While Belize may not be an island, it has more than 400 cayes along the Caribbean Sea and Barrier Reef. Of course, many visit these offshore islands year-round, but during the summer, beach bummers flock to these destinations in search of unobstructed sunlight and salty sea air. As you can imagine, many of these are hotspots for tourists, working on a first-come-first-serve basis. Places like the Silk Cayes and San Pedro may take the brunt of the summer crowd. Luckily, Belize has enough islets to go around that you can find one virtually crowd-free off-the-beaten-path. Not only will you have the island almost all to yourself, but will learn about the thriving ecosystem on each unique island and why the country is so determined to protect them.
If you’ve had the pleasure of hitting all the major snorkeling and beach spots, here are the best under-the-radar islands in Belize you need to visit this summer.
Laughing Bird Caye
Laughing Bird Caye is a national park located about 11 miles off the coast of Placencia Village and was named after the Laughing Gull that once bred on the island. The squiggly-shaped caye may seem unassuming upon arrival, but the sparse palm trees and the isolated colorful cabin provide warmth and welcome. The caye is located on a faro, which is an elongated reef on a ridge. Snorkeling here is extra exceptional because just off-shore you’ll find coral nurseries courtesy of the non-profit organization Fragments of Hope.
Easily one of the most picturesque islands in Belize, Moho Caye is also a mere 12 miles east of Placencia. Folks find themselves mostly fly fishing on the flats or snorkeling nearby. For only $10, visitors can spend the day using the available picnic tables, hammocks, loungers, and on-site restroom facilities.
Half Moon Caye
This crescent-shaped island is one of the many highlights when on a Blue Hole flyover tour. But visiting the island itself is as extraordinary. It is located in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll was the first nature reserve Belize ever established. The island is a haven for wildlife, with nature enthusiasts gushing over the Red-footed booby birds and eclectic marine life. For a true island immersive experience, camp out overnight to at out your Lost fantasies brought to life.
Despite their name, no more slithering critters inhabit these islands located off the coast of Southern Belize. These four islands are not a part of the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef, but do have their own separate coral growing on a ledge of limestone. Make the trip out to the very reaches of Belize’s coast to enjoy the most popular, West Snake Caye, for snorkeling and tanning on sugar-white sand beaches.
The Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve is Belize’s furthest-flung set of cayes, making up 14 islands in total. What travelers find fascinating is the emerald-clear crystal lagoons scattered and perfect for swimming alongside marine life. The beauty of these is that you feel like you’re on a totally different planet when you visit, as some islands are strictly sand while others boast verdant mangroves. Keep your eyes peeled for parrotfish, jacks, and even manta rays and sea turtles. Sapodilla Cayes are famous for their “lettuce” corals, so when visiting it’s a good idea to strap on your wetsuit and dive in.