A favored destination of divers, Belize is home to the world's second largest barrier reef, offering an extraordinary experience whether you are a first time snorkelers or a seasoned diver
The reef's sheer walls are lined with large, colorful sponges that play host to teeming schools of fish. Large patches of colorful corals form garden-like setting. Home to significant marine life that includes threatened species, a showcase of extraordinary natural phenomena, and a place of heart-stopping beauty, the barrier reef is one of Belize's most prize assets.
The Blue Hole
Located in the center of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, 50 miles due east of Belize City, geologists say the Blue Hole was originally a cave whose roof collapsed around 10,000 years ago. Visible even from outer space, the Blue Hole is nearly a perfect circle 1,000 feet in diameter and 412 feet deep.
Half Moon Caye National Monument
Located on the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, this was the first nature reserve to be established by the Natural Parks System Act of 1981. The waters surrounding Half Moon Caye are abundant with life and snorkeling opportunities are excellent. The Blue Hole is just minutes away.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is only 4 miles southeast of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye,
and straddles the Belize Barrier Reef. When it was established in 1987, the reserve was the first of its kind in Central America. Buoys mark the boundaries of the reserve and provide anchorage for boats. Since it is illegal to fish and/or collect coral within the reserve, marine life is present in healthy populations.
Shark Ray Alley
Just a little further south of San Pedro Town, also in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, is the famed Shark Ray Alley. The sharks were originally attracted to the area when fisherman cleaned their catch of the day, but now visitors have the unique experience of swimming with them. But don’t worry, these are nurse sharks and won't hurt you.
The water is about 8 ft deep and clear visibility great for snorkeling and lets you interact with these friendly sea creatures and the southern sting rays which also frequent the area.
South Water Caye Marine Reserve
In 1996, the United Nation's Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included the South Water Marine Reserve in its' World Heritage list of protected sites of "universal value to humanity." They cited the reef ecosystems remarkable biological diversity and beauty, calling it an area "of great scientific value" and noting that it is a habitat for threatened species such as the West Indian manatee and a variety of sea turtles.
Glover Reef, which is most southerly of the three of Belize's Atolls, is often overlooked. It has a diameter of some 40 miles with over 700 shallow patch reefs in its interior.
Diving sites here include Octopus Alley, Manta Reef, Hole in the Wall, Parrotfish Falls, Shark Point, Gorgonia Gallery, Long Caye Cut, Turtle Tavern and Dolphin Dance. Established as a Marine Reserve in 1987, Glovers Reef covers 81,237 acres.