Diving and the Atolls
The atolls are the epitome of the Belize diving experience. They are far from shore and are basically wilderness existing in pristine conditions. They are immense; each is about the size of Grand Cayman. Being farther from land, they lie within the clearest waters.
Inside the Lighthouse Reef Atoll is the Blue Hole, one of the finest dive sites in this Hemisphere. The Blue Hole is 1,000 feet wide by 440 feet deep and just eight miles from Long Caye. It is the largest ocean sinkhole in the world and the only one of its kind that can be clearly seen from outer space. To the left and below are some pictures of the Blue Hole.
The Lighthouse Reef Atoll is Belize's dive paradise. It offers some of the finest and most diverse marine life in the world. It is the outermost of the three atolls lying 45 miles east of Belize City. Approximately three miles east of Long Caye, set at the southern end of Lighthouse Reef, is the famous island known as Half Moon Caye. This Belize Natural Monument is preserved and protected by the Belize Audubon Society. It serves as a home to the Red-Footed Booby Bird. Half Moon Caye also has a 24-hour a day manned lighthouse.
The Turneffe Islands Atoll is the largest and closest to mainland Belize. Sponges of every shape and color are intermingled with Black Coral dominating the scenery with schools of snapper, grunts, spadefish and jacks milling about. Glover's Reef is situated about 70 miles from Belize City. The scenery above and below the sea is nothing less than spectacular.
Additionally, the Belize Barrier Reef has some of the best diving. It is the second largest barrier reef in the world and the largest coral reef ecosystem in this Hemisphere for its size. Aesthetically and ecologically, its integrity is virtually unharmed. It forms almost a continuous fortification for 150 miles along the continental shelf edge.
Snorkeling is for those who do not dive and still want to enjoy the marine life. Snorkeling can be just as exhilarating as diving. Snorkel in shallow water with brilliantly colored coral or over the deep ocean waters beyond the reef and experience some of the finest aquatic diversity in this Hemisphere.
Long Caye is a great site for windsurfing. Each winter month can offer many days with winds that are more than adequate to make for great windsurfing. The windy season is generally October through March and the calmer months are generally July through September.
Spin fishing, fly fishing and trolling can be experienced throughout the year, and because of plentiful quantities of game fish it promises to be an excellent sport. If you are looking for real excitement, check out big game fishing. Several hotels offer deep sea fishing and the country has several tournaments annually. Just outside the Lighthouse Reef Atoll is some of the best deep sea game fishing in the Hemisphere.
When traveling through mainland Belize you may wish to experience the many other available activities such as...
Belize is also known for its diversity of bird species. With over 520 species, it is a bird watchers paradise. Around 370 species are residents and about 150 species are transients, who spend their summers up north and their winters in Belize. Long Caye serves as an essential rest stop during their long flights north and south. The island plays an important part in this migration as habitats around the world continue to be destroyed. For a list of bird species on Long Caye go to list of bird species.
The Mayan Ruins of Belize
Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan Ruins in the World. With over 600 sites identified, here are just a few:
Lamanai, meaning "submerged crocodile," dating back to 1500 b.c., was one of the largest meeting places for Mayan rituals, with plenty of wildlife covering five square miles. It is located in the Orange Walk District.
Altun Ha, meaning "the priest of the sun," is located 31 miles northwest of Belize City, off the Old Northern Highway. The site dates back some 2,000 years.
Caracol, meaning "the supremacy of lord water," was re-found in the 1930's. It is easily accessible, and its highest pyramid is the tallest structure in Belize.
Xunantunich, meaning "lord of war and fertility," is a site about 325 square yards, and is located near the western border.