7 Places To See in the Belize Barrier Reef

7 Places To See in the Belize Barrier Reef

Jun 18, 2014|Natural History| by administrator

1. Great Blue Hole

Ranked as number one on Discovery Channel’s “10 Most Amazing Places on Earth” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Blue Hole is a perfectly circular limestone sinkhole. The Blue Hole was originally an above ground cave, but as the water levels rose, the weight of the water caused the top of the cave to collapse. It is more than 1,000 feet across and 460 feet deep. The geographical phenomenon is home to over 100 different types of coral, sharks, sea turtles, strange deep sea fish, and so much more.  

2. Man ‘O War Caye Bird Sanctuary

70 miles south of Belize City lies Man-O-War Caye, a designated bird sanctuary for the Brown Booby, White-crowned Pigeons, and Magnificent Frigatebirds. This small caye is also a part of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve; it is government-monitored and a major nesting site for these birds.

3.  Half Moon Caye

Half Moon Caye was the first marine conservation area in Belize and some would even argue Half Moon Caye should be the top place to see in the Belize Barrier Reef. Located in the lower southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef, Half Moon Caye is both a national park and a bird sanctuary. One of Half Moon Caye’s main inhabitants is the Red-footed Booby with a population of 4,000 breeding birds. The colony can be viewed from an observation platform located in the littoral forest on the western end of the caye.

4.  Tobacco Caye

Want to escape the real world? The small island of Tobacco Caye is the perfect place to snorkel, dive, fish, or just hang out in a hammock all day. 600 feet long, 300 feet wide, and part of South Water Caye Marine Reserve, Tobacco Caye has a permanent population of 25-50 people.

5.  Shark Ray Alley

What started out as a place for local fisherman to clean their catch is now an amazing opportunity to snorkel beside stingrays, nurse sharks, and turtles. Located just inside the reef to the south of Ambergris Caye, sharks and stingrays congregate near boats in search of a few scraps of fish. The shallow, clear waters make it easy for you to watch these creatures swim circles around – they aren’t afraid of any human interaction!  

6. Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Coral and sponges and manatees and barracudas, oh my! Belize’s oldest marine reserve is home to an array of marine life including over 160 species of fish, 40 species of coral, five sponges, three marine mammals, and three species of sea turtles. Covering just three square miles, Hol Chan is Mayan for ‘little channel” and is divided into four different zones: the Reef, Seagrass Beds, Mangroves, and Shark Ray Alley.  

7. Carrie Bow Cay 

Carrie Bow Cay is the field station for the Smithsonian’s Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program chosen for its rampant growth, secluded location, size, and distance. Located 14 miles offshore directly on the Barrier Reef in Belize, research projects in Carrie Bow Cay utilize nearby coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grass habitats to investigate ecology, geology, biology, and conservation. Research typically focuses on topography origin, geological development, and oceanography of the Mesoamerican Reef and its numerous islands.

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