Home » Belize Barrier Reef
Stretching nearly 185 miles along the entire coastline, Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world. The Belize coastline is also dotted with hundreds of picturesque, and mostly uninhabited, small islands called cayes (pronounced keys) and three of only four atolls in the Western Hemisphere are also found in Belize including the infamous Blue Hole which sits within Lighthouse Reef Atoll the most remote of the atolls and located approx. 35 miles from Belize City.
The reef and atolls are home to an array of beautifully coloured tropical fish and many varieties of hard and soft coral. You will see a variety of reef fish such as Parrotfish, Angelfish, Blue Tang, Trunkfish and Sergeant Majors as well as shoals of Yellowtail Snapper and Horse Eye Jacks. You may also see Stingrays, Eagle Rays, Nurse Sharks, Moray Eels, Turtles and Grouper.
The waters within the reef are crystal clear, warm and protected from the ocean swell. Visibility can be up to 130ft and the temperature averages 27°C making it ideal for snorkelers and novice divers.
There are plenty of sites to snorkel or dive off the coast of Belize.
Click to view some Highlights of the Reef
Staying at any villages or resorts along the coastline or on the islands will give you access to an array of different dive or snorkel sites.
Ambergris Caye is highly developed for tourism, particularly for snorkelling and diving as the barrier reef is only 10 minutes by boat and there are a large number of dive sites accessible from here. Well known sites include Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley where nurse sharks and rays have become semi tame. If you want to dive the Blue Hole then Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker tend to have enough demand to send trips there several times a week in high season.
Caye Caulker makes an ideal base if you are visiting Belize primarily to dive the reef as it provides access to sites at Ambergris Caye and is nearer the famous Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument on Lighthouse Reef and also to the Turneffe Islands.
Dangriga and Hopkins village provide access to a large number of dive or snorkel sites. The beautiful South Water Caye Marine Reserve is only 30 minutes by boat. All three Atolls are accessible on a day trip with a fast boat, and from March to June Gladden Spit can be reached to snorkel or dive with the Whale Sharks.
The reef is 40km from the shore at Placencia but fast boats make it accessible in 45 minutes. There are numerous cayes to explore from the Placencia coast. Diving and snorkelling trips can be taken to the beautiful Silk Cayes or Ranguana Caye. Half day snorkel trips are also available to the nearer inner cayes. Glover's Reef Atoll is possible as a daytrip from here in a larger boat. During the months of April to June Placencia is the most popular spot for day trips to Gladden Spit to try and see the whale sharks.
Further diving opportunities can also be found on live-aboards or by staying at a specialist dive resort on one of the smaller cayes or Turneffe Islands (atoll).
A great opportunity to snorkel on Glover's Reef Atoll or Lighthouse Reef Atoll is to go on a group sea kayaking expedition. These expeditions use comfortable safari style as their base camp, allowing exploration of the cayes by kayaking and snorkelling. Trips range from 3 days to 6 days and can be combined with inland adventure or other coastal resorts as part of your itinerary. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.