The coast of Belize equals the Eastern coast of Australia in beauty. While Queensland, Australia has the Great Barrier Reef, the coast of Belize has the Great Blue Hole – both of which are among the modern wonders of the world. The Belizean coast features a submarine reef system that stretches all the way from the Mexico to the north to Guatemala to the south. To reach the barrier reef, you will first pass through the ever popular Belizean atolls – The Lighthouse Reef, The Turneffe Island and Glover’s Reef.
The Belizean barrier reef is the second largest reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia and also the largest reef complex in the Atlantic-Caribbean Belt.
In-between the Mainland and the reef system is a lagoon that deepens and widens as you get deeper into the sea, starting from just 3 meters to as wide as 25 kilometers. Another astonishing feature on the reef is that the reef shelf gets more deeper as you move south of Belize City until at the gulf of Honduras, the a 65 meters depth is achieved.
On the reef system proper, you will find over 450 sandy or Mangrove cays, some small ephemeral sand spits and others large islands that are capable of sustaining life. In terms of biodiversity, you could not have visited to a better place. There are about 178 species of terrestrial plants on the atolls, 45 species of hydroids, 500 species of fish, 350 species of mollusks and 65 species of scleritian corals. The marine sponges, crustaceans and worms you will get to see are nothing short of amazing.
You will also find some endemic species such as green turtle, American crocodile, hawksbill turtle, Indian Manatree, and loggerhead turtle. In particular, the resident population of about 700 West Indian Manatree is said to be the world’s largest.
Ensure you explore caves and cays such as Half-moon Caye, ManO’War Cave and Glover’s reef for a lesson in practical marine creatures.
Of course you would also want to see the Mayan sites on the Cayes and along the coast. They used these cays to fish more than 2500 years ago. In 300BC to AD900, these waters were extensively used by the Mayans for trading, cultural ceremonies and fishing expeditions.
The beauty of the reef system is as mesmerizing as ever. It is one of the most visited places on earth. During your tour, make sure you make friends with people from other parts of the world. You never know where this friendship might take you next.