Although coral reefs account for less than 1% of the ocean’s volume, they are home to a staggering 25% of all marine life. The small Central American nation of Belize is blessed to share more than 180 miles of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second-largest in the world. One of the most popular activities in Belize is scuba diving and snorkeling this amazing reef, including large protected marine reserves like Hol Chan and the famous Shark Ray Alley.
When it comes to breathtakingly beautiful snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, there are few areas on the planet that can compare to the Belize Barrier Reef. The white sandy sea floor reflects light through the crystal clear waters, transforming the rich abundance of brightly colored marine flora and fauna into an underwater wonderland. Jacques Cousteau, the famous marine biologist and explorer, declared the Belize Barrier Reef to be the most beautiful reef in the hemisphere when his ship the Calypso visited the area in 1971.
Whether you’re an experienced scuba diver or have never been snorkeling before, there are many wonderful places to enjoy exploring the rainbow of underwater life along the Belize Barrier Reef. Amateur snorkelers can see an astonishing variety of fish, anemones, sponges, and other life amidst the coral backdrop in the waters off of islands like Laughing Bird Caye and Silk Caye. Experienced divers can explore the Belize Blue Hole (rated by Cousteau as one of the top diving spots on the planet) and the wild beauty of the Turneffe Atolls.
One especially unique experience is diving with whale sharks in the waters off of Gladden Spit between March and June. Whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, spend the year migrating across the globe in search of microscopic krill and fish spawn. During late spring, these gentle giants ply the waters of the Belize Barrier Reef, rising up from the depths during the full moon, giving divers an unforgettable experience of interacting with these inquisitive animals weighing up to 21 tons and measuring up to 40 feet long.
The best way to experience a snorkeling and scuba diving vacation in Belize is with a complete package that includes transportation, a licensed guide, and access to the most beautiful sites along the reef. These comprehensive packages include lodging at the award-winning Chabil Mar resort on the Placencia Peninsula, an oasis of luxury and first-rate customer service.