The coastal area of Belize is an outstanding natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS), inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters offshore in the north and 40 kilometers in the south within the country limits.
About Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
- The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is unique in the world for its array of reef types contained in a relatively small area. As the longest barrier reef in the Northern and Western Hemispheres and distinctive on account of its size, array of reef types and the luxuriance of corals thriving in a pristine condition it provides a classic example of the evolutionary history of reefs and reef systems.
- The BBRRS contains an intact ecosystem gradient ranging from the terrestrial to the deep ocean. Including littoral, wetland, and mangrove ecosystems, to seagrass beds interspersed with lagoonal reefs, to the outer barrier reef platform and oceanic atolls, this ecological gradient provides for a full complement of life-cycle needs, supporting critical spawning, nesting, foraging, and nursery ecosystem functions.
- Home to a diverse array of top predators, on land, sea and in the air, the jaguars of Bacalar Chico, the great hammerheads of the Blue Hole, and the ospreys of Glovers Reef are a testament to the property’s importance and its ecological integrity.
- It is Belize’s top tourist destination, popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors. It is also vital to the country’s fishing industry.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Belize is from late November to mid-April, during the country’s dry season. Although this peak season draws thousands of tourists, dealing with crowds is an easy sacrifice to make for warm temperatures, clear skies and easy access to the country’s top attractions.
Belize, formerly the colony of British Honduras, is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the Pacific Ocean (only the Caribbean Sea to its east), and the only one in the region with English as its official language. With a long Caribbean coast, Belize is a culturally diverse and mixed race country. World class attractions include exploring the lush jungles with exotic plants and animals, deep sea fishing, swimming, snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean sea with its attractive reefs, and visiting the Mayan ruins.