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4 days discovering Belize on a superyacht
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS) is the second-largest reef system in the world, stretching 190 miles from north to south and containing seven protected areas, three atolls and more than 400 cays. The BBRRS is part of the Mesoamerican Reef System, which stretches 620 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.This five- to six-day itinerary from Belize City takes in two of these atolls, two protected areas and a cay outside the World Heritage area.
1. Goff's Cay
Begin by cruising 13 nautical miles southeast to 1.2-acre Goff’s Caye, recommends Carolyn Turton, owner of Belize-based Ventura Yacht Agent Services, but check cruise ship schedules, as they sometimes stop here during the day. Not part of a marine reserve, these waters are excellent for playing with yacht toys, and the sandy beaches are lovely for a beach barbecue and an evening stroll.
Picture courtesy of iStock / Ultramarinefoto
The next morning, continue 13 nautical miles northeast to Turneffe Atoll, a Belize marine protected area and part of the BBRRS. Turneffe mainly consists of a shallow saline lagoon; red, white and black mangroves; sea grass meadows and coral reefs, which contain 48 of Belize’s 70-plus hard coral species. As it’s not a beach destination, spend the day snorkeling and diving with sea turtles, dolphins, reef sharks and fish, and looking out for manatees and American crocodiles.
Picture courtesy of iStock / Sam Camp
Half Moon Caye
Half Moon Caye, which is managed by the Belize Audubon Society, is home to thousands of nesting red-footed boobies. The boobies here coexist with frigatebirds, soaring as one flock and nesting together also. Check out the treetop observation platform, then visit the lighthouse and snorkel off the beach.
Picture courtesy of iStock / Mindstorm-inc
Lighthouse Reef Atoll
Finally, venture east to Lighthouse Reef Atoll, the farthest offshore of Belize’s atolls. Twenty-two miles long and five miles wide, it has a large lagoon and six cays. You can easily spend two to three days here, says Turton, snorkeling or exploring the numerous must-do scuba dive sites. In the southeastern part of the atoll is the protected 45-acre Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, where the walls, canyons and caves are considered some of the best.
One of the reef system’s seven protected areas, the Blue Hole Natural Monument, in the centre of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, is the ocean’s largest natural blue hole, measuring 1,000 feet across and 450 feet deep. After diving here in the 1970s, Jacques Cousteau declared this coral-ringed site, with its stalactites, dripstone sheets and columns, one of the world’s 10 best dive sites.
Picture courtesy of iStock / DNY59