The Outer Atolls are part of the Belize Barrier Reef, a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize. Charles Darwin referred to the Belize Barrier Reef in 1842, in his study of the origin and evolution of coral reefs. Since then it has become renowned as the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Nearly 260km long, it runs from the northern border of the country, where it is only about 1km offshore, south to the Sapodilla Cayes which lie some 40km offshore.
GLOVER'S REEF ATOLL
Named after the pirate, John Glover, this gleaming paradise is also a World Heritage site known as Glover's Reef Marine Reserve. It lies about 70 miles southeast of Belize City, and is the southern most and secluded of the atolls. Boaters, sailors, divers, and explorers escape to this palm-fringed beauty to indulge in its unspoiled magnificence. 15 miles long by 4 miles wide, Glover's Reef Atoll is a treasure chest filled with hundreds of coral patches and miles of sheer drop-offs. Adding to its distinctiveness are the many shipwrecks, some dating back four centuries ago, found along the eastern side of the atoll. It is a diving paradise, equally embraced by snorkelers, kayakers, fishers, and campers.
Visitors to this Atoll have access to a number of places situated on its cayes. Glover's Atoll Resort, located on Northeast Caye, offers cabins and camping as well as scuba diving, snorkeling, and fly fishing. Available through Slickrock Adventures, positioned on Long Caye, is a multitude of outdoor activities: sea kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, whitewater kayaking, rafting, and caving. Those interested in checking out the work of Glover's Reef Marine Reserve can travel to Middle Caye, where all research on the reef is performed.
LIGHTHOUSE REEF ATOLL
Lighthouse Reef Atoll is the easternmost of the atolls, about 50 miles southeast of Belize City, and the only one reachable by plane. It stretches 20 miles long and 4 miles wide, revealing coconut palm-fringed beaches, crystal waters, and a plethora of exotic coral. Right in the center of Lighthouse Reef the system is the Blue Hole, an almost perfectly circular hole approximately 1,000 feet in diameter and more than 400 feet deep. Made famous by Jacques Cousteau, it is a truly unique sinkhole filled with 35-foot long stalactites, or dripstones, the largest ever found underwater. Shark spotting, such as Lemon or Hammerhead sharks, have given even more reason to explore its depths.
To the southeast of Lighthouse Reef Atoll floats the 45-acre Half Moon Caye. With turquoise waters, rich marine life, and untouched coral, it is an ideal place for diving and snorkeling. It is also home to Belize's first national park, the Half Moon Caye Monument, where thousands of protected Red-footed Booby birds and Frigate birds can be viewed from observation decks.
TURNEFFE ISLANDS ATOLL
Of the three atolls, Turneffe Islands Atoll is the closest to Belize's mainland, located about 25 miles east of Belize City. Unlike the outer atolls, it is unique in that it is nearly covered with thick green mangroves and a shallow lagoon that gives shelter to a constant flow of marine life. World class diving can be found off the extreme southern tip of the atoll, known as The Elbow. Here, enormous schools of permits, snappers, eagle rays, and groupers converge, sometimes numbering in the thousands. Fishing is also viewed as world-class by visitors to this Atoll and its islands.
Man-o-war birds, pelicans, and brown boobies are among some of the birds that call Man-O-War Caye home. Three different types of mangroves also flourish on this caye in the middle of the barrier reef. Trips from Dangriga run throughout the day to this bird haven.
SOUTH WATER CAYE
Floating less than a half hour by boat from Dangriga is South Water Caye. With 15 acres of coral lining the island, it serves as a great drop-off diving site. Silverside and Black Beauty are two great wall sites well worth diving at since they aren't frequented often. Even more enticing are the silky beaches under a twinkling blanket of sky after the sun's gone down.
ST. GEORGE'S CAYE
Twenty minutes by boat from Belize City makes St. George's Caye a popular and busy place among swimmers, snorkelers, and divers. Sun drenched lazy beaches and crystal blue waters help create a perfect laid-back setting. And every September 10th, this tiny island celebrates its victory over Spain's last attempt to conquer the island in 1798.
With daily boat service from Dangriga, Tobacco Caye offers what many consider world class shore diving, snorkeling, and fishing. Mountains of colorful coral and countless varieties of marine life thrive around the island, and occasional run-ins with a manatee can happen without going more than a hundred feet off shore. The Tobacco Caye Channel also runs through five acres of this pure island where from April through November, schools of tarpon make for excellent fly fishing.
We have carefully chosen the most exquisite accommodations that have met our highest standards for comfort and style to assure your stay on Ambergris Caye is an unforgettable one.