Belize is a country whose size defies its diversity, both naturally and culturally. It's natural highlights include the World's second largest barrier reef, lowland tropical rainforest, highland pine forest and coastal mangroves. Culturally it combines Caribbean Creole with Spanish speaking descendents of the Maya people, whose pyramids remain dotted around the country.
Belize's marine life is difficult to match anywhere in the Caribbean for its scale, diversity, colourful and unique atolls. The best coral reefs for snorkelling and diving are to be found on the outer reefs of Belize, with Turneffe Reef and Lighthouse Reef particular highlights. We can take you to these either on a day boat, or better by liveaboard yacht or a dive lodge based on one of the outer cays. The Blue Hole is perhaps the best known of the country's reef sites, forming a deep and almost perfectly circular drop within Lighthouse Reef. In the last Ice Age, the Blue Hole was a dry cave system which flooded as sea levels rose. Features include fresh water stalactites, deep water corals, sponges, and reef sharks which are often seen around the edges.
Whale Shark Research & Photography
with Whale Shark expert & photographer Dr Clare Prebble
2020: 20 - 27 Jul & 27 Jul - 3 Aug
2021: 17 - 24 Jul & 24 Jul - 1 Aug
Diving by Liveaboard on the Barrier Reefs of Belize
Dates available in 2019, 2020 & 2021
Inland, Belize's small population means that the country has remained remarkably pristine with 70% of the country still covered in tropical habitat. Belize also protects an admirable 40% of its surface area in national parks and reserves. In the north of the country we visit the exemplary conservation projects of Rio Bravo and Gallon Jug. These are at the heart of the cross-border Mayan Rainforest - the largest area of tropical forest north of the Amazon Basin. This is a great wildlife viewing area, with Central America's densest population of Jaguars and habitat viewing opportunities in its rainforests, glades and wetlands. This is particularly special when amongst Mayan ruins on our journeys which incorporate La Millpa and Lamanai.
Further south, the spectacular Maya Mountains provide a scenic highpoint with cool pine forested ridges, rainforest swathed valleys and plateaus enclosing spectacular waterfalls, cave systems and isolated Mayan Cities. The little visited Caracol, lying in the isolated Vaca Plateau, is Belize's largest Mayan Site. For hundreds of years Caracol was one of the most powerful states in the Mayan World. Howler Monkeys are the noisiest modern day residents of Caracol, but this ruined city covering 70 square mile was once home to 150,000 people. This is half of Belize's current population.
Throughout ancient history, Caracol jostled for power with the now better known kingdom of Tikal. This lies relatively close to Caracol, across the border in Guatemala, so if you have time, we can take you to visit both temple areas. Please refer to our Belize Travel Guide for an insight into the shared history of Caracol and Tikal.
The inner reefs of the Belize's deep south attract large numbers of the Ocean's largest fish: the Whale Shark. Their visits (between April and July) follow the moon driven spawning cycles of Mutton and Cuberra Snappers and often provide excellent opportunities to dive or snorkel alongside these magnificent creatures. Belize's largely undeveloped mangrove lined coast invites exploration by kayak in Placencia lagoon where the Caribbean Manatee, rare elsewhere, is a wildlife highlight. The Cockscombe Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Stam Creek River are other highlights we can take you to explore in this part of Belize.
With its coral reefs, terrestrial wildlife and state of preservation unmatched in Central America, Belize is a Caribbean gem with a fascinating Mayan history and culture.