Belize Information

Unforgettable National Parks and Protected Areas in Belize

By Belizing.com Staff 1/22/2019

For a small nation, the amount of land the Belize government has allocated to parks is unprecedented, and about 50-percent of Belize is protected by one environmental law or another. We’ve chosen just 10 of the best. Each offers a unique experience you may not find elsewhere in Belize.

  1. Hol Chan Marine Reserve: Once a community-based project, this “little channel” remains a hospitable place for indigenous marine life. Hol Chan is Belize’s oldest reserve and it has gotten the attention of societies dedicated to the preservation of animal life around the globe.

  2. Cockscomb Basin: While other species of exotic cats hang out in this park, the kings (and queens) of Cockscomb are endangered Jaguars. A wildlife sanctuary since 1984, you’ll trek through jungle in search of elusive creatures. Bring a camera just in case you are lucky enough spot one

  3. St. Herman’s Cave and the Inland Blue Hole. You don’t have to be saintly to visit St. Herman’s Cave, but you may wish to say a prayer if jumping into the site’s iconic, 25-foot-deep Blue Hole scares you. This popular recreation spot is tucked into the jungle adjacent to an underwater cave. You want to see that too, right?

  4. Guanacaste National Park: A tree is a tree is a tree—unless it’s the Guanacaste variety. Why name a park after a tree? Because this 50-acre forest in the Cayo District hosts 100+ bird species and nicely-marked trails give visitors room to spot lots of them. Come for the tree. Stay for the birds! Binoculars are mandatory.

  5. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument: The beauty of this crescent-shaped caye is breathtaking enough to qualify as a movie set. Dedicated in 1982, this 45-square-acre paradise is a lush mix of endangered forest, beach and enough palm trees to convince you that you’ve arrived in paradise. For birders: red-footed boobies hang out here, too.

  6. Great Blue Hole: How lucky is Belize to have two Blue Holes? This world-class Caribbean diving epicenter is so popular, divers of all skill levels come to Belize to do nothing but dive into this perfectly-formed, 410-foot natural wonder. Come just once and you’ll understand why Jacques Cousteau couldn’t get enough of this spot.

  7. Community Baboon Sanctuary: You will hear the noise before you meet the locals at this sanctuary situated along the Belize River. This habitat is also home to Black Howler Monkeys. Primate watchers flock here to see why the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County and World Wildlife Fund help promote this community-initiated project.

  8. Laughing Bird Caye: This World Heritage site is 11 miles off the Placencia coast, the southern-most island in the Belize Barrier Reef chain. An ideal location to study coral habitats and marine life, you won’t find laughing birds here because they’ve migrated to new homes, but feel free to laugh on their behalf during your visit.

  9. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve: You may smell the pines before you see them—perhaps all the way from San Ignacio Town, a portal to this 300-mile preserve founded under the 1924 Forests Act. Explore the reserve, but don’t miss the Hidden Valley waterfall, Rio on Pools and Rio Frio Cave. Bring a bathing suit.

  10. Shark Ray Alley: Tell friends that you swam with sharks and they’ll be impressed. You don’t have to mention that they were harmless nurse sharks and equally harmless rays. Trained to respond to human visitors after years of being fed by fisherman, these sharks and rays have come to depend upon human interactions, so join the party.

We know what you’re asking: How do I arrange to get to all 10 of these sites during my limited time in Belize? The answer is Belizing.com. This Belize resource is in the business of sorting out tours, transfers, transport and logistics for travelers just like you.
 
In addition to feeling confident knowing that all arrangements are handled by one resource, it's good to know that Belizing.com contributes to community programs that help keep these beautiful parks in protective care in perpetuity, which means that every time you work with Belizing.com, you help too!

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Destinations
Tucked away in the dense tropical forest of Blue Hole National Park, this cave is one of the most accessible in Belize and offers a glimpse into the Maya Classical period.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Cave
District/Region:
Cayo
Shark Ray Alley is located at Zone D of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Shark Ray Alley got its name after fishermen and tour operators realized that a large number of nurse sharks and ... morerays would gather at the location to scavange the scraps from the fish local fishermen had caught. Fishermen would clean the fish they caught at Shark Ray Alley.

Today, Shark Ray Alley has evovled into one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Belize. It is a must visit destination. You will get to swim with sharks, rays, turtles, and fish.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Barrier Reef, Marine Reserve
District/Region:
Near Ambergris Caye
Half Moon Caye is an island and natural monument of Belize. It is located at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. This natural monument was the first nature reserve to have ... morebeen established in Belize under the National Park Systems Act in 1981 and first marine protected area in Central America. Half Moon Caye is also a well-known dive site as it provides a unique diving experience that allows visitors to see a diversity of marine life such as corals, eagle rays and sea turtles.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Natural Monument
District/Region:
Near Turneffe Atoll
Off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye is Belize's oldest marine reserve,the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hol Chan is Mayan for "little channel." The entire reserve focuses on a cut through ... morethe reef (called a quebrada) which is little more than 25 yards (23 m) wide and 30 feet (9 m) deep about 4 miles southeast of San Pedro.

The reserve was formed primarily as a community-based initiative due to concern over the high level of uncontrolled, often destructive fishing and diving activities in the area. Reserve status was also called for by international organizations such as the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) and Peace Corps, due to the unique formation of the channel, the abundant fishery resources (including conch and lobster) and the feasibility of including an interlinked system of coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats in this area.

The entire reserve covers approximately three square miles (7.8 sq km)
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Aquatic Wonder, Marine Reserve, Nature Reserve
District/Region:
Near Ambergris Caye
At St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park (SHBHNP) there are unique geological features that can be found within 575 acres of forest rich with wildlife. The main attractions in this ... morepark, namely the St. Herman’s Cave and the Blue Hole, are connected by an underground stream. Visitors can walk 200 yards into the cave entrance unguided or can hire a guide to traverse the cave completely, seeing beautiful speleothems and Mayan artifacts. After a guided tour through St. Herman’s Cave, you can float peacefully back to the entrance of the cave on an inner tube.

The Blue Hole is a cool and refreshing place for an afternoon swim. It was formed by the collapse of an underground limestone cave. In this case, the river running through the original cavern still flows through the cave system, and forms a sapphire-colored pool at the bottom of the cenote. The depression measures about 100 feet deep and 300 feet in diameter, with the actual Blue Hole at the depression’s base having a depth of about 25 feet.

(Courtesy Belize Audubon Society)
www.belizeaudubon.org
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Aquatic Wonder, National Park
Features:
Phone Service
District/Region:
Cayo
Guanacaste Park is located at the entrance of Belmopan City. Named after a large Guanacaste Tree, this park is perfect for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. With it's small area of ... morefifty acres, visitors can easily observe the vegatation and wildlife in the park. There are many species of trees, birds and other animals in this park. Albeit the size is smaller than other national parks, there is much to learn and discover in the Guanacaste Park.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
National Park
Features:
Phone Service, Parking
District/Region:
Cayo
Just off the coast of Placencia Village, Laughing Bird Caye is a must see! This beautiful island is perfect for aquatic adventures or relaxation. It is one of the premiere protected ... moreareas within the World Heritage Site. Laughing Bird Caye is named after the Laughing Gulls due to an abundance in Laughing Gull breeding on the island. Frequent human interaction drove the birds to other derserted islands. Although you can't do a lot of bird watching here, you kick back and relax on the beach or take a dip in to the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Sounds like paradise! This unique island structure also contributes the exotic marine life and coral habitats in the area.
Category:
Destination
Type of Destination:
Caye (Island)
Features:
Camping
District/Region:
Caye (Island)
As the oldest and largest protected forested area in Belize, Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve covers 300 square miles of area, but visitors are surprised to find a sharp contrast to the ... moretropical landscape; here, pine needles rather than palm fronds, fill the landscape. This pine tree-dominated forest is more than just a vast wooded area: visitors find deep ravines, traverse dramatic granite expanses atop the Maya Mountains and observe meandering rivers, streams, waterfalls and pools amid the sweet fragrance of the evergreens.

Orchids and ferns of many varieties grow abundantly throughout the pine forest while rare and endangered bird species such as the orange-breasted falcon and the king vulture may be sighted.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Nature Reserve
Features:
Camping
District/Region:
Cayo
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world's first jaguar preserve. Located in Southern Belize, it was first declared as a forest reserve in 1984 and two years after a small ... moreportion of the area was declared as a sanctuary. In 1990 the entire area of the forest reserve was announced to be a sanctuary, covering over a hundred thousand acres of land.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Nature Reserve, Wildlife Sanctuary
Features:
Camping, Parking
District/Region:
Stann Creek
The Great Blue Hole (or Blue Hole Natural Monument) is a popular attraction within the Belize Barrier Reef System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located near the center of the Lighthouse ... moreReef, it is a large, magnificent underwater limestone sinkhole off the coast of Belize. This natural phenomenon is approximately 1000 feet across and over 400 feet deep, and is the largest marine sinkhole hole on earth. 

Divers descend into the Blue Hole’s tranquil abyss to see geological wonders and fascinating marine life. Giant stalactites, dripstone sheets, and columns are located in the Gallery at the southern rim of the Blue Hole. These structures formed in a dry cavern above sea level during glacial periods.

Jacques Cousteau revealed the secrets of the mysterious Blue Hole to millions of viewers in 1971 through the television series The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Today, dive boats follow the way of the famous Calypso to explore one of the world’s best destinations for scuba diving. Come to Belize to experience the Great Blue Hole via diving trips, snorkeling trips, flyover tours, and skydiving jumps.
Category:
Attraction
Type of Attraction:
Aquatic Wonder
District/Region:
Caribbean Sea
Tours/Activities
$
150
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary established in 1990 is world renowned for being the first jaguar reserve.Besides being the home to Belize's largest cat, the sanctuary protects ... morethe headwaters of two major river systems and supports an abundance of hardwood vegetation and a diverse faunal assemblage.Over 128,000 acres of lush jungle are ringed by the spectacular Cockscomb Mountains.Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is home to all five (5) of Belize's cats: Jaguar, Puma, Margay, Jaguarundi, and Ocelot. It is estimated that over 80 resident Jaguars are in the area. Belize's national animal, the endangered Baird's Tapir also inhabits the Basin and over 290 different species of birds have been recorded.This tour is ideal for nature lovers and intrepid travelers.

Get a chance to be up close and personal with the majestic jaguar.
$
295
/ Person
$
875
-
$
1,450
/ Group
Departs From:
Belize City
 (1)
See the world famous Great Blue Hole in the best way possible … from the air with our Blue Hole Aerial Tour from Belize Concierge Excellent in Belize City. Hop on board a Piper ... morePa-32 Cherokee Six and fly to Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and witness This natural wonder of the world. On the way, you will see the Belize Barrier Reef (the longest in the Western Hemisphere), and Turneffe Atoll. While flying over the largest sea-hole in the world, keep an eye out for various sea wildlife such as Manatees, Rays, Sharks, Dolphins, and much more!!

This is a 1-hour tour that departs from the Belize City Municipal Airport to fly over the Blue Hole and returns.
**Kindly make booking request 1-week prior to your requested Tour Date to ensure availability of seats**
$
78
/ Person
Departs From:
Placencia
Laughing Bird Caye is a National Park and World Heritage Site. It has a long and narrow island known for its abundance in marine life and corals. What makes this destination special ... moreis that it stands in a faro. Faros is angular atolls which enclose Central Lagoons. The Laughing Bird Caye offers diverse sites to explore such as the "Coral Garden", the "Laughing Bird Drop Off", "Laughing Bird North", "Laughing Bird South", the "Wreck" and lastly, "Long Coco Split"; making it a great choice to snorkel, scuba dive or even beach come!
$
65
/ Person
Departs From:
Belize City
Your friendly Smart Travel Belize Tour Guide will meet you at the Fort Street Tourism Village in Belize City. After your welcome, your guide will then make his way through Belize City. ... moreExpect to get a brief history about Belize as we make our way to the highway. Enjoy your 45-minute ride on the Phillip Goldson Highway where you will be given a wealth of information about each of the villages. Additionally, see how the locals past their time throughout the day. Upon arriving at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, you will meet one of the local guides who will be conducting the howler monkey tour.

You will be taken along the howler monkey trails where you will be given a brief history of how the Community Baboon Sanctuary came into existence. You will also learn about the Flora and Fauna in the area. Come in contact with different medicinal plants and their benefits that were once used by the Mayas and the locals of today. You will get a close encounter with the Howler Monkeys and hear their loud howl as if you are in the Jurassic Movie.

From there you will make your way back towards Burrell Boom Village where you will make a small stop to do some birding at the Black Orchid Resort. The Black Orchid Resort is the number 1 Resort in the Area and they boast approximately over 100 different species of Birds that visit the property. They also have a Restaurant on the property if you would like to grab a bite or something to drink. You will then Head back to Belize City where your guide will take you back to the Fort Street Tourism Village.

Notes:

This tour is available to cruise ship passengers and overnight guests.

Hands-on tour.
$
95
/ Person
Departs From:
Belize City
Indulge yourself in the pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea. This is a must do tour when you’re in Belize. For all the water lovers and those that want to experience the underwater ... moreworld and swim in a real-life aquarium. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley is the place to be. You will get a chance to overcome your fears to swim with friendly nurse sharks and southern stingrays. As your boat pulls up to the area, you will get a first-hand view of the sharks as they come close to the boat. These creatures flock to this site due to the fishermen that are normally in the area. Your guide will also lift the rays for you to take wonderful pictures and will guide you as you enter into the crystal clear water so you can swim with the sharks and rays.

During this tour, you will be able to snorkel at 3 locations for about 45 mins to an hour. As you swim the barrier reef, you’ll get a chance to see different coral formations along with different schools of tropical fishes. You will definitely have a UNBELIZEABLE time here. After snorkeling, you may stay on the island to grab a quick bite to eat before returning to Belize City.
$
60
/ Person
$
440
/ Group
Departs From:
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)
Provider:
Depart Blue Tang Inn on the Sirena Azul Sailboat at 8:30am or 1:30pm daily. Sail, relax and enjoy the aqua blue Caribbean for about 45 minutes to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Here, a guide ... morewill lead you along the reef, pointing out the many interesting fish and coral formations. This beautiful, small channel contains many different schools of fish. Turtles, sting rays, groupers, horse-eyed jacks, snappers, and sergeant majors will escort you through this very scenic tour around the channel. Next stop is Shark Ray Alley, where you can snorkel with friendly Nurse sharks & southern stingrays next to the boat. Sip a refreshing drink on your return to Blue Tang Inn at 12 Noon or 5pm. Bring sunscreen, hat and a light sweater along. Snorkel gear is available for rent at the Blue Tang Inn office.
$
100
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
St. Herman’s Cave was a sacred Maya ceremonial site in the Classic Period. The concrete steps at its entrance cover original stone steps carved over a thousand year ago. From the cave, ... morewe take a 45-minute nature trail hike to the Blue Hole. This turquoise blue pool is surrounded by lush jungle, a great spot for birding and refreshing dip.

Belizing.com Staff

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