The Best Way to Experience Lighthouse Reef in Belize

by Khaila Gentle
Half Moon Caye by BAS

Lighthouse Reef is one of Belize’s three beautiful atolls. Here’s how a visit to this stunning coral atoll could be one of your most memorable vacations.  

What’s Special About Lighthouse Reef?

HMC aerial by Belize Audubon Society 5

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

If you only visit one of the atolls, you should choose Lighthouse Reef. After all, there’s a reason this Belizean destination was named one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean by Conde Nast Traveler. At 30 miles long and 8 miles wide, it is a bird-watcher’s paradise, a diver’s dream destination, and a remote island getaway all in one

Spectacularly scenic, Lighthouse Reef holds soft sand beaches, shady palms, and clear blue water. And, it’s home to the first protected natural area in Belize.

Half Moon Caye – Photo Courtesy: Belize Audubon Society

In 1928, the Belize and British governments made the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument a nature reserve as a way to protect endangered red-footed boobies. It is now home to the only viable breeding colony of red-footed boobies in the western Caribbean. Since then, the protected area has grown to include the Belize Barrier Reef and the Great Blue Hole.

The Mysterious Blue Hole

Photo courtesy: Leonardo Melendez

The Blue Hole is a natural ocean sinkhole that was once part of an underwater cave. At almost 1000 feet wide and 500 feet deep, it first came to the world’s attention when French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau explored it in 1971. The famed explorer declared it the best diving hole in the world.  Then in 2018, his grandson Fabien Costeau returned to explore the sinkhole with his own team. The film and photography he took appeared in a documentary that aired on the Discovery Channel on December 2, 2018. 

great blue hole belize

Stalactites of the Great Blue Hole. Photo by Antonio Busiello/WWF

Diving in this magnificent natural wonder is an almost magical experience, though it’s reserved for expert divers only. Nevertheless, snorkeling at the Blue Hole can be just as memorable.

What Can You Do at Lighthouse Reef?

The beautiful Lighthouse Reef Atoll is ideal for all your favorite water activities. It offers some of the best snorkeling in the world, with waters filled with hundreds of tropical fish species. Meanwhile, if you enjoy birding, you can spot hundreds of different birds in a single day in Belize while on Halfmoon Caye. Of course, that includes spotting the stunning Red-Footed Booby.

The Best Way to Experience Lighthouse Reef: An Overnight Adventure

If you want to immerse yourself in days of pure tropical bliss, consider camping out at Halfmoon Caye inside the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. The popular saying is that, when you’re on this perfectly formed island , you’re likely the first person in the country to witness the sun rise.  

Half Moon Caye sunrise

They say that at Half Moon Caye, you’re one of the first persons in Belize to see the sunrise. Photo courtesy Kevin Quischan Photography

Island Expeditions is a company offering a sustainable Lighthouse Reef adventure.  They’ve been helping fund eco-tourism in Belize for more than 30 years. The Lighthouse Reef adventure is part of a partnership with the Belize Audubon Society that helps fund the ranger station on the atoll. 

Featured Photo courtesy Belize Audubon Society 

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