• Diving
  • Marine Conservation
  • Scuba-diving

Exploring the Incredible Belize Barrier Reef

Article by GVI


Posted: February 26, 2023

The Belize Barrier Reef System, located in the Caribbean Sea, is the largest living reef system in the Northern Hemisphere and the second largest barrier reef in the world. With its spectacular array of coral, sponges and colourful fish, visiting this magical environment is a must for any nature enthusiast. Here’s an overview of what to expect when visiting the Belize Barrier Reef, as well as tips and activities for a successful trip.

An Overview of the Belize Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and stretches over 180 miles along the coast of Belize. It is home to astonishing species of fish, sponges and coral. The reef provides a safe harbour to go snorkelling, swimming or even scuba diving. What’s more, manatees, sea turtles and some endangered species of animals also thrive in its warm waters.

The Belize Barrier Reef System is the second largest barrier reef in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to over 500 species of fish, 65 species of coral and hundreds of other species of marine life. The reef is also a popular destination for tourists, as it offers a variety of activities such as snorkelling, diving, fishing and kayaking. The reef is also a great place to observe the diverse marine life, as it is home to a variety of species, including dolphins, manatees, sea turtles and even whale sharks.

What to See

When you arrive, you will be able to enjoy a plethora of incredible sights. You can snorkel or dive to witness the colours and textures of each type of coral up close. Parrotfish, sea turtles, eels and rays are all commonplace in the waters. Colourful fish are scattered throughout the reef’s lagoons and shallow coves. And if you explore during spawning season, you may even be able to observe schools of fishes as they migrate from lagoon to lagoon.

In addition to marine life, the Belize Barrier Reef is home to a variety of bird species. From the magnificent frigatebird to the magnificent frigatebird, you can observe a variety of birds soaring above the reef. The reef also provides a habitat for a variety of sea turtles, including the hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtles. 

One species that can be spotted while exploring the Belize Barrier Reef is the West Indian manatee. This species is rarely seen in other parts of the world but they are commonly seen snacking on seagrass or slowly swimming around in small groups here. Other creatures that are commonly seen here include parrot fish, turtles, rays, eels, lobsters and even nurse sharks.

Best Time of Year to Visit

The warmest waters at the Belize Barrier Reef are between April through October, so this is when you’re most likely to encounter a variety of aquatic life. It can be quite hot during this time of year so you want to be sure to dress accordingly. It’s best to plan a trip during the spring or early summer when the temperatures are more bearable.

The months of November through March are the best time to visit if you’re looking for cooler temperatures. The water is still warm enough to enjoy swimming and snorkelling, but the air temperature is much more comfortable. This is also the time of year when the rain is less frequent, so you can enjoy more time outdoors.


Snorkelling and scuba diving are two of the best activities for experiencing all that the Belize Barrier Reef has to offer. Mark Holme and Lighthouse Reef are two great spots for snorkelling that are easily accessible from the mainland. Once at these spots, you’ll be able to observe a wide array of fish, corals, and sponges. If you’d like to go deeper into the reef, there are several scuba diving operators that offer tours and lessons.

The Belize Barrier Reef System is truly a marvel that deserves to be protected and appreciated. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably itching to explore its underwater wonders for yourself. Well, have you considered learning to dive with GVI? Not only will you have the chance to experience the reef up close, but you’ll also be contributing to marine conservation efforts in the area while earning your PADI Open Water certificate. 

what’s up next?
Gap year pros and cons

Excited to take a gap year after high school and break from studying? Not only does this mean you get to change up your routines but you can also find adventure and purpose.

You might also like these articles

Diving with Sharks and Shipwrecks: Tenerife’s Best Underwater Adventures
Read the article
How to Prepare for Your First Volunteer Experience: A Guide for First-Time Volunteers
Read the article
Women's Empowerment
PADI Open Water: A Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving Certification
Read the article
Exploring Citizen Science Marine Conservation Programs
Read the article
Wildlife Conservation
How to Improve Your Skills and Knowledge While Volunteering
Read the article
Women's Empowerment
Get Your PADI Open Water Certification with GVI
Read the article
How to Become a Divemaster: A Step-by-Step Guide
Read the article
Marine Conservation
The Impact of Chemical Contamination on Sea Turtles: A Closer Look
Read the article
Wildlife Conservation
Restoring the Rainbow: Coral Reef Restoration
Read the article
Volunteer and Adventure