarantula native to forests in Brazil. It’s a medium-sized, but fast-growing spider that’s usually very hungry. This creepy creature’s bite is actually worse than its venomous bite, often leaving extensive puncture wounds. Usually this spider’s first line of defense is its urticating hairs that can be quite irritating to human skin. 960 1280

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Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys -- the most abundant monkey in the Amazon Rainforest -- stick together in groups of around 20 to 100.Their diet consists of fruits, insects and sometimes flower nectar. Mothers give birth to their young during the rainy season, and they take exclusive care for the young. Their connection is heartwarming. 960 1280

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Toucan

Toucan

About 40 species of toucan live in the Amazon. They have bright-colored plumage and bills. Toucans usually nest in tree holes or holes already created by woodpeckers. Although more often heard than seen, toucans are usually seen only in near a tree’s crown or canopy. So it is probably unlikely that birdwatchers will ever be able to catch a glimpse of these colorful characters. 960 1280

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Eyelash Viper

Eyelash Viper

Eyelash vipers are arguably one of the world’s most beautiful, but most dangerous snakes. They have distinctive modified scales over their eyes to give them the appearance of having eyelashes. This type of pit viper is largely nocturnal, consuming small rodents, frogs, lizards and birds. It’s not an aggressive snake, but they do strike if harassed. 960 1280

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Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frog

Poison dart frogs acquired their name because Amerindians -- indigenous, pre-Columbian people of North and South America -- used the frog’s toxic secretions to poison the tips of blowdarts. Dart frogs usually grow up to 6-centimeters long. Their brightly-colored, patterned skin is a warning to potential predators -- making a meal out of this toxic frog could be hazardous to their health. 960 1280

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Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin monkeys are intelligent and clever, using stones to crack open nuts, shellfish and crabs. The tree-dwelling monkeys were named by explorers after their resemblance to an order of Catholic friars, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. 960 1280

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Black Caiman

Black Caiman

The black caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon basin. Its skin color keeps the meat-eating reptile camouflaged while hunting at night. An adult male caiman can grow to be 16-feet long and weigh more than 800 pounds. It only has a few natural predators, but a large anaconda has been known to take on a young caiman. 960 1280

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Puma

Puma

Pumas are powerful predators that stalk and ambush their prey. They are small cats usually 22 to 30 inches long and range between 10 and 20 pounds. Fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, rodents and small mammals are potential food choices for a male puma if they are within 45- to 56-mile radius territory. Bon appetite! 960 1280

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Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Take a look above when you’re in the Amazon’s thick jungle. That’s where you’ll find howler monkeys, jumping from tree tops. These agile creatures can grasp a branch with at least 2 hands and or 1 hand and their tail at all times. Their tail is so strong that it can support their entire body weight. 960 1280

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Jaguar

Jaguar

Meet the ultimate Amazon predator. The jaguar is at the top of the food chain. Revered by local tribes, this feline beast hunts close to the water for large animals, including deer, capybara and peccary. 960 1280

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A baby spider monkey takes in some tender loving care at an animal rescue center in Costa Rica. The species is endangered due to deforestation. Spider monkeys require a large habitat: they can roam up to 2,000 meters in a single day. 960 1280

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A spider monkey female carries her baby on her back. Babies are carried on their mothers' chests until they reach 2 months, at which point they switch to their mothers' backs. 960 1280

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A leatherback sea turtle hatchling emerges from its nest in the sand. Leatherbacks cannot expect restful lives: according to the Journal of Experimental Biology, they spend less than 0.1% of their day at rest. 960 1280

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A Scarlet Macaw looks at the camera from a tree. In captivity macaws can have lifespans of up to 50 years. 960 1280

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A margay lies in the grass. Margays are one of the most adept at tree climbing of the feline species, and can even descend down tree trunks head first. 960 1280

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A collared anteater, also called a tamandua, searches for food. In captivity, these animals have a more expansive diet than their name suggests: they will also eat fruits and meat. 960 1280

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A rainbow boa constrictor relaxes in a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. Adult rainbow boas can range from 4 to 6 feet in length. 960 1280

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A howler monkey relaxes in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Their calls, usually a sign of marking territory, can be heard up to 3 miles away. 960 1280

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A green lizard is camouflaged in the leaves of a tree branch. Costa Rica has a huge amount of biodiversity and is home to more than 200 species of reptiles. 960 1280

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A howler monkey baby sits in a tree with his mother. Howler monkeys are polygamous, with an average ratio of 4 females to every male in a social group. 960 1280

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Young sloths hang out on a bamboo tree. Although slow movers, sloths are not as lazy as once thought: they sleep a little less than 10 hours per day. 960 1280

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A colorful red-eyed tree frog perches on a vine. In order to avoid predators, these frogs cover up their blue-colored sides with their legs to blend in with their lush, green surroundings. 960 1280

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A white-headed Capuchin monkey scopes out his environment. Capuchins are highly intelligent and are known to use tools to crack nuts and forage for food. 960 1280

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Coatis, also known by their adorable name, snookum bears, are actually part of the raccoon family. Although they have become popular pets in Central and South America, they are notoriously difficult to train. 960 1280

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An American crocodile bares its teeth in the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica. If you encounter one, be sure to escape by land: this species can swim at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. 960 1280

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According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the black spiny-tailed iguana is the world's fastest lizard, reaching speeds of up to 21.7 miles per hour. 960 1280

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Despite their frightening appearance, green iguanas are herbivores and flee when encountered with danger. They may have reason to run: in some places in Central America, green iguanas are a source of food. 960 1280

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Butterflies have only a 2% chance of surviving to adulthood in the wild. In Costa Rica there are many preserves and butterfly farms to preserve species' biodiversity. 960 1280

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