Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston is a relaxed beach town with a rich history. Magnificent homes on Broadway, many now museums, recall Galveston's era of wealth and prosperity in the late 1800s, and The Strand entices visitors with its restaurants, bars, galleries, and stores housed in picturesque Victorian-era buildings. La King's Confectionery, a 1920s-style ice cream parlor and candy shop, also awaits. Pier 21 is a jumping-off point for boat excursions, dolphin-spotting cruises, and the adrenaline-pumping Jet Boat Thrill Ride. At the Texas Seaport Museum, you might search for ancestors in its database, which contains the names of about 130,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. at Galveston from 1846 to 1948 or climb aboard its 1877 tall ship Elissa. Other top sites include the family-friendly amusement park at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and Moody Gardens, with aquarium and rainforest attractions, a private beach, ropes course and more.
Currency: US Dollar (US$)
Costa Maya, Mexico
Mysterious jungle ruins, pristine beaches and a magnificent coral reef are just some of the attributes of Costa Maya. This eastern slice of the Yucatan Peninsula coast includes Xcalax, a fishing village on a finger of land reaching out to Belize, and Mahahual, an oceanfront town with beach bars and palapas. The region's two biosphere reserves, Banco Chinchorro and Sian Ka'an, are home to turtles, crocodiles, jaguars and monkeys, and Banco Chinchorro is a popular dive site, thanks to a large coral atoll and several shipwrecks. Divers might spot rays, eels and, occasionally, tiger and hammerhead sharks. Shore excursions visit Mayan ruins like Dzibanche, a temple hidden deep in the jungle, and Kohunlich, a 21-acre city best known for its Temple of the Masks, a pyramid embellished with carved masks. Outings to Chacchoben, site of three excavated pyramids, sometimes end with a shared meal between guests and a Mayan family.
Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN), US Dollar (US$)
Harvest Caye, Belize
Spread across two islands, the 75-acre Harvest Caye is the only port in Belize to feature a cruise ship pier. The port also caters solely to Norwegian Cruise Line passengers. Travelers will experience the renowned natural beauty of Belize while also enjoying all they could want from such a tropical destination. The focus of Harvest Caye is its seven acres of pristine white sand beach surrounded by crystal clear waters. Those who prefer to spend their day inland can visit the 130-foot-tall Flight house. It is the jumping point for various aerial activities such as zip lining, free fall jumping, suspension bridges, and a ropes course. A journey across the zipline offers visitors the perfect bird's eye view of the verdant hills on the mainland, as well as other glimpses around the island. If flying through the air isn't for you, Harvest Caye also has water sports activities available like paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoeing through the shallow lagoon area.
The island also offers plenty of dining and bar options for guests to enjoy. While there is a variety of cuisine options, those interested in authentic Belizean cuisine should visit the shopping village for a bite. In addition to dining options, the village offers items for sale by local Belizean craftsmen, as well as shops from popular name-brand retailers. Guests hoping to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife will have plenty of opportunity as Harvest Cay is an eco-destination rich in plants and animals. From manatee observation tours, to the island's Aviary, to other various educational tours, the island has something to offer for all types of wildlife enthusiast. It is the perfect eco-tourism site that provides plenty of diverse terrain including jungles, rainforests, swamps, coral reef, and more for each visitor to explore.
Currency: Belize Dollar (BZD)
The biggest of the Bay Islands, Roatan is home to one of the largest reef systems on the planet. Aquatic fun abounds, from scuba excursions among the labyrinths of Mary's Place, the dive site that was shaped by volcanic activity centuries ago, to snorkeling adventures that explore old shipwrecks. Look out below on a glass-bottom boat cruise to see sharks, eels, and other marine life, or soar above lush forests on a thrilling zipline course. Afterward, head to the beach at West Bay for swimming, sunbathing and rum-infused cocktails. This tropical paradise boasts exotic wildlife, which can be discovered on visits to a sloth sanctuary, iguana farm and preserves that feature toucans, parrots, monkeys and more. Take note of the 17th-century pirate fortifications on a tour through Coxen Hole, the island's capital town, and marvel at the vibrantly painted, stilt-top houses in the fishing village of Oakridge while riding a water taxi.
Currency: Honduran Lempira (HNL)
Just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula sits Cozumel, a tropical oasis in the Caribbean Sea. The island often is considered one of the world's best snorkeling and scuba diving spots due to its clear, warm water, dazzling coral reef and an abundance of marine life. Popular Palancar Reef delights divers with its swim-through tunnels and caves, and beginners can encounter eels and rays at Paradise Reef. Additional shore excursions include Jet boat tours, fishing trips and expeditions that explore the island's cenotes and Mayan ruins by Jeep, horseback, or electric bike. Tequila and salsa tastings embrace local culture, and Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park thrills with ziplines, glass-bottom kayaks and a crocodile exhibition.
Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN),
US Dollar (US$)