Main Content

It’ All About That Reef

The barrier reef that lies just off the coast of Ambergris Caye is a living entity, and the second longest barrier reef in the world. Additionally, there are three atoll reefs, and a fourth to the north in Mexican waters that is famous with divers for its shipwrecks. Though it runs along the Caribbean coast, down the Yucatan peninsula and the full length of Belize to Ranguana Caye, only near Ambergris Caye does the reef come so close to a populated area. From the air, you can see how the reef divides the waters: towards the shore and inside the reef, the waters are a light turquoise blue. Clear and shallow, it is a divers paradise, and home to thousands of species of sea life: anemones, sea fans, sea turtles, colorful tropical fish and of course the living wall of coral that provides a habitat for all. Out in the open waters of the sea, the other side of the reef appears to be a deep, dark blue. Here you’ll find many different species of game fish, like marlin, sailfish, kingfish, mackerel and tuna, which make their homes in the deeper, much colder waters of the open sea.

The reef serves as a natural breakwater that protects the beaches of Ambergris Caye from wave erosion, and lies about a half mile off of the shore. Coral, although it looks like stone, is a living organism that feeds on microscopic sea creatures through stinging tentacles that extend during the nighttime hours. During the day, they retract back into the skeletal structure until darkness falls once again.

Here are some helpful tips for swimming, diving and snorkeling the reef, as much for your safety as for your pleasure:

  • It is recommended to swim only in designated areas, and do not attempt to swim out to the reef as it is much farther away than it looks!
  • Avoid wearing jewelry or shiny items when swimming because it can attract unwanted attention from potentially aggressive fish like barracuda.
  • Try to make yourself as visible as possible to boat traffic by wearing a life vest, signaling your presence when you see a boat, or using a ‘diver down’ buoy.
  • Do not dive from docks as the water is quite shallow and it may be difficult to gauge its actual depth.
  • Do not come in contact with or walk on the coral as it may cause severe and sometimes painful skin reactions. Same goes for the majority of the sea life you will encounter – it’s best left untouched.
  • Do not leave personal belongings unattended on the dock or beach while swimming.
  • Always try to swim, dive or snorkel with a friend.

As always, practicing safety will make for a fun filled and trouble free vacation, which is really what everybody wants!


Get In Touch

Sign up to receive Belize email newsletters and be the first to learn about off-market listings, open houses, exclusive events, research & market reports, and more.