National Geographic, the world’s oldest continuously published travel magazine, recently released their list of the top nine recommended destinations to visit this winter, which included Belize.

Referencing Belize having the largest barrier reef in North America, National Geographic described the country as a “diver’s paradise” and highlighted the Great Blue Hole, one of French marine biologist Jacques Cousteau’s all-time favorite places in the world to dive.

Other recommendations in Belize offered by National Geographic included visiting ancient Maya sites on the mainland, visiting remote areas with no internet in order to “reconnect and relax,” and touring organic farms where traditional crops such as cacao (the principal ingredient in chocolate) are grown.

National Geographic also mentioned Belize’s special status as the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Although Belize is located on the Caribbean coast between Guatemala and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, it is a former British colony, and the Queen of English is still nominally the country’s head of state.

Belize is often nicknamed “The Jewel” thanks to its stunning landscapes and exotic wildlife. Home to nearly 600 different species of birds, Belize is a natural wonderland that is home to some of Central America’s largest populations of endangered animals such as black howler monkeys, sea turtles, manatees, giant iguanas, Jabiru storks, and jaguars.

Once the epicenter of the ancient Maya civilization, Belize is where you will find dozens of ancient cities and ceremonial sites. Popular destinations include LamanaiĀ in the north (where the burned-out remains of Spanish churches sit atop ancient Maya temples), Xunantunich (home to the largest Maya royal tomb ever discovered), and Caracol in the south, one of the largest Maya cities ever built and a former rival to Tikal just across the border in Guatemala.

Some of the most popular activities on the mainland include bird watching, horseback riding, zip lining through the jungle, cave tubing (riding an inner tube down underground rivers), hiking, and visiting animal sanctuaries and wildlife refuges.

If you’re visiting Belize this winter and want to tour the country at your own pace, you can rent a vehicle from Tour Belize Auto Rental. Tour Belize Auto Rental has a large fleet of modern, rugged vehicles that are perfect for exploring Belize’s top destinations.

Tour Belize Auto Rental has two convenient locations in the country, one in downtown Belize City and one right at the Philip Goldson International Airport.