The underwater beauty of Belize
Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere with an area that stretches about 300 kilometres. The reef is a UNESCO heritage site and it’s the second largest reef system in the world with its seven sites (Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, Great Blue Hole, Half Moon Caye, South Water Caye, Glovers Reef, Laughing Bird Caye and Sapodilla Cayes) showcasing how a reef develops.
The reef is home to numerous threatened species, such as the West Indian manatee, the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, the loggerhead turtle and the American crocodile. The largest West Indian manatee population in the world lives in the area with numbers of between 300 to 700.
You’ll be exposed to all kinds of plant life with the reef boasting 178 types of plants that grow on land and 247 types of plants that grow in the water. During your ocean explorations, you have the chance to see over 500 types of fish, 65 marine corals, along with many different kinds of sponges, crustaceans and molluscs.
The reef stands out thanks to its untouched, pure condition and large size. It also has unique features including many different reef types in one area, atolls and mangrove cays located away from the shore.
This is one of the most infamous atolls since it’s where the Great Blue Hole is located. While it’s the smallest of Belize’s atolls since it only covers an area of about 200 square kilometres, there’s lots to be seen in these crystal clear waters. The Half Moon Caye natural monument can also be found in the southeast part of the reef.
This atoll is home to king mackerel, eagle rays, bonefish, tarpon, groupers and many other sea creatures, along with astonishing coral formations and sea sponges. But the main creatures you’ll want to see are the gentle whale sharks which are commonly seen in this area between April to June. They’re a rare sight around the world and Belize is the place to catch a glimpse of them, much less swim with them if you’d like.
This atoll is one of the best dive areas in the nation with more than 70 sites to visit. You’ll be staying in the heart of it all. During your diving adventure, you’ll have sufficient cover from mangroves in the area and access to a shallow lagoon. The area is home to many schools of colourful fish, such as baitfish, cubera snappers, tiger grouper, filefish and whitespotted toadfish, along with other aquatic life, such as manta rays, hammerhead sharks, eagle rays, turtles, nurse sharks and reef sharks. You’ll be able to spot these amazing creatures from afar thanks to this area’s underwater visibility of 100 to 150 feet.
This is Belize’s largest atoll, which stretches as far as 50 kilometres, and it’s more suited for pro divers thanks to the area’s strong underwater current and walls.
Find out more about the different diving sites Belize has to offer and what you need to know about diving.