Waiting impatiently on the edge of a dive boat, you breathe in the salty air and feel the anticipation building in your chest. Sparkling blue waters enchant you, as you think about the abundance of animals hidden just beneath the surface. When your Expedition Leader finally gives you the okay to jump in, you quickly fall back into an entire world of ocean life. Bustling schools of fish swim by in a colorful blur, as sea turtles gracefully float alongside you. There is nothing that quite compares to being a visitor in a thriving coral reef, which is why Belize is one of the best vacation spots for ocean fanatics.
Belize’s coral reefs are home to more than 500 species of fish.
Location, Location, Location
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, found along the coastline of Belize, is the second largest reef in the world, made up of seven key marine reserve zones and more than four hundred cayes. While this makes these reefs a popular spot, guests on Natural Habitat Adventures’ Ultimate Belize Nature Safari spend time at Ray Caye, a private island located next to the barrier reef. When they’re not sleeping in a quiet cabana, guests spend time exploring their private island with full access to kayaks, pedal boats, paddle boards and snorkel gear. With such a remote, private location, snorkelers can enjoy the flexibility of accessing the reef from their docks while avoiding crowds. The reef’s expansive reach also allows travelers to feel like they have the reef all to themselves, as they explore in an undisturbed, preserved environment.
Enjoy a picture-perfect sunset on a private island in Belize.
Abundance of Wildlife
Besides having a secluded atmosphere, the Mesoamerican barrier reef is full of aquatic life that any nature enthusiast would love to dive into. With more than 500 species of fish, three species of sea turtles (green, hawksbill and loggerhead), and an abundance of corals, rays and sharks, this reef has it all. Lucky visitors on our trip also get to snorkel through “shark, ray and turtle alley,” where spotting eagle rays, nurse sharks and loggerhead turtles is common. At night, an entirely new ocean awaits adventurous travelers with manta rays, squid and camouflaging octopuses. As each moment is entirely unexpected and full of marine life, it’s no wonder travelers can spend days exploring these reefs.
Three species of sea turtles spend time in Belize, including green, hawksbill and loggerhead.
What Can’t I Do?
Traveling to Belize’s gorgeous reefs isn’t just a snorkel and diving paradise. There are countless activities awaiting travelers who make it to these remote reserves. Kayaking and paddle boarding across the still water can be a surprisingly exciting outing, as travelers can spot dolphins and sea turtles from the surface. Taking some time off from the waters, explorers can see an abundance of birdlife on the various islands, including brown pelicans, green herons and laughing gulls. Botany enthusiasts can also explore the native flora on the islands, including mangroves, morning glory flowers and spider lilies.
Belize is the perfect island getaway. © Becky Pahl
Belize gives you the comfort of a short plane ride from the United States, while still feeling like a world away. Spot some of your favorite marine species, like turtles, dolphins and rays, as you navigate the tropical waters of Belize. With a secluded location, abundance of wildlife and an overwhelming number of activities, Belize is truly a nature-lovers dream destination.
About the author: Courtney Nachlas View all posts by Courtney Nachlas
Courtney has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and is currently working on her master’s degree in conservation biology. She’s explored over 30 countries, which allowed her to study marine biology in Australia, climb the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, and swim among a world of sea turtles in the Galapagos. Her combined passions of travel, conservation and writing made her a perfect fit to join Nat Hab’s team in 2017.