The Belize Barrier Reef – A World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important marine environments on the planet, the Belize Barrier reef is a natural wonder of the world. Divided into seven different marine reserves, the Belize Barrier Reef is a vast north-sound archipelago of islands (known locally as “cayes”, pronounced “keys”), lagoons, and atolls.
Why Visit the Belize Barrier Reef
Coral is neither a rock or a plant but a unique marine creature that protects itself with a rock-like hard exterior similar to a mollusk and its shell. Over its lifetime, coral will continually add to its hard exterior to form the dense labyrinth that we call a reef. The passageways, curves, and gaps in the coral provide the perfect place for fish to spawn and hide from predators. The diffuse structure of the reef serves to slow down incoming waves from the open sea, drawing in more than 500 species of fish and a colorful assortment of sea grasses, sponges, and anemones.
With a white sandy seafloor and crystal clear waters, the Belize Barrier Reef is a top destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. Many islands on the reef have soft beaches that lead to shallow lagoons teeming with colorful life, making them ideal even for first-time snorkelers. The Belize Blue Hole, on the other hand, is only available to experienced divers, a rare natural phenomenon that Jacques Cousteau declared to be one of the top 10 dive spots on the planet.
Although coral reefs compose just 4% of the ocean, they are home to a staggering 25% of all known marine life. However, the islands and atolls that form the reef are also ecologically diverse. The Belize Barrier Reef is also composed of several national parks, including Laughing Bird Caye where endangered avian species flock by the thousands during nesting season.
Coral reefs like the Belize Barrier Reef also serve an important function in the economy. As commercial fishing practices are modernized and minimized in order to protect the reef, eco-tourism has become more important than ever. Beyond its role in helping promote the tourist industry, the Belize Barrier Reef also serves to protect the shoreline from storm damage and wave erosion.
Barefoot Rentals and Services offers tours of the barrier reef from Placencia, Belize. Whether you’re interested in fishing, snorkeling, or visiting gorgeous islands, Barefoot Rentals and Services organizes tours to the top destinations on the Belize Barrier Reef.