Top Islands in Belize

by McNab Editorial Team

Belize has over 400 islands, more commonly known as “cayes.” With so many options, choosing one to visit may be difficult, but we’re making it easier with these top picks!

Half Moon Caye

HMC aerial by Belize Audubon Society 5

Half Moon Caye and a glimpse of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Image by Belize Audubon Society

Half Moon Caye is a natural monument located at the South East corner of Belize’s Lighthouse Reef Atoll. This unusually shaped parcel of land erupting from the sea sits hugged by a fringe reef. The waters surrounding the island are crystal clear, making it a world-class destination for snorkeling, swimming, and diving. Here, witness an abundance of marine-life, including loggerhead turtles, rays, barracuda, and eels.

Goff’s Caye

Goffs caye belize

Soft sand galore on Goff’s Caye! Photo by Quilz Tamay Photography

Another choice is Goff’s Caye, a small island off the shore of Belize City in the central region of the Belize Barrier Reef. The island has been a part of Belizean heritage for many years and is also registered as an archaeological site due to its history as a colonial settlement area.

Some of the most spectacular snorkeling in Belize happens just a short swim off the white soft sandy beach of Goffs Caye. Due to its location, it allows visitors to discover a community of resident corals, stingrays, and an abundance of colorful fish.

Ray Caye

Ray Caye’s Honeymoon Villa sits directly in front of the breaking shoreline.

Sitting on the edge of the speed boat with feet dangling near the surface, you contemplate jumping into the warm iridescent waters just out of reach. With the sun high in the sky, the midday heat sets in, and your skin begins to bronze. The water is so clear you could look through it like glass. Below, the transparent ocean teems with fish. Enormous sea turtles graze on the seagrass that sways back and forth with the tide. A number of nurse sharks dance through the waters, while stingrays and spotted eagle rays soar as effortlessly as the birds above. The water is active and alive. Anyone would have their breath taken away by watching the scene unfold before them. A short helicopter or boat ride from the nearby village of Placencia, Ray Caye is an oasis of relaxation – an ideal balance of rest and activity. This Belize island is truly paradise found.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye, Belize. Photo by Tom Hines.

Certainly, we couldn’t miss this famous island. Also known as “La Isla Bonita”, Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest island. The main settlement and hotspot of the island is San Pedro Town. At 25 miles long and approximately a mile wide, the island also sits just a quarter mile away from the Barrier Reef.

Photo by ROEming Belize

Ambergris Caye is one of the more famous vacation destinations in the country. With sandy beaches, reef views, a dizzying array of restaurants and bars plus activities in and out of the water – getting to know La Isla Bonita in just one day can be a special feat. The island can keep you busy from morning to late night!

Turneffe Island

It is 30 miles east of Belize City and is a small island that has a handful of private resorts. The island is popular for being home to the largest coral reef atoll in Belize. The draw of this island is its sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. A top diving destination in the country, offshore adventurers enjoy this island because of the unique underwater experiences it affords them. 

Similar: Top Marine Activities in Belize

Caye Caulker

The Split in Caye Caulker. Image via Belize Tourism Board

Roughly five miles long, Caye Caulker is divided by a narrow channel called the Split, a popular swimming area where you can have a taste of the famous lizard juice. From the beach, the reef feels as if it’s just a stone’s throw away.

Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Caye Caulker’s motto is “Go slow” for a reason. Once a fishing village, the island has created its own very special brand of laidback tourism. Always a highlighted Belize destination, unhurried developments blend with the natural beauty and culture of this Caye creating a unique island vibe.

Tobacco Caye

On reef’s edge: Tobacco Caye. © Duarte Dellarole Photography

Tobacco Caye, located ten miles East of Dangriga, is a small island offering an off-the-grid escape. enjoy lounging in hammocks while enjoying breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Or, allow the sound of the water to lull you to sleep as you stargaze. 

South Water Caye

South_Water_Caye belize island Dangriga

Although small, there is so much to see on this Island. South Water Caye by Duarte Dellarole

An island less than half a mile long with a white sandy beach, tropical trees, and plants, South Water Caye offers travelers the chance to live out their castaway vacation dreams. The island is surrounded by crystal-clear water. And, it is a part of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Here, snorkelers – who can snorkel right offshore –  enjoy this Caye for the abundant marine life all around the island.

Featured Photo: Moho Caye. Written by CC+L editorial team. This article was published in September 2019 and was modified in May 2023. 

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