The Belize Barrier Reef: A Magical Destination for Snorkeling

by Khaila Gentle
snorkeling caribbean belize underwater

A forest underwater. It sounds like something out of a fantasy novel, but it does exist – all over the world, in fact. That’s because coral reefs are, in a sense, the forests of the oceans. And, Belize is lucky enough to have one of those fantastical underwater forests sitting right at its front door. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second longest barrier reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It’s also the largest of its kind in the Northern and Western Hemisphere. With such accolades, there’s no wonder why the country’s reef system keeps making headlines as one of the best places to snorkel (and dive). And with skilled and highly acclaimed dive companies like Splash Dive Center in Placencia, exploring this magical wonder has never been easier.  Keep reading to learn how to have some of the best snorkeling experiences at the Belize Barrier Reef.

Best Places to Snorkel in Belize

In Belize, warm waters and diverse marine ecosystems prevail, making it a great place for aquatic activities. In fact, exploring the beauty of the country’s underwater world is as easy as putting on some fins and a snorkel mask. Even the bloggers over at the Travel Channel and Nomad Lawyer agree.

One of the most popular snorkeling spots in Central America is the massive Belize Barrier Reef. While visibility and quality of marine life is excellent all year, November through May are the best months to snorkel.

-Nomad Lawyer

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System encompasses an area of 371 square miles (960 square kilometeres). Inside that broad area lies hundreds of cayes, three atolls, seven marine protected areas, and hundreds of species of wildlife.


Colorful coral gardens of Southern Belize’s barrier reef. Image by Bill Carmella while diving with Splash Dive Center.

With so much to explore, it’s fairly easy to get overwhelmed when thinking up options for the best places to snorkel. So, to help you out, here are some of our picks for the best snorkeling spots in Belize:

  • Gladden Spit & The Silk Cayes: They’re known for being one of the best places in Belize for spotting whale sharks. Plus, they’re a great location for spotting turtles, rays, and docile nurse sharks. Located about 28 miles off the coast of placencia, this area covers almost 40 square miles.
  • Turneffe Atoll: The largest of Belize’s atolls, the Turneffe Atoll made history in 2021 when it became home to the country’s largest wreck dive and snorkel site.
  • Lighthouse Reef Atoll: One of Conde Nast Traveler’s picks for the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, Lighthouse reef is 30 miles long and 8 miles wide. Apart from being home to the Great Blue Hole, it is dotted with amazing snorkeling spots.
  • Glover’s Reef Atoll: An isolated coral island paradise, Glover’s Reef is a fantastic snorkeling location. It’s home to abundant wildlife, including manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and reef fish.

Snorkel in Belize with Splash Dive Center

The largest dive operator in southern Belize, Splash Dive Center is conveniently located in the coastal village of Placencia. But in addition to being known for world class diving trips, Splash also offers trips to a number of Belize’s best places to snorkel including at Gladden Spit for whale shark sighting.

At Splash, fully equipped instructors and guides are ready to make your Belize snorkeling experience the most memorable that it can be. Regardless of your skill level, budget, or location preferences, an array of pacakges and destinations are awaiting you in Placencia, Belize.  And, in addition to being fully commited to providing you the best snorkeling adventures in Belize, Splash Dive Center is fully committed to giving back to the commuinity and preserving Belize’s pristine ecosystems.

What are you waiting for? The Belize Barrier Reef and all it has to offer await.

Featured Photo by Duarte Dellarole

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