Belize’s Barrier Reef Celebrates its 10,000th Birthday
This year, Belize’s Barrier Reef turns 10,000 years old, on World Oceans Day, observed on the 8th of June. Join in on the celebration of this historical achievement by exploring the wonders of our beloved Barrier Reef, on an adventure-packed vacation in Belize. If you are an avid diver, snorkeler or simply a lover of the sea, then the barrier reef is a necessary experience.
In 1996 UNESCO inscribed Belize’s 185-mile Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site based on its outstanding universal value. This historical monument is the second largest in the world and is home to over 500 species of fish, friendly turtles, manatees, gliding sting rays, nurse sharks and colorful corals. The Belize Barrier Reef has maintained such an accomplished title as it is known to be the perfect example of sustainable and healthy reef systems. Whether you are planning a vacation to the east, or south of Belize, you can experience the wonders of the barrier reef, by a quick boat ride.
This magical underwater world has 7 protected areas for you to explore. Consider this your Belize Barrier Reef Bucket List:
- Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve– 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-travelled path and a unique adventure.
- Blue Hole Natural Monument– The Great Blue Hole is undeniably Belize’s biggest tourist attraction, and for good reason. Visitors have the option of either taking an aerial tour, by means of helicopter, or taking a charter boat for a snorkel or diving adventure.
- Half Moon Caye Natural Monument – Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is picturesque with its white-sandy beaches, unbelievably blue waters, and lush vegetation. It preserves several important ecosystems and is home to endangered species such as the Hawksbill Turtle and Nassau Grouper, as well as colonies of Red-Footed Booby Birds and endemic Leaf Toed Geckos.
- South Water Caye Marine Reserve – There’s nothing like trailing a giant Loggerhead turtle as it swims in the deep blue. You can experience this at South Water Caye Marine Reserve, about an hour and a half from Placencia.
- Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve – Is a partially submerged atoll located in southern Belize, with a white sandy bottom with depths of approximately 50 to 60 feet. It is home to many underwater species of groupers, spotted eagle rays, turtles and marine life which will be sure to make your dive a spectacular one.
- Laughing Bird Caye National Park– Named after the Laughing Gull bird that once used to breed on the island, this tiny caye is considered a national park, just 11 miles off the coast of Placencia. Here, you’ll encounter giant lobster and the occasional dolphin family.
- Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve – Is located approximately 40 miles east of Punta Gorda. The eastern and western boundaries of the reserve follow the 100-meter depth contours along the reef consisting of shallow patches of reef, sea grass beds and deep walls with a variety of beautiful Caribbean fish visiting the reserve.
When staying in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Hopkins or Placencia, experiencing the Barrier Reef’s seven marine reserves is a must. Be sure to schedule a swim with nurse sharks and sting rays.
To commemorate this momentous date, the Government of Belize has planned a week –long series of events, which includes the World Oceans Day Expo and a Sargassum Community Beach Clean-up, on June 8th and 9th respectively.