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sailing your sea kayak in Belize along the Belize barrier reef

Paradise Islands

Belize Lodge-to-Lodge Sea Kayak, Snorkel and Stand Up Paddleboard Journey In The Southwater Caye Marine Reserve

Belize Lodge-to-Lodge Sea Kayak, Snorkel and Stand Up Paddleboard Journey In The Southwater Caye Marine Reserve

6 Days / 6 Nights
When: Weekly, November through April
Starts: Belize City
Ends: Dangriga
Group size: 6-13 people per trip. 2 guides per trip.
Accommodations: Tropical Education Center, Paradise Lodge Tobacco Caye, IZE Belize
Activities: Stand-up Paddle Boarding Snorkeling Sea Kayaking (Paddling) Sea Kayak Sailing Fishing Birding
Extensions: This trip combines well with the Rainforest Canopy Extension , the Maya World Extension  Visit our combining trips page for more suggestions and info.
US: $2179
Can: $2599
Includes taxes and fees. Per person based on double occupancy.
(Single supplement information.)
Snorkeling Southwater Caye
About the Trip

Explore Southwater Caye Marine Reserve on Belize’s Southern Barrier Reef, a United Nations’ designated world heritage site.   

Days will be spent exploring lesser travelled areas of the reef by sea kayak and snorkel, with nights at family-run island cabanas enjoying fresh seafood and local cuisine and a comfortable bed and shower. This trip is Ideal for those seeking the adventure of a guided paddling journey combined with the comforts of family-run island lodges.  No previous paddling experience required. 

  • The only guided lodge to lodge paddling and snorkelling journey in Belize. 
  • Visits small islands that see fewer visitors: Tobacco Caye, Southwater Caye and Billy Hawk Caye
  • A safe, protected reef setting, ideal for exploring the uninhabited islands, coral reefs, mangroves and abundant marine life by sea kayak, kayak sail, snorkel or Stand Up Paddleboard. 
  • Travels inland to the savannah of the Tropical Education Center; forest cabanas, interpretive trails and a specially arranged nocturnal tour of the Belize Zoo – a great introduction to local ecology and wildlife. 

Start Date

End Date

Day 1
Accomodation: Tropical Education Center
Meals: Dinner

You arrive at the Belize International Airport where an Island Expeditions representative will meet you and welcome you to the country. You will be taken to the Tropical Education Centre which is adjacent to the Belize Zoo. The accommodations are forest cabanas situated in the midst of idyllic tropical pine forest. There is a network of interpretative trails and wildlife viewing platforms at your doorstep. The Tropical Education Centre allows you to explore the diverse ecology of Belize, and is the ideal starting point for the adventure that awaits you. After checking into your accommodations you will enjoy a ‘Welcome to Belize Dinner’ with your fellow travelers and our Belizean guide team. As the evening unfolds, you can participate in the optional nocturnal tour of the Belize Zoo. 

Tropical Education Centre - Forest Cabanas
Day 2
Accomodation: Tobacco Caye Paradise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Waking up to the sounds of the tropics is a pure delight with the chatter of parrots and parakeets flying overhead. The fresh morning air scented with tropical blossoms adds to the expectation of an exciting adventure filled day. After breakfast we travel the Hummingbird Route through the Maya Mountains to meet with a boat charter waiting to take you to your first island, Tobacco Caye, on the Southern Barrier Reef. We’ll introduce you to the tropical marine environment and begin teaching the fundamentals of sea kayaking and snorkeling. Safety procedures, group and self-rescues, and touring techniques will be reviewed. You can enjoy a swim or explore the island shoreline. After a tasty Belizean lunch you will paddle over submerged coral reefs, turtle grass beds, and through narrow mangrove channels.

Tobacco Caye Paradise - Cabanas over the water
Day 3
Accomodation: Tobacco Caye Paradise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Situated on the Barrier Reef in the heart of the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve you will be ideally positioned to explore the surrounding reefs and cayes. Starting with a steaming mug of coffee and fresh tropical fruits you can enjoy an early morning swim or paddle before breakfast. The focus for the morning will be snorkeling and kayaking. Your first snorkeling session begins with a thorough demonstration as well as beginner to advanced instruction on the Tobacco Caye cut and at the outer reef walls. While we are based at Tobacco Caye you also have the option to use Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUPS) instead of kayaks. In the afternoon you’ll paddle to nearby cayes to explore the sheltered lagoons and mangrove channels. After an exciting day of exploration and learning, you’ll return for an evening on Tobacco Caye.

Sea Kayaking by Southwater Caye
Day 4
Accomodation: Southwater Caye IZE
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Start your morning quietly kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding. Gazing south (following the line of breaking waves along the Barrier Reef crest), you will be able to see the next island you’ll be traveling to today – Southwater Caye. After packing the kayaks with your personal gear bag and wishing fond farewells to your hosts you’ll start your day on the water with an introduction to kayak sailing. You’ll paddle and sail your kayaks along one of the most beautiful sections of the Belizean reef system. The waters are shallow and clear and you’ll see a tremendous variety of marine life, including southern stingrays, eagle rays, grouper, nurse sharks, and more. As you make your way to Southwater Caye, and its swaying coconut palms, this is a day you’ll wish would never end. You’ll land your kayaks on the beach, check into your accommodations, enjoy an ice cold drink, and explore the island before a delicious dinner. Later, you can maybe try a little bone fishing on a fly rod or even a night time snorkel session on Southwater cut.

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) the Mangrove ranges
Day 5
Accomodation: Southwater Caye IZE
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You’ll have plenty of time to kayak, snorkel, fish, and enjoy the scenery and marine life of Belize. You’ll explore different regions of the Barrier reef including the inner and outer walls, patch and fringing reefs, mangrove ranges, and protected lagoons. For diving enthusiasts or those who’d like to try diving for a first time, we can arrange Discover Scuba courses or diving sessions with advance notice. As you explore by kayak, it is not uncommon for the routes to cross those of the fishermen who make their living from the sea. These candid interactions with the locals can be fun and provide us with extraordinary insight into a way of life very different from our own.

Sea Kayaking and SUP on the Paradise Islands
Day 6
Accomodation: Southwater Caye IZE
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Your last day on the cayes will be spent paddling to Billy Hawk Caye (in the Blue Ground Range). This is a Garifuna fishing camp where you will have lunch and enjoy an afternoon of snorkeling.

Snorkelling off Billy Hawk Caye
Day 7
Accomodation: N/A
Meals: Breakfast

After an early breakfast your water taxi will carry you back to the mainland town of Dangriga where the trip finishes. Any extra luggage that you have stored at our Operations Base will be returned to you. Taxis can be arranged to the Dangriga airport for your connecting flight to the Belize International Airport, or to local bus stations to continue exploring Belize on your own. 

Travel note: For travelers who will be leaving Belize on Day 7, international connections out of the country require a departure after 11:30am. To connect with Friday afternoon departures from Belize a short domestic flight is required. This flight is from Dangriga to the Belize International Airport - our office can confirm pricing and book your domestic flight.
For travelers who will be leaving Belize the day after the trip ends be sure to ask us about our Flight & Hotel Packages

Please note all itineraries are subject to change depending on weather or safety considerations. Flexibility as our guest and as an international traveler is the key to an awesome experience.

Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef

Off the coast of Belize lies a biological gem among the world’s tropical marine habitats. 

Extending north and south for one hundred and eighty miles the barrier reef offshore of Belize is considered the most diverse section of the entire Mesoamerican Reef system. The Belize Reef is unmatched for snorkelling, sea kayaking and diving with an incredible diversity of corals and an abundance of tropical fish. Our area of exploration is within the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. 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 venturing 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 and paralleling the coast. From the mainland coast, the reef cannot be seen; it lies 10 to 20 miles offshore. Travelling 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; this is where wave action cuts 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 changed 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 

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About the Route

The barrier reef, which runs the full length of the belizean coastline, is considered one of the richest marine ecosystems on earth

The 185 mile long reef runs from 10 to 25 miles offshore, and is the longest continuous reef in Caribbean; the second longest in the world. Along the Barrier Reef are over 225 cayes, ranging from small sand-fringed islands perched along the reef's edge, to larger islands of partially submerged mangroves.

Historically, ships avoided this area of the Caribbean because of inaccurate charts and the difficulty of navigating the shallow reef-strewn waters. Teeming with brilliantly-colored fish, sea grass beds, and patch reefs, the reef systems have not seen nearly the level of human impact as witnessed in Mexico to the north and Honduras to the south. We travel in the less-developed southern regions of Belize's Barrier Reef which remains a near-pristine marine ecosystem and is unparalleled in the Caribbean. It is in this region that we find the best sea kayaking and snorkeling. Our base of operation, in the southern coastal community of Dangriga, is the ideal launching point for us to explore this spectacular region.