Whether you’re an evolutionist or a creationist, there’s literally no argument when it comes to the world’s wonders, and in the Western Hemisphere, nothing compares to the miracle known as the Belize Barrier Reef. This colorful formation supports a gorgeous array of plant and animal species, all of which coexist peacefully at one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.
What will you find if you visit the Belize Barrier Reef? Hundreds of invertebrates. Around 500 species of exotic fish. And candy-colored coral that fits into either the soft species category (about 36 types in all), or 70 varieties of hard coral species that have been thriving in this corner of the Caribbean for thousands of years.
Will you be able to visit every nook and cranny of the reef? Not unless you stick around for years and are willing to do a large amount of investigating beneath the ocean: Only 10-percent of all reef life forms have been identified and classified since Charles Darwin created the reef’s first taxonomic report and that was back in 1842.
To visit the Belize Barrier Reef and spend as much time as possible exploring its mysteries, headquarter in Belize. The reef literally hugs the coast so visitors enjoy perpetual access. And you’ll never complain about the time it takes to get to and from the reef because it can be measured in minutes not hours.
Think about booking luxury accommodations at a resort that’s a favorite of repeat visitors to Belize: Chabil Mar (Chabilmar.com). Staff won’t just provide a luxurious pillow on which to lay your head, but excursions to the Belize Barrier Reef—and, if you desire, seven marine reserves, 450 cayes and three atolls! Okay, so you don’t have that much time. No worries. Chabil Mar staff are experts at choreographing customized itineraries.
With 90-percent of the reef still in need of exploration, there’s every reason to believe that oceanographers and marine biologists will continue to use this area as their laboratory, studying the living building blocks that make up this fascinating mass. If you recall your biology lessons, you know that reefs are made up of living animal colony polyps that deposit calcium carbonate secretions onto the surface, adding new layers of material century after century.
Keep in mind all of this wonder as you don diving gear to explore Belize’s rainforest of the sea. See if you can spot sponges, fish, mollusks and echinoderms that cling to the reef to form the next layer as future generations of material add to the reef’s surface. As you swim and examine that surface, don’t be surprised if you find that you’ve picked up companions: schools of vividly-colored fish will be as curious about you as you are about them.
To maintain this rare and fragile area, the nation of Belize has undertaken extraordinary steps to make sure future generations will come to this area of the Caribbean and find the reef awaiting them intact. These conservation measures have required commitment, money and time, but that’s what must be done when taking care of an irreplaceable treasure.
Toward that end, Belize is battling on all fronts, supporting initiatives that threaten this fragile ecosystem: prohibitions against blast fishing, dumping waste leading to ocean acidification, outlawing harmful land-use practices, discouraging overuse of reef resources and confronting climate change threats. The government has even taken a unique interest in stopping excessive algae accumulation resulting from agricultural runoff.
If you think about it, the Belize Barrier Reef is the perfect example of a natural wonder that’s both old and new, because in the scheme of things, 10,000 years is really a drop in the bucket when measured against the earth’s age! Why is this important? Because reefs like this one are young enough to be rehabilitated by taking proactive measures to slow erosion, so the reef maintains its health and integrity.
By pairing your desire to see as much of the Belize Barrier Reef as time allows with a stay at Chabil Mar, you needn’t worry that you’ll miss out on the pleasures of a proper holiday. Indulge yourself during your much-needed getaway. In addition to excursions to the reef and other destinations, avail yourself of Chabil Mar spa massages, discover gourmet dining Caribbean style and don’t forget to dig your toes into the sand.
By the way, you needn’t feel that you have to do it all! The reef isn’t going anywhere and you’ll want to return, so if the only two things desire during your visit are seeing the reef and getting caught up on your sleep, our staff is happy to keep a “Do not disturb” sign on your door as long as you wish it to remain there!