Why You Must Make Time to Visit Lighthouse Reef in Belize

by Larry Waight

Some of the most beautiful islands in Belize are the ring-shaped, coral atolls that dot the sea around the Belize Barrier Reef. Formed thousands of years ago, these unusual formations offer a chance to experience a side of Belize that is truly off the beaten path. With three of the four atolls in the Western Hemisphere, here is why you must visit all while in Belize, especially the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. 

Belize’s Beautiful Atolls

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Turneffe Reef Atoll. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Most of these atolls are a long way from the mainland of Belize. They are unspoiled, untouched islands that are home to dozens of exotic, endangered species. Many atolls contain protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries. Belize’s three atolls include Glover’s Reef, Turneffe Atoll and Lighthouse Reef. Lighthouse Reef is located more than 50 miles from mainland Belize to the east of the Belize Barrier Reef.

What Is Special About Lighthouse Reef Atoll?

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Lighthouse Reef Atoll.

Lighthouse Reef is a stunning atoll with white sand, clear blue water, and a quiet, unspoiled beauty. It is home to both Half Moon Caye Natural Monument and the Blue Hole Natural Monument. Not to mention, home to the nesting, breeding red-footed boobies.

Protecting the Red-Footed Booby

A Red-footed Booby chick. © Ramon’s Village Resort

Half Moon Caye is the oldest protected area in Belize. It was established in 1928 when the government of Belize designated it as a breeding sanctuary for the red-footed booby. In 1982, the government of Belize designated Half Moon Caye as a Natural Monument under the National Parks System Act. The designation encloses more than 10,000 acres of ocean and shoreline. Today, Half Moon Caye persists as the only viable breeding colony of red-footed boobies in the Western Caribbean. The Belize Audubon Society manages and administers the preserve. 

Snorkel or Scuba Dive at the Spectacular Blue Hole

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Blue Hole NM. Photo courtesy Belize Tourism Board

Lighthouse Reef is also close to the Blue Hole of Belize. The Blue Hole is a natural ocean sinkhole that is renowned for its pristine waters, enormous depth and huge variety of colorful fish. In 1996, UNESCO designated the Blue Hole Natural Monument as part of the UNESCO Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS) World Heritage Site. You can visit this stunning natural phenomenon when you’re visiting Lighthouse Reef. The Blue Hole is just a few miles away. After all, the Blue Hole is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone who enjoys scuba diving or snorkeling.

Visiting Belize’s Lighthouse Reef

The old lighthouse rubble amid sand and coral on Half Moon Caye. Photo by Kevin Quischan Photography

While you’re in Belize, be sure to set aside a day to tour the stunning Lighthouse Reef. You’ll have experiences you can’t have anywhere else in the world.

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