Snorkeling the Silk Cayes of Belize
If you close your eyes and imagine being castaway on a beautiful tropical island, chances are, you’re picturing what the real Silk Cayes look like.
Located on the outer region of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), the Silk Cayes are a group of three uninhabited islands (islands are called “cayes” in Belize). Together, they form the Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, a protected natural area that is one of the best places in the world to enjoy snorkeling.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get to the Silk Cayes is that the water is incredibly clear, almost as transparent as glass. Standing on the sugar-white soft sandy beach, you’ll see nothing in every direction, only open ocean. But as you wade deeper into the water, you’ll start to see why people from around the planet travel to these remote islands to go snorkeling.
Coral thrives in the Silk Cayes, not just one kind of coral but an incredible variety of different corals with different shapes, colors, and sizes. And where there’s coral, there’s lots of marine life. Fish and small marine animals use the coral to hide from predators or as a spawning ground, and where the small prey goes, so too, the predators follow.
When you snorkel the Silk Cayes, you might see a dozen different kinds of coral, schools of fish like grouper, up to five different kinds of sea turtles (including some endangered species), and even some sharks. Don’t worry though, as most sharks in this area are too small to cause problems for humans. You may also see rays, colorful beds of anemones, and lots of other unexpected things.
And if you visit the Silk Cayes during the right period, you’ll also come across the largest fish in the world’s oceans: the whale shark. Although it’s actually a fish, not a whale, the whale shark gets its name from its enormous size. Some whale sharks weigh more than a school bus and measure up to 35 feet (10 meters) long. But these enormous creatures pose no danger to humans as they are filter feeders, straining out microscopic plankton that thrive in the rich waters of the Silk Cayes.
If you’d like to snorkel the Silk Cayes, book your tour with Barefoot Rentals and Services. Based in southern Belize, Barefoot Rentals and Services specializes in regional tours, including trips to Silk Cayes on the reef.