Located in the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is a historic protected area and 1/7th composite of Belize’s World Heritage Site (WHS), the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Being the country’s oldest site for wildlife protection, the island is the Western Hemisphere’s nesting ground for the rare white-phased Red-footed Booby bird. Additionally, it’s white-sandy beaches are important nesting grounds to all 3 of Belize’s endangered sea turtle species. In 2019, Half Moon Caye Natural Monument was awarded BTB’s ‘Tourism Site of the Year’, and for good reason. It’s palm-lined, white-sand beaches span out to a lush but endangered littoral forest. Beyond its shoreline, crystal-clear aqua waters engulf patch reefs. With both budget-friendly and luxe-glamping options, be sure to add camping on Half Moon Caye to your 2020 Bucket List.
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
A picturesque 2-hour boat ride east of Belize City lands you within Belize’s furthest atoll from the mainland. With only 4 such atolls in the Western Hemisphere, Lighthouse Reef Atoll is one of Belize’s 3. The neighboring Half Moon Caye Natural Monument and Blue Hole Natural Monument are both co-managed by Belize Audubon Society. Once you cross the blue depths outside of the Belize Barrier Reef, the island appears on the horizon. Its characteristic Magnificent Frigate birds lazily glide above the island’s littoral forest for an idyllic approach found no place else. The island houses a gift shop, ranger quarters, bathrooms, campground showers, newly-renovated pavilion, shared campground kitchen, bbq pit, and picnic tables. All amenities are low-impact with solar-power, while compost toilets and a strict trash out policy is used.
Once a coconut plantation, the designated campground is front row to international waters and the island’s sandy white shore, as green and yellow palm fronds sway overhead. As the country’s most eastern territory, you’re also the first in Belize to witness the sunrise. Depending on your budget, you can camp on Half Moon Caye luxuriously, or for less.
Island Expeditions’ Adventure Basecamp on Half Moon Caye offers an eight-night package December through May in a tent-walled cabana for an all-inclusive experience. Transfers, accommodations, meals, tours, and more are all covered under the double-occupancy fee for around ~$2,200 USD per person and houses small groups of 6-25 persons per trip, with 2-6 guides per group.
Being remotely located, transportation is likely your largest challenge. Guests usually arrive by private (but pricey) boat charter. For a fraction of the cost, you can also catch an incoming tour boats from Caye Caulker or San Pedro. For a non-resident, the average overnight costs $50.00 USD in park fees (camping, kitchen, entrance) per person per night. However, Belizeans pay $42.00 BZD. With meals and tent rentals not included, guests must also take everything needed, including drinking water. All bookings can be done through the Belize Audubon Society.
Waking up to the sound of the ebb and flow of Half Moon Caye’s coral-ridden shoreline is a priceless experience found no place else. Co-managed by the non-profit NGO Belize Audubon Society, your soon-to-be camping trip to this protected area supports conservation. Within, the site’s day-to-day operations and sustainable management of the site, including infrastructure, enforcement, research, outreach, and education.