The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the Americas and the second largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia. The reef is also home to another one of the world’s amazing underwater sites, the Great Blue Hole. The combination of the reef and the hole make it one of the most popular dive spots in the entire Caribbean Sea. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The coastal regions off of Belize has been explored since the early colonial era, but it was Charles Darwin who brought it to the world’s attention in 1842. The reef truly became famous following the explorations of Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s. Much of the reef is now protected in a series of seven marine reserves.
The Belize Barrier Reef sprawls over 190 miles in length and is home to a dizzying array of marine life, including over a hundred species of coral and five hundred species of fish. There is a large number of undersea caves in and around the reef, including the Great Blue Hole, which is nearly a thousand feet in diameter and 407 feet deep.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a boaters and diver’s paradise, with over a quarter of a million visitors annually. Dive tours are very popular, although access to the Great Blue Hole is restricted to very experienced divers. Web: N/A.