They are calling Belize ‘world leaders’ after our government passed a legislative moratorium prohibiting any oil exploration activity in Belize ocean waters. But how about a shout out to the real leaders of this initiative – the people of Belize! They have dedicated almost a decade to make sure their heritage is protected under law.
Making a Law
The exciting legislation is being billed “The People’s Law” because over and over again the people signed petitions, voted no, talked to representatives, and supported the NGO’s who worked hard to represent the voices of the reef. In addition, Belizeans spearheaded less-plastic initiatives, created awareness campaigns, and held emergency meetings to stop seismic exploration. Finally, they heard your voices!
These efforts make it obvious that Belizeans are aware of their awesome responsibility. After all, not long ago, the largest reef – the Great Barrier Reef in Australia – was famously declared dead in an obituary published in Outside Magazine. I mean, it is a huge deal to make sure one of the largest, oldest living things on the planet stays alive and healthy.
But I truly Belize they can do it!
Making a Difference
This new law proves that the people can make a difference. And Belizeans noh ‘fraid (are not afraid) to keep working hard to protect their natural heritage. There is still illegal fishing, pollutants, a lionfish invasion, coral bleaching, and more issues to address. But many dedicated people are working hard every day to keep initiatives swimming in the right direction.
The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is a rehabilitation center in Belize, located some 29 miles (47 km) west of Belize City on the Western Highway. Set in 29 acres (12 ha), it was founded in 1983 by Sharon Matola. It is home to more than 175 animals of about 48 species, all native to Belize and only in the zoo because they needed help of some kind.
The natural environment of Belize is left entirely intact within the zoo. The dense, natural vegetation is separated only by gravel trails through the forest. This special place receives over 68,000 visitors annually, with 15,000 being students, teachers, and parents.
The Belize Zoo focuses on educating visitors about the wildlife of Belize through encountering the animals in their natural habitat. You can find toucans, eagles, snakes, crocodiles, and even jaguars! And don’t forget to visit our national animal, the tapir. The aim is to instill appreciation and pride, and a desire to protect and conserve Belize’s natural resources. It was the recipient of Belize Tourism Board’s 9th National Tourism Award, “Educational Award of the Year” in 2009.
This is a dive site often visited in conjunction with a trip to the Blue Hole. With large marine life and coral crevices full of shrimps, this site is a true treasure.
Eagle Landing Dive Site
The southeast tip of Lighthouse Reef Atoll is an ideal place for anyone who wants to enjoy a shallow dive that offers spectacular sights. Tropical reef fish are abundant, as well as Queen Conch and stingrays gliding across the sandy bottom. There are a series of underwater signs, which describe groups of corals, sponges, and gorgonians you’ll encounter along the coral ridge. After passing the ridge you can gaze upon a great vertical wall that drops into the blue abyss.
No visit to Belize is complete without a visit to our two most famous snorkel spots.
Snorkel Site #1: Hol Chan
Off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hol Chan is the Mayan name for ‘little channel.” This sanctuary was officially established in 1987, and since then the return of all species of fish has been quite dramatic.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley is approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south of San Pedro Ambergris Caye. It is the single most popular day trip from San Pedro, perfect for snorkeling or diving.
The reserve covers approximately three square miles (7.8 sq km) and is divided into three zones. Buoys clearly mark each zone. The entire reserve focuses on a cut through the reef which is little more than 25 yards (23 m) wide and 30 feet (9 m) deep.
Snorkel Site #2: Shark Ray Alley
For several years, local fishermen often cleaned their catch in this area, located just inside the reef, to the south of Ambergris Caye. When fishermen noticed that their activity had attracted Nurse Sharks and several Southern Sting Rays, they reported this information to the dive operations in San Pedro, who then dispatched some divers to investigate. What they found was a bonanza, and “Shark-Ray Alley” quickly became a very popular dive site.
As soon as your boat arrives in the area, the Dive Master points out all of the dark shadows in the shallow (eight foot deep) waters. These are the sharks and rays that hear the boat approach and come in search of a few scraps of fish.
Contact us to schedule your incredible Belize wildlife encounter today!
Xunantunich (pronounced Shunantunich) is an Ancient Mayan archaeological ruin in western Belize, about 80 miles (130 km) west of Belize City, in the Cayo District.
What Makes it Great
Xunantunich has a lot of aspects that make it a favorite tourist location in Belize. Located on a hill and overlooking the Mopan site River and Guatemala border, the natural beauty is stunning. Furthermore, you can climb to the top of the tallest temple where the views are unbelievable.
What makes it important
Xunantunich ruin site is said to have been built in the classical period and is located on the top of a natural limestone ridge. The site has twenty-five major temples and palaces separated into six main sections.
Also standing out is the tallest castle called “El Castillo”. This majestic castle is a huge step pyramid which rises to a height of almost 130 meters. With its intricate carvings on the west and east sides, the pyramid is a visual delight for tourists.
Tourists can enjoy breathtaking views of Belize from the roof of “El Castillo” that includes views of the Mountain from Pine Ridge Reserve and some parts of the scenic city of Guatemala.
What Makes it Special
The sights of the carvings, heights of the pyramids Pyramid, and sculpted ruins can impress the most bored family member. Those who would love to learn about Mesoamerican architecture, history, and culture can also find it to be an ideal place.
The ceremonial center of Xunantunich is situated opposite the San Jose Succotz Village and can be visited via ferry or public transport. The site has an impressive Visitors Center that sells souvenirs and refreshments for tourists.
Contact us to see Xunantunich as part of your Belize travel package.
Imagine your perfect day in paradise. Does it involve marine life, an island, and tropical drinks?
Begin your day by going to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where our guides will show you around the spectacular snorkel area. Then head on to Shark Ray Alley, where you will encounter sharks and rays in their natural habitat. Once back on board you will head to Caye Caulker.
Caye Caulker is a small limestone coral island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea measuring about 5 miles (8.0 km) (north to south) by less than 1 mile (1.6 km) (east to west). The town on the island is known by the name Caye Caulker Village.
When you reach Caye Caulker you will have time to explore our quaint sister island. Caye Caulker is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) north-northeast of Belize City and is accessible by high-speed water taxi or small plane. In recent years the caye has become a popular destination for backpackers and other tourists. There are over 30 tiny hotels and a number of restaurants and shops. You will choose where to buy your own lunch and afterward enjoy a leisurely ride back to San Pedro.
Includes: Rum punch, Water, Fruits, and Chips & Salsa.
As you lean over the side of the boat, you can already see the bright colors, sandy bottoms, and fish everywhere. This dive site is named appropriately: The Aquarium!
Explore unique topography
Off the northwestern corner of Long Caye, the main reef trend turns abruptly to the east. In doing so, it forms a major point and begins a significant change in reef topography. Well-defined, long coral ridges and sandy canyons run perpendicular to the reef line here and farther eastward. These begin shallow, extending seaward to 60 ft or more below the surface. Like Silver Caves, the coral ridges have many holes and grottos, providing a haven for all kinds of invertebrate and fish life.
Moderate to strong currents flow across the reef here almost all the time. They are strongest over the reef top and may be entirely absent along the wall itself. Divers who explore the north-facing wall of the point may find troublesome currents too and are advised to plan their dive accordingly. Currents along the point generally sweep across the reef from the east. To minimize the effect of the current, divers should drop down to the reef surface. By swimming east at the start, you will enjoy an effortless return trip to the boat.
Enjoy unique fish and creatures
Named for its varied invertebrate life, the Aquarium is a good place to see the common and unusual. Crinoids or sea feathers are of special interest here during the day. Many of these animals, which are normally hidden deep in the reef elsewhere, are more visible at the Aquarium. A good place to look for them is near the crest of the wall. Their orange or yellow feather-Like arms are fully exposed here. Only the small body and cirri (attachment appendages) are tucked beneath the coral formations.
Deep-water lace coral and black coral are other common animals along the top 50 ft of the wall. Most extend horizontally away from the wall with their network of branches oriented perpendicular to the slight current that occasionally sweeps the reef.
Fish are also varied and colorful at this site. If you look on top of the reef and in the dividing channels, you can find the usual variety of tropicals. Parrotfish of all shapes, sizes, and varieties graze on the algae patches that mantle much of the reef top.
Contact us today to set up your visit to the Aquarium!
Descend into the Great Blue Hole of Belize and observe sharks and large fish in a habitat flooded 150,000 years ago.
The Great Marine Life
This world-class destination attracts recreational scuba divers who want to dive in crystal-clear waters and see myriad species of marine life including tropical fish and spectacular coral formations. Furthermore, you can explore the magic of ancient cave stalagmites and stalactites while floating by weightlessly.
The marine life in these areas includes nurse sharks, giant groupers, and several types of reef sharks such as the Caribbean reef shark and the Blacktip shark. Dive excursions to the Great Blue Hole are full-day trips, that usually consist of one dive in the Blue Hole and two additional dives in nearby reefs.
The Great Geology
This large underwater sinkhole off the coast of Belize lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the mainland of Belize City. The geology indicates that this ancient cave flooded during the last significant sea level rise 150,000 years ago.
The hole is circular in shape, over 300 metres (984 ft.) across and 125 metres (410 ft.) deep. In addition to being world’s largest natural formation of its kind, it is part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
With hundreds of islands, coral patches galore, and an accessible Barrier Reef, there’s a ton to see from the surface. Some divers may scoff at me, but I’m inclined to think the snorkeling in Belize can be just as incredible as the diving! Grab your snorkel, mask, and fins (or rent them from us) and follow our guides to the best local snorkel spots around.
Snorkel Site #1: Coral Gardens
Protected by the barrier reef south of Ambergris Caye, Coral Garden is a coveted area of pristine, unique, and fragile coral. At a depth of 8-12ft, it is an underwater flower garden. Hidden in between the coral branches you will also find a spectrum of beautiful reef fish. Coral Garden is located about five miles south of San Pedro town, near the neighboring island of Caye Caulker.
Snorkel Site #2: Mexico Rocks
Just a 20 minute ride from San Pedro and up the coast of North Ambergris Caye is Mexico Rocks, a lavish collection of brain coral home to puffer and parrot fish, lobsters, eel, turtles and colorful marine life.
This is site is great for snorkelers of all experience levels, as it is shallow and protected from ocean swells on the inside by the barrier reef. Here you will see brain coral up to 3.5m (12 ft) tall! They nearly reach the surface and provide refuge to a variety of marine life who are sheltered in the coral’s nooks and crannies. In addition you will find sea fans, azure vase sponges, and butterfly fish living together in this neighborhood.
Underwater visibility at Mexico Rocks is perfect, with both dramatic canyon walls and caves through the coral formations. This adventure is perfect for the novice snorkeler.
Ready to go?
Each snorkel site has its own story, and we are happy to share them all with you! Contact Us Today to arrange your next snorkel trip.
The Half Moon Caye Natural Monument (HMCNM) is located at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, which is also home to the famous Great Blue Hole. Lighthouse Reef Atoll is the furthest of Belize’s three atolls from the mainland, and one of only four such atolls in the Western Hemisphere. The atoll is an asymmetric rimmed platform, entirely surrounded by a fringing reef rising to the surface. A lagoon speckled with hundreds of coral patches is inside this fringing reef which is known for its high density and diversity of corals and fishes.
Begins with the Boobies
In 1928, the western end of Half Moon Caye was gazetted as a crown reserve bird sanctuary under the Crown Land Ordinance to protect the habitat of the Red-footed Booby (Sula sula), making it Belize’s oldest site for wildlife protection.
In 1971, the Belize Audubon Society successfully lobbied the Government of Belize to expand the Reserve by acquiring five private lots on Half Moon Caye. Dr. Craig MacFarland of Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Enseñanza (CATIE) acquired funding from conservation societies to purchase additional private lots. On October 20, 1979 the Crown Reserve was expanded to include the entire caye and part of the surrounding sea and reef.
There is an important sea turtle nesting ground on the southeastern part of the island. Every year the Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Green turtles, all endangered species, go ashore to lay clutches of eggs. The marine turtle nesting and hatching season commences in May and usually ends in November. The nesting ground is demarcated to prevent nest disturbance during this period.
Ends in Vertical Dropoffs
The Half Moon Caye Wall is a well known dive site described as “6,000 feet of vertical abyss”. This exquisite wall is unparalleled anywhere else in the world and provides a unique diving opportunity. Divers will be able to see a diversity of marine life in spur-and-groove canyons including corals, garden eels, and some of the most spectacular sponge formations. Larger pelagics such as eagle rays, sea turtles and groupers are often seen swimming in the blue.