Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Logo of the banner of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System experienceBanner of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System experience

Date of the Experience: 18 June 2010

Since I missed the Sian Ka'an tour and I was late on my time table, I decided to quickly move to Belize following the route preferred by independent travelers: the Water Taxi from Chetumal to San Pedro & Caye Caulker (for more details see the box: Water Taxi from Chetumal (Mexico) To San Pedro & Caye Caulker (Belize)). I left Tulum (Mexico) in the morning, and I arrived at Caye Caulker (Belize) at sunset time.

Video of the Experience

This video has been recorded during the diving tour departing from Caye Caulker with destination Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument.

(Frenchie's Diving - Lighthouse Reef and the Blue Hole)
Play the Video
Video of diving tour to Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is actually composed by 7 different sites that are spread all over the Caribbean Sea in front of the Belizean coast:

  1. Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve
  2. Blue Hole
  3. Glovers Reef Marine Reserve
  4. Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
  5. Laughing Bird Caye National Park
  6. Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve
  7. South Wather Caye Marine Reserve
View of the spectacular Blue Hole from the boat at low tide. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the spectacular Blue Hole from the boat at low tide
View of the main beach at the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the main beach at the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

These sites are far from each other and they are not easy to reach. I knew that visiting them all was an almost impossible mission, considering the limited time and budget available. But my goal was just one: to experience the symbol of Belize, the world famous Blue Hole.

The Blue Hole is a sort of circular tunnel that sinks vertically into the sea bed. The obvious way to experience it is to dive into it. The Blue Hole is located in the middle of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the farthest offshore of the three atoll reefs off the coast of Belize. Scuba diving the mythical Great Blue Hole is the reason why many enthusiast divers come to Belize from all over the world. Most of the scuba diving shops and schools in Belize organize tours to the Great Blue Hole dive site, departing from different locations. The most popular location, from where tours depart, is surely San Pedro, but Caye Caulker is the preferred choice by independent travelers that are looking for and cheaper accommodations and a truly laid back atmosphere. Considering that it is closer to the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and scuba diving tours are less expensive from there, I gave it my preference.

View of Half Moon Caye while sailing from the Blue Hole to the Half Moon Wall dive site. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of Half Moon Caye while sailing from the Blue Hole to the Half Moon Wall dive site

I spent only three days in Caye Calker, not enough to fully appreciate the surreal atmosphere of the caye. No cars, no asphalt, no shoes, and lots of hammock available for relaxing while enjoying the cool sea breeze. Fortunately just enough to enroll for the next available full day "Lighthouse Reef - Blue Hole" trip organized by Frenchie's Diving (apparently the only business in the caye that was running diving trips during the low season).
 
Only when the weather forecasts turned good and enough people willing to join trip finally materialized, the schedule was confirmed. Meeting time: 5:00 am... After a quick breakfast and the necessary equipment check, the navigation towards the Great Blue Hole began.

To be continued…
View of Frenchie's dive center at sunrise. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of Frenchie's dive center at sunrise

View of the west end of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the west end of the Half Moon Caye

Sailing around the west end of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Sailing around the west end of the Half Moon Caye

The southwest coast of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The southwest coast of the Half Moon Caye
The southwest coast of the Half Moon Caye, moving towards the Half Moon Wall dive site. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The southwest coast of the Half Moon Caye, moving towards the Half Moon Wall dive site

View of the Half Moon Caye while approaching the Half Moon Wall dive site. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Half Moon Caye while approaching the Half Moon Wall dive site

Me on the boat at the Half Moon Wall dive site, and view of Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Me on the boat at the Half Moon Wall dive site, and view of Half Moon Caye

 
Approaching the north coast of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Approaching the north coast of the Half Moon Caye

View of the northeast coast of the Half Moon Caye from the jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the northeast coast of the Half Moon Caye from the jetty
Jetty at Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Jetty at Half Moon Caye

The scuba dive boat at the Half Moon Caye jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The scuba dive boat at the Half Moon Caye jetty

The norteast coast of Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The norteast coast of Half Moon Caye

 
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument sign at the entrance to the caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Half Moon Caye Natural Monument sign at the entrance to the caye

Walking along the nort beach of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Walking along the nort beach of the Half Moon Caye
The crystal clear water of the main beach at Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The crystal clear water of the main beach at Half Moon Caye

View of the main beach with the lighthouse at the east end of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the main beach with the lighthouse at the east end of the Half Moon Caye

Half Moon Caye north coast with wooden table in the water. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Half Moon Caye north coast with wooden table in the water
Wooden table in the crystal water at Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Wooden table in the crystal water at Half Moon Caye
Tree trunk on the sand of the north coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Tree trunk on the sand of the north coast

Palm trees along the north coast of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Palm trees along the north coast of the Half Moon Caye
Entering the Half Moon Caye Forest to get to the Red footed Boobies observation point. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Entering the Half Moon Caye Forest to get to the Red footed Boobies observation point
View of a Red footed Booby at the Half Moon Caye Forest. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of a Red footed Booby at the Half Moon Caye Forest

View of palm trees at the main beach of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of palm trees at the main beach of the Half Moon Caye
The crystal clear water at the main beach of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The crystal clear water at the main beach of the Half Moon Caye
The rocks on the south coast of the Half Moon Caye. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The rocks on the south coast of the Half Moon Caye

Water Taxi from Chetumal (Mexico) To San Pedro & Caye Caulker (Belize)

Apparently this option, usually undocumented by travel guides, offer a not too expensive alternative to the annoying border crossing that requires bus changes and walking through a dodgy area to an unpredictable and time wasting custom office. It is well advertised at the bus station and there is also a desk where you can buy a ticket (a considerable surcharge is applied). A cheaper ticket can be purchased directly at the harbor office. It should be easy to share the taxi with other travellers to get to the harbor.
After about two hours of unexciting sailing along small mangrove islands (one apparently owned by Leonardo DiCaprio) the boat arrives to the custom office at San Pedro Island (La Isla Bonita).
Then back to the boat to arrive at Caye Calker at the sunset…

Sorry, this box is still UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
Sign of the San Pedro Water Jets Xpress at Chetumal bus station. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Sign of the San Pedro Water Jets Xpress at Chetumal bus station

The water taxi office at Muelle Fiscal, Chetumal. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The water taxi office at Muelle Fiscal, Chetumal

Shrimp ceviche at a restaurant of the Muelle Fiscal. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Shrimp ceviche at a restaurant of the Muelle Fiscal

Customs at the Muelle Fiscal, Chetumal. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Customs at the Muelle Fiscal, Chetumal

Belize's Star Water Taxi boat. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Belize's Star Water Taxi boat

Leaving Mexico by water taxi. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Leaving Mexico by water taxi

Inside the water taxi boat. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Inside the water taxi boat
View of mangroves of the island owned by Leonardo DiCaprio. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of mangroves of the island owned by Leonardo DiCaprio

Approaching San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Approaching San Pedro

View of jetties at San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of jetties at San Pedro

Customs at San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Customs at San Pedro

On the top of the water taxi with the driver. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
On the top of the water taxi with the driver

Me on top of the water taxi while departing from San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Me on top of the water taxi while departing from San Pedro

Leaving San Pedro by water taxi. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Leaving San Pedro by water taxi

Arriving to Caye Caulker at twilight. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Arriving to Caye Caulker at twilight

Diving The Blue Hole

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Dive center jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Dive center jetty

The dive center office. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The dive center office

Scuba diving air tanks ready to be loaded in the boat. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Scuba diving air tanks ready to be loaded in the boat
I survived the Blue Hole diving. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
I survived the Blue Hole diving

View of the Blue Hole. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Blue Hole

The Blue Hole from the scuba diving boat. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Blue Hole from the scuba diving boat

The Blue Hole. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Blue Hole

The Red Footed Booby

 The forest at the south end of the Half Moon Caye is populated by a unique kind of seabird: the Red footed Booby.

A short path leads to the observation point from where it is possible to admire the big colony of boobies that are usually standing on the highest branches of the forest's trees.

Do not forget to look on the ground to see the Hermit Crabs.
The Red footed Booby sign. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Red footed Booby sign

View of the Half Moon Caye Forest from the observation point. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Half Moon Caye Forest from the observation point

The Half Moon Caye Forest with Boobies on trees. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Half Moon Caye Forest with Boobies on trees

The Red footed Bobby on the tree. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Red footed Booby on the tree

A Red footed Booby at the Half Moon Caye Forest. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
A Red footed Booby at the Half Moon Caye Forest

A Red footed Bobby taking off. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
A Red footed Booby taking off

The Hermit Crab sign. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Hermit Crab sign

A Hermit Crab inside the marine snail shell. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
A Hermit Crab inside the marine snail shell

Caye Caulker 'La Isla Cariñosa'

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Breakfast at Jemi's Cafe & Lounge. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Breakfast at Jemi's Cafe & Lounge

Golf cart near the Ocean Side on Front Street. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Golf cart near the Ocean Side on Front Street

View of the Front Street. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Front Street

View of the Dock Street facing east. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Dock Street facing east
View of the Dock Street facing west. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Dock Street facing west

The jetty and hammocks in front of Tina's Hostel. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The jetty and hammocks in front of Tina's Hostel

Wiew of Caye Caulker Marine Reserve from the jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Wiew of Caye Caulker Marine Reserve from the jetty

View of the north-east coast from the jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the north-east coast from the jetty

View of the north-east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the north-east coast
View of the north-east coast from the end of a jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the north-east coast from the end of a jetty
Another view of the north-east coast from a jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Another view of the north-east coast from a jetty

Mangrove in front of the north-east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Mangrove in front of the north-east coast
Jetties and mangrove on the north-east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Jetties and mangrove on the north-east coast
View of the split at the north end of Caye Caulker. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Split at the north end of Caye Caulker

The Lazy Lizard restaurant at the Split. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Lazy Lizard restaurant at the Split
The colourful bar of the Lazy Lizard. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The colourful bar of the Lazy Lizard
Relaxing time in the water next to the restaurant. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Relaxing time in the water next to the restaurant

Fisherman and pelicans on the east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Fisherman and pelicans on the east coast
Broken jetty and boats. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Broken jetty and boats
Holiday cabins on the south-east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Holiday cabins on the south-east coast

Jetty in front of Tina's Hostel. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Jetty in front of Tina's Hostel
Basic holiday cabin. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Basic holiday cabin
Unusual sign near the Caye Caulker Mini Reserve. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Unusual sign near the Caye Caulker Mini Reserve

Palm tree and mangroves on the south-east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Palm tree and mangroves on the south-east coast
Broken jetty and mangroveson the south-east coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Broken jetty and mangroves on the south-east coast
Mangroves near the Caye Caulker Mini Reserve. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Mangroves near the Caye Caulker Mini Reserve

The Hol-Chan Tour

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Star Tours flyer. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Star Tours flyer ©

The Tropics Hotel on Front Street. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Tropics Hotel on Front Street
View of jetty with tour boat. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of jetty with tour boat

The east coast of the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The east coast of the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve

View of the Shark Ray Alley. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Shark Ray Alley
Sting Ray at the Shark Ray Alley. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Sting Ray at the Shark Ray Alley
Small shark at the Shark Ray Alley. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Small shark at the Shark Ray Alley

View of the Hol-Chan Marine Park. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Hol-Chan Marine Park
The tour guide at the Hol-Chan Marine Park. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The tour guide at the Hol-Chan Marine Park
The Belize Coast Guard at the Hol-Chan Marine Park. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Belize Coast Guard at the Hol-Chan Marine Park

The crystal clear water at the Hol-Chan Marine Park. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The crystal clear water at the Hol-Chan Marine Park
Approacing San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Approacing San Pedro
The east coast of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The east coast of San Pedro

View of the east coast of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the east coast of San Pedro
The jetty and boat at the end of the tour. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The jetty and boat at the end of the tour
View of the sea in fron of the Caye Caulker coast at the end of the tour. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the sea in fron of the Caye Caulker coast at the end of the tour

San Pedro 'La Isla Bonita'

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View of the beach of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the beach of San Pedro

Map of San Pedro 'La Isla Bonita'. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Map of San Pedro 'La Isla Bonita'

Boards and kayaks. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Boards and kayaks

Boards and kayaks on the beach. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Boards and kayaks on the beach

View of the beach from a restaurant balcony. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the beach from a restaurant balcony

Kids playing in the water. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Kids playing in the water
Souvenirs stalls on the main street of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Souvenirs stalls on the main street of San Pedro

View of a street of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of a street of San Pedro

Another view of a street of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Another view of a street of San Pedro

Another view of a street of San Pedro. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Another view of a street of San Pedro

Curious writing of a shop. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Curious writing of a shop

Amusement park on the west coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Amusement park on the west coast

Jetty on the west coast. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Jetty on the west coast

Hostels in Caye Caulker

Bella's Hostel

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The Bella's Hostel. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The Bella's Hostel

View of the Bella's backyard. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Bella's backyard

View of the Bella's jetty. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Bella's jetty

Tina's Backpacker's Hostel

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View of the Tina's hammocks. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Tina's hammocks
View of the Tina's Backpacker's Hostel. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Tina's Backpacker's Hostel

The Delicius Spiny Lobsters of Caye Caulker

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Cleaning lobsters on the jetty at Caye Caulker. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Cleaning lobsters on the jetty at Caye Caulker
Kid playing with the head of a big spiny lobster. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Kid playing with the head of a big spiny lobster

Spiny lobster on the grill. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Spiny lobster on the grill
Grilled spiny lobster with lemon butter sauce. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Grilled spiny lobster with lemon butter sauce
Grilled slipper lobster with lemon butter sauce, potatoes, and pasta. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Grilled slipper lobster with lemon butter sauce, potatoes, and pasta

Fish ready to be grilled in front of the Rose's Grill & Bar. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Fish ready to be grilled in front of the Rose's Grill & Bar
Me ready to eat a slipper lobster at the Rose's Grill & Bar. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Me ready to eat a slipper lobster at the Rose's Grill & Bar
Belize dollars, Belikin beer, and Marie Sharp's habanero pepper sauce. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Belize dollars, Belikin beer, and Marie Sharp's habanero pepper sauce

Caye Caulker Water Taxi to Belize City

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Cayer Caulker Water Taxi at the Front Dock. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Cayer Caulker Water Taxi at the Front Dock

Belize City harbour. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Belize City harbour

View of the Belize City harbour. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the Belize City harbour

Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal

Belize City Airport

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Me in the taxi going to the airport. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Me in the taxi going to the airport

The road to the airport. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
The road to the airport
Inside the Philip Goldson International Airport. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
Inside the Philip Goldson International Airport

View of the airport runway. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System | Belize
View of the airport runway

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