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The Belize Barrier Reef

Off the coast of Belize lies a Treasure of Biological Diversity waiting to be explored   

Extending north and south for one-hundred and eighty miles, the barrier reef offshore of the Belize mainland is considered the most diverse section of the entire Mesoamerican Reef system. Our primary area of exploration is within the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve which is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Belize Reef is unmatched for snorkeling, sea kayaking and diving with an incredible diversity of corals and an abundance of tropical fish. We travel from caye to caye by sea kayak, staying at small, family-run lodges, soaking in the easy-going, friendly Belizean character and each day we venture out to explore the magic and beauty of this tropical marine wilderness.

In Belize, we find a continuous reef structure running the length of the country parallel to the coast. From the mainland, the reef cannot be seen; it lies 10 to 20 miles offshore. Traveling east from the mainland, the reef first becomes visible as a line of white surf crashing over the reef crest, with blue sea to the outside marking the deeper habitat of the fore reef. Approaching closer, we first enter the reef’s lagoon - a shallow area of turquoise waters, brilliant white sand flats and waving beds of turtle grass and corals. Cuts or breaks in the outside reef are common - where wave action carves out channels into the lagoon which serve as navigation routes to and from the open sea.

Shielding the coast of Belize from the full force of the sea, the barrier reef is a unique example of a living community of coral animals that has profoundly altered their geography. Sheltered behind this living reef, small cayes (islands) of coral-sand form and in the sheltered lagoons mangroves thrive. The mangrove’s submerged roots trap sediments, which create important habitat for juvenile fish, countless marine invertebrates and a rich array of seabirds.

Click on any of the links below for trips that visit the Belize barrier reef system: