Just 45 minutes outside Marrakesh, travellers and locals alike flock to the Agafay desert to escape the din of the city, the low profiles of bronze, flat-roofed buildings morphing into rolling rocky dunes.

At the foot of the Arenal Volcano in northern Costa Rica, a network of thermal pools and rivers braids through a lush rainforest reserve. It is where Tabacón Thermal Resort and Spa was founded with the aim of protecting this jungle ecosystem while allowing guests to reap the healing benefits of the hot springs.

The city has an austere beauty, a pleasing if slightly unnerving efficiency, and an endearing propriety—essentially, it’s very Swiss. A steepled cityscape is set against a frieze of snow-dusted Alps and bottle-green hills, Lake Zurich incandescent in the golden late-afternoon sun.

Travellers seeking Belize without the crowds need look no further than this guide to the middle-of-nowhere jewels in the Central American country’s Western Cayo District.