Outer Cayes and Atolls of Belize
The Belize Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most biologically diverse marine environments on the planet, making it the ideal place to enjoy activities like scuba diving and snorkeling.
The Belize Barrier Reef is composed of more than 400 islands and three atolls, the only true atolls in the world found outside of the Pacific Ocean. Atolls look like rings of coral with a lagoon in the center because they originally formed around volcanic seamounts that were later subsumed underneath the waves.
The barrier reef contains seven different protected marine conservation areas, making them great places to enjoy scuba diving.
Some of the most amazing sites that you can visit on the Belize Barrier Reef include:
The Blue Hole
Also known variously as the “Belize Blue Hole” or the “Great Blue Hole,” this natural phenomenon is a nearly perfectly circular body of sapphire water surrounded by the Lighthouse Reef Atoll in the northern part of the reef. The Blue Hole measures approximately 400 feet (125 meters) deep and is one of the most interesting and challenging dive sites in the world as it contains a huge cave system to explore.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Founded in 1979, the Hol Chan (which means “Little Cut” in the Mayan tongue) Marine Reserve is located just a few miles offshore of Ambergris Caye. The Reserve is home to a natural cut in the reef that is used as a kind of marine superhighway by fish and sharks.
Shark Ray Alley
Located inside the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the infamous Shark Ray Alley where vast schools of (harmless) nurse sharks and stingrays congregate. Decades ago, local fishermen would clean their catches at this spot before returning to Ambergris Caye. Today, dive guides regularly toss chum in the area to summon the sharks and rays.
Glover’s Reef Atoll
Located approximately 30 miles off the coast of Belize City, this huge area is named after the English pirate John Glover who used the atoll to conduct raids against Spanish galleons. With over 700 patch reefs in the middle of a giant lagoon, this area is ideal for shallow water scuba diving.
If you’d like to enjoy some scuba diving as part of your Belize vacation, you can book an all-inclusive jungle and sea package with Caves Branch Jungle Lodge so that you can get to see the best of both worlds.