Home to postcard-perfect beaches, lush rain forests and diverse wildlife, Belize offers all the ingredients for the ideal tropical escape and then some. This Central American country is home to ancient Mayan ruins as well as the Western Hemisphere’s longest barrier reef. It also has the largest cave system in Central America. Belize offers a unique combination of natural wonders ready to explore, so there’s no shortage of things to do during your visit.
Snorkel the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
Just about everyone has heard of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the world’s largest barrier reef, but do you know where the second-largest barrier reef in the world is located? The Mesoamerican reef is a stunning reef that lies off the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. The 700-mile-long reef follows the entire coast of Belize.
Belize has passed legislation to put an end to all oil activity in its waters to protect the largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere and boost sustainable tourism.
Oil isn’t attractive anymore. The coral reef and the ocean are worth more protecting instead. This is the historic decision made by Belize, small Central American country on the border with Mexico and Guatemala that hasbanned all future oil explorationswithin its territorial water in order to protect its great barrier reef. The Belize Barrier Reef, which is the world’s second-largest reef after Australia’s, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to over 1,400 species, many of which are threatened with extinction.
“Belize is a small country making a mighty commitment to putting the environment first. Belize is safeguarding its future prosperity,” said Nadia Bood, reef scientist at WWF Belize.
The Government of Belize has halted all offshore drilling to help protect the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
In what the UNESCO World Heritage Centre is calling a “major milestone,” the Government of Belize has put into effect a full stop on all offshore oil exploration. Including activity within the region that makes up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site.
“The World Heritage Committee has always taken a strong position that oil and gas exploration or exploitation activities are incompatible with World Heritage status. This moratorium is fully in line with this,” said Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “I would like to congratulate the Belize Government for its leadership and thank both civil society and the government for working tirelessly hand-in-hand to safeguard this site for future generations.”
In a historic decision for marine conservation efforts, the Government of Belize has adopted a full oil moratorium for all Belize offshore waters, including the entire Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site. The Belize reef system is the second largest reef system in the world, with approximately 200,000 Belizeans dependent on the reef for their livelihood.
“The World Heritage Committee has always taken a strong position that oil and gas exploration or exploitation activities are incompatible with World Heritage status. This moratorium is fully in line with this,” said Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “I would like to congratulate the Belize Government for its leadership and thank both civil society and the government for working tirelessly hand-in-hand to safeguard this site for future generations. By working together, we can take action to protect our irreplaceable marine sites.”
The reign of fossil fuels is coming to an end in Belize. In a colossal attempt to save the world’s second largest barrier reef, the Central American nation has officially decided to end all oil exploration and extraction in its waters.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300-kilometer-long strip of gorgeous coral reefs, stunning clear waters, offshore atolls, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons, and estuaries that lie within the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
It’s often described as one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, serving as home to around 100 species of coral, hundreds of invertebrate species, and over 500 fish species. As such, the Belize Barrier Reef was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre in 1996.
Ever since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the people of Belize and environmental groups have been pushing for their government to make this decision.
Belize has made history by unanimously passing the Petroleum Operations (Offshore Zone Moratorium) Bill, 2017 which will place an indefinite moratorium on offshore oil in Belize’s marine territory.
This decision has been welcomed by Oceana, WWF, and other members of the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage as a landmark step forward to protect the Belize Barrier Reef and strengthen marine conservation worldwide.
This action is historic given Belize’s economic dependence on its natural resources and will safeguard invaluable marine environments including the second longest barrier reef in the world, which runs along Belize’s coast. Just as importantly, this law recognizes and respects the collective leadership and persistent involvement of tens of thousands of Belizeans for more than seven years on the issue of offshore oil.
Oceana has been an unwavering supporter of this call of the Belizean people.
While the Belize Blue Hole is a key draw for divers, there is many other aspect of diving to attract the dedicated scuba diver.
Belize, to divers the mere mention of the name, brings forth an iconic image of the Belize Blue Hole. Even non-divers often recognize aerial photographs of the blue hole thanks to Jacques Yves Cousteau’s television series “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau”. His episode “Secrets of the Sunken Caves” back in March 1971 featured the blue hole and brought it to the worlds attention. That sparked the interest that remains today.
Belize – Beyond the Blue Hole
Belize is a Central American country with a growing reputation as a tourism and retirement destination. Previously known as British Honduras, it has long been a special dive destination thanks to the Belize Blue Hole, the atolls and the Belize Barrier Reef.
Report reveals improvement but also details danger posed by tourist-generated pollution, oil extraction and climate change.
Just below the surface of the turquoise sea, coral flutters majestically amid schools of puffed up porcupinefish and fluorescent blue and yellow angelfish.
The gangly staghorn and fanning elkhorn corals are thriving in swimming distance of Laughing Bird Caye, a tiny Caribbean sandy islet in southern Belize, thanks to a restoration project that is yielding striking results.
More than 90,000 corals grown in sea nurseries have been planted in shallow reefs, increasing coral cover in these southern warm waters by 35%. Marine creatures are reproducing, and about 90% have survived natural and manmade pressures for almost a decade.
It is 15 years ago and still I remember it as if it had been this morning. My first dive in the ocean – a submersion into a fairy-tale world of flabbergasting colours, corals of all shapes and forms, fish I hadn’t even found in the Aquarium and that time-less beauty of weightlessness. In total connection with my breath, I have blissfully floated through many a world’s best diving sites since, from shallow to up to 30 metres. Let me share some of my favourites with you.
No diving bucket list would be complete without the famous great blue hole in Central America’s Belize. The circular 300 metres wide and 125 metres deep submarine sinkhole is part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is outlined by coral reef and inhabited by Caribbean Reef Sharks and the occasional Hammerhead.
Hey Castaways, if you loving diving and love Belize, then you’re going to enjoy this guest post by Joe Black. Cheers!
I’m Joe, I run Nature Rated. I love spending time in the outdoors. Whenever daily life gets me down I head to the nearest lake or river with my kayak and my camera and I spend time recharging my batteries. I hope you’ll love my no fluff to the point reviews and that they’ll help you choose the right gear for your next adventure!
It is one thing to visit and dive in the Belize Barrier Reef. It’s another to understand what makes this destination one of the Great Wonders of the World. Before you put on your snorkel gear, test your knowledge and see how many of the facts below you already know.