Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, then a remote safari-style Basecamp adventure exploring the rich coral reefs and white sand cayes of Lighthouse Atoll.
The Lighthouse Reef Adventure starts with an overnight inland discovery of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, then heads out by boat to Lighthouse Reef, fifty-five miles off the shores of the Belize mainland.
Lighthouse Reef atoll is a tropical marine park and designated world heritage site offering unparalleled snorkeling and paddling. The Half Moon Caye Basecamp is well suited for families and couples of mixed abilities, offering a choice of guided activities on the reef and the flexibility for traveling companions to do things together or separately. All abilities welcome!
- Explore and stay on remote and renowned Lighthouse Reef Atoll
- Spend six nights in a tent-walled cabana at our all-inclusive Adventure Basecamp on Half Moon Caye, a protected island managed by the Belize Audubon Society and home to 4000 red-footed boobies!
- Snorkel ‘the Aquarium,’ as well as Jacques Cousteau’s legendary Blue Hole.
- Stay overnight at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, with early morning bird and wildlife viewing on a boat tour of the Crooked Tree lagoon.
- Includes airport pickup, accommodation and dinner with your group on day 1 plus accommodation in Belize City at the end of your trip
Meals: Dinner is included on this night
Arrive at the Belize International Airport where an Island Expeditions’ representative will meet you and welcome you to the country. You’ll be taken to the Bird’s Eye View Lodge in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, with its swamps, wetlands and four lagoons, provides an ideal resting place for thousands of migrating and resident birds.
After checking into your accommodations you’ll have a chance to meet your fellow travelers, enjoy a meal and if time permits, explore Crooked Tree Village. Crooked Tree Village is one of Belize’s oldest Creole Settlements. Airport transfers, dinner and lodging are included. Today is the day to meet your fellow travelers, and acclimatize to your new tropical environment.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Coffee is served at sunrise. With your binoculars in hand you’ll enjoy the sounds and sights of the awakening wilderness. There are usually several hundred birds of many species feeding in front of the lodge along the shores of the Crooked Tree lagoons. After a healthy Belizean breakfast, you’ll embark by boat to explore the surrounding areas. Throughout this adventure, our aim is to provide you with tremendous birding and wildlife opportunities. Turtles, parrots, ibis, Morelet’s crocodiles, and Iguanas are frequently seen.
Your boat charter departs at 10 am and takes you through white sand cayes, mangrove ranges, and beyond the main Barrier Reef to Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Lighthouse Reef Atoll is located at the furthest edge of the Belizean Reef System. It is 55 miles offshore of the mainland. Upon reaching Half Moon Caye, your guide team will orient you to your new island setting and help you settle into your accommodations. You’ll then enjoy a late lunch and an afternoon snorkel or kayak around Half Moon Caye.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Due to its isolated location from the mainland, the waters of Lighthouse Reef Atoll are exceptionally clear, with inspiring scenery, and a fabulously rich reef system. This ecosystem offers some of the best kayaking, snorkeling, and diving in the Caribbean. To begin, our guides will provide professional instruction - teaching you the fundamentals of sea kayaking, snorkeling, and safety in the waters of the tropics.
Over the next few days, you’ll have many options to explore, including a shipwreck, which looms just north of the caye. In 1971, a ship named the Ermlund lost power during a storm and was deposited on the reef by a large wave. This 4000 ton wreck rests silently as a landmark, and is one of many shipwrecks in the area. It serves as a constant reminder of the navigational hazards in these waters. You’ll also have ample opportunities to learn from our guides about the marine reef ecology, the island’s mangrove, and the interior forest habitat. This area of the park consists of 45 acres. Many species of birds nest on the island, including a 4000 red-footed booby colony. The Audubon Society has built a series of viewing platforms to intimately observe the many nesting sites. And of course, we always give you the option of hanging out in a hammock with a good book and a cold beverage!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The "aquarium" is today’s big adventure. You’ll pack a hearty lunch and your snorkel gear in our kayaks and paddle with motor support to this exciting location. This dive spot is known for its profusion of fish and towering coral formations. Snorkeling at the ‘Aquarium’ is usually one of the favorite activities among our guests. You’ll return home, stopping at the Half Moon Wall for a spectacular drift snorkel over the undersea cliff of the atoll. As you float (or drift) along the sea surface using your snorkel gear, you’ll have an opportunity to view the amazing underworld that lies beneath.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today you’ll paddle along the protected waters of the Southern Reef towards Long Caye. At this location, you’ll have a chance to snorkel some of the atoll’s best patch reefs. After a full day of exploring, you’ll return just in time for a wonderful seafood dinner prepared especially for you by our cooks.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
For your last morning at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the choice is yours. Snorkel your favorite patch reefs, walk the island trails, swing in a hammock or beachcomb along the immaculate island beaches. After lunch a motor charter arrives, and you’ll begin to prepare for your trip back to the mainland. This return journey takes you through Turneffe atoll across the Great Barrier Reef, and you’ll arrive at the Belize Biltmore Hotel usually by late afternoon. You can enjoy a fresh shower and swim in the hotel’s pool. Your final evening is reserved for relaxing at the hotel or exploring the local area.
This last day is yours to enjoy at your leisure before you fly home or continue on your travels. Relax by the pool or investigate the optional tours offered by the hotel activity desk.
From the air, Lighthouse Reef Atoll is a dazzling island necklace of white sand cayes encircling a sapphire blue lagoon.
On the extreme edge of the Belize reef system, miles beyond the main Barrier Reef, these isolated atolls support the greatest diversity of reef types and marine life. Formed over millennia, the coral reefs grew on top of the inundated Maya Mountains as sea levels rose (some 10,000 years ago as the last ice age retreated) and eventually formed an oval shaped wall of corals around a shallow sand and coral lagoon. Stunningly beautiful islands, a sheltered lagoon brimming with life, and the dynamic interaction between the outer reef, open seas, and inner lagoons are the prime attractions of our atoll Basecamp on Half Moon Caye.
To get to Lighthouse Reef we travel by boat beyond the main Barrier Reef, out past Turneffe Atoll – some fifty-five miles east of the mainland where the underwater walls of Lighthouse Atoll rise 3000 feet from the surrounding depths of the sea. The inner protected lagoon provides a rare underwater habitat for snorkelers with miles upon miles of shallow, warm waters studded with corals. Where the lagoon drops off to the open sea we find precipitous walls, undersea ridges, canyons, tunnels, and valleys brimming with life that are the deeper realm of scuba divers. This remote atoll has been difficult to access and out of reach for kayakers and snorkelers for many years, but now Island Expeditions has pioneered the first ever Basecamp at Lighthouse Reef. We sleep in spacious walk-in tents, each with an ocean view, and after each day’s activities our open-air dining pavilion and lounge is the perfect place to relax in comfort with fine meals and splendid company.
We begin our trip with an introduction to the inland waterways of the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Here we experience the astounding diversity of birds and wildlife for which Belize is renown.
Located 33 miles northwest of Belize City the sanctuary provides both the abundant food sources and the safe resting areas necessary to support a large and diverse population of birds. The best time for viewing resident and migrant birds is December until June.
Next, we catch our motor charter to spectacular Lighthouse Reef, one of only four coral atolls in the Caribbean and home to the famous Blue Hole. In 1972, Capt. Jacques Cousteau and the intrepid crew of the Calypso explored and filmed this incredible atoll, showing its amazing underwater diversity to the world for the first time.
In partnership with the Belize Audubon Society, Island Expeditions has established an Adventure Camp within the Half Moon Caye Marine Reserve, opening up the area to adventurers for the first time.