Bright Reefs and a Big Blue HoleYou will run out of daylight before you run out of reef. The coast of Belize offers some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean, and also some of the most diverse. Colorful coral heads crop up close to shore and within the sheltered interiors of offshore atolls. Often, it is just a few fin strokes from these oases of life to more expansive reef systems, where ledges, undercuts and slopes are home to hundreds of species of tropical fish and corals. Schools of fish swarm steep outer reefs, juveniles hide among mangrove roots in shallow lagoons, and a dramatic circular hole in the ocean plunges to unseen depths.
- Best for: Everyone, from relaxing and beach travelers, to soft and rugged adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year round, drier from January to June
- Weather: Belize enjoys a sub-tropical climate moderated by Caribbean sea breezes. Winter temperatures occasionally dip below 70 during northerlies, while summers may reach into the 90s, with increased humidity and rain showers after June
Snorkeling in Belize Overview
The coast of Belize is flanked by the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Between this reef and the mainland, dozens of small islands known as Cayes are starting points for local snorkel trips. Offshore of the mainland, a trio of coral atolls enclose thousands of acres of mangrove islands and coral gardens suitable for snorkelers. Trips on the steep outer walls of the atolls provide the chance for big fish sightings.
Snorkeling in Belize Tips
Snorkeling is most enjoyable when you can see what's there. Mask fogging is a very common problem, but one that can be easily remedied. Start by making sure the inner face plate of the mask is clean and free of residue, and just before entering the water, apply a light coating of anti-fog solution (most snorkel boats will provide this) and then give the mask a single light rinse in fresh water before putting it on.
Best Places to Snorkel in Belize
Turneffe Atoll provides a wide range of snorkeling environments, from mangrove lagoons to shallow reefs and steep walls, all teeming with fish life. A swim to the edge of the Blue Hole is a bucket list favorite. Reefs begin within sight of the beach at Ambergris Caye, and it is a short boat ride to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and famous Shark-Ray Alley, where snorkels are immersed in a feeding crowd of turtle, rays and nurse sharks.
What to Pack for Snorkeling in Belize
Use an inexpensive mesh tote bag to keep your snorkel gear and accessories organized during travel and while aboard tour boats. Include a secure waterproof case for storing wallets, keys and personal electronics. Wear a form-fitting water shirt to protect your back from sunburn.
From $2,132 per person doubleBook Now
From $1,318 per person doubleBook Now
Turneffe Island Resort
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Ramons Village Resort
Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort
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Blackbird Caye Dive Resort
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Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve
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Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve
From $1,965 per person double occupancyBook Now
Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort
From $1,895 per person doubleSee Packages & Learn More
See Packages & Learn More
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A current passport, valid through your departure date, is required for entry into Belize. Your passport needs to have at least 1 blank page for the entry stamp. Proof of onward or return flights may be required at entry as well. No visa is required for stays less than 30 days. Upon departure from Belize, there is a departure tax of approximately $40.00 U.S. which should be included on your international ticket.
Check the entry/exit requirements here.
There are no required immunizations for entry into Belize, although you should check with your doctor and reference the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations.
Culture and Customs
Belize is a true melting pot of cultures, stretching back to the stone cities of the ancient Maya, and the Arawak roots of the Garfunkel dialect that are still heard through the country. British settlers arrived in the 1600s, and English remains the nation's official language. But Spanish influences are equally prevalent, and Mennonite, Creole, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indian immigrants have all left their mark on the collective consciousness. Today, they are all just Belizeans, and everyone gets along in a society that places a high value on civility and inclusion. This is a country that doesn't need an excuse to dance and throw a party. Weekends are reason enough for celebration, and dozens of festivals, carnivals and concerts are staged throughout the year. Head up to the country into the rainforest and wooded mountains of the interior and you are in the land of Indiana Jones where thatch-roofed eco lodges serve as base camps for jungle hikes and inner tube drifts through river caves. Head offshore and island times takes over when you land on the offshore cayes. On Ambergris Caye a flipflop and tank top vibe permeates the beach town of San Pedro, where beach bikes are the preferred mode of transportation, and packed-sand streets are fronted by colorfully painted wooden shops and taverns.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Belize electricity is 110 Volt/60 cycles and uses the same plug types as the U.S., so no converters are required.
Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system and a country code of 501.
Many hotels offer WiFi. Be sure to check with your mobile provider to see if International plans are available for phone and data usage while in Belize.
Bottled water is recommended in Belize and readily available for purchase and also supplied by some resorts.
Language & Currency
English is the official language, but Spanish is widely spoken. Other languages spoken are Maya, Garifuna, and Creole.
The BelizeDdollar (BZD) is pegged to the US dollar at 2:1 - always verify whether you are paying U.S. or Belize Dollars. It's easy to change U.S. dollars just about anywhere.
ATMs are available in many cities and accept major cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, although cash will be dispensed in Belize Dollars.
Most businesses will accept U.S. cash without question. They usually give change in Belizean Dollars, though they may return U.S. change if you ask.
Belize is on Central Standard Time, 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-6 GMT). Belize does not observe daylight saving time.
Location, Size and Population
Belize is located on the Eastern coast of Central America, along the Caribbean Coast. Its capital city is Belmopan.
Belize is bounded on the North by Mexico, South, and West by Guatemala, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea washes its 174-mile coastline to the East.
Belize has an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands.
The population of Belize is 367,177 (2016), while the island of Ambergris caye has an estimated 22,000, the area of Placencia approximately 1,500 and the area of Dangriga close to 10,000.