Two snorkelers observing fish at Bacalar Chico in Ambergris Caye

Bacalar Chico

Bacalar Chico is a hidden treasure with a pristine environment teeming with wildlife and a brilliant array of coral. By virtue of its location on Ambergris Caye, which borders Mexico, the twin sites of Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve are remote destinations suited for those who are looking for a less-traveled path and a unique adventure. Bacalar Chico was once an important trading site for the Maya people. They hand dug the canal that now separates Ambergris Caye from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and built many settlements, the evidence of which can still be seen today by taking a tour.

Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve encompasses 15,530 acres and is a fantastic spot for snorkeling and diving. This protected area is also a critical habitat and breeding ground for many animals, including fish such as Horse Eye Jacks and Black Groupers, three species of turtles, and marine and coastal birds.

A popular spot for hiking due to its remote setting and varied landscape, Bacalar Chico National Park has beautiful coastal forests, swamps, mudflats, savannahs, sinkholes, and lagoons. The 12,640-acre reserve has 11 miles (18 kilometers) of nature trails and is home to dozens of animals, including endangered pumas and jaguars.

Eric from TripAdvisor describes Bacalar Chico as a fantastic eco-travel destination. He recalls his experience: “It is formed by the mile-long cut dug by Mayans some 6,000 years ago as an early day version of the Panama Canal. Today, it is home to dozens of unique species, including big cats, manatees, birds, turtles, etc. The park itself has a small museum and interpretive center, which by itself is well worth the visit. Typical tour trips depart from San Pedro and travel along the inland side of Ambergris Caye to the far northern border with Mexico. Tours do not usually visit the Mayan [sites], but they are worth a visit as well if you can talk your tour guide into a short side trip. The snorkeling is well worth the trip as well.”

Travel Information

On the northern-most part of the Belize Barrier Reef, Bacalar Chico can be accessed only via a boat ride, usually from San Pedro or Caye Caulker. Several tour operators offer trips to Bacalar Chico. You can find more information here. See our responsible visitation guidelines before visiting so you can do your part to protect the Belize Barrier Reef for future generations to enjoy.