Offshore Belize lies the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere with hundreds of coral sand and mangrove-covered islands and three of the only four coral atolls this hemisphere. Belize’s combination of islands and extensive underwater habitat make up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Much of Belize's marine system, from north to south, is protected, of which 7 have been declared as World Heritage Sites by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This means that these areas and their inhabitants cannot be destroyed or harmed in any way. Care must be taken when on dives not to touch corals or increase sedimentation onto them.
Divers and snorkelers alike encounter a diverse and abundant selection of marine life as well as a kaleidoscope of color in a variety of locations spanning the length of this 185-mile Belize Barrier Reef. Belize will not disappoint either the first-time or most experienced diver or snorkeler.
Belize's reef and islands can offer a location that is perfect for you; whether you choose to rest undisturbed in a hammock under a palm tree watching the waves break in the distance, snorkel for the first time amidst schools of colorful fish or, enjoy the best marine activities Belize has to offer like scuba-diving, wind and kite -surfing, kayaking, fly fishing or sport-fishing.
- Belize Barrier Reef - Diving, snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, wind and water sports are offered the length of the 185-mile long Belize Barrier Reef extending from the northern tip of Ambergris Caye to the Sapodilla Cayes in Belize’s southernmost region.
- Turneffe Atoll - With more than 70 named dive sites, the marine life at Turneffe Atoll is a spectacular experience. It is also offers unrivalled fishing, coral formations, dive and snorkel sites in deep channels and shallow reef patches.
- Lighthouse Reef Atoll -This atoll is the farthest offshore, at 50 miles east of Belize City. This 16-mile long atoll is another marine lagoon bounded by reefs and sand islands. A nesting site of the rare Red-footed Booby is located on Half Moon Caye.
- Bacalar Chico Marine and Wildlife Reserve - With a combined area including a 15,000-acre marine reserve and 12,000 acres of terrestrial reserve this UNESCO World Heritage site is only accessible by boat.
- Blue Hole - Visible from outer space, the Blue Hole is nearly a perfectly circular hole 1,000 feet in diameter and 412 feet deep.
- HalfMoon Caye National Monument - this 44 acre island reserve is a nesting ground for the red-footed booby and a great campsite or picnic location between dives off the nearby atolls.
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve - offers excellent snorkeling and diving. Snorkelers and divers alike will be delighted by the size and numbers of color fish as well as vibrant coral at manageable depths of 30 feet.
- Gladden Spit & Silk Caye Marine Reserve - Lunar cycles play a vital role in fishing and nowhere in Belize as grandiosely as at Gladden Spit Marine Reserve off the coast of Placencia in southern Belize.
- Laughing Bird Caye National Park - Laughing Bird Caye National Park encompasses the 1.4 acre island of Laughingbird Caye and 10,119 acres of marine habitat including coral reef patches and an uncommon geological structure known as a faro.
- South Water Caye Marine Reserve - the reserve is home to sea grass beds, patch reefs, sand bores, mangrove habitat, over a dozen major cayes and many smaller islets. Within the reserve is Man-O-War Caye, a sanctuary for magnificent frigate birds and the brown booby.
- Port of Honduras Marine Reserve - Situated just north of Punta Gorda Town and declared a protected area in January 2000, The reserve is managed by the community based Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE).
- Sapodilla Cayes Marine Park - Schools of jack and spadefish frequent the outer reefs, while close to the bottom divers can find angelfish, parrot fish and snappers.