Belize has something for every type of traveler: it’s a brilliant sailing and yachting destination popular with sailors who can cruise between its hundreds of islands – 450, to be precise – along with a Unesco-listed barrier reef and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The best bit? It’s a fantastic snorkeling destination, too – so, we’ve rounded up the places which should be on your radar if you fancy exploring beneath the waves.
Dive into some underwater adventures in Belize with the unique Culture Trip’s Sailing Trips.
One of Belize’s most popular snorkeling destinations, Ambergris Caye is an offshore island on the outer edge of the country’s barrier reef – and a very popular destination for guided snorkeling tours. Three of Ambergris Caye’s best snorkeling locations include Shark Ray Alley – look out for ultra-bright coral as well as nurse sharks and rays – as well as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, famous for its larger species including groupers, barracudas and eagle rays and finally, Mexico Rocks, known for its colorful coral and popular with beginners due to its calm waters.
Proof that the best things come in small packages, Little Water Caye is a great destination if you’re a fan of corals – there’s a huge range to see here and it’s a fantastic place to spot sea sponges. If you’re visiting in the low season, it’s worth noting that visibility isn’t always the best – due to its proximity to the mainland and the rains which come from Belize’s mountainous areas. However, its shallow depth means there’s generally plenty to see throughout the year.
This is the largest atoll of Belize’s barrier reef. Since 2012, it’s been a dedicated marine reserve and it’s one of the best places to see turtles. There’s also an abundance of lionfish, which are now legally hunted as a method of population control – you’ll see them on menus throughout Belize. Rays, lobsters and manatees are also regularly spotted and if you’re arriving by yacht, don’t be surprised if a pod of curious bottlenose dolphins pops up to greet you.
Bannister Caye (Starfish Island)
Bannister Caye – also known as “Starfish Island” – is a private island, but it’s worth flagging because the owners allow boats to stop for snorkeling sessions and many snorkeling tours visit. Amenities – which include bars, a restaurant and a kids’ play area – make it incredibly family-friendly and younger snorkelers will love the calm, clear waters. There’s plenty to see, although we suggest making a beeline for Starfish Beach, so-called because the water is full of starfish. Obviously.
Lighthouse Reef Atoll
This atoll is the furthest from the mainland, so if you’re prone to seasickness, consider visiting on a calm day – the ride back can get a little bumpy. But it’s worth the effort, largely because it’s where you’ll find the Blue Hole underwater sinkhole. With a depth of 124m (406ft), few divers have reached the bottom, but the clear water means there’s plenty to see near the surface – including nurse sharks, angelfish, parrotfish and butterflyfish.
Another easily accessible snorkeling spot – a 30-minute boat ride from Belize City – Goff’s Caye is a small island, famous for more than just its marine life. Love a bit of birdwatching? Take a second to admire the island’s frigatebirds – distinct for their bright red chests – and diving cormorants, before heading below the waves to see conch, lobsters, starfish and stingrays, as well as exceptionally bright coral.
The Split on Caye Caulker
Named so because it’s a channel dividing Caye Caulker’s northern and southern halves, the Split is great for beginners – swim straight to the best bits from the sand and the water is so clear that you’ll be able to see fish from the beach. Try to visit when the water’s calm, though – on rougher days, the speed at which water passes through the Split means less time to admire the fish zipping through the channel.
Tobacco Caye – a tiny inhabited island on Belize’s barrier reef – offers the best of both worlds. With brilliant facilities – including beachfront cabins which can be rented for short periods of time – and its position within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, it has long provided much-needed protection for marine life. Our favourite species to spot? The bright-blue seahorses, closely followed by the eagle rays. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll spot a hammerhead shark or dolphin.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.